The Just-For-Me Book Club

My new reading list

My new reading list

It’s time for a new reading plan! At the end of 2014, I completed a reading challenge I had set for myself called Reading Down the House. I listed the 17 books I owned that I had never read, and gave myself 14 months to read them all. It was satisfying to cross them off my list!

This time, I wanted to expand my reading horizons by getting other people to suggest books for me. It started when my co-worker Shelly said I simply must read Someone by Alice McDermott. It was a book I would never have picked up myself, but I loved it. Just recently, I finished reading Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, recommended by my friend Marilyn, and I had the same experience of getting completely immersed in a book I would not have discovered on my own. So, I contacted about two dozen bloggers and asked each of them to recommend a book for me to read. I focused on the bloggers who comment here most often since I thought they’d be the most likely to check back and find out if I had read their selections!

My new reading list has much more variety than I would have selected myself. I’m so excited to begin, I hardly know where to start! Here they are:

Book Title – by Author / Suggested By (Name) @ Blog


Before We Met – by Lucie Whitehouse / Amy Rutter @ Amy Rutter


Bodies of Light – by Sarah Moss / Janet @ Someone, Somewhere 

Breath – by Tim Winton / Cathy @ Still Waters

Brown Girl Dreaming – by Jacqueline Woodson / Jamie Ray @ A Boy and Her Dog

A Call to Action – by Jimmy Carter / Keith @ Musings of an Old Fart

Cleopatra: a Life – by Stacy Schiff / Mrs. Fever @ Temperature’s Rising

Cripple Creek Days – by Mabel Barbee Lee / Cat @ Eco Cat Lady Speaks

Disgrace – by J. M. Coetzee / Vera @ To Dad with Love

Fools Rush In – by Bill Carter / Sarah @ Live to List

I Am Princess X – by Cherie Priest / Amanda @ The Giraffe Life

Keep the Aspidistra Flying – by George Orwell / Thrift Deluxe @ Nine to Five 


Riddley Walker – by Russell Hoban / Paul @ Feeding Squirrels on My Way to Work

Seabiscuit – by Laura Hillenbrand / Laura @ The Occasional Nomads


The Secret River – by Kate Grenville / Lucinda @ Lucinda Sans


Shake Hands with the Devil – by Romeo Dallaire / Fiona @ Declutterer


Strength to Love – by Martin Luther King, Jr. / Julie @ Lovely Grey Day


A Study in Scarlet Women – by Sherry Thomas / Juhli @ A Boomer Girl’s Guide 

We Were Liars – by E. Lockhart / AP @ The Asian Pear

The fiction on the list includes literary, historical, mystery and suspense, sci-fi, satire and coming-of-age. The nonfiction includes memoir, biography and wise words from leaders. Some bloggers chose a title they’d read recently, some chose books that inspired them, and some chose their all-time favourites. I was especially surprised that very few suggested books based on the main themes of their blogs!

I played the library lotto to decide which to read first: I placed a bunch of titles on hold, and the first to arrive is the first to be read. And the winner is: The Secret River by Kate Grenville, recommended by Lucinda Sans! As I finish each book, I will post a review and choose the next one. I’ll cross-post the reviews on Goodreads, where you can find the list on my Recommended shelf. Feel free to send me a friend request over there! From this point forward, I’ll select the books less randomly, so I’m not reading similar types of books back-to-back.

I still have some feelers out, looking for a few more suggestions from my circle of blog friends. Check your blog email to see if I’ve sent you a note! If I’ve missed you, it may be because you have no contact info on your site. Feel free to send me your choices at my anexactinglife gmail address.

Which of these books have you read? Would anyone like to read along? Or, would you like to compile your own list of books recommended to you, and post them? Otherwise, stay tuned for updates and reviews!


  1. This is an amazing idea. I’m honored that I could help out.

  2. I’m so pleased you got answers and were able to compile a list – i might even take a ‘chance’ on reading some of them myself. Maybe pick one a month along with other stuff – depending on which my libary can provide.

    LOL – I can cross off two of your list. Apart from the one you picked from my list of recommendations, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed The Secret River. So much history, so much decription of what life would have been like, so much emotion, so so good. In fact I’ve read all three in the trilogy, having just finished The Lieutenant.

    Not sure if there are books dedicated to Living Loving Laughing and Travelling – maybe you could recommend one to me 🙂

  3. Jamie

    I can’t wait to read your reviews. And I’m so excited to hear that The Secret River is up first! I really enjoyed it. The ABC (Australia) made a miniseries based on it that was really good, too. I haven’t read either of the follow up books, The Lieutenant and Sarah Thornhill. Maybe one day.

    I haven’t read the Tim Winton on your list, but read Lockie Leonard when I was young and, of course, have read Cloudstreet as an adult. I love a multi-generational family saga.

    If you want to continue with the Australian-family theme of my reply, I would suggest The Touch by Colleen McCullough.

    • Hi Jamie, Maybe I will steer clear of two Australian generational sagas for this project, but add it to my “to read” list for later. I haven’t read any Tim Winton books – I am not even sure he is much known here (!) So, I will add The Poisonwood Bible to my list for you – it will round out the project nicely.

