My Recent Book Finds (Hint: I hit a goldmine of good deals!)

Yesterday, I went to one of our local bookstores to look around. Whenever I go to bookstores, I always look at the clearance tables/shelves. Sometimes, there’s not much on clearance that interests me. Other times, there are multiple books I want to buy. Today was a goldmine day full of good deals —no, not just good deals…EXCELLENT deals. Look at this stack!

Book Finds 1-22-20

Ok. So for awhile I have been debating whether or not I wanted to attempt reading a Louise Penny book. I have had one of her books sitting on my shelf for a long time. It was a bargain priced book on the clearance table of a local bookstore and I bought it. But I had heard that you really need to read the Inspector Gamache series in order. So it’s just been sitting on my shelf and I haven’t been able to decide if I wanted to take the plunge and try this series. As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I am usually pretty hesitant to read crime novels and murder mysteries. For quite a few months now, I’ve been asking others what they thought of the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache books (they are wildly popular) and what the books are like. Yet, I still couldn’t decide if I wanted to try this series. Emma at Words and Peace finally convinced me to give them a try. And I am now reading the first book Still Life. So far I love it! Well, imagine how excited I was when I found not one, not two, but THREE hardback edition Louise Penny books in the Inspector Gamache series on clearance yesterday at the bookstore! I snatched them up rather quickly and bought them. 🙂 Add those to the other hardback book I already own and I now have the following 4 Louise Penny books in hardback!

Yes, I am just a wee bit excited about this…..I know that I’m just getting a handful of books in the series. But I was tickled to get any of them for such a cheap price because I looked into checking out several of the first few books in the series at my local library and a number of them had at least a 6 month wait. Eeeek! In fact, the copy of Still Life I’m reading is the ebook. The library wait was 6 months for it and Amazon had the ebook for $2.99 the other day. So I bought it.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Also in my stack of book finds is Victoria by Daisy Goodwin. My husband and I are fans of the current PBS series “Victoria” and so I thought this might be a book I would enjoy reading.

Celtic Tales of Magic and Enchantment by Liam Mac Uistin

Finally, the other book in my stack of book finds is Celtic Tales of Magic and Enchantment by Liam Mac Uistin. My husband and I both have Celtic roots in our heritage. We have read a lot about the land and culture. And we listen to a lot of Celtic music too. So I thought this little book would be fun to read!

All of these books in my stack of book finds are hardback editions and they were all $3-$5 each! $3-$5!!! Yep, I’m just a tad bit excited about that!

Now….where to put the books…hmmm……

I guess it’s time to rearrange the bookshelves to see if I can fit all these books somewhere. 🙂


The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

The 39 Steps

Title The Thirty-Nine Steps (#1 in the Richard Hannay Series)
Author:  John Buchan
Length:  136 pages
Genre:  Adventure/Spy, Mystery, Classics
My Rating:  3.5 Stars

About This Book

Richard Hannay has just returned to London and is bored with life. Before he knows it, an interaction with an man named Scudder propels him into the middle of an assassination plot. His life is jeopardized as he finds himself smack dab in the middle of political intrigue. This novel is listed on The Guardian’s 100 Best Novels Written in English.

My Thoughts

This is the second time I’ve read this book and I remember enjoying it the first time I read it. This time around, it didn’t feel as adventurous. And actually, I remember thinking it wasn’t as adventurous as the movie version when I read it the first time even though I did like it. The thing is, though, I saw the BBC 2008 movie adaptation of it before I actually read the book for the first time. Honestly, I think the movie is better. Still, the book is written well for what it is. I gave it 3.5 stars because I thought it *was* good both times I read it; but just not quite on the level of a 4 star book for me. I plan to read the next in the series and it will be interesting to see if my reading experience will be different since I will not have seen a movie based on the book first. 🙂

The Evolution of My Reading Journal

Over the last few years, I’ve tried a number of different approaches to a reading journal. I’ve kept a commonplace/reading journal for a long time now, where I simply write out favorite quotes/passages from the books I read. But I’d never logged my books until several years ago.

So, the first year I began logging the books I read, I kept a reading journal separate from my commonplace/reading journal. That first year, I decided to go with a binder. I created a title page and then a simple log sheet. I had a tab for the log sheets and a tab for any reading challenge printouts. It was simple; nothing fancy.

