Reading Challenges 2021

I’ve been looking over the books I own or want to borrow from the library and they fit into these two challenges. The first challenge is mostly my attempt to read through what is already on my shelves and also to help me choose books for my daughter who will be studying the 20th Century in 2021. So lots of books set in WWI & II and the former USSR. I mentioned below that I’d like to include more nonfiction and I’ll likely include that in a European context.

Updated to add some books I’m reading or planning to read:

Belgium William: An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton

Russia A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

NetherlandsThe Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen

ItalyThe Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Armin

France The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden

Romania – Dracula by Bram Stoker

The European Reading Challenge is hosted by Rose City Reader and the details are here:


The second challenge is the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge which I did in 2020 because I wanted to balance out my reading more. I used to read more nonfiction than fiction until I started to make my way through as many classics as I could, which I’ve loved, but I want to level things out a bit more. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised and interested in so many of the new books that have come out in this category. I think the standard of literary nonfiction that is written for the layperson has increased significantly in more recent years, especially in the area of science. This challenge is hosted by Shellyrae at Book’dOut. She has twelve categories and there are four I’d like to do: Biography, Travel, Wartime Experiences, Disease and maybe some others.

Biography: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

War Time Experiences: A Woman in Berlin (Anonymous)

Challenge details are here.

24 thoughts on “Reading Challenges 2021

  1. These challenges look to yield books that are both fu n and enlightening.I guess a lot of folks do not read all that much non – fiction so non fiction reading challenges help to motivate some.Happy reading in 2021!


  2. Do you have any books in mind yet? I'd recommend Barbara Tuchmann's The Guns of August for WWI. I, too, used to read lots of non-fiction until I became engrossed in the classics. I'd like to read more again but I'm unsure I have the time to do it. In any case, all the best with your challenges!


  3. Cleo, yes, I remembered that you recommended that one a couple of years ago. I'm using AO Year 11 as a base but making a number of changes. Tuchman's book was a suggestion if you didn't want to use Testament of Youth. I saw our library has a copy of G of A. I found a book about Shostakovich during the Siege of Leningrad – Symphony for the City of the Dead, which despite its name looks good. It's written for a younger adult audience & I like that it covers the life of a musician as well as the war. I picked up a copy of A Woman in Berlin the other day. Have you heard of that? I had only just read a couple of Goodread reviews about it and found it not long afterwards. Never heard of it before. Nonfiction diary of a German woman at the end of WW2. Probably not a book I'd give my not quite 16 yr old.I have a few Albert Marrin books that I've read that I'll give her – Hitler & Stalin especially. If you have any other suggestions please send them my way. 🙂


  4. I haven't heard of any of the books you mention except the Marrin books which were the next ones I was going to recommend, lol! Two books pop into my head: And There Was Light Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran Blind Hero of the French Resistance and Storming The Tulips. I bought both on many strong recommendations.


  5. I'm just not organized to try reading challenges. I randomly pull books out of my shelves and read as the spirit moves me.Having said that, there is a reading challenge I've decided to accept. It is only a chapter a day and hopefully I'll finally get through The Hunchback of Notre Dame after all these years.


  6. I like using reading challenges to help me read books I already own or have been meaning to read. It gives me a little bit of structure which I need. Otherwise, I get distracted by the shiny and the new. I look forward to reading about your picks in 2021. You always write such thoughtful reviews. Happy New Year. 😀


  7. Hi Carol! I saw the Non-Fiction challenge this year as well and decided that I will try to read perhaps one or two non-fiction books again in 2021. I still love novels, but my husband decided that he now rather wants to read non-fiction. I've also signed up for the European Challenge and I think we are all going to have lots of fun \”travelling\” through Europe.Happy New Year!Elza Reads


  8. HI Carol – some thoughts on European reads: 'A Day in the lIfe of Ivan Denisovich' by Solzhenitsyn is one of my husband's recommendations. Set in Russia, but a personal book rather than a grand sweep. 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak. Kate Seredy's books are more aimed at younger readers but I love them, and they would provide a lighter read – set in Hungary/about the Maygar people ('The White Stag', 'The Singing Tree', 'The Good Master' come to mind). I've just read 'For the Love of a Rose: Story of the creation of the famous Peace Rose' by Antonia Ridge, which follows a number of generations of the Meilland and Paulino families in France who were responsible for the development of the Peace rose, which became so significant at the end of WWII. A delightful & remarkable true story, with some wonderful characters, spanning a tumultuous time in Europe's history.Happy reading. Anna M


  9. Anna! Now you're a lady after my own heart. I love giving & receiving reading suggestions. :)A friend of mine brought over 'For the Love of a Rose' about a year and a half ago but I was taking too long to get to it that I gave it back to her as I was embarrassed that I'd had it so long! I've read the other books except two of the Seredy titles, although I know my kids liked them. Good idea. X


  10. A Gentleman in Moscow, The Return of the Prodigal Son, and The Enchanted April were all wonderful books! I hope you enjoy! What a great challenge to read through so many European countries!


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