Looking for a new book to add to read this year?
I sometimes get in a reading rut where I read the same types of books over and over and have to make a conscious effort to switch it up. (It helps that I try to alternate fiction and nonfiction.)
I created the 2013 Reading Challenge as an easy and fun way for me (and you) to fit more varied books in this year. A lot of people create goals of reading a certain number of books in a year, but I think that can be stressful or worse—you may end up racing through shorter, mediocre books in order to reach your quota for a given month. I used to try and race through books in order to tick them off a numbered list, but I’ve found that it’s more challenging and enjoyable to try and read books that are outside my comfort zone, or in a genre I’m not familiar with or that I haven’t read in years.
I created the below lists as a way to get started, but the books I’ve listed for each section are just my personal recommendations. The important thing is not to read any of them just because I’ve listed them here—you should only read them if they jump out at you as being interesting or worth your time.
Above all, reading should be fun. I used to feel like I had to finish every book I started no matter how much I hated it or how bored I got. I don’t do that anymore. If I’m not enjoying myself, I don’t finish the book. You know yourself better than anyone! Only choose what you know what will bring you genuine pleasure and enjoyment. (And won’t be a waste of your time!)
Have fun and let me know what books you pick in each category! I’ll keep you updated by posting reviews here when I’m finished.
Read a childhood favorite you haven’t picked up in years.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi
- Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
- Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise McGraw
- From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Read a nonfiction book about religion or religious culture (or the lack thereof).
- Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh
- The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose
- The Prophet’s Prey by Sam Brower
- A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian D. McLaren
- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
- Who Speaks for Islam? by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed
Read a classic you haven’t touched since high school English.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Read a popular historical fiction novel.
- The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
- Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
- Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
Read a nonfiction book or memoir about an illness or disease.
- Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
- The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch
- Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery by Bill Clegg
- The Mercy Papers by Robin Romm
- An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
- Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith
Read an entire popular YA book series.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
- Divergent series by Veronica Roth
- The Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
- The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle
- Redwall by Brian Jacques
Read a book that was made into a movie or television show released within the past year.
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones)
- The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (The Woman in Black)
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)
- John Carter on Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter)
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit)
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
Read one of the books on New York Times reviewer Michiko Katutani’s Meanest Reviews list and decide for yourself whether the meanness was warranted.
- “The Original of Laura” by Vladimir Nabokov
- “Chronic City” by Jonathan Lethem
- “The Discomfort Zone” by Jonathan Franzen
- “A Long Way Down” by Nick Hornby
- “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer
- “Until I Find You” by John Irving
- “The Dying Animal” by Philip Roth
- “Point Omega” by Don DeLillo
- “Nocturnes ” by Kazuo Ishiguro
- “The Witches of Eastwick” by John Updike
- “NW” by Zadie Smith
Read one of Amazon’s Editors’ Picks for January 2013.
- Me Before You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
- Ship It Holla Ballas! by Jonathan Grotenstein, Storms Reback
- Hikikomori and the Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus
- Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders
- Rage Is Back: A Novel by Adam Mansbach
- Little Wolves by Thomas James Maltman
- Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus
- Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde by Rebecca Dana
- My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
- The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer
Read a nonfiction true crime book.
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- My Life among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World’s Most Notorious Murderers by Helen Morrison and Harold Goldberg
- The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
- Devil in the White City by Jonathan Larson
- Manhunt by James L. Swanson
- Columbine by Dave Cullen
- Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
- The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
- Mind Hunter by John Douglas
Read a book about a sport that usually doesn’t interest you in the slightest.
- Moneyball by Michael Lewis
- Secretariat by William Nack
- The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
- The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
- The Game They Played by Stanley Cohen
- Paper Lion by George Plimpton
- Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger
- Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
Read a collection of short stories.
- Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie
- Dear Life by Alice Munro
- Night Shift by Stephen King
- The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
- Naked by David Sedaris
- Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates
- The Best American Short Stories 2012 by Tom Perrotta and Heidi Pitlor
- Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you have any books to add to these lists? What will you read in one of the categories?