Taking Stock — An End-of-Year Post

Hello reading lovelies!

As Christmas nears and New Year’s looms, I’m left reflecting on the year’s reading.

I started 2017, as I always do, with a very ambitious reading goal of 50 books + finishing the 2017 Read Harder Challenge. And, as I always do, I gave up somewhere along the way. Ah, well! 😀

In November, ten books behind, I decided to change my goal to 40 books — much more manageable. But now I’m looking at this Read Harder list. I was supposed to read 24 books, each with a different, potentially challenging, requirement. Here’s the list:

  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  12. Read a fantasy novel.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel.
  21. Read a book published by a micropress.
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.


It’s quite an ambitious list — especially that micropress one. I didn’t even know what that was before this challenge. Anyhoo, as it always does, the Read Harder Challenge got me out of my comfort zone. I typically read A LOT of YA and fantasy, and while the list did allow me to read in those genres, I mostly had to read things I would never have picked up otherwise. Which, of course, is the whole point! I managed to read 17 of the 24 (one of those was a double-up, which, per the rules, is acceptable. Thanks, Harry!).

zac effron thank you

I just could not get through that sports book. Blech! I was ridiculously bored from page one. I’m sad I didn’t get to a few of my other choices, especially Lizard Radio and Interpreter of Maladies. I simply ran out of time. I know there are a couple of weeks left in December, but I have two indie novels I need to finish up and review, so it is unlikely I will have time to finish the challenge books in 2017. Maybe next year.

Probably for the first time in my life, I’m not mad at myself for not finishing this thing I set out to do. I did what I could, and I got to read a lot of really great books I probably would have passed over if it weren’t for this challenge. I don’t know if it’s the whole being-in-my-thirties thing or if I’ve finally accepted I’m not superhuman, or what, but I’m giving myself a pass for not being able to do it all.

I’m excited to see what Book Riot comes up with for the about the 2018 challenge. I may participate, I may not. I haven’t decided yet. What I do know, is I will be reading a ton of books next year, and enjoying every minute of it.

Life is so short you guys! Don’t waste it doing things you don’t love, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always finish the things you set out to do.

Much love to you all, and, as always, happy reading!

xoxo, Raeleigh


The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George — A Review

23278537The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

“He wanted her to sense the boundless possibilities offered by books. They would always be enough. They would never stop loving their readers. They were a fixed point in an otherwise unpredictable world. In life. In love. After death.”

Oh my gosh, this book was so sweet!!! I had all the gushy, fuzzy feelings reading this. Following are my various GoodReads updates, complete with gifs.

Around 18%:

This book warms my heart!

something in my eye

Around 25%:

I had no idea a simple caress could be so scintillating. Whew!

fanning myself

Then for the rest of the book:

This book makes me feel a serious range of emotions. So. Many. Tears!!! I’m enjoying every minute of it!

my emotions

Okay, if you made it this far, this book is so incredibly moving. I don’t normally like books that are so overtly romantic and sentimental, but I didn’t want to put this one down. It made me grin. It made me giggle. It made me blush. And it made me CRY! Like, a lot!

I read this as part of the Read Harder Challenge 2017, #3, Read a book about books. I mean, it was pretty much guaranteed that I would like this challenge. I ❤ reading books about books!

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

2017 Read Harder Challenge Stats: 8/24

In Lieu of a Review

Some of you guys have been reading for a while now, and some of you are brand new to my blog. Please just know, if you are reading this, I appreciate you.

Someone asked me awhile back why I was doing this? What did I get for it?

This person knew I was under a great deal of stress, and they assumed automatically that something that takes up so much of my time should be lucrative. Believe me, if I could get paid to read novels and write reviews of them, I’d be doing that! But I don’t get paid to do this. I do get copies of books, an item I value over many many others, but that doesn’t pay the bills!

So why do I do this? Why spend so much of my limited time engrossed in novels and anguishing over their reviews? Why? Because I LOVE books, literature, reading, the written word, authors, writers, characters, fictional worlds that I wish so hard were real.

I APPRECIATE the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, coffee (or tea), and mania that goes into creating these precious works of art.

I think authors, especially indie authors, deserve to have that time and effort recognized.

So what do I get out of it? The joy of finding a new favorite author — one I never would have discovered in a Barnes & Noble. (No offense meant to B&N — love that place!)

What do I get out of it? A myriad of world views that I never would have encountered otherwise.

What do I get out of it? Hope. Yes, you read that right. Hope.

Often times our world can seem so dreary, our options limited, our efforts ineffectual, and we may find ourselves screaming, “What is the point!?” These works, these bound bits of inspiration, represent a tenacity of spirit from people with unfettered creativity and a commendable work ethic. And I find that damn inspiring!

So, I will continue to read their works. And I will read them critically because that is just how I am wired. I will present the world with my opinions on these works and hopefully introduce, at least one person, to a brand new author who will open up a whole new world for them.

Do I sometimes get overwhelmed by this project I’ve taken on? Yes, and I’m going to try to be more honest with myself moving forward about what I can and cannot accomplish in a 24-hour day. I will falter. And I will fail. But I will keep doing this because I love it!

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

I’m back! Check for a brand new review next week!

im back baby castiel


And now for a word from our sponsors…

I'm_just_kidding emma stoneJK! I don’t have sponsors. Errrm, carry on!