Reading Challenge 2018: Time for Congratulations

2018 reading challengeYou ask why am I congratulating you?

Maybe you only read a couple of books on the reading list, then abandoned the challenge way back in February as too time consuming.

Maybe you read the categories that appealed to you but wouldn’t be caught dead reading:

  1. A time travel novel
  2. A young adult novel
  3. A travelogue

And maybe you just wore out a few categories away from the finish line.

Congratulations anyway!

Why? Because no matter what you did or didn’t do with our reading challenge, I just bet you read lots of books in 2018, even if you didn’t want to choose from a list–no matter how much latitude this one offered.

I had fun with the challenge, and judging from responses I’ve received, so did others. And guess what?

I finished!

I’ll confess this was touch and go for me. But since I’m, ahem, the convener of the challenge, it only seemed right that I would see it all the way through.

So what did I read? (Because at the end here, I’m going to ask you the very same question!)

  • A book set on the water: The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
  • A novel featuring a character with a disability: Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
  • A classic you always promised yourself to read: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A novel with a person’s name in the title: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  • A travelogue: A House in Fez by Suzanna CLark
  • A novel featuring a woman over sixty: The Widows of Wichita County by Jodi Thomas
  • A novel set in a different century and county: Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne
  • A family saga: The Hearts of Men by Nikolas Butler
  • A novel from genre you rarely or never read: Indelible by Adelia Saunders (magical realism)
  • A novel by Emilie Richards: Lady of the Night (which I edited this year)
  • A non-fiction “how-to” book: Disappear Without A Trace by David Author
  • A young adult book: The Dream by Zoe Daniels
  • A book you choose just because: Origins by Dan Brown
  • A time travel novel: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
  • A novel made into a movie: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
  • A book that’s been in your TBR pile more than  a year: Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman
  • A memoir: Wonderful Tonight by Patti Boyd
  • A book by a local author: End of Watch by Stephen King.

And there you have it.

I’ll confess that I chose books to suit my crazy life. Some of those listed above were books I had to read as I judged a writing award. Some were inexpensive BookBub buys that I either bought for the challenge or because I had never read the authors. Do you remember the Eric Clapton song, Wonderful Tonight? Did you, like me, wonder what happened to the lovely blonde in his song? Were they still together? That blonde was Patti Boyd, married to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, and what a memoir that was. (And no, both men were unfaithful to her and she divorced them.)

The Dream by Zoe Daniels (Kylie Logan and Casey Daniels) was one I’d discovered in a box of books and set aside to read and enjoy. Zoe/Kylie/Casey gave it to me decades ago for my youngest son and somehow, I’d never read it–but he had.

To Kill A Mockingbird was my daughter’s middle school copy, and trust me, that was awhile ago since her daughter will be entering middle school soon. I’d seen the movie. I’d read the Go Set a Watchman, the so-called sequel but the first to be written. I’d just never sat down to read To Kill A Mockingbird. And I have to say, it was a struggle. The first third dragged on and I wondered if I would finish. Then it took off, and of course, I did. But the racial stereotyping nearly brought me to my knees. Sad, but true.

I read A House in Fez because we were traveling to Morocco, and while we went to Marrakesh and Tetouan, and not Fez, the book still gave me interesting insights into Moroccan culture. I read Origins because a large portion takes place in Barcelona, another place I knew we would be.

And back when I was formulating categories for this challenge with my Krewe of Review, I talked up time travel, because I knew Diane Chamberlain’s one and only time travel novel, The Dream Daughter was due out in 2018, and I would be reading it anyway. Loved it, of course.

So what’s the point of reading from a list?

If you haven’t guessed from my selections? It’s unlikely I would have read half these books if I hadn’t been prompted by the reading challenge. Reading out of our comfort zone is a great exercise. What could happen? You might solidify your conviction that you don’t like a certain kind of book. You might learn that you actually do and have more to look forward to. You might try a new author and find a new favorite. You might try a subject you would steer away from normally and learn something new. You might learn something about the world you never considered before.

All that and more can happen. I’m so glad we came up with this and followed through with the reading challenge this year.

So whether you finished or not, what did you take away from it? What books did you love the most? What category surprised you? Did you find a new favorite genre or author?

Please comment and let us know.

In 2019 we will also be doing a reading challenge but quite differently. The challenge will happen on my Read Along With Emilie Richards Facebook Page. You will need to join the group which is as simple as following that link and asking. There are no requirements other than loving to read. We won’t overwhelm you with posts. It’s informal. It’s casual. You can join any time. We pop on and tell people what we’re reading. We love recommending books, but nobody’s keeping track of whether you read them or not. It’s just laid back fun.

We’ve been talking about interesting categories for books for this year’s challenge, and we’ve decided to make a list of possibilities. Right now we have about 30. Each month we will let choose the category for that month’s challenge from our list and I’ll announce it. And then each of us will choose a book that fits the category, and read it, posting our choice whenever we decide to.  So it will be month to month. We can discuss the book or not, explain why we chose it or not, say whether we liked it or not.

