Last year, I participated in a winter book challenge to finish out the year and really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d do the same thing this year. The Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge includes 10 categories with assigned point values, and because a couple of categories include 2 books, there’s a total of 12 books to read between November 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017.
5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long.
My selection: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
10 points: Read a 2016 finalist (longlist or shortlist) for one of the following literary prizes: National Book Award, Man Booker or Man Booker International.
My selection: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (National Book Award finalist for nonfiction)
10 points: Read a brand-new release (something published between November 1, 2016, and January 31, 2017).
My selection: Faithful by Alice Hoffman (release date: Nov. 1)
15 points: Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you.
My selection: Nirzona by Abidah El Khalieqy (Muslim Indonesian) and translated by Annie Tucker
15 points: Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you.
My selection: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria (One of the characters is biracial, with Portuguese and Swahili parents.)
20 points: Read a modern retelling of a classic.
My selection: Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid (This has mixed reviews, but I just reread Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen a couple of months ago and enjoyed it so much that a retelling of that story appeals to me. I quite like Val McDermid’s mysteries/thrillers, so I’m hoping this will work for me even though it sounds like it didn’t work for a lot of readers.)
25 points: Read a book with an alcoholic beverage (neat or cocktail) in the title.
My selection: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
30 points: Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name.
My selection: Lady Brandy by Claudette Williams (This was a hard one! I was saved by my mom who happened to find this book at a thrift shop and picked it up as a surprise for me because of the title. Otherwise, I probably would have gone with the first book in the Brandy Alexander mystery series by Shelly Fredman because that seemed like the only option.)
30 points: Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects.
My selections: The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (This is a book about the Detection Club, the world’s most famous social network of crime writers, that included Agatha Christie as a member.) and The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (This is her first published novel and introduces Hercule Poirot.)
40 points: Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book.
My selections: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas and Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell