A Great Reading Challenge Begins…Care to Join Me?

A Great Reading Challenge Begins…Care to Join Me?

Many moons ago, I found this cool desk sign with a phrase that really spoke to me. I think I found it at a garage sale or thrift store.  I looked up the author, because I did not recognize it, and came to find out it was from a book I had heard of but never read. I wish I could include a photo of that sign with this blog but somewhere in my corporate travels (read: department shuffling and layoffs), I believe I may have lost that very insightful sign.


I remember the words though. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Quote courtesy of French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The book? The Little Prince.


I bring this up because here were eloquent reminders to notice the little things in life and always remember that matters most is wherever our heart has invested itself most, thoughts I’ve always tried to keep in check during my daily shenanigans. This mantra and book turned up in my life many moons ago and inspired me yet I still had not read it. And then lo and behold, the book appears again, this time on the list of PBS’s Great American Read 100 books list that I blogged about last week. When I started to brainstorm ways I could take that list and do something fun, creative and really ambitious, it seemed only fitting that this was the book to kick it off. (Plus, since it’s less than 100 pages in length, I get a fast pay-off, too. So…bonus!)


I welcome you to my latest creative challenge and invite you reading this to take it on with me. I offer you only suggestions on ways you too could go about approaching this literary Rubik’s Cube I set before you. I will explain.


But first, let’s brand it because you know in my deep, dark creative past, I was a marketer before I was standing at the watercooler with my media buddies. How about…





What do you think? Will that sell some popcorn and Reese’s Pieces?


I decided after reviewing that list of 100 titles, all of which I had only completed 22 (boo hiss), that I wanted to read more. There were so many books on that list that I wished I had read and taken the time years ago to tackle some classics. My thought? Now is a good time, too!


Here’s what I did to set up my own Summer Reading Challenge, and you may want to do something similar, too.  First, I went through the list and put books in seven categories. These worked for me, you may wish to divide by some other means. My categories are as follows:

(1) Already read you since age 40 — done! (4 books/series fit this group)

(2) Kids/Youth-targeted books (or popular with this age group) but I never read (7 books)

(3) Pleasure Reads — books I’m actually looking forward to reading! (13 books)

(4) Modern Classics I’ve never read (17 books)

(5) Old Classics I’ve never read (19 books)

(6) Books I’ve frankly never heard of before, even if I may know the author’s name (22 books)

(7) Already read you but well before age 40 — might be time to reread! (18 books)


Obviously, the first and last categories are not my focus. In fact, I don’t plan on rereading the first category of books at all, though I would love to experience again many old favorites that are in that last category like Catch 22, To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984, but this time with all of my life experience and knowledge as a middle-aged woman. I do wonder if I would enjoy them as much as I did then. And the books that I trudged through – the Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness and similar titles I groaned over- is it possible that years later, I might enjoy them? Hmm. I’d love to find out but there are far too many titles to experience for the first time. Next step!


If you’re embarking on this challenge with me, you’ve now gone through the list and put all 100 in their respective categories. Next, you must decide where you want to start. I chose to begin with what I believed would be the easiest books to complete first so many of my first selections will be from titles popular with children/youth and pleasure reads, since I already tackled the first hurdle — interest in reading them!


Then, plot out yur first month. I found blank calendar pages for June, July and August 2018 because I’m a visual person and I like to map out things physically for myself. But you may prefer to find a good app or do all of your planning and tracking through GoodReads, which I absolutely will be using on the book review end as well as this blog to chart my progress.


I’d recommend only scheduling titles for one month at a time because things come up and even if you try to be as realistic as possible estimating the time you’ll need to complete reading a book, something will inevitably arrive to throw off your schedule. Therefore, be flexible and look up page counts online beforehand at B&N or Amazon so you know what to expect before diving into a new title.


I’ve already got my first five mapped out and finished the first one this morning. You guessed it,  The Little Prince. More thoughts on that title soon via GoodReads. Stay tuned!


Others on my dance card this month include Charlotte’s Web, Frankenstein, And Then There Were None, Watchers,  and Ready Player One. One down and five to go between now and July 1. And then another month of titles new to me.


My goal is to read as many new titles as I can this summer. And if I enjoy it enough, I’ll continue through the rest of 2018. Will I read all remaining 78 I’ve never read before? No. Probably not. But you can bet I’ll have read all of the ones I always said I wanted to read on that list but never took the time to read… like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Call of the Wild, A Confederacy of Dunces, The Color Purple, and so many more that I genuinely am looking forward to discovering for myself.


Maybe you’d like to join me? I’d advise that you have a reason for undertaking this thing because it may seem daunting and you’ll need to stay committed, especially if you have as large a list of unread books or even greater in length than mine stretched out before you.


My reason for doing this Summer Reading Challenge 2018 is simple. It’s the same one I use every time I listen to a new artist’s quintessential album or try a brand new cuisine that I may not even like or order something different off of the menu from a favorite restaurant. How will I ever discover my next favorite thing without trying it? I won’t find the next book that changes my life or leaves a huge impression on my thinking unless I pick up a title I’ve never read. And if others have experienced and enjoyed it, that’s enough to draw me to check it out for myself.


So here I am… ready for the big Summer Read Challenge 2018. Later tonight, I meet up with a pig named Wilbur. Can’t wait. But there’s room for more in here. Who’s with me?


As always, thanks for reading MY words. And I hope you’ll be reading even more book titles..soon! ~ Chris K.



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