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My MMD 2018 Reading Challenge Picks

February 1, 2018
MMD 2018 Reading List

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now, I am a sucker for reading lists. I enjoy putting together my seasonal reading lists and now, thanks to Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy, I am working on a year long reading list. Anne has curated a wonderful set of prompts for a twelve book 2018 Reading Challenge. Twelve books means I could read one for each month, but it’s already February and I haven’t touched  any of the books of my list! Don’t worry, I read fast!

I have chosen my books for all but two of my categories of my 2018 Reading Challenge. The two categories still to be determined are:

-A book nominated for an award in 2018 

-A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller

The first category is obvious, because not a lot of award nominations have gone on yet, so I can’t possible choose. The second category means I might actually have to talk to a librarian or indie bookseller, so I’m going to bench that for a while. I’m contemplating going down to The Wild Detectives in the Bishop Arts District for my recommendation, but I haven’t decided. 

For the rest of the categories, I have made my decisions and I am excited to share them. Of course, If you have other ideas for the categories, I’d love to hear them. Good recommendations are always appreciated.

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge

A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read:

MMD 2018 Reading List - A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

The options for this category are fairly daunting, to say the least. I thought about reading Frankenstein, because I’ve never actually read it all the way through. I still might. However, I was was more excited by the idea of reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Somehow I missed reading this book as a child. I think perhaps it was labelled as some form of Not for Christian Children reading, but I’m really not sure. I just know that I’m late to the game. Even The Hubs has read this book before me(This is shocking.). It’s being made into a movie that will come out later this year, so I want to read it before I get to many preconceived ideas about it. I just got the email that my hold is in at the library for it, so maybe I’ll even start this one today!

A Book Recommended by Someone with Great Taste:

MMD 2018 Reading List - Little Files Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This might be cheating, since the recommendation didn’t come personally. However, Shauna Niequist posted on Facebook about how much she appreciated Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and I thought to myself…she has good taste. I’ve seen this book recommended by others as well. In fact, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy listed it as an honorable mention in her favorite books of 2017 blog post. She has pretty good taste too, so I think that I can use her and Shauna combined for this category. I have no reference point going into this book, but I’m excited to try it.

A Book in Translation:

MMD 2018 Reading List - A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I was confused by this category at first so I had to ask. Apparently, A Book in Translation means a book that has been translated from it’s original language. Thankfully, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman fell into this category. But honestly, I’m really reading this because Bobbi at Knit Night can’t stop singing it’s praises. She also falls into the Someone with Great Taste category, and she has recommended A Man Called Ove so warmly that I knew I’d have to read it at some point this year. 

A Book of Poetry, A Play, or an Essay Collection

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Am I late to the party here? All the sudden it seems like everyone knows who Rupi Kaur is and I don’t. I see her little books everywhere. They must be popular, because I feel like I’ve been on my library’s hold list for MONTHS waiting for this book. I could read it for free through their digital loans, but I don’t want to. Poetry books rely so much on structure and line spacing and sometimes Kindle books mess that up. Nope, I need to read this one in print, so maybe in July when it’s finally on hold for me I’ll let you know how it goes.

A Book You Can Read in A Day

MMD 2018 Reading List - We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Not to boast, but this is a very broad category for me. I’ve always been an extremely fast reader, even growing up. My father didn’t believe me. He thought I was skimming. He would make me read a page I’d never read before, time me, and quiz me about it’s contents. I won. So I just picked a shorter seeming book and put it in this slot. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was recommended to my by two people on facebook, one of which was my old elementary school librarian/babysitter. Girlfriend doesn’t mess around, so I knew I could count on this book to be not only quick, but entertaining.

A Book That’s More than 500 Pages

MMD 2018 Reading List - East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This is also a bit of a classic. I’m getting real literary here. I’ve read Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck like just about every American high schooler, but I’ve never looked at his other works. I am, of course, aware of the Grapes of Wrath (I’ve seen Veggies Tales, I mean, come on). But I never would have chosen to read East of Eden without a recommendation. One of my very closest friends growing up recommended this to me. She was my literary buddy in high school, the person who could talk about Pride and Prejudice with me and also John Green books. So when she recommends a book, I listen. I’m suspecting Steinway will be depressing, but not like Hemingway depressing. I may save it for a summer read.

A Book By a Favorite Author

MMD 2018 Reading List - Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I mentioned him earlier, but I absolutely love John Green’s writing. His characters talk like real teens. His books are witty and funny and painful and deep. When The Hubs was trying to woo me, he read John Green books just to talk about them with me. I have had a copy of Turtles All the Way Down since Christmas, but I’m afraid to start it because I want to be in the right head space for it. I don’t want to be distracted and frazzled and read it in snippets. I want to go through it slowly and savor it. So I’m holding onto it for a little bit longer, and when the time is right, I’ll read it.

