Reads for the Road, Vol. 1 & My 2016 Reading Challenge

I’m a voracious reader. Just look at my 2015 Year in Books on Goodreads. I originally set what I expected to be a challenging, but attainable, goal of 52 books in 2015. I met that goal by the end of May. In my defense, I spent January recovering from my third, and hopefully final, ankle reconstruction surgery, and therefore was on my butt or back 80% of the month, but I also could have spent that month watching crap on Netflix (I did that too). I decided to reset my challenge to 100 books and met that goal by mid-November. In the end, I read 110 books in 2015.

Between airport waiting, flights, train travel, and the occasional quiet recovery night in, there can be a lot of downtime while traveling. This is an excellent time to catch up on all those books you’ve been meaning to read. Especially since the invention of tablets and Kindles have made bringing books on the road easier than ever! I remember when I would have to reserve books at the library and then bring a tote full of paperbacks on our annual family beach vacation. Not anymore! In all, I would estimate 25-30 of the 110 books I read in 2015 were read while I was traveling. If you are looking for a few books to take on your next trip, allow me to share a few of my favorites!

Recommended Reads For Traveling

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Heather and Jessica are best known for their amazing blog, Go Fug Yourself, but ventured into novel writing this year. The Royal We may seem remarkably similar to Kate and Wills story, and that’s because it was inspired by the beloved royal couple.  The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent, and I really enjoyed their debut novel. I flew through this book over Memorial Day weekend.  It’s 464+ pages of pure hilarity and heart-string tugging. Like, I loved it so much, I originally borrowed it from the library, and then actually purchased it for keeps when it was on sale on Amazon a few months ago. I’ve linked to the Kindle listing, and it’s also available in hardcover, with a paperback edition being released this April.  Hurry up and get on the The Royal We train so you can tell people you “read it months ago” when they talk about how excited they are for the movie.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Maybe not the best book to read on a cruise, Dead Wake is another ‘historical non-fiction that reads like fiction’ masterpiece from Larson. As you are reading, you get the sense that the sinking of the Lusitania is one massive cluster of mistakes and poor timing. It’s also quite difficult not to be charmed by the antagonist of the story, even though you know in the end he’s going to sink the boat and kill a lot of people (does this count as a spoiler alert?). I also highly recommend Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts if you are a history buff like moi.

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland
I first fell in love with Misty Copeland when she was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance? a few seasons ago. I love that show and there ain’t no shame in my talent competition tv loving game. So when it was announced she was going to be dancing in Swan Lake at the Kennedy Center with my Pretend Boo Brooklyn Mack, my friends and I snapped up tix. In preparation, and because I am a naturally nosey person, I picked up her autobio to read. I love Misty’s story as it’s so unique.  She didn’t start ballet until she was 13, and today she’s one of the best and most famous ballerinas in the game. This summer she was promoted to Principal Dancer at the American Ballet Theater, making history as the first African-American woman to have done so.

Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill
I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a huge fantasy/sci-fi fan, but I occasionally enjoy a book or series within the genre. I discovered Chloe Neill‘s Chicagoland Vampire series back in 2009 when Twilight was all the rage. But where I quickly realized the Twilight books are terrible (in  writing and plot and in likable characters), the Chicagoland Vampire series is extremely well written, funny, with a really interesting plot and a wonderful arsenal of characters. 6 years, 11 books, and 3 novellas later, I am anxiously awaiting Book 12’s release in March. I want to be Merit when I grow up, and I’m still waiting for my (hopefully Human) Ethan to come along. You will need read this series in order, as each story builds on the last one. And if you want to give up after Hard Bitten (I did! You’ll know why…), I urge you to stick with it through Drink Deep and you will be well rewarded. Related: Chloe has another series out, The Devil’s Isle series, which I will also be checking out in 2016.

The Sullivans by Bella Andre
As you can see below, I am a fan of the romance novel. Bella Andre‘s Sullivans series is a wonderful collection of stories about a large family and their adventures in falling in love.  If you forced me to choose, I don’t think I could possibly pick a favorite Sullivan, which is a testament to Andre’s skill at creating great characters and plots. The first book in the series (linked above) is currently free! The great thing about this series is you don’t need to read the books in order, but I still recommend it. You get to enjoy reading each Sullivan’s story as it happens, making their appearances in later books so much more enjoyable.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I like all of Austen’s novels that I’ve read, but Pride and Prejudice is by far my favorite. It’s actually in my Top 3 favorite books, period. I read it at least once a year, it’s one of the few books I have in hard copy and ebook format, and I even named my cats after the main hero and heroine of the story. It stays on my iPad at all times, and it would be a safe bet that I will read it anytime I am travelling in England.

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Full disclosure:
I read this book in bed, in DC, during the last week of December. But since I was a traveling petsitter that week, away from home in Practically Maryland DC, it totally counts as a Read for the Road. I believe this book is permafree, which is an excellent business decision. This was my first Milan book, but I can assure you I will be reading more in 2016. After reading The Duchess War, I promptly bought the rest of the books in The Brothers Sinister series.  Her writing is superb, and her female characters are fantastic – I cannot even describe how an annoying main character can ruin an otherwise fantastic book. Even if you don’t think you are a fan of the romance genre, you will be after reading a Courtney Milan story. She’s also awesome on Twitter.

2016 Reading Challenge

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Instead of setting a certain number of books to read, my goal for 2016 is to read all of the unread books currently sitting on my bookshelf (excluding the travel guides). This is 30ish books, but none of them are my favored romance novels. Instead, I have books such as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Sagas of the Icelanders, Americanah, and Juliet, Naked. This will also help me reach my extremely vague annual goal of reading more books of literary merit goal. Aside from Sagas of the Icelanders (this book is 848 pages! and I just received it for Christmas), whatever is not read by the end of 2016 will be given away. All of these books were on my bookshelf prior to 2015, so if I don’t make reading them a priority in 2016, I will never make reading them a priority. And I’m so over having crap I don’t use/read/watch in my studio apartment.  Be my friend on Goodreads and follow along!

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