My 2011 Reading Challenge

photo book with butterflies coming out copyright Valentina Cur

Icon 2011 Reading ChallengeI challenged myself to read 75 books in 2011.

This year’s to-read list included many classics by authors such as Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and Oscar Wilde; plus, the “must-reads” for horror writers that I hadn’t read yet, such as Richard Matheson and M.R. James. I also wanted to delve deeper into the works of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. However, there was modern fiction I’d been dying to read by authors such as John Ajvide Lindqvist and Stieg Larsson.

Well it took most of the year before I realized I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted. Instead I was wasting time – and I detest wasting my time – doing pretty much nothing. I used to read every day for hours in my teens. So, in the last quarter of 2011, I read like I have always wanted to: daily. I didn’t meet the 2010 or the 2011 challenges, during which I read 32 books and 60 books, respectively, but I believe I will read 75 books in 2012.

Fiction: 38 | Non-Fiction: 22 | Total: 60

January 2011

  1. By Cunning & Craft by Peter Selgin [About]
  2. On Writing Horror (Revised Edition) edited by Mort Castle [About]
  3. The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft edited by S.T. Joshi [About]
  4. Small World by Tabitha King [About]
  5. In the Shadow of the Master edited by Michael Connelly [About]

February 2011

  1. On Writing by Stephen King [About]
  2. Poe’s Children – The New Horror: An Anthology edited by Peter Straub [About]
  3. Fear by L. Ron Hubbard [About]
  4. The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard [About]
  5. Great Ghost Stories edited by John Grafton [About]
  6. Classic Ghost Stories edited by John Grafton [About]

March 2011

  1. Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond by Hans Holzer [About]
  2. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James [About | Free eBook]
  3. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan [About]
  4. Let the Right One In (aka Let Me In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist [About] Small heart icon: You MUST read this book!
  5. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan [About]
  6. The Ultimate Unauthorized Stephen King Trivia Challenge by Robert W. Bly [About]

April 2011

  1. Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation… by Stephen Thrower [About]
  2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. [About]
  3. The 5 Things We Need to Be Happy by Patricia Lorenz [About]
  4. The Everything Body Language Book by Shelly Hagen [About]
  5. Let It All Bleed Out edited by Alfred Hitchcock [Front and Back Cover | Contents ]

May 2011

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey [About]
  2. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan [About]
  3. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore [About]
  4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman [About | My “Review”] Small heart icon: You MUST read this book!
  5. Bones: A Forensic Detective’s Casebook by Ubelaker and Scammell [About]

June 2011

  1. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan [About]
  2. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris [About] (paperback)
  3. Darkness Creeping by Neal Shusterman [About]
  4. Now You See It by Richard Matheson [About] (hardcover)
  5. Hunted Past Reason by Richard Matheson [About] (hardcover)

July 2011

  1. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan [About]
  2. Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko [About]
  3. Container Gardening Through the Year by Malcolm Hillier [About]
  4. Container Gardening for Dummies by Bill Marken [About]
  5. Window Gardens by Stephen Roberts and Jane Forster [About]
  6. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells [About | My “Review”]
  7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro [About] Small heart icon: You MUST read this book!

August 2011

  1. The Radleys by Matt Haig [About]
  2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley [About | Free eBook]
  3. The Unauthorized X-Files Challenge by James Hatfield [About]

September 2011

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [About]
  2. Debt Free for Life by David Bach [About]
  3. The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes [About]
  4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke [About] (I stopped at page 82.)

October 2011

  1. The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard [About]
  2. The Power of Focus by Les Hewitt [About]
  3. Getting Things Done by David Allen [About | My “Review”]
  4. Silent Children by Ramsey Campbell [About]
  5. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston [About]

November 2011

  1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris [About]
  2. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber [About]

December 2011

  1. Tell No One by Harlan Coben [About]
  2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy [About]
  3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens [About | Free eBook]
  4. Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier and Jeff Star [About | My “Review”]
  5. The Long Dark Night by Joseph Hayes [Front and Back Cover | My “Review”]
  6. All Through The Night by Mary Higgins Clark [About | My “Review” (Coming Soon)]
  7. Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto [About]
  8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway [About]

Did you read as much as you wanted in 2011?

