365 Days – 25 Books: Atherstone reader completes the 2017 ‘Read Wider’ Challenge

Last year Stephanie McAughtry completed Atherstone Library’s 2017 ‘Read Wider’ Challenge, successfully managing to read a book in every one of the 25 categories of the challenge!

 “This challenge has led me to read books I would never ordinarily have chosen for myself” 


We had some questions for her about her experience:

What was the best thing about doing this challenge?

Finding the books to fit the categories and having to think about each one.

How did you go about finding the books to fill each category?

I spoke to the library staff. Without their advice, I would not have finished the challenge. Also, I looked at several different choices for each category. Sometimes a choice would take several weeks, sometimes straightaway.

What was the most interesting book that you read? Why?

Able Seacat Simon: The Wartime Hero of the High Seas by Lynne Barrett-Lee. I have always loved the film ‘Yangtze Incident’, which this was about, and later I found myself knitting purple poppies for animals that died in the conflict.

What was the most challenging book? Why?

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I found that very hard. If I never read a book about elves again, I shall be quite happy.

Were there any that you didn’t finish?

No, I read every book.

How do you feel about not finishing a book?

I feel that not finishing would be like cheating.

(Editor’s note: We feel that not finishing a book is a perfectly acceptable practice, though we know a lot of people have the opposite view. See our previous post on this subject)

How has doing this challenge changed the way you approach choosing what to read?

Perhaps I should choose books that are not in my comfort zone.

Would you recommend others to do this sort of reading challenge?

Yes! I would recommend others to do this challenge and I would enjoy doing another. I have had wonderful chats with people about books, even the Famous Five, which brought back happy memories.

Congratulations to Stephanie for pushing her boundaries and ‘reading wider’ in 2017. The 2018 Challenge is now running at Atherstone Library, so why not pop down and join in?



Here’s what Stephanie read in 2017:

Holding by Graham Norton

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

Able Seacat Simon: The Wartime Hero of the High Seas by Lynne Barrett-Lee

Complete Short Stories by Elizabeth Taylor

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Nation’s Favourite Poems

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith

A Year in the Life of a Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty


Headhunter by Jo Nesbo

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Miss You by Kate Eberlen

House of Names by Colm Toibin

Street Cat Bob by James Bowen

The Double Clue by Agatha Christie

Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Gender Lie by Bella Forrest

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Five on Kirrin Island Again by Enid Blyton