Literary Adventures in January – #Read2016

I’m thoroughly enjoying the chance to explore different genres and meet new authors as I attempt to broaden my literary horizons in 2016! (Read more about it here.)

I thought it might be difficult to get through some of the titles, especially some of the older works — but other than a few dry sections here and there, the titles have held my attention surprisingly well. And I’ve been reminded how much I enjoy reading things other than my usual go-to titles and authors.

For instance, searching for poetry books has reawakened an old love of the poetic masters (Tennyson, Blake, Frost, Donne). Perusing books published 100 years ago has led me to discover P.G. Wodehouse and G.K. Chesterton. On the flip side, considering the most popular classic novels has reminded me of what I don’t like, and reading a few biographies has helped me identify the categories of people I’d like to learn more about.



Here’s what I explored in January. I’ve included a rating (5-point scale) and a very brief review of each, with links to longer in-depth reviews on Goodreads, as well as affiliate links to each of the titles on Amazon:

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Life InspiredJ.R.R. Tolkien: A Life Inspired, by Wyatt North
Category: Biography of anyone
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

This gave a very brief overview of the man behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I especially appreciated the connections made between specific events from Tolkien’s life to particular aspects of his books, as well as learning a bit more about the interaction between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. With only 100 pages, it’s not very in depth, but it was well-organized and full of interesting facts about the man behind one of literature’s greatest sagas. Read my full review here.


Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah MoreFierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, by Karen Swallow Prior
Category: Biography of a notable Christian
Rating: ♥♥♥

With little prior knowledge of Hannah’s life and work, I was a little overwhelmed with the extensive information in this book — such as background facts of her contemporaries which had no direct connection to the main subject. However, it was encouraging to see how one life could have such a long-lasting impact, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn about a notable Christian woman who was an determined writer and faithful soldier for the truth. Read my full review here.


Uneasy Money - P.G. WodehouseUneasy Money, by P.G. Wodehouse
Category: Book published 100 years ago
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

I admit to choosing this title simply because I’d heard of the author and it was free for Kindle, but I ended up really enjoying it! This particular book branched out from his usual characters (Jeeves and Wooster), which I hope to explore soon. It was an amusing romantic comedy — though very light on the romance (it was published in 1916, after all) — and felt like a cross between Gene Stratton Porter and O. Henry, with a dash of Agatha Christie thrown in (but without the murders).


Third Girl - Agatha ChristieThird Girl, by Agatha Christie
Category: Mystery or detective novel
Rating: ♥♥

I originally chose this as my “book published 50 years ago,” then found a better title for that category so moved this to my mystery selection (a category I already read too much of, and have no need to pursue further right now).  Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors, but I honestly did not enjoy this particular title. Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver join forces to locate a potential murderess, knowing neither the identity of the girl nor the possible victim. It was slow at times, and simply didn’t hold my attention very well.


Young Indiana Jones and the Plantation Treasure - William McCayIndiana Jones and the Plantation Treasure, by William MccCay
Category: Book for children

A fun beginning to the Young Indiana Jones series, which chronicles the adventures of a teenager in the early 20th century. I picked it up simply because we had it at home, and I wanted an easy read one Sunday afternoon. It was a fun story written for younger readers, though as an adult, I found myself wondering about missing details and lapses in time. But then, I’m not a regular reader of children’s lit, so take that with a grain of salt. 🙂

The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes: An Introduction to Wisdom LiteratureThe Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, & Ecclesiastes, by Derek Kidner
Category: Book about theology

If you’re curious about the literary form and historical reasons for the style and structure of the Bible’s wisdom books, this is a great book to dive into. Kidner’s style of writing is academic but very readable, and I found myself enjoying his explanations even when the historical references were a bit out of my range of knowledge. Note: I focused more on the chapters concerning Proverbs (since I’m doing an in-depth study of that right now) and merely skimmed the other sections. But it’s definitely a book I’ll be returning to in the future! Read my full review here.


Have you explored any new authors or genres this year – or are you working on a reading challenge? I’d love to hear about your literary adventures!

February’s update is coming soon! In the meantime, find me on Goodreads to share your favorite titles and discover what else I’m exploring for #Read2016.

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9 thoughts on “Literary Adventures in January – #Read2016

  1. Thanks for these reviews 🙂 I need to look up that list you mentioned as I’ve been reading more this last month but haven’t been following a guide. I’m working my way through the Chronicles of Narnia as I’ve never read them all. I also do a lot of reading aloud to my kids as part of their school work so we’re always finding something interesting to read 🙂

    1. Confession: I’m not a big fan of the Narnia chronicles, so have only ever read “The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe.” I keep telling myself I’ll give them another shot one of these days, but there’s so many other titles that sound much more interesting to me. That being said… which one has been your favorite so far?

      1. I think you have to be in the right mind set for Narnia…or at least that’s what I’ve found for me 🙂 I struggled through parts of Prince Caspian but did enjoy it. And I have to say so far my favorite book of the series is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. A lot of character growth and introduction to new characters – a lot of changes. It does help to read the series in publication order (I found the link to this on The Gospel Coalition’s site.) Have you read more of the LOTR series? I haven’t gone there yet but my husband has. I think he preferred LOTR over Narnia. My kids and I love all of the Narnia movies though! 🙂

      2. Yes, I absolutely LOVE Tolkien’s works. I just read Roverandom (not LOTR but the same style of writing), and am about to start The Children of Hurin. Interesting note – Tolkien couldn’t stand allegory either, and in fact had some harsh words to offer Lewis on his Narnia books. At least I stand in good company! 😉

      3. Wow – I had no idea LOTR wasn’t allegory. I asked my husband about it and he also said it’s not as overt in its allegorical themes as Narnia and is richer than just fantasy. What do you think about Pilgrim’s Progress? That has to be my favorite book and allegory at that 🙂 Searching online for LOTR and Narnia brings about a hefty division between fans, I see!

      4. I can appreciate the theological depth of Pilgrim’s Progress and have read through it a few times. I would definitely classify it as a “must read” for most Christians… but not necessarily one of my favorites. I think the only allegory I truly, thoroughly enjoy is Hinds Feet on High Places. Have you read that?

      5. I haven’t read Hinds Feet on High Places…I started it a while back but never finished and then remembered reading some strange things about the author’s beliefs. I forgot her name…need to check. I have so many books on my to-read lists but so little time. And then when I start one I often feel obligated to finish even if I don’t really want to…a personality flaw I’m sure. But there have been a few that I’ve given myself permission to not finish and know the world won’t end over that 🙂

  2. I just read Easy Money as well (for the same reason) and really enjoyed it. Im a sucker for the older stuff!

    1. I’m getting there…. this challenge is really helping me branch out and discover some new (old) gems like Wodehouse and Chesterton!

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