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2019 Reading Challenge, Part I

24 books to read in 2019! Let me tell you what I read by the halfway point.

Another year, another reading challenge! I’m part of the Goodreads community where you can track what you are reading, score your reads and make a wishlist of books you would like to read. You can follow what your friends are reading, find book recommendations and take part in giveaways and competitions.

One of the features I like most however is the reading challenge. Every year you can indicate how many books you intend to read. On your challenge page you can track how many books you have read so far, check if you are behind schedule and if your friends have already achieved their reading goals.

I’ve taken part every year since 2016 and reached my goal each time (no pressure). In 2016 I read 12 books (goal = 8), followed by 12 books in 2017 (goal = 12). Last year I went back to commuting to work by tram, which means a lot more time to read! As I was turning 30 I made reading 30 books my (slightly ambitious) goal. I dedicated two blogposts to the books I read last year: my 2018 reading challenge, part I and part II. For 2019 I set my goal as 24, so 2 books/month – a tad more moderate than last year.

Now let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading so far in 2019:


1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari)

I received the ‘sequel’, Homo Deus, for my birthday. But, being a sucker for chronology, I decided I should read this one first, as it looks back at the history of humankind. I do love history and Harari makes histroy so very concrete with lots of examples, stories and a clever pun here and there. I spotted several other people reading it as well at the time, so it kinda made me feel part of a secret reading community :).



2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay (J.K. Rowling)

Similar to my first book of 2019, I got The Crimes of Grindelwald as a present from one of my best friends. So when I was in the UK in January I checked out multiple bookshops and managed to find the predecessor in The Bookshop by WHSmith at Euston Station. I saw the film twice in cinema, but the nice thing about reading the screenplay is that you discover tiny details you might have missed watching the film (even if you’ve seen it twice).

IMG_0468_small3. A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland (Michael Moran)

I read somewhere that the Icelandics have the tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spend the night reading. As a booklover this seems like such a nice thing to do with your family! My partner and I gave it a go last Christmas and got each other a book as a present. Whereas I got him The Good Immigrant (Nikesh Shukla), he got me this book. I studied Polish at university and lived in Cracow for around 1,5 years in total. While I was there I travelled around a bit – but not as much as I would have liked (being on a student budget). As we were planning a trip to Cracow (which will feature on the blog soon) this was the perfect book to get in the mindset for our trip to Poland. Moreover, this book made the list of places I want to see in Poland even longer.


4. Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay (J.K. Rowling)

Having ticked off the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts first I could finally start reading this one (not that anyone was stopping me, I’m just weird that way). It was great to read this little gem and catch up on a few details I missed while watching the films or that weren’t entirely clear to me. Most of all I just love to immerse myself at any opportunity into the wizarding world again, and this was a very welcome venture into that beloved world.


IMG_0470-small5. A Brief History of Seven Killings (Marlon James)

Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction with this book and I can really see why. I received the whole shortlist of the 2015 Man Booker Prize as a present from my other half but so far I’ve only read two and a half books from it (the half being A Little Life – it’s beautiful but I just can’t deal with all the sadness and had to put it away). The reason I hadn’t picked this one up yet is because it is such a massive book: 688 pages! It’s amazingly written though, and made me very interested in the history of Jamaica, so I can only recommend it!


IMG_0471_small6. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)

This one was gifted to me for my birthday by a good friend, and I’d heard from others that it is a lovely read. And now I can tell you – it did not disappoint. You find yourself rooting for Eleanor, in all her quirkiness, from page 1. I’m not a fan of books with a bad ending, so I was really praying for things to turn out well for her. But maybe you should read it yourself if you’d like to find out 🙂



7. Staycation guide (Anne De Buck)

For my birthday I received a Bongo gift voucher for a hotel stay somewhere from my siblings, and it came with this lovely book! Anne De Buck, also know as blogger Your Little Black Book, gathered her best recommendations for the Netherlands and Flanders on where to stay, eat, drink and what to do. After careful reading, analysis and comparison we decided to go for a weekend in Delft, and I cannot wait to check out all the places she listed!


IMG_0473_small8. Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow (Yuval Noah Harari)

After reading Sapiens I was ready for the other side of history in Homo Deus. As I mentioned before, I love a bit of history and this was a proper history book – of the future. Harari definitely gives his own take on things and you don’t have to agree with him, but what an interesting take it is! It really makes me look forward to read his most recent book (I think) Lessons of the 21st century.



IMG_0474_small9. The Great Railway Bazaar (Paul Theroux)

I think this is the last one of the amazing pile of books I was given as a parting gift when leaving my job at the European Commission last year. So a bit sad, because what an amazing selection of books that was (check out this blog post and this one to find out more), but there are many more great books out there of course. I believe this is the book that established Theroux as one of the great travel writers of our time, and after having read Dark Star Safari last year I was really looking forward to reading this. It’s a really good book but perhaps a bit hyped. Or maybe my expectations were just a bit too high…

IMG_0475_small10. The Sellout (Paul Beatty)

Clever. So, so clever. No wonder this book won the Man Booker Prize in 2016. At the summit of sarcasm, so witty and outrageous. It’s a book that gets you thinking really. The only thing that I missed was that it didn’t captivate me like other stories can. When I really like a book I think about it a lot during the day and I look forward to reading it again during my commute. I didn’t have that with this book unfortunately. But a great read nonetheless.


For those of you who can count I’m slightly behind as I set my goal as 24 for the year. Getting to the halfway point I’ve only listed 10 books above, but I’m pleased to say that I’m 3/4 far in How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, and have about 60 pages to go in Geluk – The World Book of Happiness. So not lagging behind too much. I know, I know, it’s not a competition, but I need some good (reading) goals in life.

12 more books to go for this year, so I’d love to hear what you are reading and whether you have any books you would recommend I’d read too!

You can find out what I read in the second half of 2019 here.

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