Oh man, this Christmas Reading Challenge turned out to be huge and I hadn’t really realized that it would when I came up with the idea. I just blithely thought, “Oh, I’ll read all those Christmas books that have been hanging out on my TBR for several years.” What I didn’t consider is that the list of Holiday books hanging out on my TBR has been growing every year for several years, as I randomly add one here or there, then one more, and then just one more.
The result was that I had close to fifty (including the short stories). So, I reassessed and said, “Well, I’ll aim to post one review a day between December 1 and Christmas Day and just try and read an many of them as I can.” That felt more manageable and would still put a dent in the list of Holiday books I have apparently been hoarding.
If you need a reminder, here is a link to my initial Challenge post where I set out my goals.
Here’s the thing about reading challenges. Once you set one, you tend to subconsciously be on the lookout for books that match it (or at least I do). I told myself not to add anymore Christmas books to the list (no more Hanukkah or Yule or Solstice books either). I had enough. But I have so little self control in the book department. So, I ended up adding to the list this year too. I rationalized this mostly by telling myself that the majority of the books I’d had for a while were contemporary romances, from back when I used to read more of that genre (which I don’t now-a-days). I wanted some variety, so I picked up some historicals and some paranormals.
By the time Christmas (today) rolled around, I had 62 stories or books to read. No way could I read all of them, even if I did start way back in something like September! Not even once I removed the five I opted to not read. (I removed A Wedding in Twinkle Falls, Careened, Illicit Activity, The Greatest Gift, and Family because they are all latter books in series and I’ve not reached the point where they fit in those series yet. I would have needed to read multiple books before getting to them. I didn’t have the time to do that. So, I set them aside. That left me 57 stories/books—still a mighty challenge.)
Here’s the thing though, I got close . I got SO close. Much, much, much closer than I thought I would. As of today, I have 14 books left on the list. That’s still a decent number. But only having 14 left, out of 57, is impressive, if I don’t say so myself (which I do).
I feel like this is so close to actual completion that if I hadn’t added any this year (like I said I wouldn’t) I would have managed to read them all. I considered extending the challenge to New Years Eve and finishing it off. In fact, I did. I told myself it was OK to do that. But then I decided to clean off my short story shelf instead. So, there will be 14 Christmas books on the list for next year’s Holiday Reading Challenge.
Outside of just my absurd tendency to collect more books than is reasonable, the challenge was also just a lot of fun. When you sit down and read 44 Holiday stories almost in a row (mostly Christmas) you start to see similarities and differences. Of course, how an author depicts a holiday isn’t necessarily indicative of their own traditions. But it was fun to see so the holidays celebrated in many different ways. Different foods eaten, different times to open presents, different ways to acquire and exchange them, different ways to decorate and times to do so, different levels of formality, different prayers (or none), different customs, attire, costumes (or not), and amusements. Characters traveled, stayed home, and went to events. Characters visited family or found new ones, went to the beach or built sled courses, found new love or clung to old. There was such a variety, even when ostensibly reading about the same thing. I appreciated the heck out of that.
I also got the chance to read several books that had been featured on Sadie’s Spotlight, which is something I make an effort to do. Both because “Ah, back-links are so satisfying” and because it’s a little something I can do for those who have been on the blog. I don’t offer reviews over on Sadie’s Spotlight. But that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to what’s there to review here.
Do you want to see what I actually read? I read and reviewed 14 short stories (which is what I categorized as anything under 100 pages) and 30 books, which I’m linking in the order I read them. Here they are in the order I posted the reviews, which is largely the order I read them.
Book Review: Holiday Haunts, by Imogen Markwell-Tweed & Wendy Dalrymple
Book Review: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, by Jenny Colgan
Book Review: A Wolf Is Not Just For Christmas, by J.F. Holland
Book Review: A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong, by Cecilia Grant
Book Review & Giveaway: Last Blue Christmas, by Rose Prendeville
Book Review: A Hopeful Christmas, by Walker, Bessey, Kelly & Jensen
Book Review: The Christmas Lights Battle, by Skylar M. Cates
Book Review: Dreaming Of a White Wolf Christmas, by Terry Spear
Book Review: Frosting Her Christmas Cookies, by Alina Jacobs
Book Review – Bittersweets Christmas: Arvin & Tina, by Suzanne Jenkins