Year of Reading challenge


“The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

                                                                                             – Dr Seuss

As a writer, I know the great importance and gains of reading widely and often, both critically toward improving my craft and for enjoyment. It’s the last part I’ve struggled with over recent years.

A writer of historical fiction must read copiously in the era of their research, the writings of the day, and everything they can lay their hands on about the time, place of their setting and the people. I’ve found over the past three years that this has left me little time to read for pleasure or to sample many of the wonderful, recently published books out there, particularly YA and kid’s lit that I also love and write in. I feel I’ve missed a large chunk, and not least because many of my friends and peers have been published in these genres and I’m eager to read their latest books.

My shelves are crammed more these days with books I want to read and the percentage of “read” to “waiting to be read” has tilted dramatically in favour of the latter.

In this National Year of Reading, I’ve set myself the challenge to read 52 books in 52 weeks. These fifty-two will be chosen beyond the many novels, information and history books I’ll be reading in the course of my research and background gathering for my current WIP.

I need and want to rediscover the pleasure of story for entertainment and escape; the great read you can’t put down while the carrots steam dry and the washing sits idle in the machine. Of course, I’ve read some fantastic books, memoirs and historical novels in pursuit of improving my knowledge of the era of my last novel, but it’s the other genres that I love passionately too that I’m missing of late.

I’m not sure I’ll get to blog on each of the fifty-two books of my challenge, but I will read them. I intend to put aside time every day to do so. Not the last ten minutes in bed of a night when my eyelids give up before my brain and the book is closed on the promise of a tomorrow that my ultra-busy 2011 couldn’t fulfill.

This will be my Year of Reading. How about you?


Week 1 Book 1

My first book of the year was Buying a Piece of Paris written by Ellie Nielsen. This is a non-fiction account of Nielsen’s efforts to fulfil her dream of buying a Paris apartment in just two short weeks – negotiating with limited language and knowledge of “French real estate etiquette”.

I totally enjoyed this easy read and jaunt around Paris, that, if the truth be known, fulfils a little of my own fantasy. I love how the prose frequently drops into French – my enjoyment obviously madly influenced by my own current attempts to learn the language and in appreciation of Nielsen’s struggles.

The view of life painted in Paris of Nielsen’s fellow expat’s enticed me more, yet also warned of the difficulties that perhaps only those with considerable means can fully circumvent.

A great read for lovers of Paris, France and French, or those nurturing a secret yearning to live in a foreign country.

Buying a piece of Paris – Ellie Nielsen Published by Scribe Publications 2007 ISBN: 9781-921215-51-3

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Corinne Fenton" alt="Corinne Fenton">

Corinne Fenton

What a challenge, Chris. Good luck!!!!

January 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Thanks for your good wishes, Corinne. I need the definitive number. Now I’ll do it. Even though I’ve always set definite goals for the year i.e. write x number of stories, submit/get x number of stories published, I’ve gone for “read more”. I really welcome Year of Reading to get specific. Particularly for the joy of reading beyond industry reading, research reading, relevant reading etc. I’m loving it already.

    January 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm
Kerri/Kaz" alt="Kerri/Kaz">


Chris, as I’d previously said, this goal is, literally, awesome. My brain is having trouble comprehending how you’ll do it – but then again, I suppose if I convince myself that some are shorter books that might help me to get my head around such a challenge.

That said, a writer friend of mine – Anna Jacobs, extrememely prolific author of English sagas and hsitorical romances – reads five novels a week as well as writes every day to complete 3 – 4, 100k novels a year! I’ve never known how she does it!

I’ll be barracking from the sideline and cheering you on with every book you review and list. I think you’ve become my ‘goal hero’!

But you sparked a responding chord in me – and I realised that this too, is an important part of my life I need to address. So, I am adding reading goals to my own writing goals. I hope to read ten new authors. That’s my starting goal. I’ll also add that I’ll aim to keep a journal listing those books – though I may not have time to do more than read and list them for later perusal. Whatever happens beyond that will be a bonus, right?

So, you go girl! I can see you’re already champing at the bit – and thank you! I’m going to look out for that book! (Buying a Piece of Paris). I love things French, can struggle through with some basic school girl French and want to set a novel there – so it sounds perfect!

Thanks for a great post!

January 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Thank you for your fabulous enthusiasm, Kerri. I’m delighted I’ve sparked a new reading goal for you. Ten new authors is an inspired and excellent aim.

    Lots of writers are setting themselves reading challenges this year, and it’s really sparked me into action. As I said in my post, I’m not necessarily going to review or blog about all fifty-two, but they will be read. In saying that I had completely overlooked how long some of the historicals I want to read actually are, some doorstoppers i.e. Wolf Hall. 🙂

    Wow, Anna Jacobs is both a hugely prolific writer and reader. Absolutely inspirational. Not sure I could ever compete with such output or reading levels, but it certainly explains her dedication to her craft and shows what writers need to do – write more and read more.

    Let’s compare notes as we go. Meanwhile, congratulations on your new regular blog spot on Downtown YAs (http://downtownya.blogspot.com). Great info/idea packed blog for writers and readers.


    January 15, 2012 at 8:41 am
Karen Tyrrell" alt="Karen Tyrrell">

Karen Tyrrell

Hi Chris,
I LOVE the whole motivational thinking of the National Year of Reading.
I’ve just joined Good Reads social networking site and promised to read 40 books in 52 weeks. I’ve already finished 3 so I’m “above” my target.

Good luck with your goal of 52 books. That’s only one a week, right?


January 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Hi Karen

    Thanks for your good wishes and enthusiastic comment. The impetus and inspiration of National Year of Reading is all around isn’t it? It’s certainly inspired me to challenge myself into extra and other reading. Good luck with your challenge too. I’ve just joined Good Reads too, but I need to learn exactly how it works etc still.

    HAPPY READING to you also!

    January 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm

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