2016 Reading Journal

What I learned from this journal:  The binder isn’t very portable and I prefer a size I can take with me in my purse if I want to.


The next year, I didn’t use anything formal. I just kept a running list of the books read on a sheet of paper and kept a printout for the reading challenge I participated in that year. I then simply added those into the binder I already had from the previous year in a separate tab.

What I learned from this approach:  I prefer having a notebook. Simple is great but this was TOO simple and not enough information for my liking. 🙂


In 2018, I got more creative. I took a simple, inexpensive graph notebook and did a more bullet-journal style reading journal. I made my own cover and pasted it on the front. Then I did some fancier pages on the inside. I created an index, pages for any book clubs and reading challenges, kept a genre tracker, page for favorite books of that year, a two-page spread for my TBR, and then I kept monthly logs of the books started and finished. Sometimes I even wrote out summaries of individual books on separate pages.


What I learned from this journal:  I need thicker paper. The gel pens tended to bleed through the paper in this regular notebook.


Last year (2019), I went with a pre-made reading journal. It was quick and easy, not to mention pretty. But I found over the course of the year, I didn’t really use a lot of it. I loved having the list formatted pages at the beginning where you could list the title and it’s genre. It was a chart format. But the individual book pages had a lot of stuff I just didn’t use.

2019 Reading Journal

I deconstructed the journal and had it bound.

2019 Reading Journal (2)

This is a sample blank page from the journal.

What I learned from this journal:  I don’t like having lots of space with stuff I just don’t use.


So when I thought about what I wanted to do for my reading journal this year, I looked back over all the previous journals (with the exception of the year I only kept a list) and decided there was a common theme in the types of information I consistently kept a log of with each book. I also tried to look at what I learned from each one and compile all that in one journal.

I learned I liked having a page for each book in case I wanted to jot down notes. But I also liked having a line by line chart of just the titles for a quick at-a-glance look at my books. I enjoyed the minimal creativeness of my previous homemade journal of 2018. So I decided to go back to using a blank canvas instead of a pre-made journal. I can incorporate exactly what I want in my own blank journal and can add in any creative elements I want (I’m not really an overly creative person. But I do get inspired sometimes with creative ideas. LOL)

So here’s a peak at my 2020 Reading Journal. It’s just an inexpensive Exceed journal from Wal-Mart. It’s dotted like the bullet-journal style and has thick pages. It’s a smaller size that easily fits into my purse but is also hardback so that the pages are more protected. And bonus:  it has two bookmarks which is really nice!


I put my title on a free graphic background and printed it on sticker paper for my cover.


2020 Reading Journal (2)

This is the first few pages:  an Index, so I can easily find a book I have logged.


2020 Reading Journal (3)

Next are pages to log in line by line format (title and author only) of each book I read and finish. It will be a numbered list to make it easy to see how many books I’ve read at a quick glance. This list will only be books I finished reading.


Reading Journal Projects Page

Next up is a section where I can keep track of any reading projects I am taking part in.


2020 Reading Journal (4)

Finally, the rest is for individual pages for each book. Here’s a sample of one of the pages. I like to log Title, Author, Publication Date, Pages, and Genre. Then I log start and finish dates as well. This year, I am trying to be more consistent in giving star ratings to my books so I plan to include that as well. It’s pretty simple. I’ve put a piece of pretty washi-tape after the book info. to divide it from where I jot down any notes. You can see that I have the top corners of the pages numbered.


And there ya have it! My 2020 reading journal.

Are you keeping a reading journal this year? What information do you like to keep in your reading journal?

The Iliad: Thoughts So Far

The Iliad Books

I read The Iliad by Homer last year and didn’t care for it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve not been a big fan of epic poetry in general. Mainly, I think, because it can be more challenging to understand sometimes. I decided to go ahead and participate in Cleo’s read-along for The Iliad this year and read it again with hopes that I may get more out of it by reading it along with others.

In the picture above is the beautiful hardback edition of The Iliad and The Odyssey that I’ve had for several years. It is the Butler translation and is what I read last year when I read The Iliad. The other book is just The Iliad and is the Lattimore translation. I bought this translation because it is the one Cleo recommended. When I’m reading, I sit with my hardback edition open to the list of names given in the front of that book, while I read the Lattimore translation.

I also bought a small notebook which you can see sitting on the top of the book stack above. As you can see, it’s a smallish notebook which I made a basic label for and added a little bit of washi tape to dress it up just a tad bit. I decided to try to find just one statement or passage to write down in the notebook for each book of The Iliad (the poem is divided up into books).