A Banned Book

MMD 2018 Reading List - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I actually got this book through a paperback book exchange at a party. I was a little bit leery of it, because books about Native Americans have a tendency to go so terribly wrong. When I was in college, I spent a lot of time studying pre-American Revolution Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and talking to several Mohawk artists. One of the things I studied was how their history gets twisted for American storytelling purposes(the Indian Princess trope and things like that), so I try to be really sensitive about how they’re portrayed in film and literature. So until I found out that Sherman Alexie was Native American himself, I wasn’t sure I was going to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Now that I’ve done a little research on it, I’m more excited to give it a try.

A Memoir, Biography or Book of Creative Non-Fiction

MMD 2018 Reading List - Torn

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

This is probably my biggest departure from my regular reading style on my 2018 reading challenge. I could have done the easy thing and put Hamilton’s biography into this section. Instead, we are going to tackle the Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee. I’ve seen Justin Lee through a couple post-evangelical bloggers I read. He is well spoken and able to navigate the complexities of both Christianity and Homosexuality. I have never ready anything of his, though. I suspect it will be difficult, but worth slogging through.

A Book By an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion than Your Own

MMD 2018 Reading List - Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I love this category. This is what makes the reading challenge more of a challenge. It forces you to pick outside your comfort zone.  For this category, I chose Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. This was another Modern Mrs. Darcy recommendation. I thought it would be good to read a book by an Indian author as well (even though she was born in London and raised in the US). I have worked for the past 2 years with Indians and for Indian clients. I know some of their quirks but very little of their culture (though, much like American Indians, they are too geographically diverse to really sum up as one culture). I thought this book might help on that point, and besides, I’ve heard it’s excellent.

Are you doing any reading challenges this year? Think I should have picked something different for my categories? Let me know! I love adding new books to my want-to-read list!



Books Seasonal

3 Book Series to Get Lost in This Winter

January 11, 2018
3 Series to Read This Winter

I had mentioned that I went above and beyond my reading list for this past Fall and boy did I ever! I’m well into my winter list now (one more book to go!). The difference? I finally, finally got a library card! What’s even better is that my city is really generous with their online library resources as well. I have so many more options now that aren’t Kindle Monthly Deals! Not that those are bad, but the choices are intoxicating here. Here are some new series that I read recently that offer a good distraction on a dark winter evening.

-3 - Series to Read This Winter - Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles

So the Lunar Chronicles series is a bit of old news.  Starting with Cinder, the Lunar Chronicles retells the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a new, futuristic way. There is also a fifth book, Fairest, which focuses on the evil queen of the series, though I haven’t finished that one yet. I’ve had them sitting in my kindle library for a while, but only started reading them on a plane ride. They are definitely more of a young adult series, but I have never let that stop me. They deal with surprisingly grown up concepts like matters of diplomacy, racial tensions, plagues, etc… At some points, they were quite stressful to read, just because you were so invested in the characters with no foreseeable happy ending.

I enjoyed the way that Meyer took the source material and adapted it for her purposes. Fairy tale retelling can get pretty old if they’re not original, but felt like this series handled it well. The futuristic, cyberpunk sort of theme was interesting and engaging, and the stories blended into each other in a way that I thought was very clever. I also appreciated that each female character had a distinctly different personality. This book passes the bechdel test, no question! So if you were like me and looking for some diverting travel reading, this series is a great place to start.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Paper Magician

The Paper Magician Series

The Paper Magician series was a kindle deal in the young adult section last month. It takes place around the turn of the century as far as I can tell. In this series, young students train to be magicians, but can only exert their power over one man made medium. Ceony Twill’s dreamed of working with metal, but due to a shortage of paper magicians, she gets assigned to work with paper. At first, Ceony is disappointed by her somewhat ordinary medium, but she soon learns it’s surprising usefulness. 

You will want to do origami while reading this series, so you’ve been warned. It’s really best taken as a whole, rather than 3 separate books, though each book does progress in significant ways. It seems that a fourth book is scheduled for May of 2018, but everything seemed pretty wrapped up by then end of book 3, so we’ll see what that is about.  The only issue is that it involves to teacher/student sexual tension, and I’m not about all that. To be fair, Ceony is not underage at any point in this book. I just worry that this book could be seen as permission for a teenage student to crush on an older teacher, and please don’t draw that conclusion because it is the worst idea. Other than that annoying point, the who series is inventive and entertaining.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Lady Hardcastle

Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

I’m sure that by now my love of murder mysteries is clear. It’s not thrillers, but good, old fashioned who-dun-its that I like. If you’re the same way, I cannot recommend the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series enough! Lady Hardcastle is a lively widow with a knack for mischief. Florence Armstrong, Lady Hardcastle’s maid, is her protector, caretaker, and closest friend. The pair have a long history of working as spies to avenge the death of Lady Hardcastle’s husband. They have moved to a quiet house in the county in the hopes of leaving all of that behind, but they just can’t seem to give up their meddling ways.

