Read My Shelf Challenge | MindJoggle.com

2018 Read My Shelf Challenge – The Master List of Books

As I mentioned in my look ahead post, my goal in 2018 is to read as many unread books that I already own as possible—and not buy more until I’ve made a good dent. In the spirit of a new year of reading, I’m calling this my “Read My Shelf Challenge”–though you know how I actually feel about reading challenges!

I went through my shelf and made a list of all of the books I haven’t yet read. It’s…not short. There are 70 books on this list, and conveniently, I read 70ish books last year (I didn’t start tracking in Goodreads until mid-way through the year, so it’s an estimate). I don’t anticipate that I’ll read many more than that in the coming year—especially if most are hardcopy, because reading on my iPad and phone helps me get through more books.

Nonetheless, these are all books that I want to read. I’m looking forward to mostly focusing on this list instead of the new and shiny (remind me of that when I’m reviewing all kinds of new and shiny books, please).

Update 2/15/18: This post is still proving to be popular, so I thought I’d add a list with the books I’ve read from my shelf this year, so readers can see my reviews. The remaining books on my shelf that I need to read are below this list.

Series: 2018 Read My Shelf - Books I've Read
Kindred

Kindred

Kindred is famous for being the first science fiction novel written by a black woman. That's significant, but the science fiction part of this story--the time travel--isn't what makes it so compelling. In the 1970s, a 26-year-old black woman is suddenly pulled back through time to save the life of a young boy who grows to be a slave owner in 1800s Maryland. Yanked without warning between present and past and back again, she returns multiple times throughout his life (as only minutes or hours pass in her own), and she realizes that she must keep him alive so he can father her great-grandmother. But through this, she also must live the life of a slave and face all the indignities, hardships, and heartbreaks that come with it.

This is an illuminating look at the lives of slaves, cognizant of our modern ideas that the people who were slaves must have been tougher than people now, somehow superhuman in their ability to endure. But the wounds from the whips and chains and inhuman disregard for their lives and families were real, and Butler sensitively examines the ways in which the people were beaten and worn into submission. Light on the sci-fi aspects (sudden unexplained time travel is the only element) and a fast, worthwhile but difficult read (due to the subject matter). Highly recommended. More info →

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The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man

This is a creepy coming-of-age novel that might appeal to fans of Stephen King. Eddie and his friends are pretty typical 80s kids in England, spending time at the park, riding bikes, and avoiding bullies. They start communicating with one another through chalk drawings--until one day drawings appear that none of them made, leading them to a dismembered body. Now, 30 years later, Eddie and his friends are reunited, finding that they all received a chalk drawing in the mail. Secrets start unraveling, and the friends find that they may not have known each other as well as they thought. I found the characters a little hard to pin down, which I think was part of the point, but it made it a tough to connect with any of them. Overall, this was gripping but a little too creepy and gruesome for my taste--true fans of this type of book will have no trouble at all, and it's received many positive reviews. More info →
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Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Based on a true case from 1843, the story focuses on Grace Marks, a young woman who at the age of 16, was convicted of the murders of her employer, Mr. Kinnear, and a fellow housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Her alleged accomplice, James McDermott, was also employed in Kinnear’s home. The two were arrested in a hotel not long after the murders, wearing the victim’s clothes and carrying valuable items stolen from the home. Grace insists she has no memory of the key events.

Now, eight years later, McDermott has been executed and Grace remains in prison. She often assists in the prison governor’s home, providing visitors with opportunities to gawk at the famed murderess. Some community members believe in her innocence and bring in psychiatrist Dr. Simon Jordan to draw out lost moments of Grace’s memory in the hopes of exonerating her. Read my full review of both the book and Netflix series. More info →

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Author:
Series: 2018 Read My Shelf - Books I've Read, Book 11
Genre: Fiction
Tag: Ireland
Cyril Avery was born to an unwed mother in Ireland in the 1940s--an unthinkable and shameful thing, at that time. Cyril is adopted by Charles and Maude Avery, who are indifferent and self-centered, but not neglectful. From an early age, Cyril knows he's different: not a "real Avery," as Charles is quick to remind him, and realizing that he is not attracted to girls like his friends are--something that's even more shameful at that time in Ireland. In fact, Cyril harbors a deep love for his womanizing friend and eventual school roommate, Julian Woodbead. The book follows Cyril through his life, from his youth and twenties spent in hiding and public denial in a repressive Dublin to a more open life in middle age in Amsterdam and New York. Cyril's search for identity, belonging, acceptance, and family is by turns funny, frustrating, and sad. Some of the characters feel a bit like caricatures, but they serve to highlight some of the extreme attitudes Cyril, his mother, and so many others faced in those decades in Ireland. I loved this book, and though Cyril could be frustrating, I wanted to see him find happiness and contentment with himself. More info →
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We Never Asked for Wings

