February update: 12 challenges to celebrate the year I will turn 50

I will take on 12 extra challenges in 2021 to mark the year I am turning 50.
I will take on 12 extra challenges in 2021 to mark the year I am turning 50.

Update For February

Last month I announced yet another challenge for 2021. As I turn 50 this year, I want to add 12 more challenges for this year, One per month.  And each and every one of these challenges will centre around the number 50. I asked for your ideas of what these challenges and special activities should do. And you sent me your ideas. Some are more of a sporty and adventurous nature, others are different and focus on books, music, and other passions of mine. And as January saw me crack the 'being able to do 50 push-ups in one go' challenge, I decided on a book one for February. You asked about my 50 favorite books. And here is my list (an ever-changing list, I must admit).


My 50 Favorite Books

Here are my 50 books. Well, actually there are 60 books in this list as five are German books and five are cook books. And I must admit the clustering is a bit random and the line between some of the categories is blurred. But so what, have a look at the list and I hope you find some inspiration for your next trip to your favorite bookshop. Or get them as an audiobook for the next long journey in the car, the next long hike, the next time to chill out in the sun.




Adventure books

  • Tim Butcher: Blood River - A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart
  • Wilfried Thesinger: A Vanished World
  • Alexandre David-Néel: My Journey to Lhasa
  • Ilija Trojanow: The Collector of Worlds
  • Joe Simpson: Touching the Void



Travel Books

  • William Dalrymple: City of Djinns
  • Jamie McDonald: Adventure Man
  • Anna McNuff: The Pants of Perspective
  • Sam Miller: Delhi - Adventures in a mega city
  • Eliza Griswold: The Tenth Parallel - Dispatches from the Faultline Between Christianity and Islam



Fiction Books

  • Rohinton Mistry: Family matters
  • Jim Dodge: Stone Junction
  • Salman Rushdie: Haroun and the Sea of Stories
  • Elsa Morante: History
  • T.C. Boyle: Watermusic



Non-Fiction Books

  • Victor KLemperer: LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii
  • Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • William Dalrymple: Nine Lives
  • Edward Hooper: The River
  • Jeremy Scahill: Dirty Wars




  • Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • Palden Gyatso: Fire Under the Snow
  • Paul Neruda: Memoirs (German Title: Ich bekenne ich habe gelebt)
  • Alexander Maitland: Wilfred Thesiger - The Life of the Great Explorer
  • Breyten Breytenbach: True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist




  • Michael Leunig: When I talk to You
  • Khalil Gibran: The Prophet
  • Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • Rabindranath Tagore: Gitanjali
  • Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry



Children’s books (which I also really enjoy)

  • Andy Stanton: The Mr. Gum Series
  • Norton Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Morris Gleitzman: Boy Overboard
  • Julia Donaldson: The Gruffalo
  • J.K. Rowling: The Harry Potter Series



Novels that taught me more about places I lived in or visited

  • Rian Malan: My Traitor’s Heart
  • Giles Foden: The Last King of Scotland
  • Monica Ali: Brick Lane
  • Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance
  • Moses Isegawa :Abyssinian Chronicles 



Non-fiction that taught me more about places I lived or visited

  • Allister Sparks: The Mind of South Africa
  • Jill Jolliffe: Balibo
  • Gordon Weiss: The Cage
  • Amelia Gentleman: Windrush Betrayal - Exposing the Hostile Environment
  • Bruce Chatwin: Songlines



Books I read for work

  • John Paul Lederach: The Moral Imagination - The Art and Soul of Building Peace
  • David Peter Stroh: Systems Thinking for Social Change
  • James Dunn: East Timor - A Rough Passage to Independence
  • Adam Kahane: Solving Tough Problems
  • Philip Gourevitch: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families



Cook books

  • Meera Sodha: East - 120 Easy and Delicious Asian-inspired Vegetarian and Vegan recipes
  • Nisha Katona: The Spice Tree - Indian Cooking Made Beautifully Simple
  • Yotam Ottolenghi: Simple - Yotam Ottolenghi’s award-winning recipes are always a celebration: an unforgettable combination of abundance, taste and surprise.
  • Sabrina Ghayour: Persiana - Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond
  • Ravinder Bhogal: Jikoni - Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen



German books

  • Heinrich Böll: Ansichten eines Clowns
  • Hermann Hesse: Der Steppenwolf
  • Berthold Brecht: Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder
  • Günther Grass: Die Blechtrommel
  • Frank Schätzing: Der Schwarm



Post by Bjoern Eser. Bjoern is the founder of The Active Amputee.