This idea was inspired by the War and Peace Read-along, hosted by Nick at One Catholic Life. Nick suggested posting a quote from each chapter of War and Peace on Facebook or Twitter as we read. I liked the idea of recording a quote or passage with each chapter and decided to do that in the form of a notebook instead of posting on social media. I think this has added to my reading of Tolstoy’s War and Peace so far; so I wanted to keep a notebook for The Iliad to see if it might add to my reading experience of it also. I also keep notes in the notebook as well. So it’s my little book of Quotes & Notes. 🙂 Here’s a close-up of the notebook:

The Iliad Notebook

So how am I doing with reading The Iliad at this point? Well….I have read the first five books so far and I can say that it is a bit easier this time around. However, I admit I still am getting confused some with all of the names and such. There’s a lot of names of people and places, along with a host of gods and goddesses.

I have to say that Cleo’s read-along and the discussion in the comments have been wonderful! These discussions have definitely already helped me have more interest in the book than I did when I read it last year. So that’s good!

First, I appreciate Cleo’s commentary in her posts. She sums up the books and I find that very helpful, especially if a book has been particularly confusing. Second, both Cleo and others participating in the discussion have brought up points that help me think on a deeper level about the story and help me see things that maybe I didn’t see as I was reading. This can go a long way in helping form more appreciation for the epic poem.

I will be honest and say that at this point, I still don’t *love* The Iliad. But even though some parts have still been tedious to read, I have found myself more interested in it because of being able to dig deeper, discuss themes and ideas, and even just the story line in general with the others in the read-along.


New Book Coming In The Hunger Games Series


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

If you read my 2019 reading wrap-up post, then you know I read The Hunger Games series this past year and gave the whole series 5 stars. I was beyond excited to find out a couple of days ago that Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, is writing a new book for the series and it’s scheduled to release May 19, 2020! This new book is supposed to be a prequel to the series which takes place 64 years before the first Hunger Games book. The book is supposed to start at the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games. I wonder if we will find out any more about the first uprising. It will be interesting to see what will unfold in this book. I have already pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait until it arrives in the mail in May! You can bet I will likely be re-reading The Hunger Games series as soon as I finish reading the new book. 🙂

A Look Back At My 2019 Reading Year

Reading Stats 

84 Books Read (which includes books, short stories, essays and 1 book started in 2018 and finished in 2019)

Breakdown of Books
25 Children’s Books
21 Classics
14 Contemporary Fiction
24 Non-Fiction
4 Books Re-read


Highlights from the Year

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins – I gave all three books in the series 5 stars. This series is not easy to read. It is heavy, intense, and emotionally charging. But the writing is compelling and I didn’t want to put the books down. If you like the dystopian genre, I highly recommend these books. ~ 5 Stars ~


The Gown

The Gown by Jennifer Robson – If you are a fan of the Netflix series “The Crown” then you will most likely enjoy this book. The central event in this novel is the making of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. If that sounds a bit boring, trust me….this book is anything but. The story centers on three protaganists and their lives over the span of several decades with the common thread being the gown and the women who help make it. Secret pasts, female friendship, loss, and dealing with the aftermath of war, this novel not only kept me turning the pages but also had me researching a bit about this event. ~ 5 Stars ~


Les Miserables Fahnestock and McAfee

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo- What can I say about this masterpiece of literature? Hugo’s writing was phenomenal. Hugo masterfuly weaves the stories of the lives of his characters amidst the backdrop of 19th century French culture and Paris in particular. Jean Valjean is probably one of the most well-known characters in literature and the novel itself is ranked among the greatest novels of all time. I want to put this book in people’s hands and say “READ IT.” ~ 5 Stars ~


the fellowship of the rings          the two towers

The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien – These two are part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy which is made up of three parts; the third part being The Return of the King.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

~ From The Fellowship of the Ring (p. 55)

This statement has to be counted amongst famous lines in literature. I read that The Lord of the Rings is one of the best selling novels ever written. And I can see why. Tolkien managed to create a whole world that readers can get lost in. Memorable characters, excellent story writing and development, and scenery you can picture in your minds eye, Tolkien created a fantasy adventure masterpiece. I started out ranking these as 4 stars; but as I reflected on them I realized these are totally 5 star reads. So I promptly changed them to 5 stars.