7 Replies to “My 2011 Reading Challenge

  1. Welllllll. I’m certainly not as ambitious as you with my reading. Looking through your list, the only one I’ve read is A Christmas Carol and I stopped reading Jonathan Strange by about page 20. Several of them are on my “to read one of these days” list. Just curious, but how did you like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Does it really live up to all the hype? I don’t want to buy it, but every time I look for it at my library, it’s checked out (Ok, Leah, it’s up to you: is it worth my time and energy to put my name on the list? No pressure, of course.)

    I used to read novels at all times of the day, but the last few years, it’s mainly just before sleep. I did keep track of my reading this year, just for my own interest, and counted 19 in total. I feel like such a slouch.

    You go, girl, and happy reading!

    1. Oh, the hype! A blessing and a curse. Expectations get raised and even the best of books often suffer merely because of all the hoopla surrounding their release. I’m not one to jump on book (or movie) bandwagons so I tend to wait a couple years after their release to let all the hype die down and be able to give an honest all-my-own-thoughts review.

      Having said that, I really liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – gave it 4 stars on Goodreads – and read it in two sittings. In my opinion, it totally lives up to the hype. It’s a dark [crime] thriller with scenes of violence (physical and sexual) that may offend certain readers. Probably what most hooked me was trying to figure out what exactly happened to Harriet; I love a good mystery. The opening grabbed my interest right away. I read reviews that complained about there being too much information but I disagree. The action starts after we get to know both Mikael and Lisbeth, so we have more of an investment in their well being. The “love story” aspect, if you want to call it love, just added to my wanting Lisbeth to find someone she could trust.

      By the way, Lisbeth Salander is probably one of the most kick-ass female characters I’ve read in recent years. I haven’t read The Girl Who Played With Fire yet because I heard it ends on a cliffhanger and I’m waiting on The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest in trade paperback. (I have no patience and know I would go crazy having to wait if I didn’t have the next book on my shelf LOL.)

      I’d recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo if you enjoy thrillers, especially those with darker themes and a solid mystery.

      Thanks for the support with my reading challenge! You know, I’ve found the more I read, the more I write šŸ™‚ Nice side effect, eh? And setting this challenge (aka goal) each year has helped a lot with making sure I read as much I want: it’s easy to get distracted and end up doing nothing. But it all boils down to doing what YOU love to do and what makes YOU come alive.

      Be proud of your 19 books! You’re reading and that’s what’s important šŸ™‚

      1. Cool – I’ll be sticking my name on that waiting list! I don’t mind violence in a book, particularly if there’s a really good plot and characters I like.

        I completely agree with you regarding cliff-hanger endings and wanting the next book NOW.

        So, off to read my current Dresden Files (gotta love Harry!) so I can get ready to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

  2. Here’s where I wish I were a list person. I should have kept a log of everything I read in 2011 so could look back and say, “see, you were pretty ambitious”. But right now, I can’t remember what and who I read. It was a banner year for library fines, though, so I know I had a lot o books. Did you get to the MR James? Hope so. If you have never read Algernon Blackwood, I highly recommend The Willows and The Wendigo. Nice to find your site.

    1. Hi Keith, and thanks for stopping by! Yes I did buy and begin reading Collected Ghost Stories by MR James. So far I like his stories, for the most part. Blackwood is definitely on my to-read list in 2012 so thanks for the recommendations. I’m off to check out your site now šŸ™‚

  3. Wow, that’s an impressive list, Leah. I’ve never kept a list of the books I’ve read…Now isn’t that a surprise coming from me? lol!

    I never seem to have the time to do the reading I’d like to. I guess I’m just not that fast a reader. But, I did start my first book in 2012 yesterday and finished it today so I’m off to a good start. I have a few more lined up as well and will be starting number two tomorrow.

    1. Laura, I laughed out loud re: you and book list šŸ™‚

      As for my reading challenge, I haven’t finished the first book for 2012 yet; the one I’m currently reading hasn’t grabbed my attention. But I bought it brand new and feel obligated to finish it. If I don’t get through it this week I’m just going to put it on hold and move on to something else that I want to read more.

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