Posted by: Anonymous Me | January 9, 2011

The 50 Book Challenge – Recommendations

Hello, peeps! Week 1 of 2011 has come and gone, and I haven’t finished a book yet. This bums me out! 😦 I have been reading though…just not with the quickness. Oh well…better some than none! πŸ™‚

For those participating in the Challenge, whether it’s reading 50 books or just increasing your normal reading volume, I thought I would share something that’s helped me in remembering the books I’ve read and then offer some suggestions of good’ns I’ve come across.

But first, the spreadsheet!!!

I really don’t know what I’d do without this. This is how I track what I read and when I read it. I have no idea what prompted me to start this, but I think it has something to do with my love of specifics. If I can provide an exact number of something, anything, I will. Also, when I started the spreadsheet, I was reading A LOT! I started it in December of 2000. In 2001, I read 65 books (my highest in one year to date). I knew there was no way I would be able to remember whether or not I had read something given that I was finishing a book once every three or four days. This came in especially handy when I started getting the majority of my books from the library instead of buying them. It’s easy to remember if you’ve read something if it’s sitting on your shelf (especially since I divide my shelves into read and unread books…OCD much??). It becomes much more difficult to recall if you never lay eyes on it again…Or you check it out again because it sounds interesting only to realize halfway through that the reason it sounded so interesting is because you’ve had the good judgement to read it before. Lastly, the spreadsheet is a tangible product of my efforts. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment each time I add an entry. And because I’m nerdy, I really like doing things like adding up the number of pages read in a given year and dividing by 365 to see how many pages I read per day on average. It’s the little things in life, you know! πŸ˜‰ Anyhoo…I highly recommend starting on for yourself!

Speaking of recommendations…here are some great books I’ve read in the last few years that might tickle your fancy:

~ As I mentioned in my 2010 Survey post, The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks is a great read! Elyn is a law professor in California, and in this book she tells the story of her battle with schizophrenia. The line between mental illness and mental wellness is really quite thin.
~ The Treehouse by Naomi Wolf is a luminous piece of non-fiction. Naomi tells of the lessons she’s learned about seeing the world and living in it from her father, a poet and writing professor. It made me want to start committing poems to memory (another inspiration for Poem of the Week) and quit my job so I could move to the seaside and rhapsodize about the waves. A lovely, inspirational read.
~ And now for some fiction! If you haven’t read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson yet, you need to get on it! This is one of the times when the product really does live up to the hype. I am not into thrillers by any means, but this had me burning the midnight oil so I could find out what happens. You should definitely scope it out, stat! πŸ™‚
~ If you’ve watched any Oprah then you’re probably familiar with Wally Lamb – She’s Come Undone or I Know This Much Is True. His third novel, The Hour I First Believed, is an intense book about how the Columbine school shootings affect the lives of the book’s protagonists. It took me a while to get through this one, but it was well worth it!
~ And now for a little levity…If you are from the South, have been to the South, know somebody from the South, or have seen a movie about the South, then you should read Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. It is hilarious, bizarre, unsettling, and hilarious. Tony is a journalist living in Virginia, and the book describes his encounters with the “Unfinished Civil War”. If none of that sounds interesting, then I have two words for you: Civil Wargasm. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, then you might be what I call “really boring”. Seriously…scope it out…like now! πŸ˜‰

So, those are my suggestions. As for me, because I am in school the vast majority of my book consumption this year will be what I have to read for my classes. I will be making an extra effort to have time for leisure reading at the end of each day, which should be a lot easier now that my tv is in the closet. πŸ˜‰ So, what are some good books you’ve read? Mia amica has already said I should read East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Consider it added to the list! But what about you? Are there any great books you’d recommend? Leave a comment, and let us know!


Me! πŸ˜€


  1. OMG You are a hoot. I love you so much and that mind of your’s just works overtime. So glad the tv is in the closet because I for one know that is your number one addiction. You know this too. Admitting it is the first step to recovery. If you get the urge to take the tv out of that closet just let me know and I will walk you through the 12 step program long distance. πŸ™‚ lots of love Granimal

  2. I am seriously considering adding Confederates in the Attic to my list now. I’ve already got a stack thigh high of books I need to finish first though.

    If you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis, I just found out about a sci-fi trilogy that I never knew he wrote (courtesy of a Christmas present from my girlfriend). The first page has me hooked, but I’m using this series as incentive to finish the other stuff I’ve started first.

  3. Wow, this blog is fun. I can recommend several books I just read (since you spreadsheet is small, I can’t see if you read them yet). I have a spreadsheet, but also an account on, which is fun cause you can connect with other people and see what they are reading, what they like etc. I’m aiming for 100 books this year and trying to read 6 each from each of 6 continents/regions. That list is . So far I have read and loved The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m also reading Nervous Conditions and liking that alot. Also recent reads I liked: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, A Confederacy of Dunces. Good luck with the challenge. I didn’t read much for pleasure when I was a grad student. I do better now. Oh, and I just subscribed to your blog–I think it will be a fun read!!!

    • WOW! I am SOOOO impressed with your 6 Books/6 Continents/100 Books Challenge! One of the my lifetime goals is to hit 100 books in a year. One day… πŸ™‚ I just scoped out your list. it looks great! Some of the ones I’ve read: Things Fall Apart by Achebe…I liked it but didn’t love it. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Marquez is AMAZING! I actually read this is high school, and I don’t know if I was ready for it, but I loved it. I have a read a lot of his other stuff as well. News of a Kidnapping, a work of nonfiction, is wonderful as well. Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende is good too. Her books have good flow are easy reads. The Alchemist or Brida (have latter) by Paul Coelho. I have read both, and you can’t go wrong with either one…Although I would probably recommend you read The Alchemist first. Coehlo is really good about putting morals into stories without making the story moralistic, if that makes sense. He is one of my all-time faves! The Girl w/ the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson. This is SUCH a good book! A real page turner. You can’t help but get sucked in. Ok, last one! πŸ™‚ March by Geraldine Brooks. She is a really good writer. I also enjoyed Year of Wonders. March is really good, although I ended up being REALLY put off by one of the characters, but I am pretty sure that was the point (here’s hoping anyway!). I hope that helps a little! I am so envious of all the reading you’ll be doing! Good luck!!! πŸ™‚

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