50 Books by 50 Years Reading Challenge



If you have read my post, 50 by 50: 50 Things to Learn, Accomplish, and Experience Before I Turn 50, you know that one of the items on my list was to read 50 books. I am now 50 and these are the 50 books I read for my 50 Books by 50 Years Reading Challenge.

For more book ideas:

2019 Summer Must Read Books


50 Books by 50 Years Reading Challenge


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I started my reading challenge with reading goals in 5 categories:  15 fiction, 10 Biography or History, 10 Business or Blogging, 5 Other Non-Fiction, and 10 Wildcard books. I mostly stuck with the category goals, but am off by one or two in some of the categories. The star ratings are out of 5 stars. I put a box around my favorite books!!

I also tried to do the challenge on the cheap. I bought a Kindle Unlimited membership, read the books that came with my Amazon Prime membership, and used the public library. This quickly became tedious as both the Kindle Unlimited Books and Prime books sometimes were not that good. AND I had to reserve books through the library, wait for them to become available and then read or listen FAST! 

So, I started buying books from Amazon and my husband coincidentally bought an Audible subscription. I LOVE that audible subscription. Awesome books in the car every day!! I can’t recommend it enough.

Fiction Books:

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

A woman attends her finance’s funeral on what was supposed to be the day of their wedding. A mysterious woman contacts her and tells her that he is not dead. What should she do? [more info]


Sisters, One, Two, Three by Nancy Star

Three sisters, one mom, a past tragedy, and lots and lots of secrets.  [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

Walk into Silence by Susan McBride

A seemingly depressed housewife disappears. At first detective Jo Larsen believes she has left her controlling husband, then her body is found.  [more info]

3 1/2 STARS

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

A World War II novel set in England. Lord Westerham’s young daughter Phoebe finds a dead soldier on their estate. The Westerham family and their neighbors each carry many secrets about their involvements in the war. Not quite Downton Abby, but still fun.  [more info]


Beach Lawyer by Avery Duff

Legal thriller about a lawyer who loses his job after crossing one of his firms’ partners. Language, sex, and violence too rough for my tastes.  [more info]


Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale

The sequel to “Everything We Keep” told from the two different perspectives of the same man who lived in a dissociative fugue state for 6 1/2 years.  [more info]


The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon

A 10 year old boy is introduced to a book which alters the course of his life and embroils him in a life of mystery.  [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

#17 in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I have read them all. They are so sweet and refreshing.  [more info]


2nd Chance by James Patterson

I was excited to listen to this book on my last trip. A women’s murder club – what could be better? Even though this series is very well reviewed, I found it the characters to be terribly cliched and the “twist at the end” to be kind of dumb. [more info]


The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richmond

I found this book part delightful and part disturbing. The main character meets the grandmother she never knew and writes the grandmother’s story. I loved the granddaughter and the plot that surrounded her, but I could not understand glamorizing the life of a courtesan (the grandmother). [more info]

3 1/2 STARS

Crossing the Horizon by Notaro

A historical fiction account of the race to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic in a plane.  [more info]


The Silent Corner by Koontz

Well written, but in my quest to find a believable female detective (not a woman acting like a man), I did not find it here  [more info]

3 1/2 STARS

Orphan Train by Baker

Loved this book, which follows the developing friendship of two unlikely cohorts. The characters are amazing and interesting to watch unfold. It is historical fiction, so I also learned about a part of history that I was not familiar with. [more info]


The High Tide Club by Andrews

Fun beach read about family secrets, murder, old friendships, and trying to rectify the past. [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

A Man Called Ove by Backman

This is the best fiction book I read during the challenge and the only book that made me cry at the end. Extremely charming and witty! [more info]


The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

A fun thriller. I did not figure out the plot twist and that is the definition of a good thriller.  [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

Biography and History:

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Larson

Rosemary Kennedy was a child with developmental disabilities amongst a family of wealthy, high achievers. The Kennedy family traveled a path from shame to advocacy. Fascinating reading about their journey and the history of treatment for those with developmental disabilities and for the mentally ill.  [more info]


Truman: The Man Who Divided the World by Jack Steinberg

A brief history of President Truman – the man who oversaw the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.


Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

An autobiography about the author’s month of delusions and seizures and the medical mystery that was ultimately solved. [more info] 


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

I live an hour from Pawhuska, OKlahoma and I had NO IDEA about this history of the area. This book is jaw-dropping. It chronicles this systematic murder of the Osage Indians in bids to gain their individual mineral rights to the oil reserve on their land in the early 1920s. [more info]


The Incredible True Story of Blondy Baruti by Baruti

Fascinating read about the journey of a boy from the Congo to Hollywood. Blondy experiences violence in his country, poverty, relatives who take advantage of him, homelessness, and injury, but still he preservers and never gives up on his faith or his journey.  [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

Fun read about the kidnapping, crimes, and trial  of Patty Hearst. The biography is “unauthorized,” but extremely well researched. I was a child when these events took place and I had NO IDEA that all of this had occured including the significant violence. Fascinating! [more info]


Finish First by Hamilton

The Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Scott Hamilton takes on the belief that competition is bad and encourages us all to bring our absolute best. I listened to the audio book, which is read by Scott, himself! [more info]


The King and Queen of Malibu by Randall

A book for anyone who has driven up and down the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu, CA and wondered about the history of the area and all of the beauty that surrounds it.   [more info]


Shoe Dog by Phillip Knight

My absolute favorite audio book EVER!!! Phillip Knight, the founder of Nike takes the reader from the beginnings of his company in his parents’ basement to the day Nike went public, sharing the entire crazy and gritty ride. The audio book reader is phenomenal!!!  [more info]