I don’t know why it took me so long to finally start reading this series. My husband is a long-time fan of Tolkien and especially this series as well as The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. I read The Hobbit towards the end of 2018 (which I also changed to 5 stars) and read The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers this year. I can’t wait to read the final part The Return of the King. I can see why Tolkien is seen as the father of the modern fantasy genre. ~ 5 Stars ~


the daughter of time

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey – This is the first Josephine Tey book I’ve read. You can read my review of it HERE. ~ 4 Stars ~


The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis – C. S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Lewis’ Narnia series is one of those series of classic children’s books that is well-written and can be enjoyed by all ages. We did this series as a family read-aloud starting towards the end of 2018. We read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, and Prince Caspian towards the end of 2018 and finished the rest of the series at the beginning of 2019. So for 2019, we read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle. My favorite in the series is definitely The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; but all the books are good. We also watched the movies that were made of three of the novels after we read them and that was especially fun!             ~ 4 Stars ~



The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim – This was a re-read for me. It held up as a re-read and I loved getting lost in the novel as much as I did the first time. You can read my review HERE. ~ 4 Stars ~


The Bookshop on the Shore

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan – I’ve only read three Colgan books now and I describe them as Hallmark movie meets Gilmore Girls. I really enjoyed The Bookshop on the Corner. So when The Bookshop on the Shore came out this year and some of the characters from The Bookshop on the Corner were in it, I knew I wanted to read it. It did not disappoint. ~ 4 Stars ~


Lost Roses

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly- This historical fiction novel is the story of Caroline Ferriday’s mother, Eliza Mitchell Ferriday. Caroline Ferriday was a champion for victims of World War II and is the center of Kelly’s historical fiction book Lilac Girls which I have not read yet but plan to read soon. I don’t often buy brand new releases in hardback; but this is one I did and I am glad. At the back of the edition I bought is a whole section where the author talks about her research and it includes a number of pictures. As with The Gown, this novel kept me turning the pages and spurred me on to researching more. ~ 4 Stars ~


What were some of your favorite reads in 2019?

The Deal Me In Short Stories Reading Challenge for 2020

Deal Me In Challenge 2020

I just heard of The Deal Me In Short Stories Reading Challenge for the first time at Cleo’s blog Classical Carousel. She posted about it this week and it sounded quite fun! So I hopped on over to the blog Bibliophilopolis to read more about this challenge. The idea is that you choose 52 short stories and assign each one a card from a standard deck of cards. Each week throughout the year, you draw a card from the deck and that is the short story you read for that week.

This past week, I bought a really nice hardback edition of American short stories that was on sale. I thought I would try to read through it over the course of the year. So this book is perfect for this reading challenge! I know, I know….so much for my idea of not participating in any challenges this year. Ha! It seems I am now joining in on a couple of reading challenges. BUT…each of these really aren’t the average type reading challenges where you are given specific categories. They are much more flexible; and this particular challenge…well…I was already planning to read the book anyway so why not join in on the reading challenge. Right?

Great American Short Stories

Pictured above is the hardback anthology of American short stories that I bought. Now, it only contains 50 short stories so that means I have to add two more short stories to my list. I decided to add “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant and “The Overcoat” (also known as “The Cloak”) by Nikolai Gogol. I have simply made a list of all the short stories and their authors that are in the book and added the two additional short stories to it as well. And then I assigned a card to each one. Here is my list:

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A – “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving

2 – “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

3 – “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

4 – “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

5 – “The May-Pole of Merry Mount” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

6 – “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe

7 – “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe

8 – “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

9 – “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allen Poe

10 – “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville

J – “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Everett Hale

Q – “My Contraband” by Louisa May Alcott

K – “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠


♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

A♠ – “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain

2♠ – “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” by Mark Twain

3♠ – “The Luck of Roaring Camp” by Bret Harte

4♠ – “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte

5♠ – “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

6♠ – “The Middle Toe of the Right Foot” by Ambrose Bierce

7♠ – “The Aspern Papers” by Henry James

8♠ – “The Beast in the Jungle” by Henry James

9♠ – “’Sieur George” by George Washington Cable

10♠ – “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett

J♠ – “The Failure of David Berry” by Sarah Orne Jewett

Q♠ – “Désirée’s Baby” by Kate Chopin

K♠ – “Athénaïse” by Kate Chopin

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

A – “The Revolt of ‘Mother’” by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

