I started this challenge in the early months of this year to reignite my passion for reading. I had found myself spending more time in front of the television than immersed in the pages of books which has always been such a big part of my life. This challenge has certainly inspired my love of reading again and also has led me to find books that I would not have otherwise read.
I have read 46 books this year!! I am so happy with that accomplishment considering how busy this year has been! That is only 6 books short!
So while I have not technically completed the challenge within the 1 year time frame I will read the remaining books in January.
Popsugar has released their 2016 reading challenge list and whilst I am not going to take up the challenge again, I encourage you to have a go in 2016 as it really has been a lot of fun and pushed my literary boundaries!
I have such a long list of books to read now that are inspired by this challenge such as the remaining books in the Neapolitan Novels Series, The Rosie Effect (sequel to The Rosie Project), more adventures of Cormoran Strike, and everything else written by John Green! I can’t wait to get through the remaining 6 books and get stuck into these.
This time I also had a first. It was the first time this year I started reading a book and didn’t finish. Interestingly enough it was for the category ‘a book you started but never finished’. I picked up The Hobbit again which I hated so much when I was young that I couldn’t even get past half way. Sorry to all who love it! I thought that as I was trying so many different things that I would give it another go but this time I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. I’m just not into it!
Moving forward, here are the books I did manage to read in December:
A book that became a movie: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
This book was lent to me by a friend at work and it is epic. With a deadline to finish this challenge maybe it wasn’t the smartest choice at over 500 pages! It was however, an interesting read full of ambition, power and love. The story begins when Mary Boleyn enters the court of King Henry VIII and becomes a pawn in her family’s relentless attempt to rise. Mary is torn by her love for Henry and her family’s ambition, particularly her rivalry with her sister Anne. The complexity of the relationships within this novel is so cleverly woven together and the way the themes are explored give great insight into the European court and the consequences of love and power.
A book by an author you’ve never read before: My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, Book One) by Elena Ferrante
I am not sure what to say about this book. Unlike anything else and so beautifully written I could have just continued reading it. Lucky there are other books in the series to get stuck into! I love the way the story is told and the honest emotion that is given from the narrator. I felt like I was growing up alongside the characters as the feelings became so relatable even if the situation was so foreign.
A book you can finish in a day: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
I couldn’t wait to read this book! I had to wait though until uni was over as I knew it would be the book I would place in this category and I wanted to make sure I could thoroughly enjoy my day of reading. That I did! This book provides such complex character development and insight into the thoughts and emotion of young men as they make their way through life as told from a retrospective narration. It is a story about friendship and about life. Tony is forced to reflect on his life and work out the challenges on his own through which he learns a lot about the people he used to know and more about himself. This book reads so beautifully that is was not a challenge to read through in a day and I only wish it went on a little longer.
A book written by an author with your same initials: Can We Live Here? By Sarah Alderson
Finding an author with the same initials as you can be a very challenging task in itself. I searched and searched and realised that I had a very limited choice! I came across Sarah Alderson, a young adult fiction writer, however I also found this particular book of hers which is really more my kind of read. It is an autobiographical account of her decision to quit her job, become a writer and travel around the world with her husband and 3year old daughter in search of a new lifestyle and a new place to call home. The book is made up of accounts from her blog and covers about a 5 year period of her life. I found her style of writing really engaging and I was quite interested in her perspectives of life within other cultures, particularly Bali. She highlighted some very broad topics and overall I found it made me question a few things about the kind of lifestyle I would like to strive for.
A book that takes place in your hometown: Zigzag Street by Nick Earls
So I contemplated reading a book from my actual hometown, but considering that is a very small country town in NSW that no author probably has even visited, I decided to choose something set in my adopted home town of Brisbane. I honestly wasn’t expecting to like this book and I’m glad to say I was completely wrong. Earls talks about what essentially is just an ordinary guys life in Brisbane in the 90s but he does it with such writing ability! The way this story reads is just a pleasure and I found that even though I didn’t feel I could relate to characters themselves I could relate to the everyday feelings he talked about, those that you get when you are just stuck in a little bit of a rut unsure of where life will take you next. It was also fun to read a book and understand all the references! Very Australian and I am glad I chose it to fill this category as I guarantee I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.
A book of short stories: The Love Of A Good Woman by Alice Munro
So I had never read a book of short stories before and after reading this I believe that was the correct decision. I just don’t like short stories. They finish too quickly and don’t give you the time to dive into the characters or even to provide resolution. This book won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 2013 due to the style of fiction that explores a strange side of love, both of passion and of chaos. What stands out for me in this book is the way she chooses to write particular passages. She so selectively uses great detail and then opts to leave things out for the reader to piece it together. I can’t say that I liked the stories though, only that I found the way in which she told them quite clever. I found the relationships hard to understand and the characters unlikable as Munro focused on a darker and selfish side of human nature.