  4. Jamie

    On a different theme, have you ever read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver?

  5. Joan

    I hope you enjoy We Were Liars! YA books are not my favorite genre but this one had me to the very last page.

  6. todadwithlove

    This is a really wonderful idea, Dar. Like Paul, I feel honoured you’d solicited my recommendation. I am looking forward to reading your reviews.

  7. Oh brilliant Dar. A bit of extra reading material for me when I run out of inspiration. Thanks for including my suggestion. Hope you enjoy and it inspires.

  8. That’s a really interesting mix of titles of themes, thank you for including my suggestion, not sure it’s an ideal first Orwell but what’s the worst that can happen? (Not a phrase that Gordon Comstock would use)

    • I am probably the only person I know who was never assigned to read either 1984 or Animal Farm in high school. Now I will be able to say I have read a lesser-known Orwell 🙂

  9. Margie in Toronto

    Such an interesting list – I have not read any of these books! Like your previous reading challenge I am currently working my way through all the books that I have piled up here at home that I haven’t got around to reading – haven’t got an exact number but I know it’s well over 50!
    So far this week I’ve read “The Nest” – much more enjoyable than I’d expected and I’m in the middle of the Peter May trilogy known as The Lewis Trilogy. “The Black House, The Lewis Man and The Chessmen” – cannot put them down. Started the first one at abut 2pm yesterday and finished at 11pm – and immediately started on the second – made myself go to bed at 2am but expect to finish the second by this evening! And I am now keeping a written list so hat I can track my progress! Happy reading.

  10. I love that my suggestion is first. Makes me fee special even if it a random selection.

    I must be the only Australian reader who doesn’t like Tim Winton. Too wordy. Nothing much happens.

    You have a varied list here! I think the one that sort of surprised me most was the Orwell. I’ve never seen people recommend anything but 1984 and Animal Farm.

    I can’t wait to see if you found The Secret River fascinating. Not just for the events but for the language.

  11. jbistheinitial

    Wow, what an amazing range of books! I’ve only read two (as well as my pick) – Disgrace, which I did not like at all, and We Were Liars, which I thought was great. Good luck with the project and happy reading!

    • I haven’t read any of them, of course, but a couple of bloggers sent multiple suggestions, so I picked books I hadn’t read. And, when I did get more than one suggestion, sometimes I wanted to read them all, so I might need a follow-up list!

  12. Fiona

    It is an amazing range of books! And such a cool idea, to share something meaningful to each person on the list (that said, I repeat again that when I re-visited my recommendation, I thought it was far too wordy and slow-going!) I hope you will stick to your rule to ‘abandon ship’ if any of the titles don’t really appeal to you.

    I haven’t read any of the books on that list, but I think rather than adopting then, I’d like to stick to the spirit of the idea by asking friends for recommendations. I think I will ask people in my staffroom at work for their recommendations.

    Good luck as you embark upon the list!

    • Thanks, Fiona. I don’t think I’ll cast any aside because I’ll always be thinking about what the person who recommended it, saw in it. As for Shake Hands with the Devil, I know I’ll get through it, because the author and the system he worked in are Canadian, and his NGO, the Child Soldier Initiative, is based here in Halifax, so I feel sure that will carry me along.

  13. Barbara

    Seabiscuit – I mainly read it because of the associations with the area in California where I
    grew up but I really enjoyed it (have since seen the film and enjoyed that too)
    Keep The Aspidistra Flying – I went through a George Orwell phase in my early twenties
    but to be honest I don’t remember much about this one!
    Before We Met – Liked this but after reading The Girl on the Train, it reminded me of that
    for some reason (maybe the cover?)

    I’m probably the only person in Australia who hasn’t read Tim Winton (at least Lucinda Sans
    read him and didn’t enjoy him!). Sorry Tim, I’ve got a big pile of unread books by the side of
    the bed that take priority. Maybe I need to READ DOWN THE HOUSE…

    • Hi Barbara, You are ahead of the pack! Laura, who recommended Seabiscuit, also has ties to that area. I am probably the only person who has never read either The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl!

  14. Disgrace is a masterpiece. Loved it. Also Waiting for the Barbarians (Coetzee also). Embers by Marai (?). these are all pretty “heavy.”

  15. Pingback: Sunday Afternoon 12/4/2016 – The Occasional Nomads

  16. Pingback: Just-for-Me Book Club: Reviews Are In! | An Exacting Life

  17. what a fabulous list, I may well add a few to mine. x

  18. Pingback: December – It’s a Wrap! | An Exacting Life

  19. Pingback: Just-for-Me Book Club: The Reviews Are In – Part 2 | An Exacting Life

  20. Pingback: Just-for-Me Book Club: MLK and Sherlock Holmes | An Exacting Life

  21. Pingback: Just-for-Me Book Club: Reading Your Books! | An Exacting Life

  22. Pingback: The Just-for-Me Book Club is Back! | An Exacting Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: