Back to the Classics Challenge Mid-year Check-in

Karen at Books and Chocolate hosts the Back to the Classics Challenge for reading classics at least 50 years old. She’s holding a mid-year check-in for the challenge – and a giveaway!

I enjoy this challenge because I was not exposed to many classics as I grew up, and this challenge inspires me to expand my horizons and explore books I might not otherwise read. I’m happy to report that I have read 11 of the 12 classics on my list, and I am now reading (or listening to) the 12th. Here’s what I’ve read so far:

My unfinished one is a classic that scares you (due to its length or it intimidates you in some way), and for that I chose The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. I’m working on it now.

Karen allows for three children’s classics, and I am counting Where the Red Fern Grows, The Secret Garden, and Journey to the Center of the Earth for those. I’m not counting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea because nothing I read about it indicated it was written for children.

I enjoyed all of these except Journey to the Center of the Earth, but I think my favorite is He Fell in Love With His Wife. Adam Bede would be a close second. Frankenstein was the biggest surprise.

Have you read any classics lately?


Louisa May Alcott Challenge Wrap-up


The Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge hosted by Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts this month has ended. I read two books for the challenge:

I watched the recent Masterpiece Theatre remake of Little Women and enjoyed it quite a bit – I think it aired last month. But I enjoyed watching several of the behind-the-scenes videos of the show. I didn’t know the Alcott home, Orchard House, was still preserved today with many of its originals furnishings, Louisa’s desk, and even May’s (Amy’s counterpart) sketchings on the walls. I learned, also, that one of May’s art students sculpted the sitting Lincoln Memorial.

I also listened to several of the podcasts Tarissa linked to for us.

It was fun to spend so much time reading and thinking about Alcott this month. I already have at least one book planned for next year’s challenge.

Thank you for hosting, Tarissa! It was fun!

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge


Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge this month. You can find details and prize information here.

I’d like to read at least two books for the challenge.

  • A biography,  Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
  •  A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa. This was one of her “sensational novels” that she, like Jo in Little Women, wrote for quick money. It was recently rediscovered and printed. It will be interesting to see that side of Alcott.

I may also try to listen to Little Women again. I have read it several times and listened an audiobook of it at least once. I recently watched the new PBS remake, and I know they arranged some parts out of order, but for others I am not sure if I am remembering the book or the 1994 film. At any rate, I am hankering to go through the book again. I am making good time on my Back to the Classics challenge, so I think I have time for a detour. 🙂 But we’ll see.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge 2018 Winner

Congratulations to Rebekah for winning the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge this year! Thanks to all of those who participated. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! I already have plans for next year!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge 2018 Sign-up

It’s time for the Laura Ingalls Wilder reading Challenge for 2018! The basic idea is to read anything by, about, or relating to Laura Ingalls Wilder during February, the month of her birth and death. I have an extensive book list here if you’d like some ideas beyond the Little House series, but if course the Little House series is delightful to read or reread.

In the comments below let us know what you’re planning to read. On Feb. 28 I’ll have a wrap-up post where you can tell us how you did and what you thought, either in the comments or with a link back to your posts. You don’t have to have a blog to participate, but if you do I’d appreciate your linking back here.

Sometimes participants have done projects or made recipes from the series as well. If you do so, please do share with us! Annette at Little House Companion has some activities and other resources.

I like to have some sort of drawing to offer a prize concluding the challenge, and I decided to once again offer one winner the choice of:

The Little House Cookbook compiled by Barbara M. Walker


Laura’s Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

If neither of those suits you, I can substitute a similarly-priced Laura book of your choice. To be eligible, leave a comment on the wrap-up post at the end of the month telling us what you read for this challenge. I’ll choose a name through a week from then to give everyone time to get their last books and posts finished.

This year I am planning to read:

  • The First Four Years, the last in the Little House series
  • Death On the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst, a modern mystery set around some of the places Laura lived.
  • Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell. I had not heard of this, but it happened to catch my eye while I was in the library. It’s about a modern family with problems going to a “Camp Frontier.”
  • Last year I bought a set of My First Little House Books, after reading Rebekah’s wonderful review. I haven’t even opened them yet, but I want to look through them and hopefully see if Timothy might sit still long enough to look at one or two.

How about you? Will you be joining us this year? What will you be reading?

