What Have You Been Reading?

I just got back from a two-week trip to Malta and Germany. My trip was part new exploration, to see the sights in Malta and Germany, and part family and friends, to see my cousins near Munich, and my longtime friend near Stuttgart.

I had an amazing time in both countries. The weather was sunny and warm, some days got to 37C (or 99F). I did a lot of talking with my family and friends, a lot of walking, sightseeing, eating, drinking (mostly water to stay hydrated and a few beers), and of course taking photos. More trip details to follow once I get myself organized.

In the mean time, in the Northern hemisphere we welcomed the first day of summer on June 21. Summer brings the promise of many outdoor activities, as well as easy living and reading. This prompted me to reflect on what I’ve been reading this year.

In January, I started using the proposed categories from the Toronto Public Library 2019 Reading Challenge as a guide to read more widely. This has led to getting me to read a bit beyond my usual mysteries and fiction.

What I’ve Enjoyed Reading: From January to date, I’ve enjoyed reading thirty two books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I had fun putting the thirty two book cover images into a photo collage. The books are listed by author’s last name below:

  1. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  2. The Widow, Fiona Barton
  3. Family & Other Catastrophes, Alexandra Borowitz
  4. The Rough Guide to Croatia, Jonathan Bousfield
  5. Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton
  6. Washington Black, Esi Edugyan
  7. The Choice, Dr. Edith Eva Eger
  8. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Nathan Englander
  9. 419, Will Ferguson
  10. Gone Girl, Gillan Flynn
  11. Panic Room, Robert Goddard
  12. Scrublands, Chris Hammer
  13. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  14. Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
  15. A Brief History of Oversharing, Shawn Hitchins
  16. Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini
  17. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  18. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  19. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  20. Defending Jacob, William Landay
  21. The Bishop’s Man, Linden MacIntyre
  22. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  23. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
  24. In Pursuit of Excellence, Terry Orlick
  25. Love Dishonor Marry Cherish Perish, David Rakoff
  26. Bellevue Square, Michael Redhill
  27. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland
  28. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  29. Adèle, Leila Slimani
  30. The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani
  31. Ru, Kim Thúy
  32. Book Love, Debbie Tung

Book Categories: The Toronto Public Library proposed fourteen categories in the Reading Challenge. I’ve read all of them, and at least one book in each category, hence the total of thirty two books. When a book qualifies for more than one category, I count it in one category only.

Reading Habits: During the day, I prefer to be out and about so I save my book reading for the evening. I read most days but not every day. I usually read one book at a time to pay my full attention to the book. I’ve also been more careful with my book selection since I want to spend my time on good quality books.

Gratitude: I’m grateful to have access to one of the best public library systems in the world. Thanks to the library’s proposed book categories, I’ve been reading many new-to-me and award-winning authors from different countries. I’ve also read more book genres and learned more about international literary awards. I love that I’ve been reading these books without accumulating them in my home.

What’s Next: I enjoy the Reading Challenge and plan to continue for the rest of this year. I may use the additional eleven categories in the Advanced Reading Challenge to make my reading even more interesting. It would be a “wide” success for me if I could finish reading sixty books in more than fourteen categories in 2019.

Your Turn: What have you been reading? What are your reading habits? I’d love to hear your book recommendations.

Copyright © 2023 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

77 thoughts on “What Have You Been Reading?

  1. Jo June 22, 2019 / 12:13 am

    I read each night before I go to sleep. I also like to grab 30 minutes or so to mark the end of my day job. Because I work from home it’s sort of like my commute time – to put a fullstop against the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie June 22, 2019 / 7:32 am

      I like how you use reading to mark the end of your day job.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo June 26, 2019 / 6:29 pm

        You inspired me to do my own bookie post yesterday…


        • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 6:53 pm

          That’s great, Jo! I’ll check your book list for book ideas.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. mommyhon333 June 22, 2019 / 11:37 pm

    Eclectic list of titles! A little of everything. Your first book listed is one of my favorites. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would invite you to do so. It is very good, and very true to the book. We fell in love with Ove all over again when we watched the movie.

    I just finished The Gown by Robson, Lost Roses by Kelly and The Mother-in-Law by Hempworth. Enjoyed all 3. The first 2 were historical fiction and the last one was a contemporary family/mystery story.