We Never Asked for Wings

After years of working multiple jobs while her mother raised her two children, Letty Espinosa now finds herself raising 15-year-old Alex and six-year old Luna on her own. Her parents have left San Francisco to return to Mexico and she must learn to be a mother for the first time. The cards seem stacked against the family, but Letty is determined to get the kids out of their abandoned apartment building and into better schools--whatever it takes. Complicating her efforts are the return of Alex's father, new love interests for both Letty and Alex, and a lack of credit that would allow them to move. While I didn't find Diffenbaugh's sophomore effort as arresting as her debut The Language of Flowers, this is a touching story that includes a personal look at illegal immigration and a prescient view of the familial impact of reversing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). More info →
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Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Tess of the d’Urbervilles

When her family learns of their ties to the wealthy d'Urbervilles, Tess's family pressures her to claim her place and elevate the family from poverty. The plan goes horribly wrong and Tess finds herself a grief-stricken, ruined woman. When she finds love and a potential new life with Angel Clare, she must decide whether to keep her past a secret or risk his rejection. Tess is truly a woman of her time, as are the characters around her, but Thomas Hardy was ahead of his. Hardy deftly illustrates the hypocrisy that dictated the expectations of women in this time and the pressures they faced to be pure, chaste, and angelic (the name "Angel" is a bit ironic here.). I loved this book, though it filled me rage on Tess's behalf. It was a little slow moving in the middle, but it's worth it to stick it out to the end. More info →
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What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

When Alice wakes up on the floor of the gym, she finds herself in an alternate universe: one where she is 10 years older, has three children she doesn't remember, a husband she no longer loves, and a sister who speaks to her in strained tones. Alice's memory is gone, and she's trying to figure out how to live a life she no longer recognizes--and get back the man she loved ten years ago.

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel, and it was entertaining, but the domestic drama failed to capture my attention. Maybe elements of her novels are too close to my own suburban mom life, but most of Moriarty's novels fall a bit flat for me. This was a decent lighter read with an interesting spin, but not one that will stick with me. More info →

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I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Author:
Series: 2018 Read My Shelf - Books I've Read, Book 63
Genre: Fiction
Tag: England
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family live in a castle in the English countryside, but they are far from wealthy. This family of dreamers and creatives can hardly put food on the table. When two young Americans, Simon and Neil Cotton, arrive to take over the estate of their deceased landlord, they bring new hope to the family: of creative patronage, of potential marriage, and of (continued) free rent. Aspiring writer Cassandra details the adventures of the family in her journal as they move from abject poverty into high society. Full of charming observations and self-awareness, Cassandra teeters between childhood and adulthood and, through her her writing, she comes to realizations about herself, her family, and love. The family is by turns frustrating and amusing--I was confused by the inability of all of them (save Stephen, their ward) to find work in any capacity. That aside, Cassandra is a delightful companion through the story--on par with Anne Shirley--and the castle itself is pure fantasy for any romantic Anglophile. More info →
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The two links below show the books that I haven’t yet read from my shelf. I had to remove the full list of books from this post because it was breaking it–hopefully it will be fixed soon. For now, check out the two links:

Part 1: Unread books on my shelf

Part 2: Unread books on my shelf

So there you have it. I’m not fooling myself and thinking I’m going to get through all of them. I think I’ll aim to get through half of them, but this is a loose challenge.

I still plan to approach reading in much the same way: I’ll pick up the book that “feels” like the right next read for me–usually something completely different from my previous read. I’ll try to keep two books going at a time. And, moving forward I want to get more comfortable not finishing a book–I anticipate that several of these may be DNFs.

Above all, I want to keep reading fun, relaxing, and never stressful. And with my new plans for digging deeper into some of these books for the blog (more on that soon), some of these may take longer than usual. That’s okay with me.

I’ve started off strong and picked up Alias GraceI’m hooked only a few chapters in, so I have high hopes for a riveting first read of the year.

I’m not creating a formal challenge here, but if you’re working on reading the books on your shelf, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you read any of the books on my list? Which do you love (or not)? Also, which books on your shelf are you hoping to get to in 2018?

 

Read My Shelf Challenge - The Master List of Books | MindJoggle.com

2018 Read My Shelf Challenge: The full list of books on my reading challenge to read the books on my shelf. MindJoggle.com

 

 

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17 thoughts on “2018 Read My Shelf Challenge – The Master List of Books

  1. Oh, Alias Grace is on the top of my list as well!
    In the Woods (Tana French) was awesome! Read it a month ago and it was one of my fav books last year.

    • I’m looking forward to reading more from Tana French! I started with The Likeness (the second in the series) and I loved it, so now I want to go back and read the first. Glad to hear you liked it so well!

  2. Just found your blog and I am excited to follow along. I am doing my first Reading Challenge EVER and it is the one created by Anne Bogel from Modern Ms. Darcy. Also, I have a reading goal of 30 books this year…..
    Looking forward to reading your content. Have a great 2018!! May it be filled with amazing reads!

