Half the fun of a new reading challenge is scanning my unread books for possibilities – and I have plenty. Hannah Tobias Courtesy photo
Half the fun of a new reading challenge is scanning my unread books for possibilities – and I have plenty. Hannah Tobias Courtesy photo


Need book suggestions? Here are Suzanne Tobias’ picks

By Suzanne Perez Tobias


December 28, 2017 09:01 AM

Now that we’ve announced the 2018 #ReadICT Challenge, it’s time to think about the books I’ll read during the coming year.

Half the fun of a new reading challenge is scanning my unread books for possibilities – and I have plenty. Today I’m sharing a few options I’m considering for each category, along with books I have read and enjoyed that fit into those categories.

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As always, I’d love to hear your reading recommendations. If you share them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, be sure to include the #ReadICT hashtag. Also, consider joining our Wichita Eagle #ReadICT Challenge group on Facebook, where I and other local readers love to talk about books and reading.

So here are some of my #ReadICT possibilities:

1. A library book

This could be anything, including something from my friendly neighborhood Little Free Library. I’m excited about the opening of the new downtown library in Wichita in 2018, so I might wait to officially check off this category when I borrow my first book from that branch.

(Recommended: If you don’t have a library card, get one now. A printed form of identification with a name and current address – such as a driver’s license, passport or government-issued ID card – is required. Or consider becoming a Friend of the Wichita Public Library: For $25 a year, a library gold card means no hold fees for library materials, a three-day grace period on returns, invitations to members-only events and a $3 gift certificate to the library bookstore.)

2. A detective novel or true crime book

Books I’m considering:

“Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie

“Columbine” by Dave Cullen

“The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann; “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote; “Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door” by Roy Wenzl, L. Kelly, Tim Potter and Hurst Laviana.)

3. A book about reading or writing

Books I’m considering:

“Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe

“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott; “My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues” by Pamela Paul; “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin.)

4. A book set somewhere you’ve never been

Books I’m considering:

“Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami (Japan)

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt (Vermont and New Hampshire)

“The Martian” by Andy Weir (Mars)

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “Stay With Me,” by Ayobami Adebayo – set in Nigeria; “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles – set in Moscow; “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki – set in Tokyo and British Columbia.)

5. A book recommended/given/loaned to you by a friend

Books I’m considering:

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen (that’s right, I’ve never read this one!)

“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante

(Random recommendations from my favorites shelf: “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving; “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara; “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo.)

6. A book with an animal on the cover

Books I’m considering:

“Salvage the Bones” by Jessmyn Ward

“A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson

“Straight Man” by Richard Russo

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding; “A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon; “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrick Backman.)

7. A graphic novel

Books I’m considering:

“Maus” by Art Spiegelman

“American Born Chinese” by Gene Luen Yang

“My Favorite Thing is Monsters” by Emil Ferris

I am not well-versed in comics and graphic novels, so I’d love to hear your recommendations. I recently enjoyed “Seconds,” by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and “Stitches,” by David Small. I also loved the “March” series by Rep. John Lewis, a trilogy about the civil rights movement.

8. An essay or short story collection

Books I’m considering:

Something by Joyce Carol Oates or Alice Munro

“Tenth of December” by George Saunders

“The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry” by Wendell Berry

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado; “Trajectory” by Richard Russo; “Fortune Smiles” by Adam Johnson.)

9. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you

Books I’m considering:

“Purple Hibiscus” or “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith

“An Artist of the Floating World” by Kazuo Ishiguro

10. A book about a topic in the news

Books I’m considering:

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond

“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson

“Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman” by Anne Helen Petersen

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love” by Zack McDermott, about a man’s struggle with bipolar disorder and the mom – a Wichita teacher – who saved him; “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson, an exploration of high-profile public shamings and how social media has redefined morality; “This is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel, a novel about raising a transgender child.)

11. A book published the year you were born

Books I’m considering (from 1968):

“Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey

“The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick

12. A book by an author slated to visit Wichita in 2018

Books I’m considering:

“The Dog Stars,” “The Painter” or “Celine” by Peter Heller (at Watermark Jan. 29)

“American Heart” by Laura Moriarty (at Watermark Jan. 30)

“The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See (at Watermark April 3)

(Books I’ve read and recommend: “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty; “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See.)

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias