A Personal Reading Challenge

To paraphrase Jane Austen, B has been “my constant companion for these 38 years.” We’ve influenced each other tremendously and shared many things during those years, but as readers we have always been on two independent paths. Most of the time we are in our own reading worlds, pursuing our own reading interests, but occasionally our paths will cross and we’ll read the same book. However, we talk about books all the time, and have wonderful book discussions about the ideas that are ignited by our current reads. Sunday afternoon, when the world was a deep gray and very rainy outside, we spent another enjoyable afternoon talking about the books that mean a lot to us.

In the last few months, B has read three books I had recommended to him. He enjoyed them in a different way than I had enjoyed them, but that made our discussions all the more interesting. On Sunday, I wrote down 6 books that he would really like me to read, and I decided to add them to my reading year as my own personal “Reading Challenge.” I’m curious to find out what it was about each book he wants me to experience, and I’m looking forward to learning a little more about B in the process.

So here is the list of books I will call “B’s Challenge:”

  1. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
  3. Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, by José Saramago
  4. The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie

10 thoughts on “A Personal Reading Challenge

  1. Chris

    How cool, Robin! I think this is a great idea. I’ve always wanted to do this with someone…swap reading lists and read books that mean a lot to someone else. It should be an especially meaningful experience for you. Nymeth and Rhinoa are doing something similar in the blogging world and I think it’s great! There’s a bigger challenge in there somewhere…


  2. Kay

    I think this is very sweet and bonding. Isn’t it interesting that you still can discover new things about your spouse/significant other even after such a long time. I know that I do with my husband (27 yrs. married and together 7 years before that). Good luck to you and I hope you have a wonderful time reading his “favorites”.


  3. Nymeth

    I also think that it’s very sweet that you and your husband are doing this!

    I’ve only read the first two of that list… the second is a beautiful book, I think. The first is very dense… it’s a novella, but it reads like a chunkster. By that I don’t mean that it’s bad…it’s very powerful and intense, and although I probably wouldn’t read it again, I’m glad to have read it.

    I see that your husband is a Saramago fan. I just can’t get into him for some reason, even though he’s someone I really respect…maybe someday I will be ready for his books, if that makes sense.

    As always, I look forward to your reviews!


  4. Robin

    Thanks, Chris. This is really an experiment. I’m so involved in my own reading, it’s going to be interesting to see how I feel about inserting some of “his books” into the mix. But I thought it might make it more do-able by turning it into a challenge.

    Thanks, Kay. There’s always more to discover about that special person…even after 38 years. He has always been really good for me in that he encourages me to think outside my self-imposed box. Of course, sometimes that can be very irritating, too…

    Thanks, Nymeth. I’ve stayed away from these books for exactly the reasons you mention, but maybe I can get through them as part of a challenge. I actually started a Saramago a few years ago, but was overwhelmed by the realization that one of his sentences lasted for most of a page. This reading challenge is really going to be a challenge for me!


  5. tanabata

    What a nice idea! I hope you enjoy your ‘challenge’ and have some lovely discussions about the books afterwards. I have yet to read anything by Kundera or Saramago so I look forward to your reviews.


  6. Tara

    What a great idea! My husband sometimes suggests I read certain books….but I feel so selfish with my little reading time that I hate to take more on.


  7. Robin

    Thanks, Tanabata. I feel like I could be in for some heavy reading…but it will be interesting to find out what he enjoys about each of these books.

    Thanks, Tara. I’m the same way…I’ve been pretty resistant to reading things he recommends because I’m so intent on my own path. But he’s been willing to read some of my recommendations, so it’s my turn to try some of his!


  8. Petunia

    That’s so sweet! My husband is not a fan of fiction but he did introduce me to the only one he does like: the Chronicles of Narnia. And I have created in him an appreciation for British adaptations, like Pride and Prejudice.

    BTW, Heart of Darkness is one of my favorites.


  9. tinylittlelibrarian

    Great challenge! My husband and I, like you two, both love books but read very different ones. But I recently read East of Eden, one of his very favourite books, and I really enjoyed discussing it with him.


  10. Robin

    Hi Petunia. I’m about 1/4 of the way through Heart of Darkness, and love the beauty of Conrad’s writing. I have to admit that I’ve never read The Chronicles of Narnia. I need to rectify that!

    Hello, tinylittlelibrarian! Those book discussions with the husband are a real pleasure, aren’t they.



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