December 2, 2021

50 Books by 50 Years

I have made a decision. I am going to do a long range challenge. I am going to do the 50 by 50 challenge. I am making a list of 50 books to read by my 50th birthday. That gives me nearly 2 years to read all of the books on the list.

The list is taken from my current TBR list on Goodreads. There isn't any criteria for a book being on the list, it just has to be a book I'm really looking forward to reading and that I think I'll like.

The books are on this list in no particular order. I scrolled through my Goodreads TBR a couple of times and put books on the list until there were 50. The list was in a random order when I did that, so there really is no order.

Now, get comfy. Maybe get a snack and a drink. This is a long list.

Yuki Chan

Yuki Chan in Bronte Country by Mick Jackson - I got this for a birthday gift, while I was in grad school, I think, but I haven't had spare reading time since then. I love everything Bronte.

Wuhan Diary

Wuhan Diary: Dispatches From the Original Epicenter by Fang Fang - I bought this thinking I could squeeze it in my award reading. I couldn't. It sits on my shelf, looking at me. The cover is a beautiful blue color, so I notice it a lot.


The Brontesaurus: An A-Z of Charlotte, Emily, & Anne Bronte (& Branwell) by John Sutherland - More Bronte! And John Sutherland is always entertaining. I bought this in Denver at The Tattered Cover Bookstore when we went to take my son to his pre-college campout.


Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood - This is a memoir about this woman whose dad joined the priesthood after being married to her mother and having kids. There is a loophole in the vow of celibacy if you're already married apparently.


Pride by Ibi Zoboi - This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a gentrifying neighborhood in The Bronx. I am interested in a retelling with characters of color.


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir - Remember back several months ago when I did a book flight where I read the first chapter of 5 books to decide what to read next? Well, I put all those books on this list. This one, I read almost half of it, but had to put it down to read award books.

Long Bright River

Long Bright River by Liz Moore - This is the next book on this stack. And yes, I still have these books in a stack in my living room, annoying my family who would like to use the real estate being taken up by these books on the end table. This is a literary fiction thriller. That excites me.

South Toward Home

South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature by Margaret Eby - This is another book on the stack. I no longer remember what I read in this book, but I remember I likd it. The fourth book on the stack will show up later on this list. I wasn't near the list, so I couldn't remember the title.


Matrix by Lauren Groff - I have liked Groff's past books, and this is getting a lot of buzz. It's about a young woman who gets sent to a far flung abbey of nuns by the queen of France to get her out of the way. She arrives at an abbey full of nuns starving and dying of disease. She turns the place around and makes it a thriving abbey. It's set in the Middle Ages. Literary Historical Fiction? Yes, please.


Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat In Difficult Times by Katherine May - I think I'm already a believer in this idea because I am a fan of rest and retreat. But I love to read things that support my beliefs.

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab - This is a middle grade book about Cassidy who nearly drowned once, and can now see ghosts. Ironically, her parents cannot see ghosts but the run a ghost hunting TV show. They move to Edingurgh, which is the most haunted city in the world, to film their show, and Cassidy has to save the world from the real ghosts.

Shit, Actually

Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema by Lindy West - I'm pretty excited about this one. My kid gave it to me for Christmas last year. Even though the title skewers one of my favorite Christmas movies, Love, Actually, I still want to laugh my way through this one.


Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach - I love Mary Roach. And I can't wait to get her take on nature and its devotion to overthrowin manmade order.


Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride From Hell by Tom Clavin - This has had my eye for several years. I read Dodge City last year by the same author in preparation for this. I love the movie with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. I am sure there are a ton of factual inaccuracies in there, but I love to read about Doc Holliday and picture VK.

Nothin' But a Good Time

Nothin' But a Good Time by Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock - I pre-ordered this book before it came out last year and I still haven't got to it. I'm looking forward to diving in when I can spend quality time on this one.


The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold - This has also been on my radar for years. I hate that for over a hundred years, we have thought he was a hunter of prostitutes when that is not the case. Not every woman in the Seven Dials area was a prostitute.

Hawthorne Legacy

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - I got tired of waiting for this from the library, so I just bought it. Which, of course, means I haven't read it, long past when I would have got it from the library. I'm telling myself it will feel so much better when I don't have to feel guilty about reading it. This is the sequel to The Inheritance Games which is the YA mystery with all the Knives Out vibes.


Columbine by Dave Cullen - There was another school shooting yesterday. I still haven't read this. I also have his other one about the one in Florida.

Midnight in Chernobyl

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham - This has also been on my TBR for a very long time. I really want to read it. So it's on this list.

House of Earth and Blood

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas - This is another one my kid got me for Christmas last year. I have liked Maas' books I've read and this is her first for adults.

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff - I got this from the library when it first came out, but it's huge and I was feeling guilt about not reading award books, so I only got about half way through it. Luckily, I got it for my birthday, so it sits face out on my bookshelf waiting for my undivided attention.


Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - I am so attracted to this cover that I've nearly bought it twice after already having bought it. Story of my life.

Companion to Jane

A Companion to Jane Austen by Claudia L. Johnson - I bought this at a used bookstore in Denver called Black and Read. New this book costs $41. I bought it for $14. Woohoo!!! But it's huge and I haven't gotten to it.


Evicted: Poverty and Profit In the American City by Matthew Desmond - Yet another book I have had on my TBR and really wanted to read for actual years. More social justice shit.

Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal - My hubby suggested this book to me actual years ago, but I have a secret confession. I haven't picked this up because the author's middle name is the same as hubby's ex-girlfriend. From over 25 years ago. Yes, I am apparently that petty. I think I'm ready to let it go now.


Smoke by Dan Vyleta - I bought this quite awhile back because it has an interesting premise. In this one, when people think naughty thoughts they emit smoke. Well except for the rich people, of course.

All I Did Was Ask

All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists by Terry Gross - I listened to my fair share of Fresh Air in the mornings when I would go to work or take the kids to school.


The Mothers by Brit Bennett - After reading and loving The Vanishing Half this year, I definitely need to go back and read Bennett's debut work.

My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - I have wanted to read this since it first came out. Now, the series is finished and she's moved on to other offerings. Dude, it's been out 10 years! Holy crap, I need to get on this.

Bitch in a Bonnet

Bitch in a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps by Robert Rodi - Fantastic title, yes?

Professor and Madman

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Disctionary by Simon Winchester - A friend of mine raved about this a few years ago and I promised to read it. Better get on that.

How to Think

How to Think by Alan Jacobs - I loved Jacobs other book I read, and I've owned this for years. It's not very big. I think it has become a mashed potatoes book.

City of Brass

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty - My sister got this and read it because I posted it here and it sounded good. She better not have read the whole series before I even start.

Aunti Poldi

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano - This is hopefully the beginning of a cozy mystery series set in Italy.

Late Show

The Late Show by Michael Connelly - I got really excited when this book came out because it has a female main character in a series written by a high profile crime fiction author. There are now 4 books in this series. Welp, at least I have more to look forward to!

Ex Libris

Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani - I have a whole shelf full of books about books and reading, but this one made this list for sure. I admire Kakutani's long stint as a reviewer for the New York Times. That's just fabulous to me.


Roses by Leila Meacham - One of my nieces told me I need to read this years ago. I own it, but I haven't read it. I have several other books she's pressed on me, but this was the first one.


Gunfight at Ingalls: Death of an Outlaw Town by Glenn Shirley - I took this book from my parents' bookshelf in high school. A boyfriend and I drove all over central Oklahoma looking at ghost towns. This one was always my favorite. I'm pretty sure I read this then, but I want to do it again.

On Reading Well

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior - Another book about books and reading. I couldn't help myself.


Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy - A new book just came out about this called Empire of Pain, which looks good, but I wanted to read this one first. I wanted a woman's take on it.

Bunny Mellon

Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend by Meryl Gordon - I had never heard of Bunny Mellon until I read about Truman Capote and his Swans. I hadn't heard of any of those women. I got this biography for my birthday when I was in grad school and now I intend to actually read it.

Book Girl

Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson - One more book about reading. You can't blame me. I like to read about it as much as I like to do it.

Quietly in their Sleep

Quietly In Their Sleeep by Donna Leon - If you noticed the typo in the title here, it's an inside joke. The spine of the book is spelled that way. This is the next book in the series. Not that I'm necessarily reading them in order, but I might try.

Fire in Paradise

Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy by Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano - I made a big damn deal about the book about the Paradise Fire that came out this Fall, but I forgot about this one that came out in May 2020. In my defense, other things were happening in May 2020.

Have and Hoax

To Have And to Hoax by Martha Waters - Here it is! That fourth book on the stack from my book flight! This is a frothy, romantic comedy set in the Regency Era. Say less.


The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell - My sister read this and regaled me stories from it for many weeks. So of course I have to read it myself.

Neon Girls

Neon Girls: A Stripper's Education in Protest and Power by Jennifer Worley - This is about a strip bar in San Francisco that is now owned by the dancers who make the policy and the business decisions themselves. The author was one of the women who made it happen.

Take a Hint Dani Brown

Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert - This is definitely a mashed potatoes book. I loved the first one and I keep trying to save this one for a rainy day. I need to assign in to myself in order to give myself permission to read it.


How to Read NonFiction Like a Professor: Critical Thinking In the Age of Bias, Contested Truth, and Disinformation by Thomas C. Foster - I liked the other books by this author and found them very useful. This one couldn't come at a better time.

Well-Read Black Girl

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim - I'm obviously not a black girl, but I would like to find ways to help black girls find themselves in literature in a positive way.

So there you have it. 50 books to read by the time I'm 50 years old. What do you think?