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday)

Reminder: Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge

Just a reminder that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge starts here a week from tomorrow on Feb. 1! More information and an extended book list is here (you don’t have to choose a book from the list: it’s just there for suggestions).

I’ll have a post here next Thursday where you can sign up to let us know you are participating and what you plan to read. I’m looking forward to seeing what your choices are!

Reading Plans for 2018

I have enjoyed reading ever since I first learned how, and the past few years I’ve benefited from being more intentional in my reading rather than just picking up the next thing on the shelf. I’ve wanted to incorporate classics, non-fiction, and new books as well as getting to more of my beloved fiction and some of the older books I have on hand. A few reading challenges have both helped me in those ways and made it fun to do with others. So one of my favorite things to do is map out my reading plans for the year. Many of the challenges overlap, so that helps – otherwise I’d probably only be able to do one. I’ve been tweaking it year by year to be more purposeful and yet have some flexibility in case I come across something during the year that I want to read that isn’t on any list. Last year was one of the best in all those ways, so I am hoping this year will be as well.

So these are the challenges I will participate in. For the first few I’ll just list the challenge and will share what books I’ll read when the time comes. Then I’ll list the challenges where I have already chosen what to read.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge is hosted right here during the month of February! More information is here as well as an extended book list. On Feb. 1 I’ll post a sign-up post and share then what I’ll be reading.


Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge in June, so I will share at that time what I will read for that challenge.

aliterarychristmas-buttonTarissa also hosts the Literary Christmas Challenge for the last six weeks of the year. The main rule: read Christmas book!

Karen at Books and Chocolate hosts the Back to the Classics Challenge. She comes up with categories and we come up with a classic at least 50 years old to fit each category. She also gives away a prize – a $30 gift card to or The Book Depository. You get one entry for the prize drawing for six categories completed, two entries for nine categories completed, and three entries if you complete all twelve. We don’t have to name the books, but it helps me to do so, and we are allowed to change during the course of the year. As with each of these challenges, more information is provided at the links above. So the classics I am going to aim for this year include:

1.  A 19th century classic. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (1853)(Finished 6/30/18)

2.  A 20th century classic (published before 1968). The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (1903)(Finished 3/31/18)

3.  A classic by a woman author. Adam Bede by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)(1859)(Finished 5/19/18)

4.  A classic in translation (Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language.) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)(Finished 1/26/18)

5. A children’s classic. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)(Finished 2/3/18)

6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction, which she goes on to say can be a detective or spy novel. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton. (1908)(Finished 1/18/18)

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (Finished 2/17/18)

8. A classic with a single-word title (no articles). Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Finished 3/12/18)

9. A classic with a color in the title. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (1961)(Finished 3/17/18)

10. A classic by an author that’s new to you. He Fell in Love With His Wife by Edward Payson Roe (1866)(Finished 4/8/18)

11. A classic that scares you (due to its length or it intimidates you in some way). The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. (1831)(Finished 8/4/18). I have come close to reading it many times and then backed away, but Tarissa’s review encouraged me toward trying it.

12. Re-read a favorite classic. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, (1880)(Finished 4/17/18)

Adam at Roof Beam Reader hosts the TBR Pile Challenge to encourage us to get to those books on our shelves, Kindles, or TBR lists. For this one we have to name the books we are going to read, along with two alternates (in case we can’t get through a couple on our list), and we have to have owned them for at least a year, so any book on our To Be Read pile published 2016 and earlier qualifies. And! Adam offers a prize: a drawing for a $50 gift card from or The Book Depository! Tempting for any book lover! So here is what I plan to read for this challenge:

  1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Finished 2/3/18)
  2. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (Finished 1/18/18)
  3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Finished 3/12/18)
  4. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (Finished 3/17/18)
  5. Adam Bede by George Eliot (1859)(Finished 5/19/18)
  6. He Fell in Love With His Wife by Edward Payson Roe (1866, Finished 4/8/18)
  7. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870, Finished 1/26/18)
  8. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (Finished 2/17/18)
  9. Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His own Body by Martin Pistorious (2013, Finished 1/8/18)
  10. Going Like Sixty by Richard Armour
  11. Sins of the Past by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Easton (2016, Finished 3/28/18)
  12. Another Way Home by Deborah Raney (2015, Finished 4/16/18)

Alternates: Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin (2016, Finished 5/7/18) and Mozart’s Sister by Nancy Moser (2006)(Finished 1/28/18)