The rapport between Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle is delightful. These books would translate wonderfully into a show or movie (preferable starring Kate Beckinsale)! They are far more familiar with each other than a proper lady and her maid should be, but that never stops them. Together, the pair solve mysteries in their little country town and end up finding a much more exciting life than they bargained for.  There’s a good bit of feminism, a lot of humor and of course, many mysteries solved. These books are good for people of all ages, and are excellent when you need a piece of fluff to read. 


2017 Winter Reading List

December 14, 2017
2017 Winter Reading List

As the Christmas season approaches, I am forced to let go of Fall and acknowledge Winter. I always have a hard time with this because Fall comes late to Texas, and the leaves are just starting to turn by the beginning of December. But with winter comes the winter reading list! I’m keeping my winter reading list a little lighter and more flexible to account for the business of the holiday season. That being said. I recently got my new library card and I’m drunk with power, so who knows where I’ll end up!


Knitlandia by Clara Parks

Knitlandia has been buzzed about in knitting circles quite a bit. I suppose we all like to hear about the world through our unique lens. Knitlandia is a memior by Clara Parks that discusses her most memorable travels throughout the world, but from the viewpoint of a knitter. Knitting has so many regional differences, that I’m anticipating a lot of interesting stories. I’m hoping that this book will inspire me when I’m lagging on my knitting projects. It will certainly make a good discussion topic at knit nights.

Murder for Christmas

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Murder for Christmas is described as “perfect for fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.” Well, that sounds like me, and a Christmas themes murder mystery sounded like fun. Mordecai Tremaine arrives at a party at the home of Benedict Grame, but finds that not everything is good cheer. When party goers discover a dead body among the presents beneath the tree, the mystery begins and Mordecai must sort it out before anyone else suffers the same terrible fate. 

Still Life

Still Life by Louise Penney

Sarah Bessey often talks about her love for Louise Penney and her Inspector Gamache books, and frankly, I trust her judgement. Still Life appears to be the first in a long line of Inspector Gamache novels. I’m excited by the idea of adding a new series to my To Read list. This one focuses of the surprising yet rather mundane death of Jane Neal. On the surface, it seems like a hunting accident, but could it be more sinister? Inspector Gamache thinks so. The fact that this book is impossible to get at the library and never goes on sale indicates to me that it’s probably a winner. 

Option B

Option B by Sheryl Sandburg

Since reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg shortly after my college graduation, I have been a fan of her writing. Much of Lean In talked about making your partner an equal partner in household labor so that women could rise to their fullest potential in the workplace. When Sheryl’s husband died suddenly and tragically, I wondered how it would effect her message. Option B is her response. Option B deals with Sheryl’s grief, but also her decision to find joy again. I expect this book to be full of wisdom and hard truths, but also grace an encouragement. I’m excited to finally read it.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See was recommend to me by my boss, who read it for a book club. She told me that it was excellent, so I’ve had my eye out for it ever since. It is a World War II novel that deals with a German boy and a blind French girl on opposite sides of a war that neither of them asked for. I have heard that it is incredibly well written, and so I have high expectations for it.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Since I liked the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, Heartless seemed like the next logical progession. It’s a fairy tale retelling as well, but this time deals with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland rather than a traditional fairy tale. It goes back to before the Queen of Hearts was queen, when she was just a young woman hoping to find her own way, make her own decisions, and fall in love with a person of her choosing. Somewhere along the way, it seems that something goes wrong to give us the brutal Queen of Hearts that we know today.

Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a traditional Christmas read for me, so it’s natural that it would appear on my winter reading list. Growing up, my family would watch a version of A Christmas Carol every year on Christmas Eve. (The best version is the one with Patrick Stewart and I will fight you on this!) Now that we’re adults, we don’t always watch it on Christmas Eve, but we do always watch it sometime during the Christmas season. Now that I’m grown, I’ve taken to reading it as well. Most of the movies are pretty accurate, but I find that the literary Scrooge is a little more sympathetic and complex.

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

I do appreciate a good Jen Hatmaker book, and Of Mess and Moxie is her latest. I find that she is down to earth, but totally earnest and convicting. She doesn’t ask you to do anything that she hasn’t already challenged herself about. Sometimes she gets a little distracted with silly stories, but I love her humor and storytelling style, so I’ll put up with it. I may read this one via audiobook, just to see if I come away with a different conclusion (and also because the audiobook is available through my library).

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven was featured in one of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog posts as a book that she loved rereading. I was intrigued, since I consider rereading to be the mark of a good book. Station Eleven takes place in after the collapse of modern civilization as a result of disease. It include a travelling symphony/Shakespeare troupe, some unique comic books and the life and impact of an aging actor. Just that combinations of factors seems interesting to me, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about.

That’s all that’s on my winter reading list so far! I am looking for recommendations as well. I finally got a goodreads account in hopes of getting tailored recommendations, but I value a personal recommendation much more. What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?