I have a chronic illness and tiny humans with high needs. One day I woke up and realized that in the blur of ďjust do the next thingĒ I had not read a book that wasnít written to a very young child in at least four years. Four years! If Iím honest, it may have been longer, I just canít remember. What I do know was that was a wake up call to intentionality. I love books and my soul needs stories to heal, grow, and thrive but clearly reading for myself wasnít going to happen without a plan. So I planned! Once I picked up that first book it was like riding a bicycle and reading for me started to come naturally again.

I know that I am not alone in needing to be intentional in my reading. We created the annual Reshelving Alexandria Reading Challenges to meet this need. Whether you need help getting back on the horse, have decision fatigue and need someone to just put a book in your hand and say ďHereís a good one! Enjoy!Ē, love a good challenge, could use a nudge out of a single genre, or are in a season of mush brain and donít think you could handle a book written at above a fourth grade level (so many good books written at this level!)—weíve got you.

If you like to read with friends and discuss as you go then please join us on Facebook in our group Reshelving Alexandria Reads. Every month weíll read from one category and talk amongst ourselves as we go! Find inspiration, accountability, and maybe even someone one(s) else reading the same title as you! We will also be having mid-month mini-challenges and quarterly prizes. It should be fun!

Here are the categories we chose for 2020. Some are fun, some more challenging, and others may strait up require you to step outside of your comfort zone (Iím looking at you, Miss ďI donít read Graphic Novels!Ē). You can do this. I can do this. We can do this—together!

Print off your Challenge sheet, invite a friend, and letís get started!

A Book Translated into English

There are so many incredible books being translated into English every year and many that have been around for ages.

The Ark

The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert takes place in post-war Germany and follows a family separated from their father, trying to create a life for themselves and carve out a home in this new world. This book will be reprinted by Purple House Press this fall 2020.

Special mentions:

A Comic Book or Graphic Novel

Please donít skip this category! Comic books and graphic novels are not just for kids or the lazy reader. There are powerful stories being told that it would be a shame to miss.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix is a graphic novel on the powerful life of a German pastor who opposed the Nazis and stood against the complacency of the German church at great personal cost.

Special mentions:

A Book in a Genre You Donít Typically Read

You can do it! Be brave! Here are a few titles in genres that have the potential to be less read depending on the person.


The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald is a beautiful introduction to fantasy. It was one of my favorite books as a child and introduced me to Wise Woman tales which have remained a personal favorite throughout the years.


Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson is technically written for kids but I felt the Momís pain and stress through the whole read. Aalternately, you could read this for the Living Authors category.

Classical Horror:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Short Stories:

A Table Near the Band by A.A. Milne


Creating New and Better Plants: Luther Burbank by Paul Bacon


Beren and Lķthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

A Book Recommended By Your Friend/Spouse/Child

Have fun with this one!

If youíd like to consider me a friend, my top three recommendations for this year are Three Knocks on the Wall by Evelyn Sibley Lampman, Theodore Roosevelt: Strenuous American by Harlow, or any Piper Books biography. Granted theyíre written for ages 8-12 but Pontiac and Ethan Allen were absolutely gripping, I can only imagine the rest are great too!

A Personal Development or Health Book

Another personal category! Iíll be reading books on Language Development, Productivity and Marketing, and Digestive Enzymes. Not riveting, but necessary!

A Biography of Someone Who Lived During the American Civil War

The Story of Clara Barton of the Red Cross

The Story of Clara Barton of the Red Cross by Jeannette Covert Nolan was my favorite read of 2018. I had no idea that Barton headed up a large scale project to identify the deceased and correct wrongful accusations of desertion after the Civil War. Her efforts helped give the grieving country closure and promoted healing. I own two copies so I can loan one out. I highly recommend this book.

Special mentions:

A Book Written by a Living Author

Who Should We Then Read?

Who Should We Then Read? by Jan Bloom. If you are serious about building a personal home library, as we are, then you should definitely read this one! Her biographical sketches are an informative delight and this is a great way to start familiarizing yourself with excellent authors and series.

Special mentions:

A Book Thatís Been Made Into a Movie

Treasures of the Snow

Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John is a powerful story of tragedy, bitterness, and second chances but above all- forgiveness. I watched this movie as a child before I read the book and it made me a fan.

Special mentions:

A Book That Takes Place in Your Local Area or Region

Ocean-Born Mary

This one is obviously very personal to you and your locality. Here are some jumping off points if you live in the United States:

If you live in New England you could read Ocean-Born Mary by Lois Lenski. Based on the real Ocean-born Mary, this story has something for everyone- a female protagonist and pirates! This book is currently being brought back from Unicorn status by Purple House Press. Go grab your hardcover copy before the Kickstarter campaign ends!

Special mentions:

A Book That Challenges You


Hiroshima by Hersey is a collection of the personal stories of six people from diverse walks of life who lived through the bombing of Hiroshima. It was written by journalism John Hersey in the New Yorker. According to the dust jacket the paper devoted all their space to this story on August 31st, 1946. ďIts tremendous power derives from the fact that it is the honest story of little people in an average city caught up in the fury of the mightiest force yet discovered by man.Ē

Special mentions:

A Book That Takes Place in the 20ís of Another Century

Empress of All Russia: Catherine the Great

Empress of All Russia: Catherine the Great by Iris Noble is a Messner Biography by one of our favorite authors. Catherine became Empress in the 1720ís so itís a perfect fit!

Special mentions:

A Book That Has an Animal in the Title

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare was a faithful friend in high school. Itís where I fell in love with Quakers and accepted that there would always be people who didnít understand me and that there was nothing I could do to change that.

Special mentions:

Ambre Sautter Ambre Sautter is a wife, mother, sister, friend, reader. She was homeschooled herself and is currently homeschooling her kiddos in the Midwest with her husband, Erik. She learned to collect (hoard) books at a young age from her Dad. Being the delusional person that she is, she was shocked to discover what she assumed was her 750 book personal library was, in fact, closer to 8,000 volumes.