    Welcome to WordPress!! Your blog looks great.


    • Natalie June 23, 2019 / 8:09 am

      Thanks, Leslie, your kind comment about my new blog. I added the movie and the three books you mentioned to my list. Happy summer reading and movie watching 🙂


  3. Anne Fraser June 23, 2019 / 1:10 am

    Our library had a reading Challenge to read a book from each continent last year. I discovered Louise Penny who I love and I have just read her latest book. I also read a couple of Lindsay Davis’s books which are set in ancient Rome.


    • Natalie June 23, 2019 / 8:14 am

      Hi Anne – I read ‘Glass Houses’ by Louise Penny last year and enjoyed it. She’s an accomplished Canadian author. Thank you for mentioning Lindsay Davis. I’ll add this author to my list.


  4. Lisa Dorenfest June 23, 2019 / 9:06 am

    I tend to read mostly on passage when we disconnect from the internet. My library is a mix of adventure and science fiction, self-help (less these days) and educational. So many great titles on your list, many of which I’ve been considering and a few I have read. What are your top three recommendations from the list?


    • Natalie June 23, 2019 / 9:45 am

      Hi Lisa – I’ve been reading books recommended by librarians so they’re really great books. For thought-provoking books about life, I enjoyed reading The Choice, A Man Called Ove, and When Breath Becomes Air. For mystery/ thriller books, The Perfect Nanny, Gone Girl. For flow of writing that I enjoyed Persepolis, Washington Black, and Norwegian Wood. Hope you find one that you haven’t read yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Dorenfest June 24, 2019 / 6:04 pm

        Ooh, thank you for so many good suggestions. Looking forwrd to savoring each (I’ve only read Gone Girl on this list – loved it)


  5. Erica/Erika June 23, 2019 / 9:23 am

    Hi Natalie, Always a thrill to open a new book. The last few years I have started downloading titles from the library. I discover new titles and genres that I may have passed on. The negative is that I may be on a long waiting list. I still purchase books for my ereader and occasionally I receive books as gifts. So many books. So little time.🙂 I agree with you, Natalie, where I should start aligning my energy and make a reading plan. Thank you for sharing your reading list. I have read a few of the books on this list and many I have not yet read. I look forward to hearing about your travels:)


    • Natalie June 23, 2019 / 9:53 am

      I feel the same, Erica, so many great books, so little time. I used to buy and keep books. Now that I plan to simplify my possessions, I stop buying books and just borrow them from the library. Most of the time, I receive the books I requested within a few days. The odd times that I have to wait for a book make the book arrival more special 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid June 23, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    I love reading and rarely leave the house without a book in my bag. I read most days before bed, sometimes in the bath and often on the train – it’s so much more satisfying than playing on my phone. Less screen time means more reading time which is always a good thing! I am a wannabe minimalist so am also a big fan of my local library, it’s a great way to enjoy a lot of books without accumulating more stuff. A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favourite books! I recently finished my challenge of 101 Books in 1001 Days and share my recent reads on the blog. Now I’m not doing a reading challenge, just reading for fun!


    • Natalie June 23, 2019 / 6:01 pm

      Thank you, Sammie, for your visit and comment. I haven’t tried reading in the bath yet, for fear of dropping my book and making it wet by accident 🙂 I’ll visit your blog shortly for book ideas.


  7. Lydia C. Lee June 23, 2019 / 5:44 pm

    Just finished Choose your own disaster – a kind of kooky memoir. (Junk read) Listening to Daisy Jones and the Six on Audio in the car. Enjoying that in audio – not sure i’d like it as a book tho….which is interesting….Hoping my order for the new Koch arrives before we go on holiday…#Lifethisweek


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 9:24 am

      ‘Choose Your Own Disaster’ sounds intriguing. Thank you, Lydia, for sharing your reads.


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 9:26 am

      For unknown reason, it went into Spam folder. I retrieved it, yeah! Thank you for being persistent.


      • Lydia C. Lee June 26, 2019 / 6:52 pm

        Just starting They are All My Family again for book club. I love that book. John Riordan Still waiting on the Koch tho!!! 10 days to get here….


        • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 6:56 pm

          I’ve made note of this. Thanks for sharing the book you love.


