Sunday, June 21, 2015

Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge

I know that today is Father's Day. I don't really celebrate this day (other than with my father-in-law), so I won't be sharing any related stories or pictures. One day I might discuss the reason why I don't celebrate Father's Day, but that's another post for another time.

Today I'm going to be talking about something that actually makes me happy: reading.

I'm starting my first ever "official" reading challenge. I say "official" because it's not a self-imposed, generic "I want to read x amount of books in x amount of time" kind of challenge. This is a challenge I discovered while reading Kristen's blog. (Can't go wrong with another Kristen who loves reading, traveling, and yoga!)

I won't recap all of the rules because they can be found here. I will, however, be posting my preliminary reading list today and linking up!


1.  A YA Book

I don't read a lot of YA fiction. I just don't. I didn't even read a lot of YA fiction when I was a young adult. (Side note: I said something along those lines to a friend at work the other day and he said, "You're still technically a young adult." I was like, "Dude, who are we kidding here? We're in our 30s. We're not old, but we're not that young anymore!")

That being said, there are a few YA books on my "To Read" list ... So it wasn't too difficult to come up with something for this category.

My pick: Identical by Ellen Hopkins

2.  A Book By A Non-U.S. Author

I was really debating which book I should choose for this one. Several of my choices for this challenge fall into multiple categories, but I wanted to make sure I was able to get through some of the books I'd already placed on hold at the library. My pick for this category is a novel I'm currently waiting for (I'm number 21 on the waitlist right now, so hopefully I'll get it soon!), and one I've wanted to read for a while.

My pick: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

3.  A Book That Was Recommended By Another Blogger

I really really wanted to choose The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay for this one. It was recommended by both Kristen and Steph in the recent Show Us Your Books! link-up, and it sounded like the perfect book for me. Unfortunately, they don't have it at the Omaha Public Library. I'm planning to request that they order a copy (along with a few other books that are high on my "To Read" list!), but I refuse to buy any more books until I read everything I have on my shelves at home. (A few of these books were purchased at least 3 or 4 years ago, so I don't think I'm being unreasonable.)

I've added several books to my "To Read" list since I got involved with that link-up, though, so it wasn't difficult to find something else for this category ... I just really wanted to read The Sea of Tranquility.

My pick: Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam (also recommended by Steph in this post)

4.  A Book That Has Been On My "To Read" List For A Year Or More

For this category, I should have chosen one of the aforementioned books that I've owned for several years but never read. That would be the smart thing to do. In reality, I was like, "Oh, I have this new library card so I'll just get something there."

The book I picked for this category has been on my "To Read" list for at least 3 or 4 years. I really hope it lives up to my expectations!

My pick: White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

5.  A Book With A Kickass Female Character

This was a difficult category for me because I actively avoid reviews with spoilers when I'm searching for new books to add to my "To Read" list. Without spoilers, though, sometimes it's hard to determine whether a character will be awesome (or even likable). So I decided to just base my choice on the title and the little knowledge I have of the book, and pick something I actually really wanted to read anyway. Hopefully the main character is as kickass as I imagine she'll be!

My pick: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

6.  A Book That Is (Or Will Be) A Movie Or TV Show

There are quite a few books that would fall into this category on my "To Read" list, so I went with one that has been on the list for many years. (I seriously don't even know how long ... Probably at least 5 years.) I don't know a ton about the story because I get the impression that this is one of those "the less you know beforehand the better" kinds of books, and I've definitely avoided the movie because I wanted to read the novel first. I'll probably watch the movie at some point after finishing the book, though, to see how they compare.

My pick: Under the Skin by Michel Faber

7.  A Book Written By A Comedian Or Celebrity (Or A Memoir)

I decided to go the memoir route here, mostly because I already had one on hold at the library. I don't typically read much nonfiction, but I was in the mood for something a little different ... So I decided to look around the online library catalog for a memoir I might enjoy. This was before Kristen posted the rules for this summer reading challenge. When I saw this category, I was so glad I'd already chosen something that would fit perfectly!

My pick: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

8.  A Book With A One Word Title

My pick for this category came from another of Steph's recommendations (which can be found in this post). Everything about it sounded like something I would love. I'm such a fan of dark, fucked up books and movies ... I had to add it to my "To Read" list!

