Read 52 books a year challenge
This time last year I kept seeing people on social media talking about reading a book a week – which I knew I could never do. But then I saw another challenge, to read 52 books a year. Which I thought I might just manage. You see I quite often read a book in a day, if it’s a me day or when I’m on holiday, but then other books can take me 3 or 4 weeks to read.
So why on earth would you try and read 52 books a year? Everyone has their own reasons, but for me it was about rediscovering my love of reading, and switching off from TV and the Internet in the evening to read a good book instead.
At times I wondered if I’d ever finish reading that many books, but I’m so pleased I took it on as I managed the 52 books a year challenge with a couple of weeks to spare 🙂
I highly recommend the challenge if you’re a lapsed bookworm or want to find an alternative to TV/Internet evenings.
So here is the list of the 52 books I read this year (in order of reading). It’s a mixed batch which sums up pretty well my reading style, with a selection of chick lit, thrillers, autobiographies and self-help books.
- Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain I am a HUGE Diane Chamberlain fan and highly recommend her books if you want to lose yourself in page-turners that you just can’t put down. This one is set in 1960s North Carolina.
- On writing – Stephen King Reading this book changed the course of my year. About a year ago I had an idea for a bilingual children’s story. A week after reading this book I had committed a lot of it to paper (computer) and in December Elodie and the Pirates / Elodie et les Pirates was published. I cannot recommend this book enough if you have ever considered writing anything. Part autobiographical, part educational, it is a must read for all writers/would-be writers.
- Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone – J.K.Rowling I first discovered the Harry Potter books and films in around 2003/2004 and loved them all instantly. Now that L is getting to an age where she is starting to read them I have decided to revisit them, and second time around they’re just as good.
- Catching the Wolf of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort I read The Wolf of Wall Street a couple of years ago and I found it quite an entertaining – albeit shocking – read. My recommendation is to leave it there: read the first one and don’t bother with the second one as it was a real let-down, badly written, boring with lots of repetition.
- Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets – J.K.Rowling see book 3
- My Child Won’t Eat!: How to enjoy mealtimes without worry – Carlos Gonzalez I was given this book to review on Hubs’ and my food blog, Franglaise Cooking so I won’t go into again here, just to say that it makes for a good read if you’re worried about your child’s eating from newborn right through to primary school. You can read my review of My Child Won’t Eat here.
- Riders – Jilly Cooper I first read Riders when I had a Saturday job in a family bookshop, aged 15. I remember being engrossed as I learnt all sorts of stuff! When I saw this at our local library I had to borrow it just for a trip down memory lane as much as anything else. If you’ve never read it you should definitely rectify that now!
- Cecelia Ahern – How to fall in love I have read most of Cecelia Ahern’s books and I love that they are chick lit with a supernatural twist, they make for a nice light read that does get you thinking. The star of this book talks a man back from suicide and then promises to find him reasons to stay alive.
- Cecelia Ahern – The time of my life Life is personified as a physical character in this book, and he follows the main character around. A great take on what “life” is all about.
- We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver I read this book over several months as I just couldn’t get into it, despite (because of?) having watched the film beforehand. I know it’s supposed to be a great classic that everyone will love. I just didn’t. Sorry.
- Success is not an accident – Tommy Newberry I got this book off the back of a great blog post by Honest Mum about making her creative and personal plan for 2014, and it’s one of the best books I read last year. If you’re looking to change or improve things in your life/your business, this book is for you. It’s also a great one for pushing you to make and revisit goals.
- Keep calm – the new mum’s manual by Dr Ellie Cannon I have been lucky enough to meet Dr Ellie on a couple of occasions and she is such a genuine, down-to-earth, all round lovely person. I reviewed the new mum’s manual here so I won’t go into it again, except to say that this is THE baby book that all expectant mothers should read.
- Sweet dreams, little one – Massimo Gramellini I honestly expected to love this book but I found it a bit meh, I struggled to like the main character and found the book became quite boring and tedious. However I do know people who have loved it, so each to their own.
- It’s not raining, Daddy, it’s happy – Benjamin Brooks-Dutton I have heard Ben speak twice now, and both times were heart-breaking yet funny too. I read this book in a day, and then felt compelled to write about it here. Don’t be put off by the incredibly sad subject matter (Ben lost his wife and the mother to his 2 year old son when she was hit by a car, with him and his son just metres away), as there is a lot in the book about love, life and laughter too. Just make sure you have a pack of tissues ready for the start which is very hard.
- Never too late to be great – Tom Butler-Bowdon Several people had recommended this book to me so I decided to finally sit down and read it. As I race towards my 40s (the big 4-0 next year!) this is just what I needed to read, it was so interesting to learn about famous people who experienced success much later on in life, including into their 60s or even 70s. So who knows what the future might bring for this ageing Franglaise Mummy 😉
- Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life – Arianna Huffington I’d heard positive and negative feedback about Thrive but decided I wanted to give it a whirl for myself. There was a lot where I thought “yes that’s all easy to do when you’re a multi-millionaire”, but there is also a great deal that the average person can take onboard, and I learnt a lot from the book, including switching off from the internet a lot more, which I am still enjoying.
