Ramping up my reading challenge in May

I'll be kicking my 2016 Reading Challenge into high gear in May with the #SmashYourStack reading challenge.My reading challenge has been my anchor during a busy first third of 2016. It has flown by in a haze of events, assignments, responsibilities, new experiences. In other words: life.

Through this rush, #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks has kept me focused without putting inordinate pressure on me to read a set number of books by a set date. It has reintroduced me to what is turning out to be an exceedingly well-stocked library (my very own!). It has staunched the slow bleed of my monthly earnings. Oh yes, this reading challenge came at just the right time, and I’ve loved everything about it.

Still…the rosy glow of affection and good intentions can dim over time, can’t they? Who hasn’t experienced the pull of old habits?

Four months in, my itchy trigger finger lingers over the “purchase” button on a new biography that looks enticing. Then again over the e-book version of Station Eleven for that day in the future when I want to reread it (*rolls eyes at self*). I didn’t end up purchasing either of these (full-price) options, but my e-library has still managed to swell to 510 books. (I just want to say, some of them are samples.) Of the books I’ve read this year, about 55 percent have been my own, which means about 45 percent were new or borrowed. I could be doing better.

SmashYourStackAnd I could use a little jolt. Andi at Estella’s Revenge and Melissa at BalletBookWorm are providing it with a supplementary reading challenge called #SmashYourStack: Read Your Own Books in May. I’m a little late here, it being May 3 already, but I’m in because I need this.

All the evidence is contained in my answering “yes” to each of the first four questions in Melissa’s post:

Yes, I acquire books faster than I can read them.

Yes, I have an e-reader filled to bursting

Yes, online deals and book sales are my kryptonite.

Yes, my Mount TBR is Out. Of. Hand.

For May, my #SmashYourStack pledge is for 80 percent of my reads to come from my existing library. I will read a new book, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, because it’s my book club’s pick for our May 13 meetings. If I read eight of my own, then I’m allowed to read one more new one. No library books, no ARCs, and no borrows from friends unless I’ve already read my own.

There. Now I’ve said it.

Since I don’t want to be scouring my library every few days, I’ve compiled a list of appealing-looking titles. Some are left over from Readathon. Others are books that somehow got lost in the shuffle. I may not get to them all, but they’re not a bad starter list.

Children’s/YA fiction:

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Classic fiction:

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Other fiction:

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

How to Write a Novel by Melanie Sumner

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Book 2) by Douglas Adams


All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Smith

The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan

Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues by Nick Hornby

Spymistress: The True Story of the Greatest Female Secret Agent of WWII by William Stevenson

Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Any suggests for which of these I should start with based on your experience with them?

8 Replies to “Ramping up my reading challenge in May”

  1. This is the first time in a while that I’ve looked at a list of titles and recognized none of them — which is so cool! I will say that I’ve read Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, and I loooooved it. Happy reading!

    1. Thank you, Anna! And happy reading to you! I LOVED When You Reach Me too – such a beautiful book and so, so moving. <3

  2. The Nightingale was one of my top 5 books last year, and I read over 100. I loved that book! You should definitely read it this month.

    1. Thank you, Alexa! The subject matter is right up my alley. I’m pushing it to the top of this month’s queue. 🙂

  3. Right on for pushing yourself to the limit!

    Also, I’m so glad you’re still going to read “Brooklyn” – like I said in a previous comment, I really want to know what you think of it.

    That said, wow, so many choices – I love how eclcectic your list is. I have “All Roads Lead to Austen” on my Kindle and have read most of it…but I found it sort of aimless, to be honest, despite its sort of direction-y title. It’s the kind of book you could probably knock off easily, unless you’re looking for a major overall scope or point to it. So that could be good if you’re tired of reading more thought-provoking stuff.

    The Little Paris Bookshop is also on my “read for a rainy day” list (I think I just made that up): I don’t own it but I know it could be a nice, warm, friendly book that could comfort me in a bad time. So if you’re feeling sad, maybe that would be a good one to start with.

    Best of luck, and I can’t wait to find out which books you chose to tackle and what you thought of them!

    1. That’s good to know about “All Roads Lead to Austen.” I might add that one and “The Little Paris Bookshop” to my summer vacation reading list.
      I did finally read “Brooklyn.” I found it mesmerizing and very hard to put down. The construction was, I thought, brilliant – so unique, and I love when I find books that do something really different. It was also, at times, intensely moving at times, despite (or perhaps because of) the absence of overt emotional tones. I didn’t think I was going to like it reading the first page, but by the end of the first chapter, I was fascinated and utterly hooked. We’re going to watch the movie at our book club on Friday. 🙂

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