It’s time to make the April recommendations for the 2016 Reading Challenge!
What is the reading challenge?
It’s a fun and simple way to read books this new year. Here are the basics of the challenge:
-You will read one book a month from a specific category (details below)
-You don’t have to read them in the order listed
-At the beginning of each month I will give you many ideas for fantastic books within that category that you just might enjoy
-Throughout the month I will post updates on my Facebook page (if you haven’t started following yet, this would be a great time!), sharing the books I’m reading within that category. You can chime in with what you are reading and get recommendations from other readers.
-At the end of the year we will celebrate our success and share our favorites from 2016 (plus have a pretty awesome giveaway…)!
So, are you in? If you’re not convinced yet, here are the categories:
2016 Reading Challenge
April: A Memoir
May: A Mystery
June: A Nonfiction Book on a Topic That Interests You
July: A Book By An Author You Really Enjoy
August: Something You Should Have Read in School But Didn’t
September: A Newbery Award Winner (The Best Work of Children’s Literature for that year. HERE.)
October: Something Scary
November: A Fantasy
December: A Book Set in Another Country
You can jump in any time. Just because you’ve missed the previous months’ challenge doesn’t mean you can’t join us now!
April’s Reading Challenge: A Memoir
This month we’ll be reading a memoir of your choice. I have recently begun to enjoy this genre and wanted to read more–hence its inclusion in the challenge! In case you’re not familiar with the genre, a memoir is very similar to an autobiography. However, it tends to focus on one particular time period of a person’s life as opposed to the whole.
Here are some memoirs I think you might enjoy:
Young Adult Memoirs
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
The story of a child during the Holocaust, The Boy on the Wooden Box is the only memoir written by a person who was a child on Schindler’s list (made famous by the excellent movie in the 1990s). Leyson managed to survive the Holocaust through Schindler’s generosity and tells his story–the Holocaust as viewed through the eyes of a child. I recommend this book for anyone grades 6-12 or any adult who wants to gain a new perspective on one of the darkest times in history.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A National Book Award winner, Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir in verse written for young adults. The story is an account of Woodson’s life–growing up as an African-American between the North and the South during the Civil Rights era. Beautifully written, evocative, and musical, the novel helps teens (and adults) gain a new perspective on the issue of race in America. I highly recommend it for students grades 6-12 and for adults.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
El Deafo, a Newbery Honor award winner, tells the story of Cece Bell’s childhood, growing up as a deaf girl in the 1970s. Written as a graphic novel, the story will instantly pull a child in with its excellent illustrations, humor, and understanding of childhood troubles. The novel also helps open up kids’ eyes to those around them who have outward differences but are really the same. A great empathy-building book. Excellent book for kids in grades 4-8 or for adults.
March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell
March is the first of three graphic novels that tell the story of U.S. Congressman John Lewis and his fight for civil rights. This first in the series begins the story with Lewis’s childhood and student days, including his involvement in the student movement and sit-ins during the Civil Rights era. I learned a ton from this book about a facet of the 1960s of which I am woefully ignorant. Highly recommend for students in grades 7-12 and for adults.
Two Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeline L’Engle
I just recently discovered that there is a Madeline L’Engle book I haven’t read yet. I certainly had to remedy that! The book tells the story of L’Engle’s marriage, including the death of her husband. I found the details of her courtship and marriage, of faith and hope and death, to be very thought-provoking. However, parts of it seemed to drag and included many names of people I didn’t recognize and events that weren’t particularly interesting to me. If you are a big L’Engle fan, though, you will certainly enjoy reading more about her life and seeing the real life people and events that inspired some of her characters and books.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Confession time: I’ve never read a book by Stephen King. I once watched Carrie when I was in high school and had nightmares for years. With my overly sensitive imagination, I tend to avoid scary or graphic books and movies. However, this memoir came highly recommended by one of my favorite book bloggers–Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy. And, since I do enjoy a good memoir and books about writing, I thought I would take a chance. I’m glad I did. King’s telling of his life and his writings is fascinating. If you are a King fan, or if you just like interesting books about the art of writing, I would recommend it.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
I recently finished reading this book, which had been recommended to me by a friend of mine who is a nurse in palliative care. The End of Your Life Book Club tells the story of the author and his mother, who share conversations about books they have read during her treatment for pancreatic cancer. Through the books they read and the conversations they have, he comes to learn more about his mother as a person and to admire her even more. I love books about books, and this certainly fits that genre. I came away with a dozen books that I want to read soon. I also was inspired by Will’s mother, Mary Ann–her amazing life of service and her perspective on death and dying. A beautiful book about the love between a mother and son.
Bread and Wine: a Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist
This book came highly recommended by several bloggers that I trust, and I can see why. Part essay, part recipe, part faith, and part memoir–Bread and Wine explores the relationships that are formed around the table and with good food. I was especially drawn to the stories of community, faith, and life lived together. I also picked up some fantastic recipes that my family has grown to love! If you enjoy tasty food, good company, and stories both hilarious and touching, you’ll want to read Bread and Wine.
The Alpine Path by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I am a die-hard L.M. Montgomery fan. I think I’ve read every single one of her books. Not just the fan favorites of Anne and Emily, but more obscure ones like Story Girl and Magic for Marigold. So, I was completely overjoyed a few years ago when my former roommate sent me a copy of Montgomery’s memoir The Alpine Path. This slim volume shares a bit more of Montgomery’s personal story, her motivation for writing, her struggles, and her faith. I loved catching glimpses of Anne and especially Emily in the author’s own life. If you’re a fan and want a memoir you can read in a couple of hours, this is your book!
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Finally, I had to share one of my all-time favorites, All Creatures Great and Small. James Herriot shares stories from his first few years as a veterinarian in rural England. Each vignette is filled with wonder, humor, and the joys of life. If you haven’t read it yet, please make All Creatures Great and Small your memoir for the month!
What’s On My Nightstand
For this month’s challenge, I’m excited to read these memoirs:
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Markham’s memoir of her 1936 solo flight across the Atlantic. After reading West with the Night, Ernest Hemingway apparently wrote to his editor that Markham “has written so well, and marvelously well, that I am completely ashamed of myself as a writer.”
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Just because I love Tina Fey and could use a good laugh!
What will you read this month? Do you have any favorite memoirs that I didn’t share?
(Linked to Quick Lit on Modern Mrs. Darcy.)
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