Want a hint on some possible categories? A book with a number in the title. The first book in a series. A book with a yellow cover. No promises those will make it. It’s all up to

Remember, informal, casual, fun. 

While we won’t be discussing the challenge on my blog, I will let you know here, at the beginning of each month, what the category is. You can read along with us without being in the Facebook group just by choosing a book that fits and reading it. If you feel so moved you can comment here and tell everyone what you’re reading. But if you’re on Facebook anyway, come join us so you can be a larger part of the fun.

Thanks for being part of the 2018 Reading Challenge, and even if you weren’t, thanks for reading, not matter how or why you chose books this year.

Now, if you dare, tell us what you read!


  1. Joni on December 26, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    I read 81 books this year- I started out doing your challenge but forgot to mark them down
    I need to go back & figure out how many I read on the list – my guess is most of the list.

    • Emilie Richards on December 26, 2018 at 4:39 pm

      Let us know what you learn, Joni. I was able to fill in several categories when I thought back on the books I’d read at that point. Bet you will, too. And 81 books! That’s terrific.

  2. Tina Wilson on December 26, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    I read a book in all of the categories except one…I didn’t get a classic read this year. Some favorites include The Great Alone (character with a disability), The High Tide Club (woman over 60), Lady of the Night (Emilie’s book), A Short History of the Girl Next Door (YA novel) and The Dream Daughter (time travel). I read 151 books this year but hope to finish a couple more before the year is over ?.

    • Emilie Richards on December 26, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Good for you. 151 books amazes me. And all but one category is terrific. I’ll confess that a classic was my hardest to fulfill. Glad I did, but I struggled.

  3. Nancy Lepri on December 26, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Wherever do you find the time to write, travel, and read??? Kudos to you! I have to say, I read more than I do anything else, and this year, I think I’ve read more than 85 books, and that’s not counting the ones I’ve read that I haven’t reviewed. But, take away my books and start digging my grave! Happy New Year to you and the Proman!

    • Emilie Richards on December 26, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      And the same to you and yours, Nancy.

  4. Edythe Newman on December 27, 2018 at 12:09 am

    My husband and I read a great non-fiction book called , EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER.

  5. Edythe Newman on December 27, 2018 at 12:10 am

    My husband and I read a great non-fiction book called , EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER. also another great book, THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

  6. Kathryn Trask on December 27, 2018 at 2:01 am

    Well done on finishing the challenge. I still want to read The Dream Daughter. Think will do so via audio. Here is my list – the only one I fell out with was the book to movie one, I do have a couple of my TBR shelf but just didn’t get there!
    A book set on the water The Denim Blue Sea Joanne DeMaio
    A novel that features a character with a disability The Promise Between Us. Barbara Claypole White. (Disability = OCD)
    A classic you always promised yourself you’d read Persuasion Jane Austen
    A novel with a person’s name in the title The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin
    A travelogue Table for Eight Tricia Stringer ( Pacific Islands cruise)
    A novel featuring a woman over sixty as a major character The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village Joanna Nell
    A novel set in a different century and a country not your own The Duchess Danielle Steele
    A family saga The Pearl Sister. Lucinda Riley.
    A novel from a genre ( cozy mystery) that you rarely or never read: Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle
    A novel by Emilie Richards Night Magic.
    A non-fiction “how-to” book Photo Album Quilts Wendy Butler Burns
    A young adult (YA) book Becoming Magdalene Fleur Beale
    A book you choose just because… it had a quilt on the cover! A Soft Place to Fall Liz Flaherty
    A time travel novel As You Wish Jude Deveraux
    A novel that’s been made into a movie 🙁
    A book that’s been in your TBR pile for more than a year Flirting with Pete Barbara Delinksy
    A memoir Promise Me Dad. Joe Biden (Memoir) Narrated by Joe Biden.
    A book by a local author (NZ) Hearts of Resistance Soraya M. Lane
    Looking forward to the reading in 2019! And… er a new book from Emilie Richards!!

    • Emilie Richards on December 28, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      Terrific job,Kathryn. I realized that Something Borrowed had been made into a movie shortly after I got it at BookBub, so after reading it I watched it on Netflix. Completed almost by error.

  7. Carol on December 27, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I did not do to well. I was in a reading group this summer – none of the books seem to match any of the categories. Except home town. I am hoping to do better this year. I love to read but often feel guilty taking time way from other things. Need to get over that. Looking forward to the monthly challenge.

    • Emilie Richards on December 28, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      You read. You discussed. And I just bet some of those books fit somewhere. But what does it matter? You did exactly what the challenge promoted, reading new books by new authors. Good for you.

  8. Janet Friesner on December 27, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Have to confess I did not do well on the Challenge. I deliberately skipped A travelogue, and a Non-fiction How To book. Not my cup of tea. I did choose a classic to read but did not read it. Will possibly do so later. Also a book by a local author. The only local I know of is James Patterson and I thought about reading his book with Clinton but also put that off since neither of them float my boat so I ended up getting 14 out of the 18 categories.

  9. Terri Chlapek on December 27, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    I did all except a travelogue, a family saga, a how-to book.

