It’s time for one of my very favorite posts of the year: my reading recap! I follow along with a few different reading challenges each year which I have found to be a good way to expand my book-reading horizons. Whereas before I did this, I primarily just read modern novels, the Back to the Classics Challenge specifically has inspired me to take a look at older books and by doing so, aided me in finding new favorites! You can read all of my reading recap and refresh posts since 2016 here.
I gave myself an overall goal of 24 books this year with the idea that I should be able to finish two per month. The last few years, reading for myself has become increasingly more difficult and whereas just a few years ago I was reading around 40 books a year, this year I only read
28 31 (though I did surpass my goal and there are several books that I’m close to finishing – updated 12/20!). I have come to be okay with this ebb and flow of life’s busy-ness and am still thankful for the fact that I have time to read at all!
I continued with what I call my “mentor” books, which I read just a few pages of each day during my morning time. In that category this year I finished The Ragamuffin Gospel, Scale How Meditations, and I’m currently reading A Testament of Devotion. Because Celebration of Discipline was such an inspiring book for me a few years ago, I decided to go through all of the booklists Richard Foster includes in that book and add them to my to-read list, which I will be using as my “mentor” book list from now on.
I also joined the Idyll Challenge 3, from Charlotte Mason Poetry, this year. This means that for the next two years, I will always be reading one of Charlotte Mason’s volumes and then meeting via Zoom once a month with other women reading the same volume. We began Home Education in August and finished it last month, which was great as it’s a book I’ve only read big chunks of and not actually finished before now. I have found that by reading just three pages per day and having that accountability of the group (run by my friend, Dawn, which is extra accountability), I am making steady progress through the books instead of rushing to read the whole “assignment” the day before we meet as I was doing with my old Charlotte Mason book group. One of these days it’ll finally sink in that procrastination does not work well.
At the beginning of the year, I posted my goals for the year here and here. I didn’t check off all of the boxes in any of the challenges, but I checked off more than I thought I would, so I’m counting it a success! Here are the various challenges and what I read:
Back to the Classics Challenge 2020 (8/12)
As I said before, the Back to the Classics Challenge is my favorite of the challenges and I was so sad when I thought she might not do it again this year.
19th Century Classic– Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (I haven’t finished this yet but I have very little left so I will before the end of the year)
- 20th Century Classic – Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (recommended by Angelina Stanford as she said it reminded her of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which I loved)
- Classic by a Woman Author – Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
- Classic in Translation – The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Lebrun by Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
Classic by a Person of Color Genre Classic
- Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title – Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- Classic with a Place in the Title – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
- Classic with Nature in the Title – Secrets of the Woods by William J. Long
Classic About a Family(I finished reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome with B in January, but started it in December of 2019, so it doesn’t qualify for this challenge)
- Abandoned Classic – Home Education by Charlotte Mason
- Classic Adaptation – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (I read this with both kids)
Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge (5/10)
The Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge was the very first reading challenge I ever participated in back in 2016 and included in my list of challenges ever since.
a book published the decade you were born a debut novel
- a book recommended by a source you trust – Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer (my friend Joy Cherrick recommended this one)
a book by a local author(I started to read Little Britches with B, but the ending was too sad. I know some will scoff at me but I just couldn’t do it.) a book outside your (genre) comfort zone(I always have a hard time with this category because, as ide from a few definite categories that I will never, ever read, I’m not really sure what’s outside my comfort zone for books)
- a book in translation – The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Lebrun by Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
a book nominated for an award in 2020
- a re-read – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- a classic you didn’t read in school – Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- three books by the same author – with B I read three of C.S. Lewis’s books (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) as well as three of S.D. Smith’s books (Ember Falls, Ember Rising, and Ember’s End)
The Literary Life Podcast 20 for 2020 Reading Challenge (6/20)
This was the debut year of this challenge which had a pretty intimidating number of goals as well as some pretty intimidating categories. I didn’t do as well in this one as I would’ve liked, but I did manage a few.
a Shakespeare play– As You Like It (reading with B for our homeschool co-op’s Shakespeare selection and will finish this week) a classic detective novel(I read A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny this year, but that’s not really a classic)
- a classic children’s book – The King Of The Golden River by John Ruskin
- a contemporary novel – The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
a historical fiction novel(I was a little shocked when I realized I didn’t read anything in this category as this is normally my favorite genre – parts of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett did take place in the past, but the end was modern) an ancient Greek play a collection of short stories
- a biography or memoir – The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Lebrun by Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
- a devotional work – Scale How Meditations by Charlotte Mason
- a book about books – The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett
a non-western book a “guilty pleasure” book an intimidating book you have avoided– Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (I haven’t finished this yet but I have very little left so I will before the end of the year) a satire a book of essays a book by a POC author
- a classic book by a female author – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
a complete volume of poetry by a single author(I started reading a collection of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poems but never finished) an “out of your comfort zone” book re-read a book you read in high school
For 2021, I will keep my goal of 24 books and I’m thinking about participating in two of these challenges again: the Back to the Classics Challenge 2021 and The Literary Life Podcast 19 in 2021 Reading Challenge. The Reshelving Alexandria challenge also looks good, so I may do that one this year instead of Modern Mrs. Darcy (which has not been posted as of this writing). (Reshelving Alexandria also has a list for kids and another for reading one book every week for a year!)
At this point in the post in the past, I’d list all of my ideas for the various categories of each challenge, but I think I’m going to skip that this year. I definitely see areas where I was lacking this year like books by authors of color and historical fiction and hope to also remedy that in 2021, but I don’t want to start making lists just yet. Usually, I begin the year with every intention to follow those lists and even by mid-year, my intentions have gone up in the air in a beautiful blaze of glory. By the end of the year, I’m just inserting the books that I’ve managed to read into any categories they might fit.
I am, on the other hand, always looking for suggestions, so if you’ve read any good books that might fit any of these challenges, let me know in the comments!