Welcome to the 2019 Online Reading Challenge!

r e a d (reed), v. 1. to look at carefully so as to understand the meaning of something written. 2. to occupy oneself seriously with reading or study. 3. to obtain knowledge or learn of something by reading.

It’s January – that means it’s the start of a new Online Reading Challenge! I hope you join us whenever and however you can. As in the past, this is a low-key, no-pressure book club. Each month we’ll explore a new theme through books. You can read old-fashioned paper books or new-fangled ebooks, listen to audio books, even watch relevant movies! Remember, there are no Library Police! Read whatever catches your interest. There is also no penalty for skipping a month or not finishing a book by the end of the month. The goal of our Online Reading Challenge is simply to find great books to read/listen to/movies to watch!

This year the Challenge is called “r e a d” (although yes, movies still count!). I’ve chosen a variety of general subjects, topics that touch on all of us throughout our lives – like family, art,  and the world around us. Each month I’ll suggest titles (both fiction and non-fiction) to get you started and there will be displays at each building with even more. The topics can be explored from a variety of angles – serious to light, historical to current events. How you approach each month is entirely up to you! And don’t forget to pick up a bookmark/book log at the library to help you keep track of your reading progress.

For a complete list of this year’s topics, check out the 2019 Online Reading Challenge Page.

So, let’s get started! January’s topic is Medicine.

Everyone has had to deal with the medical field at some point, even if you’re healthy as a horse and rarely need to see a doctor, health and fitness is important to everyone. Titles to read in this subject can vary widely – fiction and non-fiction, light or scary, physical health or mental health, the field is wide open. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

For serious non-fiction, take a look at Bellevue by David Oshinsky about the infamous New York City hosipital or the acclaimed book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot which delves into bioethics and informed consent. Pandemic 1918 by Catharine Arnold looks at the devastating “Spanish Influenza” which killed millions. When Breath Becomes Air is written by physician Paul Kalanithi after he discovers he has terminal cancer while In an Instant by Lee Woodruff looks at how traumatic brain injury affects both the individual and their family. Still Alice by Lisa Genova delves into dementia while Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick examines mental health.

It’s not all grim and scary though; books in this subject are often uplifting and optimistic. Try The Midwife by Jennifer Worth about young nurses working in 1950s London as midwives to the poor. Or read something from the Irish Doctor series by Patrick Taylor about a country doctor living in a small village of eccentric personalities. And James Herriot’s charming All Creatures Great and Small books, set in Yorkshire, England never disappoint (hey, I know he’s a vet treating animals but it’s still medicine!) If you prefer to be kept awake at night, reach for Robin Cook’s medical thrillers.

I’m going to read My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira which is about a young woman who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Set during the Civil War, she must overcome the prejudices against women in medicine while working to help the thousands of wounded soldiers. The time period and story line both sound interesting to me and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Now, what about you? Will you be joining us this year? What will you read in January?


7 thoughts on “Welcome to the 2019 Online Reading Challenge!

  1. I started Radium Girls before Christmas so I am going to finish that and call it “medicine” which it is. Happy New Year!

  2. I’ve heard great things about that book! The grandmother of one of our librarians was a Radium Girl. It’s a fascinating, little-known piece of history. Let us know how you like it! And Happy New Year to you!

  3. I’m reading the Outlander series. Currently on book 6. Love the series! I use the audio in the car to try to keep me motivated if I cant read the physical book. Medicine is a huge part of one of the main characters lives!!

  4. Outlander is an excellent choice! Claire as a nurse then a doctor in one timeline and as a healer in the other timeline makes for lots of interesting comparisons and contrasts. Enjoy! And thanks for joining along with the Reading Challenge!

  5. I had great fun participating in this low-key bookclub last year – can’t wait to start anew!
    Clever idea, Alyssa, to use the Outlander series! You are so right about medicine playing a big role for Claire.
    I have some ideas already waiting in my Audible wish list, including “The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine” and “Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them.” Instead, I’ll probably go with “Fever, 1793” by Lori Halse Anderson about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia that year. I almost chose it last year during June for the Childhood Theme! It’s a young adult or juvenile book that I’d wanted to read when it was on the Rebecca Caudill book award list (I think) back when I was still teaching. More historical fiction for me!

  6. Thanks so much for following along with our Reading Challenge, Lin! Your ideas for what to read this month all sound great – kind of gruesomely fascinating! I love the historical aspects of medicine.

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