Byte of Prevention Blog

by Camille Stell |

2019 Reading Challenge: Part II

 “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.” 
Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

In 2019, I set a New Year’s resolution – a reading challenge to read 52 books in a year. By December 31, I had achieved my goal – 52 books in a year. By comparison, Stephen King reveals that he reads about 80 books a year.

Without knowing the total books read in a year, we get some clues into the reading habits of some famous people who credit a portion of their success to books. In December, President Obama listed his favorite 19 books of 2019 and the year prior he listed his 29 favorite books of the year. Bill Gates recommended 19 books from 2019. My friend and writing colleague, Jay Reeves, averages 24 books a year, reading 2-4 books at one time, a habit I keep as well. My writing coach, Daphne Gray-Grant reads 52 books each year and publishes book lists in June and December.

I discussed more details of my reading challenge in Post 1.

I’m in my fourth year of creating a reading challenge.

Here’s a quick recap.

  • In 2016, my goal was 52 books. I read 53 books and 13,064 pages.
  • In 2017, my goal was 30 books. I read 38 books and 11,715 pages.
  • In 2018, my goal was 30 books. I read 47 books and 13,018 pages.

In 2019, my goal was 52 books. I met my reading goal, completing 52 books and 15,027 pages.

Here is the list of books I read in 2019:


Finding Oprah’s Roots, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Fierce Loyalty, Sarah Robinson

Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules of Success, Claire Shipman, Katty Kay


Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Patti Callahan

Benny & Shrimp, Katarina Mazetti, Sarah Death (translator)

Body Surfing, Anita Shreve

Just Rewards, Barbara Taylor Bradford

A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash

Maranatha Road, Heather Bell Adams

Mistress of the Ritz, Melanie Benjamin

Small, Great Things, Jodi Picoult

Swimming Between Worlds, Elaine Neil Orr

The Cactus, Sarah Haywood

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

The Hours, Michael Cunningham

The Last Juror, John Grisham

The Litigators, John Grisham

The Obituary Writer, Ann Hood

The President is Missing, Bill Clinton, James Patterson

The Reckoning, John Grisham

The Sisters Hemingway, Annie England Noblin

The Wife, Meg Wolitzer

Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens


Food and Hospitality

Biltmore Traditions, Biltmore Staff

Southern Cakes, Nancie McDermott, Becky Luigart-Stayner (photographs)

Tar Heel Traveler Eats, Scott Mason


Health and Wellness

Food Freedom Forever, Melissa Hartwig

It Starts with Food, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig

Whole 30 Day by Day, Melissa Hartwig



Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, Susan Smith Blakely

Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law, Gindi Eckel Vincent, Mary B. Cranston



Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law, Preet Bharara



Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way, Kamin Mohammadi

Educated, Tara Westover

Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance

Kind is the New Classy, Candace Cameron Bure

Life in Motion, Misty Copeland

Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years, David Litt

The 1997 Masters, Tiger Woods

This is Me, Chrissy Metz

Writing My Wrongs, Shaka Senghor



Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs, Pete Souza

Obama: The Historic Presidency of Barack Obama – 2,920 Days, Mark Greenburg


Professional Development

How to Skimm Your Life, Danielle Weisberg, Carly Zakin

The Designing Your Life Workbook: A Framework for Building a Life You Can Thrive In, Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter, Celeste Headlee


Race Relations

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo


Short Stories

Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris



Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David L. Weaver-Zercher

Why Religion: A Personal Story, Elaine Pagels



Tar Heel Traveler, Scott Mason


True Crime

Murder on Birchleaf Drive: The True Story of the Michelle Young Murder Case, Steven B. Epstein



By now you know I use Goodreads to track my challenge. Goodreads is a mobile app (and website) that includes book reviews, recommendations, social sharing with friends and the ability to create a catalogue of books you have read, are currently reading or want to read.

I use the app’s Reading Challenge to track my progress. It is also nice to have one place to track recommendations to my reading list. Goodreads also provides statistics about my reading challenge.

I was in good company with my goal. More than 4.4 million readers joined the Challenge and collectively read 55.9 million books with 696,000 readers successfully completing their Challenge. The average books pledged per reader were 64.

The shortest book I read was 89 pages (Fierce Loyalty) and the longest was 771 pages (The Goldfinch). My average book length was 288 pages. The most popular book I read was Educated by Tara Westover (read by 615k readers). The highest rated of my books was “Tar Heel Traveler: New Journeys Across North Carolina” by Scott Mason. I was pleased that a book promoting our beautiful state did so well. It speaks to Mason’s ability to tell stories whether as the Tarheel Traveler on the Raleigh television station, WRAL-TV, or in his books about food and travel in North Carolina.

I look forward to hearing about your reading adventures when we connect this year.

Camille Stell is the President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at or 800.662.8843.

About the Author

Camille Stell

Camille Stell is President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting and Services, offering succession planning, business development coaching, keynote presentations and more. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at or 800.662.8843.

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