  8. Debbie Harris June 23, 2019 / 7:33 pm

    I’ve read quite a few of these books too! I really enjoyed Scrublands and A Man called Ove, a wide range of reading material is a great way to learn about the world isn’t it? I’m visiting my daughter and brought a pile of books with me for her to read, I’m into recycling and sharing. I always have a book on the go! Currently reading The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, quite an easy engaging read so far. #lifethisweek


    • Natalie June 23, 2019 / 7:53 pm

      Reading a wide range of books is like traveling without leaving home. Thanks, Debbie, for sharing what you’re currently reading. I’ll add it to my list.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond June 23, 2019 / 11:32 pm

    Wow Natalie a great list for me to peruse as I haven’t read many on your list. I’m reading Little Girl Lost at the moment which is a thriller and I can’t pick what will happen – I love that. #lifethisweek.


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 9:28 am

      Thank you, Sue, for sharing what you’re reading. I add it to my list. Mystery/ Thriller is one of my go-to book genres.


  10. Deborah June 24, 2019 / 1:17 am

    32 books is a good achievement given you do so many other things!!! And quite the array. I’ve read a few of those and the Trent Dalton, Holly Ringland and Chris Hammer were three of my five faves last year.


    • Natalie June 24, 2019 / 7:28 am

      The library’s proposed reading categories do make me branch out. Your blog is a great resource for book ideas. I think I read your three faves from your last year’s roundup.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Laurie June 24, 2019 / 11:59 am

    32 books! Wow! That is impressive. I am going to go back and look over your list more carefully. I need some good book recommendations for the travel we are doing this summer and early fall. Thanks for sharing your list with us.


    • Natalie June 24, 2019 / 12:34 pm

      My pleasure, Laurie. Some of the 32 books are short and quick reads. Thank you for stopping by and following my blog.


  12. Liesbet @ Roaming About June 25, 2019 / 10:09 am

    Wow, Natalie. That’s a lot of books you manage to read, on top of your fitness program, travels, and other activities. I’m usually way too tired in the evening to read. And, if I have a moment, there are always heaps of blogs to catch up on. Plus, writing my own. You are so effective and efficient with your time! I didn’t even know there were that many book categories to start with. 🙂

    If you’re up for it, I’d love to join you on your walk in Toronto one of these days. Not sure when we will be there, though… but definitely within one week.


    • Natalie June 25, 2019 / 10:15 am

      Hi Liesbet – Using the library’s proposed categories is a good idea to expand my reading. Some of the books are short and quick reads, others take a few evenings. Whenever you’re in Toronto, please contact me and we’ll go for a walk for sure. Hope our timing works out. My Contact form is in the top menu of my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond June 25, 2019 / 5:33 pm

    Hi Natalie I left a comment on Monday but obviously it didn’t show up. Thank you for the comprehensive list and some I’ve yet to read. I’ve just finished Little Girl Lost by Carol Wyer and enjoyed it immensely. It was a thriller and kept me guessing which I enjoy. I hate it when I can pick the ending before I’m halfway through. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and happy reading. xx


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 9:30 am

      Hi Sue – For unknown reason your previous comment went into the Spam folder. Good thing I looked there today and retrieved it. Thank you for hosting and sharing your just-finished book.


  14. Lydia C. Lee June 25, 2019 / 6:12 pm

    I was sure I’d commented on this. Strange. YOu’re really powering through them! Go you! #MLSTL


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 9:31 am

      Thank you, Lydia, for your patience. For unknown reasons, your previous comments went into the Spam folder. Good thing I looked in there and retrieved them today.


  15. Christne June 25, 2019 / 9:06 pm

    I’m in awe of the number of books you’re getting through! I’m lucky to read two a year, and I love to read. So many other things get in the way. Perhaps I’ll have to allocate it such dedicated ‘slots’.


    • Natalie June 25, 2019 / 9:20 pm

      Hi Christine – If you love to read, setting aside time to read is a good idea. I usually read in the evening. It doesn’t seem like a lot when I read but it adds up.


  16. Christine June 25, 2019 / 9:09 pm

    Hmmm, I think WordPress just ate my comment?


    • Natalie June 25, 2019 / 9:21 pm

      I got your comment as above. Thank you for stopping by.


