50 in 52 – the 2014, Self-Imposed Book Challenge

Books and Potato Chips pic 1I’ve always loved reading, and don’t understand why some people don’t. But with the demands of life, reading’s not a top priority and it isn’t until I curl up in my favorite reading spot with a good title that I re-remember how invested I become in the pages and how lovely that feeling is.

I read a quote recently – “Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” Meaning that once you have one (assuming the chip or book is any good), it’s near impossible to stop. As the world moves towards all things digital, I fear the idea of books one day becoming obsolete.

If you go back into my first blog of January 2014 “Live Extraordinarily,” I mentioned that one of my goals for the year was to read 50 books by the end of 2014. As a way of staying accountable, I made a list of the books I finished and the month I completed them, and added a brief commentary to some of the ones I really liked/disliked, which are all published below.

***Disclaimers – I gave myself a little leeway in terms of start and finish, since I don’t remember the exact date I began. I started my first book for the challenge December 25, 2013 (I THINK), but did not technically finish the final one until December 27, 2014. And yes, this list includes audiobooks, as well as the books I read for school. Lastly, I realize some of the texts are rather small (such as the two books of collected poems), but are evened out by the heftier reads I tackled.

Da list, starting from December 25, 2013

  1. A Study in Scarlet – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. The Sign of Four – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Series 3 of BBC’s “Sherlock” had just released at the time, and was/am hoping to finish all the stories before Series 4!

Books and Potato Chips pic 7January

  1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
  3. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
  4. Death of a Naturalist – Seamus Heaney
  5. Emma – Jane Austen. Read in high school; read it again for my Oxford tutorial.


  1. The Professor – Charlotte Bronte
  2. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte. By far one of my all-time favorites.
  3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte. Another repeat read.
  4. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  5. The Whitsun Weddings – Philip Larkin
  6. Persuasion – Jane Austen

Books and Potato Chips pic 2March

  1. Love and Friendship and Other Short Stories – Jane Austen
  2. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen. Favorite Jane Austen novel, very possibly due to the fact that the 1995 film adaptation is basically my favorite movie ever. If you have seen Hugh Grant or Alan Rickman in a period drama, you’ll understand. I mean, look…he’s READING to her.

Books and Potato Chips pic 3April

  1. The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding
  2. Snobs – Julian Fellowes.


  1. The Book Thief –Markus Zusak. Excellent, excellent read. Particularly resonating after having just visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Germany at the time.
  2. The Help – Kathryn Stockett. Can’t believe I hadn’t read it before. Amazing.
  3. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
  4. And Only to Deceive – Tasha Alexander
  5. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini. I do not exaggerate – no book has ever evoked such a strong emotional response from me until I read this. Never has a book made me feel as angered nor made me question the value and injustice towards human life so deeply until I read Hosseini’s second novel set in Kabul, Afghanistan.
  7. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce. This book reconfirmed why I dislike the stream-of-consciousness literary style.

Books and Potato Chips pic 4June

  1. This Side of Paradise – Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson. Not for the faint of heart – So, so violent. But so, so addictive.
  3. The Search for Truth About Islam – Ben Daniel. An interesting read told in the perspective of a Christian pastor seeking the truths of Islam behind all the negative (not to mention ignorant) stereotypes propagated by society.
  4. Skin – Ted Dekker


  1. Hinds’ Feet in High Places – Hannah Hurnard
  2. And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini. The librarian told me this book was boring. LIES.
  3. The Traveler’s Gift – Andy Andrews
  4. Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay. Another novel about the Holocaust, but about the lesser known Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup of Jewish families in France.
  5. The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
  6. Call of the Wild – Jack London (audiobook)


  1. An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde (audiobook)
  2. The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde (audiobook)
  3. Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw (audiobook)
  4. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
  5. Bossypants – Tina Fey. Yes yes yes.

Books and Potato Chips pic 5September

Life sort of just happened, so no reading for September 😦


  1. The Media Effect: How the News Influences Politics and Government – Jim Willis
  2. Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life – William Deresiewicz. A great read for anyone interested in learning about some of the shadier aspects of the Ivy League world, and why the value learning for learning’s own sake has diminished in light of grades and paychecks.
  3. Six Characters in Search of an Author – Luigi Pirandello

Books and Potato Chips pic 6November

  1. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe. Another re-read for school.
  2. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky. A bit of a rough start, but good. Hoping to add more Russian lit onto next year’s list; perhaps I’ll take on Anna Karenina next?
  3. The Color Purple – Alice Walker


  1. Candide – Voltaire
  2. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – Tom Stoppard. Ughhhhh
  3. Chinese Cinderella – Adeline Yen Mah. A sad and unfortunately true narrative about the author’s experience as an unwanted child.
  4. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (audiobook). I know it’s sad, but I had not actually read/listened to it before.
  5. How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran. The title may be misleading – this is not a “how-to” book, but a humorous book about feminism. I didn’t bother explaining this to people confused by the title when I took it out in public…meh.Books and Potato Chips pic 8

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