My pick: You by Caroline Kepnes

9.  A Suspenseful Book (Mystery, Thriller, Etc.)

You'd think that since I love this type of book, this would be the easiest category for me. It wasn't. My problem is that I want to read all the books, so narrowing it down to one was ridiculously hard. (I did mention in a previous post that I can be pretty indecisive!) I picked up a large stack of books from the library yesterday, so I wanted to choose something from that group. The problem is that several of them could easily fall into this category.

I decided to go with the one I think (and hope!) will scare me the most. I'm one of those weird people who gets a thrill from being scared, and I'm hoping this book will do for me what The Good and Happy Child did a few years ago. (Don't pay attention to the incredibly mixed reviews. I highly recommend that one. It gave me nightmares, and that's saying a lot!)

My pick: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

10.  A Book About Summer, With Summer In The Title, Or In Any Way Related To Summer

I couldn't figure out what to choose for this category, and almost gave up in favor of substituting a Literary Ladies Book Club pick. But then I randomly stumbled across a book written by Herman Koch (of The Dinner fame, which I reviewed here) with the word "summer" in the title. I really enjoyed The Dinner, so hopefully Koch can deliver another great novel!

My pick: Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

I also noticed that Kristen chose Big Little Lies and You, so I'll be looking forward to reading her thoughts on those books. It's always interesting to see how different people react to the same books (which is one reason why book clubs are so popular, I'm sure).

I started The Demonologist today, but I doubt I'll zip through these as quickly as some of the other people participating in the challenge. Even if I don't win a prize, that's okay ... I think it will be fun regardless!


  1. Love your list! I loved the Sea of Tranquility-hope your library gets it for you! :)

    1. Thanks! I hope so too ... I put in the request for the library to purchase it, so hopefully they'll pick it up soon!

  2. Big Little Lies was one of my favorite books last year. The audiobook was very suspenseful and I think that's part of why it was my favorite; kind of like watching a movie.

    1. I've never tried audiobooks and have no idea whether I'd like them or not. I always hear such good things, but I often have trouble listening to someone talk without any accompanying visuals (so talk radio and podcasts are a no go for me).

      Regardless, I'm really excited to read Big Little Lies. I've heard a lot of good things about it!

  3. Love the list! I still need to read the sea of tranquility as well!! Thanks for joining the challenge :)

    1. Thanks! I'm really excited about the challenge! I needed something to give my personal 50 book challenge a boost, so this was perfect!

  4. I totally hate when my library doesn't have something. Grrrr. I hope The Sea of Tranquility comes in there soon!

    Great picks. I'm chomping at the bit for the second book in the You series.

    1. I didn't realize You was part of a series. If I like it (and I'm sure I will), I'll definitely check out the rest of the series!

      And yeah, the library thing was such a bummer. I was surprised that they didn't have it!

  5. The Girl with All the Gifts is PERFECT for that category. I read it for a different challenge when I was supposed to choose something from a genre I rarely read, and I loved it. I was surprised how much I loved it. And, Melanie (the lead character) is indeed kick-ass! I hope you enjoy it.

    1. I'm so glad I picked the right book for that category! It sounded really interesting, so I was kind of looking for an excuse to bump it up on my reading list ... I'm happy to see that it was a great book!

  6. Thank for joining us in the challenge! We read Big Little Lies last year for the book club and really liked it! Also, you should really enjoy that Ellen Hopkins books. I haven't read that book but I'm familiar with Ellen Hopkins' writing style and themes - her prose (clipped and poetic) is beautiful and her themes are always incredibly strong.
    Happy Reading!

    1. I'm glad to see even more great things being said about Big Little Lies. I think I've moved to number 18 on the library waitlist for that one, and I'm getting more and more excited to read it!

      The Ellen Hopkins book I chose sounded really interesting (as did many of her others!), and I think the poetic writing style will be very cool. I hope it's as awesome as I want it to be!

  7. Oooh your picks sound really good! Especially, White is for Witching, so eerie. I love it. I am using this challenge to read more. I haven't had enough time or incentive in my busy life... so this should be good! XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  8. I'm also reading Big Little Lies for the challenge :)

  9. oh no!! do you have a kindle? if so, i will send you a copy of the sea of tranquility. i won't get a notification if you respond here, so email me at because that book is AMAZING and I need everyone to read it okay! haha.
    so happy to have found another Kristen who loves yoga, reading and travelling :)
    The Girl with all the Gifts is on my TBR list as well!