Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge 2018 Wrap-up

It’s the end of February and that means the end of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge for this year!

A week from today I’ll use to draw a name from the comments on this post to win either The Little House Cookbook compiled by Barbara M. Walker or Laura’s Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson, or a similarly-priced book related to Laura. A week should give some of us who are still reading time to finish up and post about our reading. You don’t have to have a blog to participate: you can tell us what you read in the comments here. If you have a blog, you can either let us know what you read in the comments or share the links back to any reviews or challenge-related posts from your blog or even from Goodreads if you review books there.

Before I go any further, I need to apologize for something. I had created a book list of books by, about, or somehow related to Laura. Some of them I had not read but had heard about or seen. Two of them turned out to have objectionable content. I have removed them from that list, and I feel terrible that some of you chose those books, probably because of seeing them on that list. I am going to be much more careful about that in the future, and, once again, I sincerely apologize for having books with serious problems on a recommended book list here.

For my own part, I did have to lay aside one I was reading: Death On the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst. It’s a modern-day mystery involving a quilt that might have been owned by Laura, might even have been made by Laura, being given to a historic museum curator named Chloe. She decides to go with her sister, with whom she had not been close lately, on a tour of all the Laura historical sites to consult with others and see if she can find out more information plus, as per the owner’s wishes, decide which of those sites to donate the quilt to. But early on a mysterious death occurs at the first site, which I assume later on is discovered to be a murder, and that somehow involves Chloe. I was irritated by some bad language (damns and hells), and then bothered by some vulgar words, and finally an appearance of the “f” word caused me to shut the book and give up on it. But it wasn’t grabbing me anyway. The writing was a little juvenile in places (one example: “Oh-boy-oh-boy-oh-boy! Chloe thought with giddy glee,” p. 6) and not great in others (“Something quivered beneath Chloe’s ribs, as if one of her heart-strings had been plucked,” p. 8). And, then, it was inaccurate in at least one place: when Chloe visits the site in Burr Oak, Iowa, the tour guide tells them this segment in the Ingalls’ life, where they manage a hotel next to a saloon, is neither in the books nor the TV series. It’s not in the LH books, but it is in the TV series, in season 5. The town is called Winoka there rather than Burr Oak, and the Dakota Hotel rather than the Masters Hotel, and the timing may have been different, but they are definitely helping in a hotel next to a saloon. Anyway, for all of those reasons and a couple more, the story just wasn’t grabbing me, but the language was “the last straw” that made me put it down. It’s too bad, because it sounded like it would have been good. Most of the reviews I’ve seen are positive, so a lot of other people liked it better than I did.

Other than that, for this year’s challenge I read:

The First Four Years by Laura, about her first four years of marriage. The manuscript was found among her papers after her death and published later after Rose’s death. They had quite a rough go of it at first, but in true pioneer spirit they summon the strength to persevere. I quite enjoyed rereading this.

I looked through several of the My First Little House books, designed for 4-8-year-olds. I have not reviewed them nor had a chance to show them to Timothy, but Rebekah has an excellent review here (where I first learned of them!) They are gorgeous, illustrated by Jody Wheeler and Renee Graf, “inspired by the work of Garth Williams with his permission.” I am so glad they kept with a similar style of the books that many of us grew up with. I have not read each of the thirteen books word for word yet, but from what I did read and what Rebekah said, they seem to follow the books very closely, except, of course, for being condensed and adapted for a younger child.

I’m still working on Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell. This was not at all on my radar, but I just happened to notice it while passing through the children’s section of the library. It’s more YA than a children’s book, though, recommended for ages 12 and up. It’s about a modern-day family with several issues going for an extended “Camp Frontier,” where they are supposed to live like they did in the 1890s. The kids, of course, are not excited. The main character, Gen, manages to smuggle in a cell phone, where she texts about the experience to her friends, who put the texts on a blog which then goes viral. There’s a requisite mean girl and cute guy, along with a goth friend and several other characters. So far this seems pretty good – I hope it continues to be! I’ll review it in full when I am done. It’s not really directly related to LIW so far except to reference her a couple of times, like the mom in the family having been “a Laura Ingalls Wilder addict.” (Update: my review is here.)