2 – “A New England Nun” by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

3 – “The Wife of His Youth” by Charles W. Chesnutt

4 – “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

5 – “Up the Coolly” by Hamlin Garland

6 – “The Other Two” by Edith Wharton

7 – “Autre Temps” by Edith Wharton

8 – “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

9 – “A Retrieved Reformation” by O. Henry

10 – “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry

J – “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

Q – “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane

K – “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” by Stephen Crane

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣


♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

A♣ – “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

2♣ – “Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather

3♣ – “The Sculptor’s Funeral” by Willa Cather

4♣ – “Alibi Ike” by Ring Lardner

5♣ – “Sophistication” by Sherwood Anderson

6♣ – “The Egg” by Sherwood Anderson

7♣ – “The Outsider” by H. P. Lovecraft

8♣ – “The Colour out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft

9♣ – “Bernice Bobs her Hair” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

10♣ – “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

J♣ – “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Q♣ – “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

K♣ – “The Overcoat” (Also known as “The Cloak”) by Nikolai Gogol

And there ya have it! My short stories list for 2020. I’m pretty excited to get started!

If you’d like to join in with us for this reading challenge, head on over to Ray’s blog Bibliophilopolis to read all the particulars and to sign up.

First Reading Projects of 2020

I am anxiously awaiting for January 1st to arrive. Why? Because I have some really fun reading projects I can’t wait to start.

Japanese Literature Challenge

First up is a different type of challenge. One where you don’t have a certain number of books or certain titles you have to read. It’s the Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Bellezza. I first came across this challenge at my friend Silvia’s blog and thought this would be a reading project I would like to join. You can read more about this challenge HERE.


Right now, I have several titles in mind for this:

  • The Makioka Sisters by Jun’Ichirō Tanizaki
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (a re-read)
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

My plan is to focus on just one title first. If I get around to the others then great! I decided on The Makioka Sisters as my first read. I have bought the book and it is waiting on the shelf for me. 🙂 However, it looks like there might be the possibility of a read-along for this in March. So, if that’s the case, I will start with a re-reading of The Remains of the Day by Ishiguro. I’ve been wanting to re-read this book so this is the perfect time to do that!

The Iliad Read-Along

Starting January 1st, Cleo at Classical Carousel is hosting a read-along for The Iliad by Homer. I have already read The Iliad and didn’t really care for it. Epic poetry is not a favorite genre of mine…..However, I am going to try to read it again with Cleo’s read-along but I’ll be reading a different translation this time. I hope that with a different translation and Cleo’s read-along that I will be able to get more out of The Iliad this time around. 🙂 You can check out the Introductory post HERE and the schedule for the read-along HERE.

And that’s the reading projects I’ll be starting off my 2020 reading year with. I am participating in another read-along in March hosted by my friend Silvia. But I’ll talk about that when we get closer to March. 🙂

Do you have any reading project plans for the first part of 2020?

Considering My Classics To-Be-Read List – What Would You Add?

It’s that time of year where many are looking back at their reading year and evaluating what books worked for them and what books didn’t. Also, it’s a time of year where many are looking to the next year and considering what they might want to read, what reading challenges and/or read-alongs they might want to participate in, etc.

Right now, I’m thinking over my Classics TBR list and trying to decide if there are some titles I’d like to prioritize for 2020. As I consider my TBR list, I will be going through it, seeing if it needs updating, etc. I would love to hear what books on my TBR classics list you’ve read that you highly recommend and why (of course no spoilers please 🙂 ). Also, if there is a title not on my TBR list that you highly recommend, please tell me! I’m always looking for good books to read so I’d love to hear about your must-read books. I consider any book 50 years or older in the classic category.