  17. 3sistersabroad June 25, 2019 / 9:57 pm

    I love reading yet I haven’t been reading enough. I have quite a few books still waiting for my eyes and heart to get into. Must get into reading more. When I worked I read a book or two a week with all the train travel. Now Im home a lot I don’t get many chances. visiting from #mstlp


    • Natalie June 25, 2019 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you, Bree, for your visit and comment. Once you get back into your reading habit, the few books will be done in no time.


      • 3sistersabroad June 28, 2019 / 8:13 am

        Oh yes…had our first meeting for our book club..newly formed. very exciting.


          • 3sistersabroad June 28, 2019 / 8:26 am

            Today we put in our suggestions..we picked two each. There were 100 books. Quite a few I had read and have in my bookcase. So I was impressed that my reading is up there with our Library. We choose for the rest of this year. In August we will get the list of reading for next year. exciting.


  18. leannelc June 25, 2019 / 10:39 pm

    That’s a lot of books and a lot of variety Natalie! I tend to stick with the genres I know I love, but it does get hard finding new stuff and I tend to re-read things I’ve enjoyed from years gone by. Fortunately my memory for movie and book plots seems to fade quickly, so everything is new again! (I’m a bit of a goldfish in this area for some reason…)
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 7:24 am

      Thanks, Leanne, for hosting and sharing. I used to stick to a few book genres until I followed the library’s proposed categories this year. They do make my reading more interesting and it’s kind of fun to complete the ‘puzzle’ of finding books for all the categories.


  19. janretiringnotshy June 26, 2019 / 1:26 am

    My first career was as a librarian so my love of reading runs strong. I am delighted to now live walking distance from a great public library. I am pinning this to my Books to Read board on Pinterest. Thanks for some great ideas


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 7:29 am

      You’re welcome, Jan. Public libraries are excellent resources and welcoming places. I enjoy chatting with librarians and learn from them.


  20. Jennifer Jones June 26, 2019 / 2:37 am

    Hi Natalie. I’ve read a few of the books on your list. I really enjoyed Scrublands and Stephen King’s On Writing. I mainly read at night before bed or in bed. Unfortunately there’s no time during the day. MLSTL Will share on SM
    In case you’re interested here’s the link to my book review blog. https://bestbookishblog.com/


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 7:31 am

      Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing on SM and for the link to your book review blog. I’ll hop over there soon.


  21. Denyse Whelan June 26, 2019 / 5:04 am

    Lovely list and I liked the collage! Very clever.

    I listen to read these days: in the car and sometimes as I am making mandalas.

    Boy Swallows Universe is a favourite having known much of what the author talks about in his story. I listened to When Breath Becomes Air before I knew I had cancer and found it profoundly moving. I follow his wife on Instagram and twitter now.

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek and next week’s optional prompt is Worst Job. Hope to see you link up again. Denyse.


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 7:37 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for hosting. Audio books are great alternatives when you need to be hands-free.


  22. Jennifer June 26, 2019 / 9:11 am

    I’ve been reading a lot of cozy mysteries on my kindle app on my phone. On Audible I’ve been listening to Shona Rimes Year of Yes as well as Cory Booker’s book United. As an American, I’m trying to listen to books from various Democratic Presidential candidates so The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris is up next.


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 9:17 am

      Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your audio books. The Truths We Hold sounds interesting.


  23. Nancy Andres June 26, 2019 / 12:54 pm

    Pinned this post for my future reference and so others might take advantage of this fine reading I love to borrow books from the public library. So grateful for the Pima County Public Library where I live here in Tucson. Visiting you at MLSTL. Have a great day.


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 1:08 pm

      Thank you, Nancy, for your visit and comment. Lots of great books to read and public libraries are wonderful. Have a beautiful day!


  24. patwdoyle11 June 26, 2019 / 1:42 pm

    Natalie – I go through stages of avid reading, usually when we are near the beach! I like romance & murder mystery. I have read everything ever written by Nora Roberts and her alter-ego JD Robb. I like series and will read multiple books in a row in an older series – I read the entire Charlaine Harris Sookie series over the last 3 months. I joined 2 book clubs to push myself on genre and have picked up a few “best seller” books recently. I looked at your comments to others to pick up a few of your list that you’d recommend…and put them on my list of books to read.


