I love finding reading challenges such as Good Reads and one shared on Facebook by reading teachers. My own personal goal for 2016 is 75 books. One fun Reading Challenge of 2016 reminds us of the interesting categories of books we could choose to reach our reading goals. For those readers who find a large number unattainable this year, you will love the 12 book categories of the Reading Challenge and the 30 categories of a children’s summer challenge to help you choose your next great read.
What do you do when you cannot find the “next great read”? I go to the 12 category Reading Challenge of 2016 and try to remember those books which
- Intimidate me
- Were written in 2016, or
- One written before I was born!
In fact, I read several books this past month that I had picked up and put down several times, because they were “Challenging books” in genres I don’t usually choose to read.
I hope you are now intrigued to find out books I found intimidating. The Thirteenth Tale beckoned to me from the Audio book section of my public library. Two narrators were listed on the cover and the summary was partially hidden from view. So I tried this gem which I had abandoned in 2010. Jill Tanner and another reader made me listen every time I hopped in my car. The only problem was not being able to jot down the great reading and writing quotes. So I found a hardback copy of the book to re-read sections of this Gothic tale of a supremely dysfunctional family living in the moors like Wuthering Heights. One memorable section was when the protagonist, a young biographer, became ill and her doctor asked her if she had been reading and re-reading Bronte and the like. His prescription was to change reading habits. What did he recommend? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!
Speaking of Gothic terrors, I also read a contemporary Gothic tale which takes place in a local neighborhood in Maryland. Severna Park, MD is not what we would consider a scary place. The setting of Devilish is not the usual one Lucia St. Claire Robson chooses for her historical fiction titles, so I was curious. The red cover grabbed me; plus the uniqueness of a book with devils and writers and suburban housewives should draw readers who are looking for something new and humorous. If you enjoy Janet Evanovich books, I think you will howl with the demons and sylphs and the main characters as they solve the mystery of how to rid their block of sneaky ghosts as well as save themselves from a serial killer with help of two handsome police.
What could top a book about devils and writers? The Lives We Bury by Allen Eskers was recommended by a bookseller in Tampa, FL. The foul language of a college student along with another dysfunctional family headed by an uncaring mother did not interest me at first, but I was hooked on “Challenging Books” for my reading in June. My husband is the next to try this mystery which crosses genres with diverse characters and exceptional writing. Let me know what you think of this unusual contemporary thriller far different from the cosy mysteries I usually recommend.
Many mixed reviews, but mainly great ones highlighted book review literature in 2016 about The Nest. Two recommendations by good reading friends encouraged me to read another tale of a dysfunctional family. Why keep reading this one? You will want to know what happens to each member of this family, hopefully so different from your own. The author sets up a great premise when she explains the inheritance four siblings expect to receive in the future when their youngest sibling reaches the age of 40. The “nest” is what they call it their whole lives, but that inheritance is disrupted by unforseen happenings. Read Cynthia D’Apix Sweeney’s novel to find out how they learn to live with the changed circumstances of these usual and unusual lives.
Because I was tired of the same old themes of abandoning mothers and sulky teens, I read my friend Martha Crites’ debut mystery Grave Disturbance. When you meet Grace, a mental health evaluator, in the interesting setting of the Cascades foothills near Seattle, you have found a unique novel with diverse characters we hope to meet in a series about the people of the Pacific Northwest. Grace is not a detective by profession, but she takes the clues she finds and solves an unusual set of crimes to the setting and the characters in her world.
Another fascinating world is the arena of health clubs and the connection with deaf patrons and sign language interpreters in B. K. Stevens’ mystery Interpretation of Murder. Lighter than the previous recommendations, B. K. (Bonnie) Stevens keeps you engaged in her story with reluctant sleuth Jane Ciardi, who will take any job from sign language interpreter to private detective assistant to waitress and even weekend office cleaner. Jane even learns martial arts, a new theme in Stevens’ books, to help her solve the crimes committed in the story. I want to read more stories about this determined character as she tries to erase her debts and help anyone who needs her assistance.
Happy Reading in the summer of 2016!