Last fall, I challenged myself to read 50 books in a year. It was fun, educational and a better use of my time than slaughtering a craft I was tricked into attempting from too much time on Pinterest. It even earned me a night on the town and a steak dinner from Outdoor Guy in recognition of my accomplishment (he’s not a big reader, so he was suitably impressed).
But the benefits of reading go beyond dinner at a fancy restaurant. Studies show that reading can be to your brain what jogging is to your body…good exercise. Reading keeps your brain stimulated and can help ward off diseases like dementia and Alzheimers. Reading is also a great stress reliever, knowledge builder and memory builder. For me, there’s the added benefit of improving my writing. It will help build my vocabulary, and expose me to different writing styles and ideas. And reading is one of the best bargains out there when it comes to value for your entertainment dollar. Grab yourself a library card and you have a passport to the world for free!
I had so much fun with my 50 book challenge last year, I decided to complete another 50 books this year. I began my quest this year on October 1, 2015, and I am currently halfway through. So what am I reading? You can see for yourself with my list below.
I thoroughly enjoyed most of these books. If you only read one book about the great Abraham Lincoln make it Team of Rivals. And if you love Wyoming, don’t miss out on anything by Craig Johnson. His prose is really wonderful. I could write a full review on each book, but instead I’ll hit the highlight and the disappointment of the first half of my campaign.
The title of favorite thus far belongs to Year of Biblical Womanhood. It was touching, thought-provoking and positively hysterical. It’s a biography, of sorts, of a woman who tries to live her life for one year according to the ancient laws of the bible, or at least as practically as one can several thousand years later. The bible is certainly part of this book, and I got some great lessons in biblical history and application. But it goes beyond that. Rachel Held Evans opens up a discussion about justice, compassion and charity. It made me look at the bible in a different way. Her material isn’t really groundbreaking, but the way she presented it resonated with me. Interspersed throughout the book are journal entries from her husband, giving his perspective on her quest. I especially loved these insights and it helped me to remember how much my own actions and adventures affect Outdoor Guy.
If there was a miss in these first 25 books, it was American Hunter by Willie Robertson and William Doyle. The book is written as an homage to the early men and women hunters of America and describing how they’ve contributed to the hunting culture we know today. Willie Robertson is the Willie of Duck Dynasty fame. I like the show. I like Willie on the show. Willie’s book, however, fell flat for me. Maybe I had too high of expectations after reading books like Team of Rivals. The writing isn’t anything special and the the accounts of important historical hunters lacked depth. I especially disliked his few examples of women hunters. They seemed especially shallow and thrown in there as an afterthought. I like to hunt and love the outdoors, but am not a gun nut, so his many references to the nuances of guns were lost on me. The accounts of presidents that like to hunt seem to be a big stretch. And the book completely glossed over the role hunters played in the almost total elimination of species like bison and elk in the late 1800s. But I recommend skipping this one altogether.
As for the rest, well, I might save those for future blog posts. Now go fire up those neurons and start reading!
- Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
- Cold Betrayal by JJ Jance
- Deceived by Randy Wayne White
- Front Runner by Felix Francis
- Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs
- Billion Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football by Gilbert M. Gaul
- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
- Go, Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
- Devils Bridge by Linda Fairstein
- Dry Bones by Craig Johnson
- Inherit the Dead by Lee Child, et. al.
- Haunted by Randy Wayne White
- Mrs. Lee’s Rose Garden by Carlo Devito
- Dead Man’s Fancy by Keith McCafferty
- All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
- Foreign Affairs by Stuart Woods
- Devoted in Death by JD Robb
- Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson
- Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’ by Rachel Held Evans
- Blizzard 1949 by Roy Alleman
- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
- Bones to Pick by Carolyn Haines
- Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman
- American Hunter by Willie Robertson and William Doyle