The Boys in the Boat by Brown

Super interesting telling of a how nine working class boys from the west coast beat, not only all the east coast rowing teams, at the sport of rowing (a traditionally upper class east coast sport), but also won the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. [MORE INFO]


4 1/2 STARS

Blogging and Business:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This is one of my favorite books from this challenge. I listened to it on a long car drive and the anecdotes were incredible. So much more than just information, also inspiring. [more info]


Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner

This book is also filled with anecdotes that I listened to on a car drive. Interesting, but not as fascinating as The Power of Habit.  [more info]


Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Not excited about this book. Felt like the author was yelling at me the entire time – like one long used car commercial. A few good points, but the advice is very vague. Not written to take notes and implement. [more info]


Smart but Scattered by Dawson and Guare

Insightful book which helps determine which executive skills are strengths and which are weaknesses. It contains downloadable charts and practical advice for creating a plan to improve the skills that are weaknesses. [more info]


Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

I did not love this book like I did “The Power of Habit.” I also listened to it, but it was harder to follow in the audio format – might have preferred a printed copy to take notes in. [more info]


The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising

I used this book to run my first ever facebook ads and I will continue to use it as a reference. It was a bit wordy in parts, but I learned a what I needed to know to run a facebook ad campaign.  [more info]

3 1/2 STARS

The Essential Habits of 6-Figure Bloggers by Miller

I bookmarked and highlighted this book like crazy. If you are starting out in blogging or would like to hear from some gals who are really successful at this blogging gig, this is a MUST READ!   [more info]


Other Nonfiction:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Embarrassed I had not read this book before. It was AWESOME! The “true crime” genre that I love so much began with this book. Capote interviews everyone connected to a murdered family in Holcomb, Kansas. MUST READ.  [more info]


Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey? by Wecht and Bosworth

I learned many things about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey that I did not previously know. Such a frustrating case. A botched investigation and an uncooperative family contribute to the frustration.  [more info]


Similar Transactions by S. R. Reynolds

The author investigates and solves a 20 year old unsolved disappearance case and along the way learns of the perpetrator’s “similar transactions.”  [more info]

4  1/2 STARS

Red Notice by Bill Browder

An American moves to Russia and begins to invest in their companies. At first he and his investors reap vast profits, but then the Russian government gets involved and he and his colleagues are forced to flee and his attorney is murdered. I was dumbstruck at the lengths the Russians would go to to get what they wanted. This is NONFICTION!!  [more info]


Bad Blood by Carryrou

“Bad Blood” tells of a scandal right up there with Enron and Bernie Madoff. Those deceived included former cabinet members and some of the wealthiest people in the United States. [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

Killer Among Us by Charles Bosworth

A beautiful young mother is killed in her kitchen in 1992 while her husband and children are away on a trip. This story chronicles her family, the crime, and the three trials that were required to convict the murderer, the victim’s husband.  [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

Full Report by Aaron Bucy

A small town Texas police officer shares his stories about life on the job, whether amusing, serious, dangerous, or tragic.  [more info]

3 1/2 STARS

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

Could not put this book down – a priest’s account of his work with gang members in Los Angeles. Father Boyle tells of founding Homeboy Industries to employ the gang members and the ups and downs of living in the poorest parish in LA. [more info]


The Spider Network by David Enrich

Very intricate account of how a math genius, traders, brokers, and bankers conspired to manipulate an interest rate LIBOR to enrich their own banks and selves. Also shows how justice is not netted out equally as the math genius takes the fall for everyone. [more info]


I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

The subtitle of the book “One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” says it all. Michelle McNamara along with her crime fighting friends from her website set out to find the man responsible for more than 50 murders and rapes in California. [more info]



Clevenger Gold by S. E. Swapp

This book is advertised as a “true story,” but I think it is more historical fiction. I was not wild about it, although it has tons of good reviews. A family’s cross-country journey in a covered wagon including murders and some lost gold.  [more info]


I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry

This book is super funny, as is most everything written by Dave Barry. It was not 100% clean, but was worth the price for the colonoscopy and dance recital essays. (Happy to report, that I too have crawled through the “Colossal Colon.”  [more info]

4 1/2 STARS

Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days by Judith Viorst

If you ever wonder what happened to Alexander of the “Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day” book, his mom is here to tell you. He grew up and brought his wife and 3 children back to live with Mom and Dad while his house was being remodeled.  [more info]


For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

I loved this book. I listened to it in the car and it kept me in stitches. Jen Hatmaker reads it herself. It is like she is in the car with you. She speaks a lot of truth to the Christian community. (Some things I can’t believe she says. Others are so right on, it is painful.) [more info]


The Happiness Dare by Lee

I made the mistake of getting the audio book of this title because I wanted to stop the car and underline things every two minutes! So encouraging and a unique concept that Christians are allowed to be happy! I am going to be ordering the paperback.  [more info]


Girl Meets Change by Strong

I am researching the topic of change for a project. This book was a bit dry, but I did get some material and ideas for my project.  [more info]

3 1/2 STARS

Above Suspicion by Joe Sharkey

The bizarre tale of an FBI agent who could have easily gotten away with murder, but chose to confess because he knew it was the right thing to do. A movie based on the book has been filmed and will be released soon. [more info]


This challenge has been a blessing to my life and I invite you to read along with me. (You don’t have to have a 50th birthday looming to participate.)

Also, please comment with what you are reading and your recommendations as I complete the 50 Books by 50 Years Reading Challenge.

Want to see what else is on my list?  50 Things to Learn, Accomplish, and Experience Before I Turn 50.

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