I enjoyed last year’s book challenge so much, and it really re-invigorated my love of reading, so I have decided to do it all again this year!
Last year I managed a total of 45 books (including some non-challenge entries) and I’m not sure whether or not I’ll achieve the same this year, but who knows?
The official list my dad and I are using is here, and I’ll be adding to this list as I go along.
Category: A book set on a different planet
Book 1: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
This was a great read (technically I read it over the Christmas holidays before 2018 started, but it didn’t fit into any of last year’s categories so I am counting it here!).
Also technically it’s not actually set on a different planet, although it’s set on several fictional planets inside a virtual reality video game….
It was a great and easy read – littered with 80’s pop culture references and an interesting enough plot to keep me turning the pages. I imagine it would be far more interesting to those who are more familiar with 80’s computer games and Dungeons and Dragons players.
Category: A book set at sea
Book 2: The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
This was chosen as a) I keep meaning to read some Hemingway, and b) I’m finally going on holiday to Cuba after many years planning to do so, and wanted to get a flavour of it!
I really enjoyed this book, it was short and intense, but very rich and moving. A great read, although the scenes with the sharks did nothing to calm my nerves about swimming in the sea while I’m there!
(Also totally unplanned but it seems the first two books I chose for this year were both written by an Ernest!)
Category: A childhood classic you’ve never read
Book 3: An Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye
No idea if this was a classic, but it caught my eye and I rather liked it. A quick and easy read, and one I may purchase at some point to read to my own children!
Category: A book you meant to read in 2017, but didn’t get to
Book 4: I am, I am, I am, – Maggie O’Farrell
After really enjoying last year’s book “This must be the place” by Maggie O’Farrell, I was really keen to read this one, especially after a friend read an excerpt in the paper and said it looked really good. I was keen to read it last year, but as it was a new release, I had to wait around 3 months for it to be available at the library, and therefore didn’t get to it in 2017.
It finally got to be my turn at the library on Saturday, and after picking it up I simply DEVOURED it over the weekend – it was BRILLIANT and fascinating and un-put-downable.
I highly recommend it – it’s a memoir of her life, told very unconventionally through 17 brushes with death (not unlike my blog post from 2016 on “Things that have tried to kill me“). It rather makes me want to try and expand on my blog post and write my own story in a similar way, a chapter for each event, but sadly it would seem a bit copy-cat, even if I had the idea before the book came out!
Anyway, I utterly loved it, and was gripped the whole way through.
Category: A bool with characters that are twins
Book 5: My life next door – Huntley Fitzpatrick
This was a fun, adolescent love story, though slightly odd at the end.
Category: A book from a celebrity book club
Book 6: The weight of silence – Heather Gudenkauf
This was a good, easy thriller, 2 little girls go missing in the woods, and I liked how each chapter was told by a different character so you got a number of different perspectives on the story. Quick to read, and fairly compelling, I enjoyed it a lot.
It’s not quite a celebrity book club, but it had a sticker on it from a tv book club, so I went with that!
Category: A book about mental health
Book 7: I’d die for you and other stories – F. Scott Fitzgerald
This was a case of judging a book by it’s cover. I spotted this in a bookstore and was struck by how beautiful the cover was, and immediately bought it. I liked The Great Gatsby, and figured I should read some of his other works. A few of these stories were good, but a lot were fairly mediocre – I suspect it’s because they were unfinished and unpublished, either because the writer wasn’t done with them, or because they weren’t all that good. A few of the stories I skipped altogether as they were too fragmented.
Overall it was a bit of a slog to read, and I wouldn’t recommend it, even though I do still love the cover….
Ok, and then I also read this book, which fits much better into the category, so I am leaving them both here:
Broken – Daniel Clay
This one was really interesting, but also DARK. And a lot more so than I originally thought it would be….
Also about a week after I finished this, while at yoga, I suddenly realised that it’s a modern re-telling of To kill a mockingbird! Bit grim, but very similar plotlines!
Category: A book with the time of day in the title
Book 8: The Bay at Midnight – Diane Chamberlain
Oddly, I also have an issue with the cover on this one – none of the characters are as young as the cover picture suggests, making it quite misleading (the youngest character is 8, and the main one is 12).
That said this one was another quick and easy mystery type genre. Not especially noteworthy but an easy read. It was a bit “meh”.
Blindness – Jose Saramago
I was planning to find a category for this to go into after I’d read it, but after struggling through about half of it I just gave up – this one wasn’t for me, and I gave up on it
Category: A book by an author of a different ethnicity to you
Book 9: The thing around your neck – Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
A very nice set of short stories, and makes me look at a few things from a different perspective. Also makes me want to read more African literature.
Category: A book with alliteration in the title
Book 10: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman
This doesn’t really fit the category, but I couldn’t think of where else to put it. It was funny, dark, and quite different, but I enjoyed it a lot. A nice quick read.
Category: A book about a villain or antihero
Book 11: Beastly Tales – Vikram Seth
Short, fun and silly – and mostly about the bad guys! Reminds me of some of Roald Dahl’s nasty rhymes and similar.
Category: A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
Book 12: The Ocean at the end of the lane – Neil Gaiman
I must say generally I struggle with Neil Gaiman – I’ve read one or two of his, and none really gelled with me apart from the ones he co-wrote with Sir Terry Pratchett, and mostly I loved those because of Terry’s humour, which is right up my street (although I have promised to give American Gods a go).
This book was good though. It was written through the eyes of a 7-year old, and he has perfectly captured the voice of his narrator. I found the story unnecessarily scary, with a lot of Stephen King vibes, and exactly the kind of nightmare that would have kept me terrified and unable to sleep for weeks if I had read this as a child, – I’d have been pretty traumatised I think, as this is exactly the kind of thing I find very scary. However the writing is beautiful and very eloquent in places, and the mysterious Hempstock women are brilliant and intriguing characters, and the description of the ocean is gorgeous.
Category: A book with an ugly cover
Book 13: The Last anniversary – Liane Moriarty
This one was a huge disappointment. I previously read another of hers, The Husband’s Secret, which I enjoyed, and which had really well-drawn characters, so was looking forward to this one. In contrast, the characters in this one were all largely unlikeable and shallow, and the plot was lazy and not very interesting. The most interesting thing about it was the fact that it was set on a small island in the Hawkesbury river near Sydney, and my aunt once lived on a similar island, but that was literally the only interesting part of the book.
Category: A book by two authors
Book 14: The boy in the suitcase – Agneete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol
I originally picked this one for the Nordic Noir category, but changed my mind when I realised it had 2 authors, so will need to find another Nordic Noir book later.
It was good, strong plot, and good characters, though I disliked the portrayal of the aid worker character as an adrenaline junkie desperate to “save” people.
Category: A book with an LGBTQ+ Protagonist
Book 15: Behind her eyes – Sarah Pinborough
This was gripping, dark, and with 2 VERY unexpected twists at the end that I did not see coming. I only chose the category at the end, and apologies to anyone out there reading this post who might want to read the book, as the category I have chosen slightly gives away one of the major plot twists….
But overall very enjoyable!
Category: A book you borrowed
Book 16: The Girl Before – J. P. Delaney
Category: A book with a weather element in the title
Book 17: Instructions for a heatwave, Maggie O’Farrell