    PS – I decided to start a DNF shelf last year on Goodreads. I fought this for a long time but since I have started putting books on this shelf, my reading time has almost doubled and I find reading is SO much more enjoyable. Life is too short and there are too many books to read something I don’t find interesting. Also, if the DNF book is on a separate list, I know I can always go back and tackle it again, if I am so inclined. 😉

    • Thanks, Nickie! Glad to have you. Modern Mrs. Darcy is great–have fun with the challenge!

      I wish Goodreads handled DNFs a little better, but I think you’re right about being okay with not finishing books. I DNFed two books last year, so, baby steps 🙂

  3. You have some great titles to look forward to on this list! I need to revisit I Capture the Castle since it’s been over a decade since I read, but I do remember that I LOVED it. I’ll also be reading Sense & Sensibility this year (and finally finishing it, fingers crossed!), as well as And the Mountains Echoed and Reading Lolita in Tehran (hopefully).

    If it makes you feel better, we own over FIVE HUNDRED books that I haven’t read.

    I’m not even kidding.

    I have a problem.

    • I’m so excited to read I Capture the Castle! It was one of my Christmas presents. I also noticed while browsing the other day that there is a movie–I think on Amazon Prime (Netflix, if not), so I’m looking forward to that as well.

      I once started Sense and Sensibility as well and didn’t finish. I do like Austen, but I’m not a superfan by any means, so I hope to make it through this time.

      500 is a lot, but I understand! Sometimes it just makes me happy to walk by my shelves 🙂

  4. You have so much more discipline than I do! If I limited myself to what I own, I’d immediately get all contrary and not want to read any of them!

    You have a number I’ve read and loved: On Such a Full Sea, Still Alice, Mare, The Hours, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies (which was one of 2017 favorites).

    The only one that jumped out at me as a ‘did not like’ was At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. Way way too much implausible plot. I may have DNFed it.

    The books on my my shelf I’m most excited about are Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny. I have fallen head over heels in love with her writing. I finished book 1 last night and will start book 2 tonight. Which means I’m going to have to pace myself because I don’t want to finish them too soon!

    • We’ll see how much discipline I actually have throughout the rest of the year! I do still like to have a book available on my phone, so that helps me feel like I’m not totally limited to what’s on my shelf.

      So glad you loved all those you listed! I’m hoping to find some gems here. The Gruen book does sound a little implausible, but I always like books that are set in places I’ve visited. We spent part of our honeymoon in Inverness and had fun looking for the Loch Ness Monster (in jest), so that might carry me through 🙂 I didn’t love her Water for Elephants, though I did like Ape House, so she’s been up and down for me so far–I wouldn’t rule out a DNF.

      I’ve only read the first Louise Penny but I really enjoyed it! I’m just not sure if I need to read them in order or if they’ll make sense in any order. Glad to hear you’re enjoying them–sounds like a perfect cozy series for the winter!

  5. Good luck on completing your list. It’s ambitious, but certainly doable. I loved Clan of the Cave Bear so much that I’ve read the entire series and recommend you do the same. The Postmistress is very dry, but it does contain one of the all-time great literary quotes. I’m interested to see if you can pick it out. South of Broad is a wonderful story told by a master storyteller. I’ve read a couple of Tana French novels and liked them. Looking forward to reading more. The Water’s Edge is also on my TBR (to be read) list. I’ve heard both good and bad about it. Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of the all-time great classics and should not be missed. The Invention of Wings provides a good history lesson, but the characters and story line kind of left me cold. Finally, I love Liane Moriarity’s style and hope to read the same ones you have listed. Have a wonderful 2018!

    • Thank you! I’m looking forward to getting to all of these. It’s good to have input on the different books listed. I’ve been hearing about Clan of the Cave Bear for years, so I’m very curious–I’m hoping to love it, because I love a good series. Happy 2018 to you as well!

  6. You have a fabulous looking bookshelf! Some comments, I read all of Jane Austen’s books last year. Getting through Pride & Prejudice was hard because I am so familiar with the story. The Postmistress was definitely a “RMS” choice. Okay but not amazing. Guns, Germs & Steel was SO boring. I only finished it because it was audio and I forced myself to get through it.

    March, I’m super excited for this one. I’ve read her other books and I just read Little Women over Christmas. The Hours is on my shelf, donated by a friend. Good luck with your challenge!

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m a little daunted by Guns, Germs, & Steel–I’ve been planning to tackle it little bits at a time, and maybe read it over a few months. I know it’s not a bedtime read for me!

      I’m looking forward to March as well–I love Little Women. It’s been a while since I read it, but I did watch the movie again over Christmas 🙂

  7. I’m impressed you have “only” 70 unread books – I have more than 700! Best wishes on your RYS challenge.

    • Thanks! Honestly, it would be easy for me to get to that point (I love buying books, and the library book sales are amazing!) but I haven’t for two reasons: 1) I don’t have that much shelf space and 2) I start to feel a little stressed when I have too many unread books. So now is a good time for me to stop buying, read the ones I have, and clean out the ones I don’t want to keep 🙂

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