Reading Goals for 2020

It’s no secret that I love to read. I mean I REALLY love to read. My Kindle app currently has 745 unread titles on it. (213 that I’ve already read.) Thanks to social media, I’ve discovered the fun of participating in reading challenges. Some last a few days, some a whole month, still others run for a year.

Right now, I have some year-long goals for sure. I am participating in two year long challenges that I’ve participated in before – PopSugar and 52 Books in 52 Weeks. I’ve also got some titles that are called ARCs – Advanced Reader Copies – that I am lucky enough to read and review before they are published! Granted, those tend to come with deadlines so I have to be a bit more diligent and organized when it comes to reading those. I will be participating in a year long challenge specifically to get ARCs read a reviewed. It’s called Arc Apocalypse which I find amusing. I’ll also be doing the Pageathon which is purely about counting pages and completed books! Romanceopoly is also a part of my reading plan.

There are couple of monthly challenges for January that I’ll be working on as well. One of them is called Bookish Bingo and comes from the website (which is a great place to get ARCs if you are interested!) The other is called the Backlist Bookathon and is focused on getting rid of some of those books that I’ve had on my “to be read” for a long time.

Before you worry about my sanity, let me reassure you that a number of the books on my reading list will fit numerous challenges. So I won’t have to go TOO crazy with the number of books I read.

Here’s to a literature filled 2020!

The Lady’s Gamble (by Abby Ayles)

The Lady's GambleThis is not the first novel I’ve read by Abby Ayles, but it is, hands down, my favorite.

In many period romance novels, the story focuses on the eldest unmarried daughter in a family and her prospects for marriage. But the “The Lady’s Gamble” the story focuses on Regina, the youngest daughter who sets out to save the family after her father loses everything in a gambling loss.

To put it quite simply, I adore Regina. Coming from a childhood marred by the loss of her mother, Regina grows up believing she is unattractive, undesirable, and an embarrassment to her four older, prettier, more talented sisters. The truth is far different than what Regina perceives and it is only through an unexpected friend and a love that she fears is unrequited that Regina begins to see the truth. All of this occurs while she is secretly being taught to gamble by the devastatingly handsome Lord Harrison, a relationship that his friends assume is a romantic one.

Beyond the central storyline, I love that Ms. Ayles touches on the sacrifices that we make for all types of love. Lovers don’t marry because he is dying and has a brother who can inherit the estate after he passes while she will never need to worry if a future suitor is interested in her or the wealth she inherited from her late husband. A “bastard child” endures harsh treatment by the nobility because he is devoted to his father and will not leave him. Regina risks public humiliation to win back the family estate from the man who won it from her father. Ms.Ayles even touches on the difficulty faced by Lady Cora, Regina’s chaperone, who tries to keep her attraction to other females from becoming a widely known fact among “proper society”. Even Lord Harrison put his own reputation on the line, earning money through gambling so that he could restore the estate that his father had lost almost entirely.

The love story is beautifully written – Ms. Ayles knows how to enchant her readers! – but my favorite part of the story is watching young Regina blossom. Once she is no longer living as “the baby of the family” she discovers that not everyone is offended by her quick wit, there are those who find her funny and intelligent, and that she has a real talent for playing cards and reading people. It is her growth and increased confidence in herself that makes this a truly wonderful read.

The Lady's Gamble

Reading Challenge 2018

I’m a book nerd.

There!  I said it!

As a book nerd, I enjoy the website – and app – Goodreads.  It allows me to create virtual bookshelves of all the books I’ve read, those I am currently reading, or those I want to read.  And I can create my own bookshelves to sort books into categories of my choosing.

In 2016, I found a reading challenge online that had a list of books to read that included things like a bestseller, a biography, a book and its prequel, a book that takes place on an island . . . the list even included a book with a blue cover!  All told there were about 42 “categories” on that list.  I came close but didn’t quite complete it.  In 2017, I simply set a number goal for myself on Goodreads (another feature I love – tracking how close I am to my goal!) and worked my way through books by favorite authors and only explored a few that were new to me.  But I did it – 50 books in a year!  And I really could have done much more reading in the summer.

It’s time to set my goal for next year but I wanted to do something a little different in 2018.  I’ve upped the total number of books – going for 60 this year – and I’ve decided to break those 60 into 12 genres/categories with a goal of reading five books in each group.  Took some doing to come up with 12 genres.  Mostly because I had to stretch beyond my normal reading choices.  But I did it!  The 12 groupings are:

  • Mystery
  • Fantasy
  • Poetry
  • Thriller
  • Biography or Memoir
  • Based on a Legend or Fairy Tale
  • Historical
  • Self Help/Spiritual Growth
  • Science Fiction
  • Classics
  • Goal Setting/Work Focus related
  • Political Intrigue

With the categories set, it was time to do some digging.  In the mystery and fantasy categories, there are some authors I already love so I can fill those up quite easily.  Science Fiction?  Political Intrigue?  There, I’m treading into unfamiliar territory.  And this technology-dependent age, I did what most of us would do – I did some searching on the internet! I spent a chunk of Christmas Eve compiling a “possible titles” list.  Yes, I’m planning well in advance, but I leave for a trip on the 28th and, if I want to start on January 1st, I will need to take a title or two with me on the trip.  You can see my list below.  And if you have any must-read titles you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments!

reading list.jpg

Reading List

If you take a look at the left side of my blog, you’ll see a link to my Goodreads information.  If you love to read and haven’t yet heard of Goodreads . . . well, now you have!

My mom and dad are in town for a visit and they both enjoy reading.  But dad is one of those “working-on-more-than-one-book-at-a-time” kind of readers.  Must be where I get it from.  While we both enjoy current best-selling authors (he introduced me to a few of my favorites!), we both  love to read “the classics”.  Now, when you start talking about “must-read” books, everyone has their opinion.  But dad and I are interested in those timeless pieces of writing that people still turn to today – works by Jane Austen, Steinbeck, etc. – as well as ancient writings that have stood the test of time.

So the internet hunt was on!  After browsing a few “must-read” lists, I landed on a couple of sites that seem to be my best options for a list of books to guide my reading choices for quite a while!  First, there is Barnes & Noble.  I know, I know, Barnes and Noble is an established chain store.  But their website has an extensive list of classics and I’ve got that specific page of their website bookmarked (and I’ve shared the link with you – just click on the store name above!).

I also found a website that has lists for various eras.  Each list has about 30 titles.  The choices on The Great Books List go all the way back to the Egyptian Book of the Dead and The Iliad.

If you are like me and don’t want to rely STRICTLY on your public library for the books you seek and you don’t want to buy all the books on your personal reading list, I’ve got good news!  Goodreads has some older titles available to read right on their website.  If you sign up you can read those titles and keep them bookmarked on your personal page (I’m doing that with one of my “currently reading” titles).  If you have an e-reader (or, like me, you don’t have one yet but are willing to use your laptop as an e-reader!) then you should check out Books Should be Free.  Just like the name promises, the books available on this site are all free!  True, they are all titles that are old enough that the copyright has expired.  But I currently have more than a dozen titles in my e-reader just waiting for me to get to them. And I’m certainly not done!

One last side note about Goodreads – you can get book recommendations based on books you have read and liked or you can simply go looking by title.  If you have friends using Goodreads, you can get ideas and recommendations from them as well as seeing what they are currently reading.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to get back to “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”.