- Laura Kemp – Mums on strike this was a lovely light read about mums going on strike from their “mum duties”. I’d recommend if if you’re a mum and ever feel that your job is never-ending.
- A hundred pieces of me – Lucy Dillon Imagine if you could only keep 100 things, what would they be and how would you decide? A great book about starting over.
- The secret supper club – Dana Bate This book had quite a few moments of “eek, you’re going to get caught out” which had me on edge (I’m too much of a scaredy cat!) but on the whole it was an enjoyable read. Foodies will love it I’m sure.
- Point Man – Mark Townsend This is a true story of the soldier who had the most dangerous job in the British army, but lived to tell the tale. This covers two generations of soldiers, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the very real problems of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and what happens to former soldiers. There was so much I didn’t know about this subject before reading this book, it was a real eye-opener.
- Twilight (book 1) – Stephenie Meyer I do love my teen fiction and Twilight was the first of this genre that I read, about 6 years ago. I was revisiting it to see if it was suitable for L and I loved re-reading it!
- The fault in our stars – John Green This was recommended to me by so many people and I wanted to LOVE it the way they did. Whilst I did like it, I wasn’t bowled over by it the way some people have been. I’d be interested to see what the film’s like though…
- Twilight (book 2) New Moon – Stephenie Meyer See book 21
- How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul – Ruth Soukup I read this out of curiosity as quite a few blogger friends had recommended it to me. It was an interesting read but wasn’t really for me in the end as my blog is not about making money as such, in the sponsored post/advertising way. However I can imagine a lot of bloggers would find it very helpful.
- The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson the very lovely Kate, who blogs at WitWitWoo recommended this book to me and I LOVED it! However I know people who really didn’t like it. I’d say if you like 20th century history and/or Forrest Gump then you should definitely give it a whirl! I can’t wait to see the film now.
- Twilight (book 3) Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer See book 21
- Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight This book absolutely scared the crap out of me! My 20-something cousin who doesn’t yet have children recommended it to me and, having daughters, it terrified me of what is to come as they hit adolescence and are at secondary school. Hopefully it has been a wake-up call of what could happen so I’m prepared….
- Twilight (book 4) Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer see book 21
- No one ever has sex on a Tuesday – Tracy Bloom this book made me cringe and laugh. What do you do when you’re pregnant and don’t know if the father is your ex-boyfriend school reunion one night stand, or the boyfriend you’re not really sure about? One thing is for sure if this happens to you in real life – don’t take any risks as babies can look scarily like their fathers as my “mini-me” daughters prove – Hubs can’t deny his paternity there!
- The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion I didn’t really know what to expect from this book about an honest-talking genetics professor in Melbourne, who is socially awkward but decides he should get married so he can live longer. The two main characters are fantastic and seeing the world through Don’s eyes is just brilliant! Highly recommend.
- Into the darkest corner – Elizabeth Haynes OMG!!! (and I don’t say OMG) This is one of the best books I have ever read – up there with Me before you by Jojo Moyes, but very different. It is so gripping I was still reading this at gone 1am (I normally go to sleep at 10.30pm!). I won’t say anymore other than READ THIS BOOK!
- Crazy little thing (A Bell Harbor Novel) – Tracy Brogan This book is an ok, light read, maybe a good beach read, but it didn’t really do much for me.
- The husband’s secret – Liane Moriarty This was a really great read, with a really big surprise and various twists. It has quite a few characters and the narration changes from chapter to chapter, so you do have to concentrate at the start but it’s well worth it.
- Little beach street bakery – Jenny Colgan this was a lovely, light, easy read but there was a sad twist that I didn’t see coming, so be warned! Also if you LOVE bread, and making bread, like I do, then you’ll love the baking bits to this book.
- Survivor – Lesley Pearse As I’ve previously mentioned, I love 20th century history, but I particularly love civilian history during the world wars, so this book was a great one for me. Great characters and story.
- Liverpool Angels – Lyn Andrews This is another historic fiction novel, this time starting off just before the First World War, and based in Liverpool (where I used to live). It was a lovely read, light and easy but not exactly gripping or a must read.
- A million little pieces – James Frey I nearly stopped reading this book so many times, and only persevered as I don’t like to give in or let a book get the better of me, but this book really wound me up. There is no grammar, no speech marks, there are capital letters all over the places and half the time, when there is dialogue, there is no indication to who is speaking. On top of that the “autobiography” has apparently been wildly exaggerated/made up. I seriously recommend NOT reading this book.
