Authors,Books,Culture Vulture,Travel

What I’ll Be Reading for the 2016 Reading Challenge

reading challenge

I recently stumbled across this rather different, and cool, reading challenge on Modern Mrs Darcy‘s blog and thought I’d give it a go! Instead of just trying to read a certain amount of books for the year it gives you interesting categories which are pretty fun to find books that fulfil the criteria. If you head to her post you can also download your own checklist like this one:


I tried to find books that both fit the criteria above as well as being (mostly) about travel, or set in far away destinations for me to have a bit of an arm-chair adventure abroad! Without further ado, here is my list for the 2016 Reading Challenge:

* A book published this year – “The High Mountains of Portugal” by Yann Martell

It is expected that “The High Mountains of Portugal” will be published in February 2016. When I googled ‘books published in 2016’ to choose one this jumped out at me partly because it is set in Portugal, a country I haven’t been to but want to see one day, and partly because it is by the same author as “Life of Pi” – which I loved. On Goodreads it is described as ‘part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable – (it) offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss’ and ‘takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century’. I’m looking forward to reading this!

* A book you can finish in a day – “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

I’ve seen the film version of this but never actually read the book. I think it’s about time. It’s about travelling through space, which isn’t very realistic but should still be interesting! Apparently it’s short enough to finish in a day so I’m interested to see what the book is actually like.

* A book you’ve been meaning to read – “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

I’ve always loved books/stories about circuses and this one has been on my radar for ages but I haven’t gotten around to reading it. That has to change! And the circus apparently travels around the world during the story so it fulfils all my criteria.

* A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller – “The Light Between Oceans” by M. L. Stedman

I don’t really have a ‘local’ librarian or bookseller here in the Netherlands, but I am good friends with a librarian back in Australia so I asked her to recommend me something. She came up with quite a list and I will probably try to get through them all later, but for now this is the one I chose for the 2016 Reading Challenge. Reading the description of this book reminded me of another book partly set in an Australian lighthouse – “The Alphabet of Light and Dark” by Danielle Wood. I really enjoyed that and I like the idea of exploring another Australian novel that in part looks at what it is like to live in such a remote place.

* A book you should have read in school – “She” by H. Rider Haggard

I can’t think of any books that I should have read in school and didn’t but during my university years I sometimes did not have enough time to read ALL the novels on the reading lists for some of my classes. One of these, was “She” by H. Rider Haggard. I’m not even sure which unit it was in but it may have been a British Literature unit. Anyway, I DID want to read it because it sounded so interesting and I always remember my grandparents watching ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ in which he would refer to his wife as “She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed” which also made me curious about the original owner of this title.

* A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF – “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of my best friends back in Australia has been going on about this book to me for YEARS; about how it is her all-time favourite book and I HAVE to read it. It’s set in Colombia and I figured I might as well do it so I can see what all the fuss she’s making is about 😉

* A book published before you were born – “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck

I quite like Steinbeck, I have taught “Of Mice and Men” so many times I think I almost know it by heart, and a story about him taking an American road-trip with his dog sounds interesting. Hopefully it will be charming and no innocent animals will die in this one…

* A book that was banned at some point – “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

Another book that I always meant to read and might give some interesting insights about travelling in America. Will also be interesting to note the differences between this and ”Travels with Charley.”

* A book you previously abandoned – “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak

Hopefully none of my ex-students read this, but during my years as an English teacher I once taught this novel but didn’t actually get the time to finish reading it myself! My students loved it but I had a lot on my plate with all the classes and running the English department so I only read the beginning and the end. I had also previously taught (and read the entirety of) “I am the Messenger” by Zusak and thought it was fantastic. I do feel rather ashamed I never finished “The Book Thief”, but now is the perfect time to rectify this. Just FYI, a good English teacher doesn’t need to have read a novel in order to be able to teach it well!

* A book you own but have never read – “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf

I have a lovely little copy of this sitting in my bedroom back in Australia, but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to reading it. I definitely consider myself a feminist so I am very interested to finally finish this essay by Woolf on women as writers and characters in fiction.

* A book that intimidates you – “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell

This is the same book that Modern Mrs Darcy chose for this category, I totally agree with her thinking “Cloud Atlas” is intimidating. I saw the movie but found it very confusing, so I’m hoping that reading the novel (which I had a student in London recommend to me originally) will help clear a few things up. It spans multiple times, places and characters, but also looks at ideas about reincarnation (I think!).

* A book you’ve already read at least once – “The Alphabet of Light and Dark” by Danielle Wood

Since “The Light Between Oceans” reminded me of “The Alphabet of Light and Dark” I figured why not re-read this one as well. I remember loving the sense of place in this story, set in both Tasmania and Western Australia (both places I have lived as well), and the remoteness of the lighthouse setting. It might be nice to round out my Reading Challenge with two different tales set in lighthouses, and feel some nostalgia for home.

So there we have it, my list that I will attempt to conquer in the next twelve months. If you’re thinking of doing a reading challenge for the year, why not have a go at this one as well? Let me know if you do, would love to see what other people are choosing to read. 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you follow a link and then purchase something, I will earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. I only promote products (or in this case, books) that I would buy myself (or have bought) and your purchase will help me to pay my internet bills so I can keep running this site and bringing you more fun content! Click on the images of the books to get to the link to purchase them.

what I'll be reading for the 2016 reading challenge

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