The Novel Reader by Vincent Van Gogh 1888

“The Novel Reader” by Vincent Van Gogh (1888)

Here is my classics list as of right now. I’m pretty sure I need to update this list to add a couple more titles that I wanted to add. I’ve added some comments here and there in this list. 🙂

  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens – I already plan to be reading this in 2020.
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – I read this in high school, but I want to read it again.
  • The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton – I also have a small collection of short stories from the Father Brown series by Chesteron.
  • Emma by Jane Austen – When I tried to tackle this one a number of years ago, I didn’t finish it. It felt so wordy at the time. I want to try to read this again at some point. Currently, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen novel. But I’ve only read two to date. 🙂
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Right now, this is on my priority list for 2020.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien
    • The Return of the King (This is the only one left in the series that I need to read)
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – I’m currently reading this right now.
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – Another Austen title I need to read.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky – I started this a LONG time ago and only have about 1/4 of this book left to read. It’s a priority book for me to finish in 2020.
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  • Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  • Our Friend Manso by Benito Pérez Galdos
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
  • The Wonderful O by James Thurber
  • The Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki – I will be reading this in 2020. More about that soon.
  • A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

So, what are your must-read classics? Are there any books on my list that you’ve read that you highly recommend? What about classics not listed that you highly recommend?


My Own Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

For 2019, I started out planning to do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge as I normally have the past several years. But then I ended up deciding not to and set my own reading goals – i.e. my own reading challenge – and just go with that. It is now December and this past week I have been looking back over my own reading challenge to see how I did. But I also thought it would be fun to see just how many categories I may have completed in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge without purposefully trying to. What I found was that I actually completed more categories with the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge than I did with my own. Huh. Interesting.

So anyway, again this year I don’t plan to officially participate in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. And I am not going to create my own reading challenge either. However, the reading goal I had the last year or two of reading widely, I still plan to practice. I notice that I tend to read a variety of books anyway. But I’d like to still try to make sure I fit in some poetry which I didn’t really accomplish this year like I wanted.

In 2020, I do have plans to participate in some read-alongs as well as a Japanese Literature Challenge (which I will post about soon). Other than that, along with my reading goals, I am leaving my reading year wide open to read books I am drawn to, maybe tackle some more books I feel would be good for me to read, work on my ever growing TBR list, participate in read-alongs that might come along throughout the year, etc. In essence two words:  reading freedom. 🙂

I will say though, I do plan to print out the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge and put it in my reading journal to have for reading inspiration if needed. And I’ll probably check back with it at the end of the year to see if I ended up completing any of the categories unintentionally like I did for this year’s. 🙂 (You can see the 2020 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge HERE.)

Anyway…here’s how I fared with my own reading challenge for 2019. Then below, just for fun, I’ll show the books I read this year that ended up fitting in categories for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge.

2019 simply reading challenge graphic

A Non-Fiction History BookThe New World by Winston Churchill

A Non-Fiction Science Book: Didn’t complete

Book of Poetry:  I did read a children’s book of poetry but I didn’t get a general book of poetry read like I’d hoped (like a specific poet or a poetry collection)

Book about Poetry:  I never made it to starting the book I bought for this category. Maybe in 2020….

Essay Collection: How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen, The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri

A PlayShe Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith

Memoir or Biography: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl (I read others, including one I’m currently reading on St. Nicholas.)

Two Books from My Own Shelf:  Well, The New World by Winston Churchill counts for this since this series has been on my shelf for a number of years. Also, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Two Classic Literature Books:  This was easy! I read more than two! Among them are Don Quixote by Cervantes, Les Misérables by Hugo, Murder on the Orient Express by Christie

Re-read a Book I’ve Already Read:  I re-read more than one including The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles


And now for what I read that fit the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge categories.

2019 modern mrs Darcy Reading Challenge

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to ReadThe Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey,
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

A Book about a Topic that Fascinates YouHow Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

A Book in the Backlist of a Favorite Author:  Well, I’ve read other books from favorite authors but unfortunately I read earlier works first so that the follow ups I read were published later (For example, the Narnia series – read them in order)

A Book Recommended by Someone with Great TasteFellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Gown by Jennifer Robson (These are just a few. There were other books I read that were recommend by other readers that have great taste.)

Three Books by the Same Author: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games, Catching FireMockingjay
Also, the complete Narnia series by C. S. Lewis except for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe which I read at the end of 2018

A Book You Chose for the Cover: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly – I’m counting this because the cover drew me to the book and then I read the description and it sounded really good!

A Book by an Author Who Is New to YouI’ll See You In Paris by Michelle Gable, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (there are a number of books I could list here….)

A Book in TranslationDon Quixote by Cervantes, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

A Book Outside Your (Genre) Comfort ZoneMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

A Book Published Before You Were Born: The Enchanted April  by Elizabeth von Arnim (this is another category I could list quite a few for….)

I’ll be back soon with a look at my favorite reads from this year.