    • Natalie June 26, 2019 / 1:54 pm

      Hi Pat – Two book clubs and beach reading would keep you busy all summer. I tend to pick up mystery/ thriller books and can go through them quickly. The library’s proposed book categories keep me more balanced 🙂 It’s been fun to read various authors and genres, and look for books that meet the categories.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Christie Hawkes June 26, 2019 / 9:29 pm

    That’s a lot of books, Natalie. I’ve read just five of those on your list. I most recently read The Woman in the Window. It was a real page turner. I really got sucked in and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love to read and usually read just one book at a time. Sometimes I will read a nonfiction and a fiction book at the same time, but never two fiction books.


    • Natalie June 27, 2019 / 7:27 am

      Thanks, Christie, for letting me know about The Woman in the Window. I made note of it.


  26. Min Write of the Middle June 26, 2019 / 11:10 pm

    Gosh you’re good at getting some books read Natalie! I’m having concentration issues but persevering and reading at the moment – hoping to get heaps of reading in when away at Stradbroke Island next week. How lucky are you to have been to Malta and Germany! I know quite a few people who are from Malta – there’s quite a lot of them here in Australia. Interestly, I know a few basic words of German as back when I started high school the two languages we had to learn in our first year of high school were French and German. Ich Heisse Min is the first thing that comes to mind! LOL xo #TeamLovinLife


    • Natalie June 27, 2019 / 7:33 am

      Hi Min – I hope you have a wonderful time at Stradbroke Island and get all the rest and relaxation you need. I look forward to hearing about it after you return.


  27. Joanne Sisco June 27, 2019 / 10:52 am

    Maybe this is exactly what I need to kickstart my reading habit again. After several ‘blah’ books in a row that I quickly abandoned, I haven’t picked up a book in a couple of months. I need something to sink my teeth into again. Time to give my library card a workout!! Thanks for this tip.


    • Natalie June 27, 2019 / 11:29 am

      You’re welcome, Joanne. You can pick one book category and check the TPL site for books that the library staff recommend or book award winners in that category. I find their recommended books and the award winning books very good reads. I’m replying to your email about our meeting date so please check your inbox 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Christina Daggett June 28, 2019 / 10:19 am

    Hi Natalie. I’m also an avid reader and enjoy reading at night before going to sleep. I don’t always read what everyone else is reading. I just pick books that appeal to me, which include, family dramas, and crime and suspense novels, with a little romance thrown in. It’s been a busy summer, so far, for me too. We are transitioning to the Republic of Georgia and plan on making this our home base in which to travel from. I haven’t been to Malta yet, but look forward to going some day. Can’t wait to read about your travel experiences there.


    • Natalie June 28, 2019 / 10:34 am

      Hi Christina – Georgia looks like an interesting country and a good base to explore the surrounding areas. I’d like to visit it one day. My experiences in Malta were wonderful. I hope to finish my post on Malta this weekend. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your reading habits.


  29. Sanch @ Sanch Writes July 5, 2019 / 7:04 pm

    That’s a great list. There’s a few on there I’ve read in the past few years and loved. Boy Swallows Universe was a great read last year. When Breath becomes air was also one of my faves from last year! Gone Girl I read years ago and quite enjoyed it. I recently read The Perfect Nanny and thought it was an intriguing read. I’ve read about 39 books so far and in June, did a mid-year review on the blog. I use Goodreads to track my reading – do you have an account? And yeah, most of my reading is in the evening or else at lunchtime during work. In summer, I do read during the day at the beach or outdoors


    • Natalie July 5, 2019 / 7:27 pm

      Hi Sanch – It’s great that you’ve read 39 books so far. My library account offers an option to track my reading history so I don’t use Goodreads. I made a note to check your mid-year review for book titles.


  30. Dr Sock July 14, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    I’ve read six of the books on your list. I don’t have enough time to read as much as I’d like. I typically read 2-3 books a month, plus lots of non- fiction articles and chapters.


    By the way, could you adjust your new blog so that it remembers me from one time to the next? That way I won’t have to fill in all my details every time I want to comment.


    • Natalie July 14, 2019 / 2:32 pm

      Hi Jude – Your comments should now appear without moderation. I have similar time issue, too. So many things I like to explore but need to prioritize or choose one over another.


    • Natalie July 24, 2019 / 10:09 am

      Thank you, Dar, for your visit and comment. The library’s proposed categories are really great to expand my reading.


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