2016 Reading Challenge: January

New to the List:

  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (A book written by a celebrity)
  • The Dream of a Common Language* by Adrienne Rich (A book of poetry)
  • Giovanni’s Room* by James Baldwin (A book set in Europe)
  • Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventures to Every Country on Earth by Albert Podell (A book about a road trip)

My first update for the 2016 Reading Challenge List! This month I read some pretty amazing books that fulfilled both the 2016 Reading Challenge List and the 30 Books to Read Before You’re 30 List.

I started off the year with a book my Lena Dunham, who is one of my favorite people on earth right now because she is literally a girl’s best spirit guide through the ups and downs of their 20s. This book, along with her series Girls has really helped me to realize that how I felt and processed things as a twentysomething millennial was normal and I love her for that. Definitely a must read for all twentysomething girls, or for the parents of a twentysomething girl (it could really help give you insight into your daughter).

Next I read a collection of feminist poems in The Dream of a Common Language, which both fulfilled a 2016 challenge category, but was also on the 30 Under 30 list, and for good reason. These poems are the pivotal to the feminist movement, especially the ‘Power’ collection. My personal favorite was ‘Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev’ – the last two lines capture, for me, the essence of womanhood: We will not live to settle for less / We have dreamed of this all our lives.

The third book I read this month was also on the 30 Under 30, and it was Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. It was written in the 1950s, the time in which it was also set, and it gives a very interesting account of the lives of several men living in Paris. It is told from a first person perspective and deals with the both struggles, and some joys, that the narrator David finds in his relationship with Giovanni. It is an amazing book, but also an emotionally draining book. It is definitely one everybody should read before they are 30!

And last but not least for this month I read Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell. I wanted to read this because I love books about travel and adventure, especially nonfiction books. Podell is one of the most traveled men in the world; having visited all 193 UN recognized countries and an additional three. He shares some amazing and very unique stories about countries most people have probably never heard of. While I enjoyed the majority of the book, I found some parts to be maybe somewhat – insulting, if that is the right word. For example, his six page chapter on his visit to Haiti seemed very negative right from the start and ended with: “Help by donating to CARE, UNICEF, Save the Children, or Beyond Boarders. But spare yourself the visit.” The time I spent in Haiti was some of the best weeks of my life. I loved the food, the culture, and especially the people. Podell described the entire country as nothing special to look at, one of the saddest in the world, and noted not having seen one smile from a local. It is true that there is much corruption, poverty, and exploitation that makes locals weary, but the people I spent time with were among the happiest. You should donate to the above organizations, but you should also visit if you ever get the change. And if you can go into it with the right attitude, it can change your life.

*On the 30 Books to Read Before You’re 30 List

As always, I already have a pretty long running list of Books to Read Next, but if anyone has suggestions for other great reads let me know and I will add them to the list 🙂

What I’ve read thus far:


  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  • The Hundredth Monkey by Ken Keyes Jr.
  • The Truth by Michael Palin
  • The Divine Comedy: Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  • The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri
  • Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord
  • The Divine Comedy: Paradiso by Dante Alighieri
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  • This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  • A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  • A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  • An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Pearl by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Sir Orfeo by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
  • Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari (started Dec. 14 – finished Jan. 15)



  • Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari (A memoir)
  • Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim (A nonfiction book)
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (A book with a love triangle)
  • I’m Not a Terrorist, but I’ve Played One on TV by Maz Jobrani (A funny book)
  • Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (A mystery or thriller)
  • The Hours by Michael Cunningham (A Pulitzer Prize-winning book)
  • The Twits by Roald Dahl (A book from your childhood)
  • It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario (A book that made you cry)
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (A book published this year)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (A trilogy)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (A trilogy)
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (A trilogy)
  • Irish Fairy and Folk Tales by Multiple Authors (A book of short stories)
  • The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles edited by William Irwin and Gregory Bassham (A book a friend recommended)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (A book with nonhuman characters)
  • Someone by Alice McDermott (A book by a female author)
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway (A book written by someone under 30 – he wrote it when he was 27)
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby (A book you can finish in a day)
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck (A book with more than 500 pages)
  • The Hunger Games and Philosophy edited by William Irwin, George Dunn, and Nicholas Michaud (A book you own but have never read)
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (A book at the bottom of your to-read list)
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare (A play)









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