2018 Reading Challenge: Reading While Cruising.

I returned home Thanksgiving afternoon after three weeks of traveling in Europe. Part of the trip was on the Mediterranean Ocean and for a while, on the Atlantic. We visited Spain, Morocco, and Portugal. A fabulous trip, and in addition to posting photos, I’ll tell you more. But one great “small world” moment? Author Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and her husband were on the trip, too. And thanks to one of my readers who mentioned this on Facebook, we met and the four of us had a great time together. That is the definition of lagniappe! (Or serendipity.)

Right now, though, I’m recovering from jet lag and a cold I caught on the trip home. That calls for lots of liquids and sleep, which I’ve happily indulged in.

I did, though, between moans, pull down my Reading Challenge list, to see what categories remain for me to finish before year’s end. I was delighted to learn that I only have two: A young adult novel and a classic “you’ve always promised yourself to read.” A quick scan of my bookshelves turned up two obvious solutions.

I have never read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’ve read the sequel, which I did not love, and I’ve seen the movie. But it only seems fair to Harper Lee to read her master work. So that will be my classic. I also found a book, Year of the Cat, by my good friend Casey Daniels, who was writing under another name at the time. Casey awes me. She’s written in so many genres and she’s good in all of them. So I’m going to scarf up this one, which was a gift to my youngest son at the time of publication, to see when I can pass it on my grandson. Or granddaughter. I look forward to it.

I mentioned the challenge on our Read Along With Emilie Richards Facebook group when I returned and was delighted to learn that some people are all done with their lists. How about you? If you’re not, take a quick look at the list. You may find, as I did, that books you read “just because” actually fulfill a category.

Before I head back to bed? Let me share some of the books that I read for our challenge that I loved the most.

  • A travelogue: A House in Fez by Suzanne Clark. Suzanne and her husband (Australians) bought a “riad” (this is a house with a courtyard) in Fez, Morocco, and restored it, one tile at a time. Their struggles and triumphs, mixed with facts about Fez and Moroccan culture, made riveting reading for me since I was on my way to Morocco at the time. A big win for me. Not the usual travelogue, bu definitely close enough.
  • A time travel novel: Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain.  I interviewed Diane about this book last month, so page back and read my comments. A very interesting, creative story with characters you’ll care about.
  • A book you chose just because: Origin by Dan Brown. I actually listened to this one, primarily because my husband suggested it. The book’s set mostly in Spain, and lots of it is in Barcelona, where we spent four days before we boarded our ship. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to see the real spiral staircase in La Segrada Familia, which is featured in the novel. If you don’t love Robert Langdon, don’t bother. But I liked this as much or more than any of the other Robert Langdon books, especially once I got to Spain.

Want to share your favorites of the books you’ve read? Don’t worry if you haven’t finished the list or don’t intend to. If you picked up one book you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise? The challenge was a success. It’s all about variety in our reading life.

I will also say that some of the books I read were not favorites, but I always learn something when I read.

Isn’t that almost always true?


  1. Nancy Lepri on November 29, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Happy you’re home safe and sound, and hope you feel better soon!

  2. JanBowling Moutz on November 30, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I hope you feel better soon! I met Casey at a library talk. She then arranged a tour of all Pepper’s favorite spots in Cleveland. We went on Lilly the Trolly. So much fun!
    My favorite YA book is Catherine called Birdy. It was written by Laren Cushman.
    Dream Daughter was very good!
    I read some good books this month. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was beautifully written.

  3. Coelle Baskel on November 30, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Loved the book, “Origin” by Dan Brown …..and also wanted to say your timing of wanting to read the book, “To Kill A Mockingbird” coincides with the Broadway play of this story starring Jeff Daniels. There was a great interview on this play on 60 Minutes last Sunday….worth viewing if you didn’t see it.

  4. Marjorie Roberts on November 30, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird for my classic and thoroughly enjoyed it! I also read it in high school. I just started reading The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White. It is a novel, a historical mystery that switches between 1913 when the RMS Lusitania was sunk and the year 2013, whose character’s great-grandfather died on the ship. To me, this fits in with the travelogue category, a novel set in a different century and country, a family saga, and a time travel novel. I’m really enjoying it.

    • Emilie Richards on December 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      You got lots of categories in one fell swoop. Good for you.

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