History Reading Challenge 2014

Each year I try to schedule in more non-fiction books into my reading lists.  Sometimes I succeed in my attempts but most times I fail miserably.  So what better way to force myself to read more non-fiction than by joining a challenge and being held accountable!  I came across this challenge on one of my favourite blogs and was immediately hooked.

History is one of my favourite non-fiction genres.  What particularly intrigued me about this challenge was the detailed requirements that I found to be eminently sensible.

1.  The history books must be written by an historian and pure non-fiction.  How many times have I been frustrated by books where the author is unable to understand the era which he is writing about, and the reader is left with much of the author’s opinions as well as modern ideas applied to historical issues?  This requirement should minimize this problem.

2.  It must be a work formed through investigation and research.  Another issue that horrifies me is the number of new non-fiction histories which list a bibliography that includes only modern or relatively recent books.  How on earth could the author get a reasonable perspective this way?  So I will make sure my choices have broad investigation and research.

3.  Biography can be chosen but not autobiography as it can lack historical objectivity.  I had never even thought of this but I can certainly see her point.  Another very sensible requirement.

4.  She provides wonderful analysis questions to answer after the book is finished.  An excellent way to get more meaning out of a read.

Now to try to narrow it down.  I was going to go for the “scholar” level of 4-6 books, but, in keeping with my resolution to read less but more deeply next year, I will choose the “student” level of 1-3 books.

At the top of my list are the following:


I’ll have to check if they all qualify but these are what I could come up with off the top of my head.

Oooo, I can’t wait until the new year!

Books read:

1.  The Guns of August – Barbara Tuchman
2.  The Way of King Arthur – Christopher Hibbert
3.  Cicero’s Defence Speeches
4.  The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

17 thoughts on “History Reading Challenge 2014

  1. Thanks, Fanda! I began the Defense Speeches a year ago but stalled in the middle so I am determined to finish it up. I have so many history books stacked on my shelf and so what an opportune time to start a history challenge!

  2. Looks like a great challenge!

    I just came here from your comment on my blog and I have really enjoyed reading through your posts! Great blog! I'm always excited to find a blog like this, and I will be subscribing!

  3. Thanks for your kind words, Emily. I'm so excited …… you and Fanda are my first followers!

    I was thrilled to find your blog too. It's so nice to find people with the same interests. Your blog is bookmarked already!

  4. That looks like some heavy reading! The Mertz book looks really interesting. I'm focusing on ancient history for this challenge too… might have to add that one to my list!

    Just popping over from the History Reaching Challenge linky!

  5. Hi Tonia! Nice to meet you!

    I've been concentrating on reading classics for the last 5+ years, so the ones that remain tend to be a little more intimidating. I love these challenges that push me to read out of my comfort zone!

    Speaking of ancient history, have you seen Susan Wise Bauer's The History of the Ancient World? I'm reading it right now (very slowly —- stretched over about 10 months) and it's excellent to give you a good overview. Dorothy Mills' books are great too ……. more geared for children but again, superb overviews of the times.

  6. Hi Jean! That's good to know. I have my eye on other books by Tuchman but A Distant Mirror seems to be the one that is best known and the most recommended. I'm looking forward to getting started!

  7. You sound like you have lots on your plate for 2014 already, Brona! I quail a little at this challenge but I have so many history books on my shelves that I have been avoiding (in favour of my beloved classics), that I decided that I simply must get to them. Hopefully once I start reading some of them it will become a habit that will continue into future years!

  8. I would love to reread Thucydides as I haven't read it since my school days. I also have stacks of non-fiction om TBR pile and I'm determined to make a dint on it next year 🙂

  9. I'm looking forward to making that dint too. This challenge and my Non-Fiction challenge is really going to help me crack open some of those books that I have wanted to read but just haven't got to yet. I have some reading time after Christmas; I'll spend part of the time catching up but I should be able to have some time to start this challenge. Oooo, fun! 🙂

  10. I like your list. Ooo, shall we do a buddy read?

    I might be interested in Krakatoa too. It's sitting on my shelf and would count for at least 3 challenges (isn't it sad when the impetus to read a book is controlled so heavily by challenges?)

  11. It helps to move them from the TBR pile! Then we will have plenty of room for new TBR's 🙂 [Happy Dance]

    Yes, some months in the future we can buddy read, I know we will find some time after January to figure out what works well.

  12. "It helps to move them from the TBR pile! Then we will have plenty of room for new TBR's 🙂 [Happy Dance]"

    The above statement is proof that you are a bad influence!

    After January sounds good ……

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