2015 Challenge Wrap-Up

I’ve been dreading this post, because I feel like I’ve failed at most of my challenges during the year.    However, all is not usually as dire as I expect, so let’s have a look at my successes and failures for 2015.

I completed this challenge, strangely most of it in the first three months of the year, then it took me right to the end of the year to read the last book. The titles I read were:

  1.  Persuasion – Jane Austen
  2.  East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  3.  Orlando: A Biography – Virginia Woolf
  4.  The Plague – Albert Camus 
  5.  Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6.  Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
  7.  The Narrative of the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
  8.  Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
  9.  The Club of Queer Trades – G.K. Chesterton
10.  Meditations – René Descartes
11.  The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
12.  Hamlet – William Shakespeare

My accomplishment on this one was a pleasant surprise.  I’d aimed for Level Two at 4-6 books, but made Level Four (12+ books) reading 15 books during 2015.  Woo hoo!



  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen




  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen


I managed to read all 6 of Austen’s main novels in 2015.

1.  Persuasion
2.  Sense & Sensibility
3.  Pride and Prejudice
4.  Mansfield Park
5.  Emma
6.  Northanger Abbey

I still want to add her lesser known works but I’m pleased that I managed to finish all of these.

Ew, this was a fail for me this year.  Normally I have no problem covering a number of pre-printing press books, but this year I only read three.

1.  Beowulf
2.  The Canterbury Tales
3.  The Rule of Saint Benedict.

Yipes!  Next year with my Ancient Greek challenge, I will certainly read more.

Oh, another fail.  I’ve never been able to complete this challenge. That’s because it’s impossible for me to follow a list. Actually I didn’t do too badly this year, managing to read 9 of the 12 books.

1.  Meditations – René Descartes
2.  Orlando: A Biography – Virginia Woolf
3.  The Plague – Albert Camus
4.  Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
5.  Hamlet – William Shakespeare
6.  Walden – Henry David Thoreau
7.  Persuasion – Jane Austen
8.  Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9.  The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

This was one of my favourite challenges of the year.  The Canterbury Tales were so wonderful —- Chaucer is not only a poetic master but a connoisseur of human nature.  And Frank Mundo’s The Brubury Tales were a delightful surprise.  Like Chaucer, he not only showed a poetic prowess but also gave wonderful insights into the human condition, and wove a number of classic allusions through his modern retelling.  And excellent read!

In spite of initially being wary of my success with this challenge because of my concurrent Reading England challenge, this challenge turned out to be rather successful.  I made it to the highest level, “The Linguist”, reading 15 translated books.

  1. Meditations – René Descartes
  2. The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
  3. The Plague – Albert Camus 
  4. Erewhon – Samuel Butler (original in Latin)
  5. Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6. Beowulf 
  7. Ecce Homo – Friedrich Nietzsche
  8. What Is To Be Done? – Nikolai Chernyshevsky
  9. Money (L’Argent) – Émile Zola
  10. Mein Kamp – Adolf Hitler
  11. The Story of My Experiments with Truth – Mohandas Gandhi
  12. The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
  13. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  14. Selected Essays – Michel de Montaigne
  15. The Rule of Saint Benedict 

I didn’t make it!  Boo hoo!  I read 50 books.  I’ve never read so few books in one year.  I’m pathetic!  And that’s all I have to say about that!

In spite of failing miserably at this challenge, it was one of my most beneficial challenges ….. well, ever.  It forced me to focus on so many categories that I’ve always have good intentions to read from but never do: poetry, essays, short stories and classic children’s books.  I’m definitely going to choose this challenge in 2016 and hopefully improve my Deal-Me-In reputation.

Clubs – Short Stories
3 – Doctor Marigold – Charles Dickens
6 – The Princess – Anton Chekhov
7 – Father Brown: the Worst Crime in the World- G.K. Chesterton

Spades – Essays
2 – Friendship – Emerson
4 – Christianity and the Survival of Creation- Wendell Berry
5 – A Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers – C.S. Lewis

Diamonds – Poetry
A – Ode to a Nightengale – John Keats
4 – Sonnet XXIX – Garcilaso de la Vega
7 – Ode VIII: Quiet Night – Fray Luis de León
J – Song II:  The Dark Night – San Juan de la Cruz
Q – A Red, Red Rose – Robert Burns

Hearts – Children’s Classics
A – The Forgotten Daughter – Caroline Dale Snedeker
4 – The Ides of April – Mary Ray (1)
8 – The Cabin Faced West – Jean Fritz

I was quite astounded that many of these reviews were some of my most popular reviews of the year.

