2024 Reading Challenge

Are you ready to challenge yourself and grow in 2024?

If so, you’ve come to the wrong place… 😉

But in the meantime, how about reading a bunch of cool books?

In my 2024 reading challenge, I’ve given you very few specific recommendations. This is so you can set yourself up for success by picking titles that appeal to you the most. Put a bit of thought and energy into shopping for the right books for you — it’s definitely part of the fun!

Feel free to play along. If you decide to participate, please let me know and don’t be afraid to check in periodically with your thoughts.

Note: Many (if not all) of the books listed here are also available in Amazon’s Kindle format, which I find much more convenient than physical books. If you don’t have a Kindle e-reader, you really owe it to yourself to get one. You can use Libby to borrow books on it (FOR FREE!) from your local library. The basic Kindle is definitely good enough, but strongly consider springing for the Paperwhite, a very worthy upgrade (8 Gb of storage is enough). Don’t consider the Paperwhite Signature Edition or Oasis unless you’re really sure they are for you. The Scribe is a fine product, but kind of exists in a class of its own. Avoid the Kindle Fire tablets — go with e-ink or go home.

Now let’s get to my list of 12 ideas for your 2024 reading…

  1. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” by Neil Postman
    This is probably my favorite book of 2023. It was written in 1985 about television, but you’ll find every word applies to the Internet and social media. This book will make you think more carefully about the ways we entertain ourselves and communicate. Highly recommended.
  2. Any Presidential biography by Ron Chernow (or “Hamilton“)
    Ron Chernow is an incredible writer; the gold standard for historical biographies. I recommend his biography of George Washington, which is excellent, or his biography of Ulysses S. Grant, which is sublime. If neither of those strike your fancy (what’s WRONG with you?), you could try the book that served as source material for the Broadway smash hit, Hamilton.
  3. Any play by William Shakespeare
    Pick one and dive in. I highly recommend the Arden editions.
  4. The US Constitution and Amendments
    If you read this, it will be eye-opening. We’ve strayed a long way from it, unfortunately.
  5. Any book by Erik Larson
    Larson is a master of historical storytelling. Devil In The White City is amazing, and you can’t go wrong with Dead Wake, either. But anything’ll do.
  6. Any book by Clive Cussler
    We’re six entries into the list, so if you’re doing one a month, this could and should be your beach read. This will be an adventure story. I recommend something from the Dirk Pitt series, or the Oregon Files series.
  7. Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
    We go from beach read to ultra-serious. Frankl writes about his time in a Nazi concentration camp, and how he found the will to survive. When he was released, he learned he had lost his entire family. I’m not sure if the book is more inspiring or depressing, but it’s absolutely a worthwhile read.
  8. Biography of someone you admire but don’t know much about
    Go find a good one. Enjoy, and tell me who you chose and why!
  9. Any of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels or a Robert Littell spy novel.
    Spy stories. Have fun with this.
  10. Any book by Stephen E. Ambrose
    If you haven’t yet read Band of Brothers or Citizen Soldiers, now’s your chance. But there are other options, like Nothing Like It In The World or The Wild Blue.
  11. Any book by Os Guinness
    One of my favorite Christian thinkers and writers. He’s prolific, and it’s all good. I highly recommend The Call.
  12. A book signed by the author
    I made this book the last one because I’m giving you an errand to run before you get to read it. Find out when an author you like (or you think you’d like) is coming to your town. Go meet them, and buy a book for them to sign for you. You’ll enjoy yourself, and you’ll feel a small connection to the person who wrote the book. It’ll mean more to you than an Amazon order could ever provide. And the authors really appreciate, and need, your support.

Bonus Book (because you knew I would do this!): A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White, Jr.
You knew I couldn’t make a list without including at least one book about Abraham Lincoln, right? And this one is fantastic. It’s probably the best single-volume Lincoln biography in existence.

Stretch Goal: Read Anna Karenina
Get a version of the book that’s been translated from the original Russian by the husband and wife team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. If you spring for the paperback, it’ll be much more expensive, but this translation really makes the book shine. Another option is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s reading of the book for Audible (although a lesser translation is used).

This will be a big read. Count on going slowly over a period of six months or so. Be patient with yourself and the book; it’s so worth it. I read this book a couple of years ago, and I still think back to the characters and the lessons from their lives.