Book Challenge for 2020 Completed

Book Challenge for 2020 Completed

Reading challenge 2020 complete

I read slightly more than ever this year– 67 books and counting, easily making my goal of 52. Some were not worth reviewing (see bottom photo), some I haven’t finished yet or are parts of series, and others got reviewed with four or five stars. You can see what I read below, with links to those I reviewed on the blog. Maybe this will give you some ideas either for books you want to read or gifts you want to give.

How did you do on the Reading Challenge in this unusual year? Tell us your favorite reads this year in the comments, so we can all benefit from your experience.

Also, it is the time of year to tell me what categories you want to see on our 2021 Reading Challenge, as well as how many under each category you think is the right balance. Every year we change it up a bit based on what you liked and what you didn’t, what kinds of things you want accountability to include in your reading life, balanced with enough fun reading too. I count on your advice to create our next challenge, which will come out on New Year’s Day, so please be in touch. Especially if you are new to the blessing of doing this Reading Challenge, this is an opportunity for you to have a voice in the parameters, so you’ll find it both doable and rewarding. We aim for 52 books a year, which averages completing one a week, and you can choose whatever titles that please you under each category.

This is how I did this one for this year. The (numbers in parentheses) represent reading beyond our goal of 52 for the year.

Reading Challenge for 2020 Complete:

(Yay!) Favorite Books of the Year (also listed in their category):

1.  Warmth of Other Suns

2. So Big

(3.) Braiding Bittersweet

Fiction (substancial):

1.  Rules of Civility

2. Half-Drowned King

3. The Sea Queen

4.  Forty Rules of Love

5. The Dutch House

(7.) The Stationery Shop

Fiction (breezy):

1. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe (not a fan)

2. The Hideaway (3 star)

3.  A Week at the Shore (twaddle)

4. Dance Away with Me (twaddle)

(5.) The Unbreakables (twaddle)

(6.) Nothing to See Here


1. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

2. Maisie Dobbs

(3.) Birds of a Feather

General Nonfiction:

1. The Women’s Hour

2. How Will Your Measure Your Life (not a fan)

Essay or Memoir:

1. The Hare with Amber Eyes

2. Blue Like Jazz (didn’t like)

(3.) Notes from a Young Black Chef


1. Mary Baker Eddy by Gillian Gill (huge book; not finished yet )

2. Hamilton (also huge and over reviewed)

Poetry or Cookbooks:

1.  Long Way Down

2. Defined Dish (wonderful cookbook)

(3.) No Crumbs Left

(4.) Buck Naked Kitchen (wonderful cookbook)

Art or Creativity:

1. The Art of Rivalry (not a fan)

2. Journeys to Abstraction

Self-Help or Self-Care or Inspiration:

1. Awareness

2. Unity of Good (re-read)

Religion or Spirituality:

1. The Universal Christ

2. The Sabbath

3. Retrospection and Introspection (re-read)

Science or Nature or Sustainability:

1. The Naturalist

2. Braiding Bittersweet (also fav)

Outside Your Own Country:

1. Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (Africa)

2. A Long Petal of the Sea (Spain and Argentina)

(3.) Woman in Red (Brazil, Uruguay, and Italy)

(4.) Island of Sea Women (Korea)

(5)  The Henna Artist (India)

Something that Challenges Your Point of View:

1. For Small Creatures Such as We (half way through)

Something Difficult:

1. A Fine Balance

Something Eye-Opening:

1.  The Warmth of Other Suns (also fav)

Professional Development/ Pursuing Interests:

1. Landscape Composition (almost finished)

2. Painting the Landscape in Pastel

3. Painting Sunlight and Shadow with Pastels

4. Old in Art School (almost finished)

5. If You Want to Write (almost finished)

Older Books (Prior to 2000):

1. Think and Grow Rich

2. So Big (also fav)

(3.) Jane of Lantern Hill

New Books (2019 -2020):

1.  The Book of Longings

2. The Gifted School (not a fan)

3. The Golden Wolf

4.  The Most Fun We Ever Had

(5.) The Talented Miss Farwell

(6.)  Normal People (not a fan)

Books Recommended by Someone You Know:

1. Oneness

2.  Circe

(3) Warlight

Books You Own but Hadn’t Read Yet:

1. Broken Open

2.  Building Jalna (first Jalna series)

3.  Morning at Jalna (2nd of Jalna series)

Library Books:

1. The Summer Country

2.  Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs #3)

(3.) Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs #4)

(4.) An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs #5)

Tell us your favorites!

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. John gregory 3 years ago

    Wow…I am such a slow reader…maybe 4 this year….

    • Author
      Polly Castor 3 years ago

      Any you’d recommend?

  2. Dilys 3 years ago

    Well done Polly, I love your book reviews! I’ve enjoyed 60 books this year thanks to lockdown and not being able to get out and about as much as usual. I feel as if I have been able to travel in my mind.
    I’ve read quite a few you have recommended including “Where the crawdads sing”, which I loved. I reread “Little Women” too after you talked about the film, I hope to watch that over Christmas. “A gentleman in Moscow” was also wonderful and I discovered Sue Monk Kidd’s books so read “The secret life of bees”, “The Invention of Wings” and “”The book of longings”, all great books. I reread some classic Jane Austen too and a biography of her by Claire Tomalin, Austen is one of my favourite authors. “Humankind – a hopeful history” by Rutger Bergman is an interesting book. Apeirogon is an interesting and unusual book by Colum McCann, and a true story of people in the Middle East. “Birds in a cage” reviewed in the Monitor is an uplifting story of how prisoners of war in WW2 survived by bird watching during their captivity. I also enjoyed “The Woman’s Hour” that you recommended, I was shocked to find that some women really didn’t want their sisters to get the vote! I read Tim Peake’s autobiography, he is the British astronaut who spent 6 months on the international space station and Captain Tom’s autobiography, he raised £38 million for the NHS, reached 100 years old in April and was knighted by the Queen in the summer. A friend Kent me “The beekeeper of Aleppo” which I appreciated.
    I didn’t care for “Normal People” either!
    I didn’t set out with a plan for the year’s reading but I was happy to be taken in different directions as I felt interested in persuing a subject. So carry on the good work of guiding our book choices. Xxxx

    • Author
      Polly Castor 3 years ago

      WONDERFUL!!! Humankind is on to-be-read my list already, but I’ll check out some of your other suggestions. And why the heck is Normal People a bestseller? Thank you!

      • Dilys 3 years ago

        I have no idea why Normal People is so popular! It was serialised on tv here in the U.K. but I avoided it!
        I like to read the book reviews in the Christian Science Monitor, they often direct me to great books.


  1. […] Well, I exceeded that by reading 67. You can check out specifics here. […]

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