- Getting over Jesse Franklin by Stephanie Chapman. There is no link to this book as I got the chance to read and review it before publication. Stephanie is a blogger friend who has written this fab chick lit book about a boys band fan who grows up and manages to befriend her idol on Facebook. The novel then follows the pair’s developing relationship as she tries to hide the fact she was once an obsessed fan. An absolutely brilliant read – if there are any literary agents/publishers out there reading this, you’ll want to snap this book up!
- The summer without you – Karen Swan This was an ok light, summer read, but wasn’t really anything special that stood out.
- The storyteller – Jodi Picoult This one was recommended by another blogger friend, fellow bookworm, Sarah from Mum of Three World, and I’m so pleased she did. I’ve read a couple of Jodi Picoult and I generally like her books, but this one was quite outstanding. A book about the Holocaust that makes sense for later generations to read, to put into context what it means for survivors and what it meant at the time. A must read.
- Never say goodbye – Susan Lewis I used to absolutely love reading Susan Lewis books when I was in my early 20s, so when I saw this at the library I thought I’d give it a whirl. An often sad story following two women and their links to breast cancer. I found that my interest levels went through peaks and troughs with this one, but on the whole I found it to be a pretty good book.
- Divergent – Veronica Roth Having read and loved all the teen fiction Hunger Games books a friend of mine recommended I read the Divergent trilogy, as they are in a similar vein. Well I was addicted and read all three books in about 10 days. I fell in love with the main male character, Four, and recently watched the film which is just as good. If you like dystopian teen fiction then you’ll love this!
- Insurgent – Veronica Roth see book 42
- Allegiant – Veronica Roth see book 42 (this one wasn’t quite as good as the first two, as was the case with the third Hunger Games book)
- The basement – Stephen Leather I hadn’t realised this was a short story when I started reading it (one of the downsides of reading an e-book is it’s hard to get an idea of the length of the book), but it was a very gripping one that left me in suspense right up to the twist in the end. Not a bad read at all.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K.Rowling see book 3
- Wonder – R. J. Palacio I have recently set up a local low brow book / wine club (there had to be wine while we discuss the books!) and I asked on Facebook for a light, easy read for our first book, and pretty much everyone recommended this book. Having read it I can understand why. It is a must read, especially for children over 9 or 10, and for parents of school age children. I can’t wait for L to be old/mature enough to read it. Such a fantastic story, well-written and with great characters.
- 59 seconds – Richard Wiseman a self-help book that teaches you things like punching a pillow when you’re angry will just make you angrier, instead you should sit quietly and reflect on what you have learnt from your anger. It was an ok read, but far from the best self-help book I’ve read on such topics.
- Become the Best You: Make Peace with the Past and Break the Cycle of Dysfunction – Renée Davis This is such an uplifting, yet occasionally hard read. Renée had a dysfunctional upbringing and statistics should have seen her repeat this as she went on to have children. However she managed to break the cycle, pulling herself back from the brink of self-destruction, to get a good job, marry a wonderful man and have children, who she is a great mum to. Renée wrote this book, which is part memoir, part self-help, to help others realise they can break from the past and create a new future for themselves. Renée also blogs at Mummy Tries.
- Sealed with a Christmas kiss – Rachael Lucas A year or so ago I read a great feel-good chick lit book called Sealed with a kiss. There was something about the book that just made me smile. So I was delighted to find out that Rachael Lucas had written a Christmas special novella, following on from her debut novel. Both are great reads that I definitely recommend.
- The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts – Gary D Chapman If you are married, getting married or in a long-term relationship then you HAVE to read this book. Hubs recommended it to me, having read it himself, and it was such a lightbulb moment for both of us. The premise is that everyone speaks 5 love languages: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch, but if you and your partner don’t speak each other’s language then you’ll end up driving each other crazy. So worth reading to work out what your/your partner’s language is so you can start getting on the same wavelength. A MUST READ.
- Life after life – Kate Atkinson I am still undecided on this one. I loved it but it also irritated me at times. I, obviously, loved the historical side to it, but at times it was just too repetitive, and sometimes it lacked explanation. I would still recommend it though, as the good outweighs the bad.
So those are my 52 books, the good, the bad and the ugly. Now the challenge is over, the big question is “would I read 52 books a year again?” I would definitely recommend it and I don’t regret doing it, BUT I’m back to reading without a schedule again for now. The challenge did what I wanted it to do – it got me back into reading again, and choosing a book over the remote control/a device as my evening entertainment. However who knows when I might try it again!
Have you tried this challenge? How did you find it? Are you aiming to read 52 books this year? Are there any books you’d recommend to me, now you now what styles I like?
The photo shows me with my beloved Kindle Paperwhite in my favourite reading spot at home (somehow I manage to ignore the toys and mess when I am engrossed in a good book!)