  10. Kim B. on December 27, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    I read all 18 categories! The one I dreaded the most and put off to the end was the time travel book which turned out to be one of my favorite books I read this year. Also, I had never read any Jane Austen so I read Sense and Sensibility for my classic. Boy, that old English was tough to get through, like reading Shakespeare. After about 100 pages, I started to like it.

    Book on the water: The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate
    Book with disability character: The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
    Classic you always wanted to read: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
    Novel with person’s name in title: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
    Travelogue: The Food Explorer Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats by Daniel Stone
    Book with woman over sixty: Miss Julia Paints the Town by Ann B. Ross
    Novel in different century and country: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    Family Saga: Beach Music by Pat Conroy
    Novel from different genre: Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges (graphic novel)
    Emilie Richards novel: Lady of the Night
    Non-fiction how to book: How to Be Well by Frank Lipman
    Young Adult book: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
    Just because book: Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
    Time Travel novel: Time Traveling With a Hamster by Ross Welford
    Novel made into movie: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemings
    Book in TBR pile for more than a year: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
    A memoir: My Life in France by Julia Child
    Book by local author: The Killing Room by Richard Montanari

    Thank you for the Reading Challenge – pushed me to read some books that I would not have chosen!

    • Emilie Richards on December 28, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Wow, this was exactly the reason for the challenge. You read books you’d never have discovered otherwise and found a new favorite in a genre you were sure you wouldn’t like. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve read five of the books you chose–although I’m not quite sure I’ve read Beach Music. This is a great list for anyone looking for new possibilities..

  11. Emilie Richards on December 28, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    How-to was an interesting category. Turned out books I read for research were perfect. But you read a gazillion books this year, and we love hearing about them, challenge or not.

  12. Carol on December 28, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Looking forward to 2019 reading

  13. Marjorie Roberts on December 28, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    For Goodreads, my goal was 75 and I have read 81 books this year!
    For this challenge, I was able to read most of the categories, but ran out of time.
    •A book set on the water: Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe
    •A novel featuring a character with a disability: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (PTSD)
    •A classic you always promised yourself to read: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    •A novel with a person’s name in the title: My Dearest Cal – Sherryl Woods
    •A travelogue: The Glass Ocean by White Willig & Williams (based on the Lusitania)
    •A novel featuring a woman over sixty: Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor (It starts before a 100-year-old woman dies and the rest of the book keeps going back to her)
    •A novel set in a different century and county: The Glass Ocean – White, Williams, and Willig
    •A family saga: Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak
    •A novel from genre you rarely or never read: The Force of Destiny (Son Michael wrote a book based on his father, Arnald Gabriel’s life – retired US Air Force Band director who also landed at Normandy during WWII when in the Army. He is now 93 and still conducts – I get to play under him every October in Williamsport, PA)
    •A novel by Emilie Richards: Lady of the Night
    •A non-fiction “how-to” book: N/A
    •A young adult book: N/A
    •A book you choose just because: Dreams of Falling by Karen White – love her books
    •A time travel novel: The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
    •A novel made into a movie: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    •A book that’s been in your TBR pile more than a year: The House on Tradd Street by Karen White (I have now read two of the five ghost series)
    •A memoir: The Force of Destiny
    •A book by a local author – Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts (we live in the same state)
    I also did Brenda Novak’s book challenge – 12 categories, including her 2018 books.
    Looking forward to next year’s challenge!

  14. Ruth Schroeder on December 31, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Book set on water: Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
    Character with a disability: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White (OCD)
    Classic: Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Person’s name in title: Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
    Travelogue: Roads by Larry McMurtry
    Woman over 60: South of Superior by Ellen Airgood
    Set in different century & country: After You Left by Carol Mason
    Family saga: Faith by Jennifer Haigh
    Genre rarely read: News of the World by Paulette Jiles (Historical Fiction)
    Novel by Emilie Richards: Brendan’s Song (discovered this old Silhouette Romance when I was packing up my books to move last year)
    Non- Fiction “How To”: Free and Clear by Karin Kiser (decluttering)
    Young adult: Wonder by R. J. Palacio (loved book & movie)
    Just Because: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Her books are so uplifting.)
    Time Travel: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
    Made into a movie: Room by Emma Donoghue
    Been in TBR pile over a year: Night by Elie Wiesel
    Memoir: I Will Never Forget by Elaine C. Pareira
    Local Author: Her Deadly Inheritance by Beth Ann Ziarnek (Northeastern Wisconsin)

    I love doing this type of challenge and am already picking out possible titles for next year’s challenge.

    • Emilie Richards on January 11, 2019 at 11:14 am

      Wow, just wow! What interesting and great choices. Many of these are unfamiliar to me. I hope you’re in our reading challenge FB group so you can tell us which you truly loved. As for Brendan’s Song? That was my first book! I’ve always hoped it would disappear from the earth, but alas, it’s still circulating. Some day I will re-read it to see what I think. (Or not.) Thanks for being such a good sport, and thanks especially for participating in the challenge with such vigor.

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