I’m still mulling over my challenges for 2016.  Deal Me In, Back To The Classics, Reading England, and the Ancient Greek challenge are definite choices, but there are so many other tempting ones floating around.  Stay tuned!

14 thoughts on “2015 Challenge Wrap-Up

  1. Let's turn that 'boo hoo' into a 'woo hoo'!
    Great results for all the challenges, Cleo!
    52 books 52 weeks: technically you have read more than 104 over two years (2014: 75 and 2015 50). TBR challenge, always a tough call, at least the pile is getting smaller! Canterbury Tales was wonderful and I read it ONLY due to your enthusiasm! It is truly the 'forgotten' classic. Bravo, chapeau and job well done!

  2. Cleo, you are not "pathetic!" This is quite impressive, especially your list for translated works. Very nice! I cannot wait to be reading at your level, but it may happen very slowly for me.

    Can't wait for 2016!!!! Are you still with me for a new batch of WEM biographies? Hey, you didn't add that list here!!??? (I know they were dispersed among your other challenges…but that was a feat, too.)

  3. That's a positive way to look at it, Nancy. I still have a few days left but I have a couple of big ones to finish so I'm not sure that I'll make it to 52.

    I'm so happy that I could encourage you to read The Canterbury Tales! I wonder what other interesting work is going to turn up in 2016?!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, Ruth! But, hey, I think that you're reading at my level. And you've certainly read more books than I have this year.

    I didn't include the biographies because they're an on-going project, just like I didn't include my C.S. Lewis Project or my Barsetshire Project, the latter two of which I failed miserably. 2016 is looking to be busy and so many good challenges are popping up. It's going to be hard to stay focussed on just a few. Many I say, impossible? 😉 I admire your fortitude of resistance when it comes to challenges. 🙂

  5. Ha! With over 120 books for the year under you belt, you can hardly be inadequate! The Deal-Me-In Challenge was great. You should try it. Everything you read is short and even if you don't hit 52 for the year, I found what is read, is always worthwhile.

  6. I am like super impressed! You have not only read exhaustively, but managed to do that over a wide variety of subjects and whats more completed all your challenges! I am awestruck! Great Going Cleo. especially considering most of the books hardly qualified as light reading or easy reads!

  7. I completely 5 of the 9 challenges, which doesn't look so great, BUT …… you're right, the books I read weren't light reading. And (which I failed to mention), I read more deeply this year and made in-depth posts on Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and Hamlet, so that's encouraging. Reading deeply has been an on-going challenge so it's nice to realized that this year I succeeded in it. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. I participated in the European Reading challenge the year before. I think I was one book short but it was a fun challenge. I'm a little nervous to try it this year because I have my Ancient Greek challenge and I'm reading a couple of biggies Metamorphoses and The Faerie Queene so I don't want to spread myself too thin. Although it looks like The Bible As Literature challenge and the Shakespeare challenge may be cancelled (I was going to do both) so I'll have some challenges to fill up. I'll be mulling it over in the next few days. Are you participating in any 2016 challenges, Carol?

  9. So far I'm definitely doing the Back to the Classics & Mount TBR plus Brona's Aussie month & the Classic Children's Event in April?? I'm thinking about doing the Deal me in as I have some essays etc I'd like to read & doing the challenge will help me to schedule them I think. Perhaps the European challenge also – if my choices from the other challenges overlap. I'm not great with lists & tend to want to change things as I go.

  10. I'm so bad with lists too! I can't stick with them. It's so funny to read what I plan at the beginning of the year and then look at what I actually read at the end of the year. Perhaps one year I should do my own Stick With It challenge. Or not ……. 😉

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!