I've never taken part in reading challenges before but this year I decided to give it a go. I've started with those which are simply about measuring quantity and have signed up to two where I am to read a minimum of 50 this year. One challenge is on Mumsnet and the other on Goodreads.
Both challenges have encouraged me to start reviewing books. I've always been an active participant in discussions at my book club, but producing a written review is a new experience. I've started with brief ones on Mumsnet and have slowly built up to longer ones on Goodreads.
The community of readers on Mumsnet has proven a genuine bonus; its been an ideal opportunity for getting to know regular posters and identifying where there is a taste overlap. My to-be-read pile has already grown massively through my participation.
Whilst fooling around on Pinterest, I stumbled across one of those lists where you tick off against a variety of criteria. As I read, I realised I could already tick a good half of the 26 listed criteria, although one stuck out as a serious fail: to read a book you were meant to read in school, but didn't. Now I'm a quick reader and so read everything I was meant to read in school. But its a good list, containing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue; its also a fun list with one criteria being that you should read a book about a lion, a witch, or a wardrobe! So I shall give it a go. For my school read, I've decided to select Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' as I didn't quite finish it. I also rather like the symmetry as I am currently reading 'Hyperion' by Dan Simmons - a science fiction novel with the same pilgrims telling their tales on the journey structure as the Tales.
My progress so far is ...
1. A book you own but haven't read: 'Love's executioner & other tales of phychotherapy' by Irwin Yalom - which I bought for my training course two years ago but only read last month. Review
2. A book that was made into a movie:
3. A book you pick solely because of the cover: 'Flight Behaviour' by Barbara Kingsolver - loved the butterflies! Review
4. A book your friend loves: 'The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August' by Claire North - recommended by my dear friend Tracy and an excellent read. Review
5. A book published this year: 'A Place called Winter' by Patrick Gale. See my previous blog post.
6. A book by an author you've never read before: 'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - fantastic, highly recommended! Review
7. A book by an author you love: 'Casual Vacancy' by J K Rowling - I didn't love this book, sadly. My notes says I found it dour - I do remember that I really didn't like any of the characters and that never bodes well, does it?
8. A book at the bottom of your to be read pile: '1Q84 books 1, 2 & 3' by Haruki Murakami - these have been been there since publication; its very long, but very good! Review
9. A book with a colour in the title: 'Olive Kitteridge: A novel in Stories' by Elizabeth Strout. I was interested in the format: a series of short stories about people in Olive's world, mostly with some overlap with her, even if just in passing. The format appealed but the book - sadly - not so much.
10. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: 'The Cat's Table' by Michael Ondatje - for the parts based in Sri Lanka. The story of a young boy's journey from Ceylon/Sri Lanka to the UK by ship to be reunited with his mother. He is sat at the "cat's table" - the worst table - with two other young boys and an interesting array of characters. The book focuses - largely - on the voyage and the adventures of the boys, with brief forays into their past and future. I really enjoyed this book and it chimed with my memories of ship travel at the same age. I also love a first person narrator and the story had a lovely combination of real drama, together with beautifully drawn tales of the everyday.
11. A book you started but never finished:
12. A book with a lion, a witch or a wardrobe:
13. A book with a female heroine: 'Monstrous Regiment' by Terry Pratchett - loaded with female heroines! This was my first ever Pratchett. I was hooked from the opening "about the book" where it talks about how the wearing of trousers changes everything. I really enjoyed the book, it was fun, it raced along, but there was a serious point being made without being heavy handed about it.
14. A book set in the summer: 'The Summer Book' by Tove Jansson. Summary & comment
15. A book of poems:
16. A book you learned about because of this challenge:
17. A book that will make you smarter:
18. A book with a blue cover: 'The Ocean at the end of the Lane' by Neil Gaiman. There's something about Neil Gaimon's work that draws me - not sure what, but this is the second book of his I've enjoyed without really being able to say why.
19. A book you were supposed to read in school, but didn't:
20. A book "everyone" but you has read: 'The Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins - which I genuinely did read because I felt left out - Summary & review
21. A book with a great first line: 'The Shock of the Fall' by Nathan Filer. The line : "I should say I am not a nice person." Sadly, the book was a disappointment, despite coming highly recommended and being a Costa prize winner.
22. A book with pictures:
23. A book from a library:
24. A book you loved - read it again:
25. A book that is more than 10 years old: 'The Hog's Back Mystery' by Freeman Willis Crofts. Review
26. A book based on a true story:
So, eleven criteria still to cover and - like the Chaucer - I'm already mentally allocating potential options, which is a real change in rhythm as I usually pick whatever happens to catch my eye. I'll update on my I progress.
Do you want to read along with me? Or do you have reading challenges to share?