2019 is the year when I simultaneously smashed the target of reading 19 books at least 3 times over, but also failed because most of them are not the books on this list.
Of the list from the beginning of the year I have read:
– A Spiritual Memoir: St Thérése of Lisieux’s “The Story of a Soul” (and about at least 6 others, it’s my most read book genre of the year)
– A Classic Spiritual Work: I have read St Teresa of Avila and Brother Lawrence but still haven’t finished The Imitation of Christ. I just can’t manage it.
– A book about Mary: 33 Days to Morning Glory, but also Brant Pitre’s The Jewish Roots of Mary (highly recommended) and also a book on the rosary and a couple of books by Scott Hahn which, while not strictly on Mary, cover her a fair deal.
– Book by a Catholic Novelist: I read Brideshead Revisited, but also a novel by Fr James Martin SJ (seriously) and of course my long read was Tolkien.
– Book by a Pope: I’ve only gotten around to Pope Francis’ On Heaven and Earth
= Book by a Catholic Woman: the second most read category of the year, which includes Haley Stewart’s “The Grace of Enough”; Claire Swinarski’s “Girl, Arise”; Maria Morera Johnson’s “My Badass Book of Saints”; Leah Darrow’s “The Other Side of Beauty”; Colleen Carroll Campbell’s “The Heart of Perfection”, Colleen C. Mitchell’s “Who does he say that you are?” and the aforementioned books by female saints. Some of these were new releases, which was another category.
=A book about the Liturgy: Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb Supper” and Brant Pitre’s “The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist”
= A book by an Early Church Father: Missed
= A conversion story: I kinda missed this one too unless you consider “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton a conversion story. The conversion of Fr Martin also features in his “Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything” but it’s not the sole focus of the novel.
=A book about apologetics: I started Bishop Barron’s “Exploring Catholic Theology” and “The Priority of Christ” but didn’t read much of either…I did read “Orthodoxy” if you think it’s more about apologetics than a conversion story…
– A book by an Orthodox Christian: Missed
– A hagiography: Missed
– A Long Catholic Book: The Lord of the Rings
– A book by a Catholic philosopher: Missed
– A Catholic classic: The Complete Father Brown
= A book by a Saint: None other than the aforementioned spiritual writings by St Thérèse and St Teresa
– A book by a non-Catholic all Catholics are reading: Mere Christianity re-read, but also a few books by Sally Clarkson and a couple more books by women with a woman’s ministry which were on the list of popular books in the Spirituality category on Scribd. Also in audiobook, Anne of Green Gables, a few Jane Austen novels and A Christmas Carol, all free on Alexa.
= Book About a Catholic Monarch: Missed
= A recently published Catholic book: I have already mentioned a few recent releases in the Catholic women section, and I am enough chapters into my friend’s study of why people have left the Church (Mass Exodus) that if I kept reading it until the 31st of December I would finish it.
The total of the books I have finished is at least 35 (without counting a few Georgette Heyer novels and other stuff not on this list), but the categories met were only 10/9. It’s a bizarre feeling to fail to meet a target while overachieving by any other measure. I’m sorry I haven’t got around to reading all of the things I had planned, but it was more economical in my circumstances to get a Scribd subscription and the categories missed were things that I couldn’t find on there. All in all, I think that if the purpose of the challenge was to encourage people to read more I passed with flying colours, and I’m also quite chuffed at how much I managed to support fellow Catholic women in their writing endeavours.
I have decided, however, that doing this kind of challenges may not be the best thing for me, as I spend way too much energy worrying about the letter of the law and feeling guilty for not doing things perfectly. I’m too much of a perfectionist to successfully let go of what I ought to have done compared to how much I have actually achieved in my many days in bed with migraines and audiobooks over the summer. Regardless of what my inner tendency to criticism says, I’m ending 2019 better than I have started it.