As I finish them, I’ll come back and link the title to my review.

mount-tbr-2017Bev hosts the Mount TBR Challenge to also encourage us to read the books we already own, but with a few differences. Every 12 books read is another level or “mountain” climbed. We don’t have to list the books yet (although some books for the above TBR challenge will count for this one as well), but we do have to commit to a level. I am tempted to try for Mt. Vancouver (36 books) since I passed that last year, but I think I’ll keep my options open and commit to Mount Blanc (24 books). The one main rule here is that the books have to have been owned by us before January 1, 2018. But that means every book in my house and Kindle app on Jan. 1, even the ones I just got for Christmas, count! I appreciate that because too often I push my newer books back behind the ones that have been sitting there for a while.

So I think that will keep me busy for a while. 🙂 People often ask me how I get to so much reading, so once I wrote Finding Time to Read. On the other hand, last year I read 76 books, but some blog friends read twice that! So I’m not at all in the “big leagues” when it comes to reading, but I do love it for various reasons.

Do you make any reading plans for the year? What do you look forward to reading this year?

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Book)


Mount TBR Reading Challenge

mount-tbr-2017For the past few years, Bev has been hosting the Mount TBR Challenge to encourage us to read the books we already have on our shelves or in our Kindle apps. Every 12 books read is another level or “mountain” climbed.

I only committed to Mount Blanc (24 books), but right near the end of the year I thought I had made it to Mt. Ararat (48 books). But then while preparing this post I saw I had one book listed twice! 😦 So I fell just short and can only claim Mt. Vancouver (36) though I read 47.

Bev also devised this fun exercise, pairing familiar proverbs with the book titles we’ve read. Here are mine:

A stitch in time…[keeps] All Things New.
Don’t count your chickens…[with] The Silent Songbird.
A penny saved is….[is] A Proper Pursuit.
All good things must come… [to] A Place of Quiet Rest.
When in Rome… [take a] Snapshot.
All that glitters is notThe Golden Braid.
A picture is worth aA Portrait of Emily Price.
When the going gets tough, the tough getTwo Roads Home.
Two wrongs don’t makeTraces of Guilt.
The pen is mightier than….the Love of the Summerfields.
The squeaky wheel getsThe Sweetest Thing.
Hope for the best, but prepare forA Little Salty to Cut the Sweet.
Birds of a feather flock…[to the] June Bug.

I’ve already posted all the books I read in 2017 listed alphabetically within genres, so this list will be redundant to those who have already read my complete list. These are the already-owned books I read this year, in more or less the order I completed them. I’m adding the publication dates to make it easier for Bev since one rule for this challenge is that the books have to have been published before 2017.

  1. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (2014)(Finished 1/9/17)
  2. The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (2015)(Finished 1/10/17)
  3. The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (2016)(Finished 1/15/17)
  4. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (2016)(Finished 1/17/17)
  5. The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate (2013) (Finished /24/17)
  6. June Bug by Chris Fabry (2009) (Finished 1/26/17)
  7. The Tidewater Sisters (2014)(Finished 2/7/17)
  8. Twelve Years a Slave (Finished 2/8/17)
  9. Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney (2015)(Finished 2/15/17)
  10. Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson (2016)(Finished 3/5/17)
  11. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth (2003) by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart (Finished 3/13/17)
  12. The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron (2016)(Finished 3/21/17)
  13. Snapshot by Lis Wiehl (2014)(Finished 4/9/17)
  14. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1872)(Finished 4/19/17)
  15. If the Shoe Fits (2013)(Finished 4/24/17)
  16. A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (2002)(Finished 4/25/17)
  17. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (2016)(Finished 5/5/17)
  18. Waiting for Peter by Elizabeth Musser (2015) (Finished 5/9/17)
  19. Love of the Summerfields by Nancy Moser (2015) (Finished 5/16/17)
  20. Eight Women of Faith by Michael A. G. Haykin (2016)(Finished 5/23/17)
  21. The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser (2001)(Finished 5/31/17)
  22. Grow Old With Me by Melinda Evaul (2010)(Finished 6/5/17)
  23. Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin (2009)(Finished 6/18/17)
  24. Songs of a Housewife: Poems by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1997)(Finished 6/27/17)
  25. A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (2007)(Finished 7/3/17)
  26. Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin (2008)(Finished 7/11/17)
  27. Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior (2014)(Finished 7/13/17)
  28. The Thirty-Nine Steps by Robert Buchan (1915)(Finished 7/18/17)
  29. All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin (2005)(Finished 7/21/17)
  30. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (1886)(Finished 8/30/17)
  31. All Things New by Lynn Austin (2012)(Finished 8/3/17)
  32. Unlimited by Davis Bunn (2013)(Finished 8/5/17)
  33. The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (2014)(Finished 9/23/17)
  34. God Is Just Not Fair by Jennifer Rothschild (2014)(Finished 9/28/17)
  35. MacArthur Study Bible ESV (2010)(Finished 9/23/17)
  36. Jane Austen: Christian Encounter Series by Peter Leithart (2010)(Finished 9/30/17)
  37. Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer (2008)(Finished 10/15/17)
  38. The Sandcastle Sister by Lisa Wingate (2015)(Finished 10/22/17)
  39. The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate (2015)(Finished 10/19/17)
  40. A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon by Sophie Hudson. (2013)(Finished 11/10/17)
  41. Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser (2016)(Finished 11/25/17)
  42. Sarah’s Song by Karen Kingsbury (2004)(Finished 12/4/17)
  43. Silver Bells by Deborah Raney (2016)(Finished 12/9/17)
  44. Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh (2015)(Finished 12/10/17)
  45. One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg (2015)(Finished 12/19/17)
  46. The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren (2009)(Finished 12/25/17)
  47. The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung (2015)(Finished 12/16/17)