So that’s my Laura reading this year. 🙂 A few years ago, I thought I might end the challenge with the last book in the LH series, but I have found more LIW books that I want to read, so we’ll look forward to continuing on next year!

In the meantime, I am looking forward to finding out what you read and what you thought about it!


Upcoming Reading Challenges

I hope you’ll forgive so many bookish posts this week: it’s been a catch-up time for finishing some and writing about others.

There are a few reading challenges I’m planning to participate in this year.

Reading to Know - Book ClubCarrie is hosting a Reading to Know Classics Book Club alternating between children’s and adult classics and asked 12 blog friends to chose a book and lead a discussion of it. You can see a list of the books for this year here. There are no requirements about how much one must participate (which I appreciate very much!) We can just chose to participate whichever months we’re interested. I’m honored to be leading the discussion for To the Golden Shore about Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson in October. Several of the titles listed there look interesting: I’m planning to participate several months (probably most of the adult classics and maybe a few of the children’s).

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeEvery January Carrie also hosts a L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. Nice way to start the year, don’t you think? I’ve reread all the Anne of Green Gables books for this challenge the last few years and last year read the first Emily book. But this year I’m reading The Blue Castle, one of LMM’s few adult books, which dovetails with the Classic Book Club above, and if I have time I’ll read the second Emily book.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading ChallengeIn February I’m hosting the third annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge: more info. on that is here, and I’ll share what I am reading for that on Feb. 1.

There are a couple of other through-the-year challenges that are new to me this year that I am going to try. I believe all of these came to my attention via Joyful Reader.

bible-verse-christian-hebrews-12-1-2The Cloud of Witnesses Challenge is sponsored by Becky at Operation Actually Read Bible, and the idea is to read nonfiction books by godly authors who have gone on to be with Jesus. They don’t have to be full books: they could be sermons or articles. A list of suggested authors is here, but Becky is open to others. I am going to commit to reading four. One is Crowded to Christ by L. E. Maxwell, highly recommended by a beloved and highly respected former pastor (though I started it this morning and it looks a little daunting, but we’ll see how it goes!) and Traveling Toward Sunrise by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman (of Streams in the Desert fame). I also have a couple of C. S. Lewis books on hand that I’ll probably include.

2014tbrbuttonI’m considering the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader. The challenge is to read 12 books in a year that have been on your shelves unread with a publication date before 2013. I’m sure I have 12 books that qualify: I’m just not sure I want to commit to 12, especially as we have to provide a list beforehand, and I don’t want to be hemmed in by reading commitments. But some of these would crossover with some of the other challenges, so I might be able to do it. Everyone who conquest their TBR list before the end of the year is entered in a drawing for a $50 gift card to Amazon, so that’s motivation, too! 🙂 The list of what we plan to read for that needs to be up by the 15th, so I have a few days yet to work on it. (I did decide to do this: my list is here.)

classics2014And finally, Karen at Books and Chocolate is hosting a Back to the Classics Challenge (guidelines and explanations here) where we can choose classics that fit in certain categories, and there are drawings for prizes at the end of it! 🙂 There are some required categories and some optional categories. My list will overlap a bit with Carrie’s Book Club mentioned above (otherwise I’d never be able to do this!)


  1. A 20th Century Classic: My Man Jeeves by P. D. Wodehouse
  2. A 19th Century Classic: Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author: The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
  4. A Classic in Translation  (A book originally written in a different language from your own.) The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.
  5. A Classic About War  The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Optional Categories:
  1. An American Classic: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller:  A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, the first Sherlock Holmes book
  3. A Historical Fiction Classic: I will Repay by Baroness Orzcy, part of The Scarlet Pimpernel series. I hadn’t known there was more than one book with him!
  4. A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4

Let me know if you’re planning to join in on any of these, and we can keep up with each other’s progress.

I’m giving some thought to hosting a challenge to read a certain number of missionary books throughout the year. Let me know if you’d be interested in that and how many books you think would be reasonable.