2015 was a good year in reading. I picked up that Pop Sugar reading challenge way back in November 2014, and being the ultra competitive idiot that I am, burned my way through 52 books like a maniac.
I have completed a 52-book challenge before, in 2013. But it was a bit much. I’m a sucker for punishment, clearly.
Pop Sugar’s challenge was different, because it had specific guidelines. I read a lot of books I probably wouldn’t have read normally, and ended up loving a handful of them.
But then there were a lot of books I read that were just…meh. I mean one of the challenges was to read a “book with poor reviews.” Who the feck wants to read a shitty book?
This is why I’m done with reading challenges.
I do see a lot of value in setting numbers. It makes me aware of when I’ve become too busy to slow down and appreciate one of my greatest loves — literature.
But from now on I’m reading only what I want to read. I’ve set a goal of 35 for this year.
(Also because it’s really hard to seek out good specific books when you’re travelling.)
Anyway, here’s the complete list! Followed by a year-end review, once again stolen by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner.
2015 Reading Challenge
- The Portable Dorothy Parker – Dorothy Parker (a book with more than 500 pages)
- Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (a classic romance)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey (a book that became a movie)
- Travel the World on $50 a Day – Matt Kepnes (a book published this year)
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (a book written by someone under 30)
- Good Omens – Terry Pratchett (a book with nonhuman characters)
- Swept: Love With a Chance of Drowning – Torre DeRoche (a funny book)
- Dancing Lessons – Olive Senior (a book by a female author)
- The Orenda – Joseph Boyden (a mystery or thriller)
- Sweetland – Michael Crummey (a book with a one-word title)
- Stone Mattress: Nine Tales – Margaret Atwood (a book of short stories)
- Alone in Berlin – Hans Fallada (a book set in a different country)
- Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft – Janet Burroway (a nonfiction book)
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith (a popular author’s first book)
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman (a book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet)
- Serafim and Claire – Mark Lavorato (a book a friend recommended)
- The Goldfinch – Donna Tart (a Pulitzer Prize-winning book)
- The Old Patagonian Express – Paul Theroux (a book based on a true story)
- Chance Encounters – Janna Graber (a book at the bottom of your to-read list)
- Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand (a book your mom loves)
- Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins (a book that scares you)
- Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (a book more than 100 years old)
- The Enchanted – Rene Denfeld (a book based entirely on its cover)
- Lord of the Flies – William Golding (a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou (a memoir)
- Instructions for British Servicemen in Germany, 1944 (a book you can finish in a day)
- Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter (a book with antonyms in the title)
- Hatchet – Gary Paulsen (a book that came out the year you were born)
- Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling (a book with bad reviews)
- The Mortal Instruments Series – Cassandra Clare (a trilogy)
- Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume (a book from your childhood)
- I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith (a book with a love triangle)
- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (a book set in the future)
- Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell (a book set in high school)
- The Hare With the Amber Eyes – Edmund de Waal (a book with a colour in the title)
- Wave – Sonali (a book that made you cry)
- The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (a book with magic)
- Palestine – Joe Sacco (a graphic novel)
- The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards (a book you’ve never read before)
- Every Little Thing – Chad Pelley (a book you own but have never read)
- Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden (a book that takes place in your hometown)
- The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery (a book written in a different language)
- The Man in the Red Suit – Bruce Templeton (a book set during Christmas)
- Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away – Christie Watson (a book written by an author with the same initials)
- The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde (a play)
- Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes (a banned book)
- Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain (a book based on or turned into a TV show)
- The Rough Guide to Germany (a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit)
- 60 Degrees North – Malachy Tallack
- The Curse of the Red Cross Ring – Earl B. Pilgrim
(I just realized I screwed up the last two. I have no idea what categories they’re supposed to be in. OH WELL!)
Number Of Books You Read: 52
Number of Re-Reads: 1 (Hatchet)
Genre You Read The Most From: Fiction
1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
The Orenda – Joseph Boyden
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern. Everyone RAVED about it. I was bored.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015?
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert. I really enjoyed it! (Besides all that thinly-veiled misogyny.)
No, maybe it was The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. Because the name is not any indicator whatsoever of what the book is about. (It’s awesome.)
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015?
Definitely The Orenda. Joseph Boyden is a remarkable writer, and it’s the first time a book about aboriginals in Canada really caught my fancy.
5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
The only series I read was The Infernal Devices series, and they were…okay.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Rene Denfeld, or Rainbow Rowell.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Waters. I guess cuz it’s kind of romantic and barfy.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins. Read it i two settings.
9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
None. Not much of a re-reader. :)
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
I read so much on my Kindle this year! But perhaps Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.
11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Brian from Hatchet. I read Hatchet years ago, in high school, and Brian has always stuck in my head. That line about him going to the grocery store after he was rescued and marvelling over the rows and rows of food always stuck with me, and I don’t know why. Rereading it made me emotional.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. Very unique.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a sharp, distinct feeling of loss over what’s become of aboriginal tribes in Canada. I cried a lot.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. I was a self-important snob in high school, how did I not read this?
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Longest Read: The Goldfinch – Donna Tart
Shortest Read: Instructions for British Servicemen in Germany, 1944
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. Such a wonderful (and horrifying) story.
18. Favourite Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Eleanor & Park, obvs!
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Cassandra and Simon in I Capture the Castle (although I guess it’s semi-romantic)
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Eleanor & Park, pressured by some readers of mine :)
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Maybe Serafim from Serafim and Clare.
23. Best 2015 debut you read?
60 Degrees North by Malachy Tallack.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Despite my adverse reaction, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was definitely vivid. I actually ended up with circus food cravings.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Swept by Torres DeRoche. HILARIOUS. Also laughed out loud a lot with Anthony Bourdain’s book.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
The Orenda, Eleanor & Park, Wave. I could go on.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away. Picked it up randomly at a used bookstore, and was quite taken with it.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Orenda. Book hangover for DAYS.
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Once again, The Enchanted.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Infernal Devices series, because of the idiotic love triangle.
WHEW! What a post.
What were your favourite books this year? Do you have recommendations for me?
Feel free to follow me on Goodreads if you’d like to know more about what I’m reading.