I enjoyed this impetus to get to some of the books I have stacked up! I’m looking forward to participating again this year, and if you’d like to as well, the information about it is here.

Back to the Classics 2017 Wrap-up

It’s time to wrap up the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate. Karen creates the categories each year, and participants can gain entries for a prize – a $30 gift certificate towards books! – based on the number of books read. Here’s what I read for the categories this year, linked back to my reviews of them:

1.  A 19th Century Classic. Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy (1899)(Finished 9/6/17)

2.  A 20th Century Classic. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)(Finished 7/25/17) and Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901)(Finished 3/8/17)(I read the text of Up From Slavery which was included in the book Uncle Tom or New Negro?: African Americans Reflect on Booker T. Washington and UP FROM SLAVERY 100 Years Later)

3.  A classic by a woman authorMiddlemarch by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)(1871)(Finished 4/18/17)

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written or published in a language other than your native language. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1897)(Finished 7/15/17)

5.  A classic published before 1800. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)(Finished 7/8/17)

6.  A romance classic. Lavender and Old Lace by Myrtle Reed (1902)(Finished 5/3/17)

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)(Finished 7/14/17)

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (1853)(Finished 2/8/17)

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (1956) (Finished 5/2/17)

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visitThe Story Girl by Lucy Maude Montgomery, set in Prince Edward Isle, Canada. (1911)(Finished 2/1/17)

11. An award-winning classic.The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George  Speare (Newberry Medal, 1962) (Finished around 12/8/17)

12. A Russian Classic. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (1886)(Finished 8/30/17)

Karen also asks that we let her know how many entries we qualify for so she doesn’t have to figure them for each person. Since I completed all twelve (even 13! 🙂 ), I’m eligible for three entries. She also asks for an email address: barbarah06 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Karen has the categories and information up for the Back to the Classics 2018 Challenge here if you want to look it over and think about participating next year. I’ve been trying to incorporate classics into my reading the last few years, and this has been a fun way to do it.

I’ll also put in a plug here for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge 2018, which will be hosted here in February and would dovetail nicely with the Classics Challenge. The Little House books would fit in the 19th century, woman author, and children’s categories, and some would fit in the travel or journey category.

Next week after Christmas I’ll post the list of books I’ve read this year and a list of my favorites of the year.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

Literary Christmas Reading Challenge

A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge //

Tarissa at In the Bookcase is hosting a Literary Christmas Reading Challenge, and, since I like to read Christmasy books in December, I decided to join in! More information on the challenge is here.

I have read or am planning to read the following (the ones I have already read and reviewed are linked back to my reviews):

Sarah’s Song by Karen Kingsbury
Silver Bells by Deborah Raney
Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh
I’ll Be Home For Christmas, four novellas in one.
The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren
Gospel Meditations for Christmas by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, and Michael Barrett

That will probably be more than enough, but I have a few others on hand or in my Kindle app if needed. 🙂