2019 Book Challenge

3rd year in a row, my dad and I are doing the Popsugar Reading Challenge.

Here’s how I’m doing so far:

Category – A book becoming a movie in 2019

Book 1: Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Ok, so first book of the year, and I couldn’t find a suitable category for it to go in. Technically it is  is not being made into a movie as it is already a brilliant TV series but the book was fantastic and I really enjoyed it – interesting characters and it kept me guessing to the end.

Category – A book about a family

Book 2: The Lost Man – Jane Harper

Another fab book by Jane Harper – I loved her first novel, The Dry, and her second novel Force of Nature was ok, but this one was as good as the first. Gripping and well-written, it also kept me guessing and the descriptions of the Australian outback are brutal and very vivid. An excellent read.

Category – A book featuring an amateur detective

Book 3: Shelter – Harlan Coben

This was just utterly awful in every way. A dreadful book. Don’t read it.

Category – A book with a two-word title

Book 4: Spook Street – Mick Herron

The 4th book in his spy series, and I have loved every one so far – all of them are fab – quick and easy reads with likeable and funny characters.

Category: A book about someone with a superpower

Book 5: How to stop time – Matt Haig

This one was ok – not the best book I’ve ever read, but certainly not the worst, and DEFINITELY not as bad as a previous book of his I have read (The Radleys, which I hated). It was an interesting reflection on what it would be like to live forever, or at least for several centuries, and the unique pain and sadness that would go along with that. It certainly made me think.

Category: A book told from multiple character points of view

Book 6: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

This was recommended by several people – a strange murder mystery in which the narrator wakes up in the body of different guests at a party, reliving each day over and over again while he attempts to solve the crime. It was VERY weird, a bit too long in my opinion – there’s a lot of plot, some of which was a bit unnecessary and it got very confusing. I slogged through it, and it was ok, but not quite my cup of tea really.

Though it is perfect for a Netflix series and I would probably enjoy it more on tv (it’s a little bit Black Mirror-esque)

Category: A book recommended by a celebrity you admire

Book 7: How not to be a boy – Robert Webb

I saw Robert Webb promoting this on TV and thought it sounded really interesting. It was a fantastic read – a memoir with a difference, as he goes back to his childhood to try to unpick the moments when things had damaged him. It’s a fascinating reflection on feminism and toxic masculinity which I found helpful as it’s a topic of interest to me at the moment, as is of course also very zeitgeist-y!

Category: A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover

Book 8: What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

This was a fun and frivolous chick-lit style book. Easy read, interesting but nothing to write home about.

Category: A book with a plant in the title or on the cover

Book 9: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart – Holly Ringland

While I loved some parts of this book (the flower theme running through it, the elements of fire and water woven into the narrative) I also found parts of it too fantastical, and the author clearly doesn’t like men, which came across as bitter and left all of the male characters rather flat and one-dimensional.

Category: A novel based on a true story

Book 10: A really good day – Ayelet Waldman

This was fascinating and interesting, lots to think about and dwell on, but also the author was extremely irritating and came across as a neurotic, paranoid woman which rather affected the narrative voice and ruined it a little for me.

Category: A book written by an author from Asia, Africa or South America

Book 11: Sick, A Memoir – Porochista Khakpour

This was also interesting and different. A memoir of a woman with a severe and complex disease that was undiagnosed for years, combined with lots of misdiagnoses, drug and prescription dependencies and more. An interesting and different read – not my usual type of book, but nice to be outside of my usual comfort zone once in a while!

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 12: Don’t let go – Michel Bussi

This was ok – a standard thriller/mystery, set on the island of Reunion. I suspect it may have been better in the original French rather than as a translation (which I read in English).

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 13: The Lauras – Sara Taylor

I enjoyed this one – it was an interesting read, and the main protagonist was deliberately genderless, so you never knew if the narrator was male or female, which added an interesting twist and commentary on transgender issues.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 14: The Rough Guide to Green Living – Duncan Clark

In a bid to reduce plastic and my C02 emissions I have found this book fantastically helpful and interesting! Whole separate post coming soon about it!

Category: A book revolving around a puzzle or game

Book 15: Believe Me, JP Delaney

This was AWFUL. I bought it because I read her previous one (The Girl Before) which was good but this one was just terrible and I hated it.

Category: A book about a hobby

Book 16: Royal Horticultural Society – The Practical House Plant Book

Loving this book – it will help me keep more of my plants alive in future I’m sure!

Category: A book published in 2019

Book 17: Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

Amazingly this is my 3rd book by this author this year. I am very mixed on this author – I LOVED Big Little Lies, I LIKED this one, and What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret, and I HATED The Last Anniversary. This one was ok – good but a little odd. I raced through it.

Sadly it’s also not quite published in 2019, but came out near the end of last year so I am counting it anyway.

Category: Your favourite prompt from a previous Popsugar book challenge (A book with an animal in the title)

Book 18: The Unexpected Truth About Animals – Lucy Cooke

Just finished this – it was a fantastic combination of history, fun animal facts and science, the author looks at some of the myths about certain animals, where those myths came from and how it has impacted on our culture and environment. Highly recommended – I loved it.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 19: Tell me I’m wrong – Adam Croft

This one was pretty mediocre and not at all as exciting a thriller as I had hoped.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 20: Calm Parents, Happy Kids – Dr Laura Markham

Nothing massively new in here, but it’s a good reminder of what was in my parenting courses and good tips on attachment theory and so on.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 21: Once and Then – Morris Gleitzman

This was technically 2 books, the first two in a wider series. They are young adult books – the story of the holocaust told by a young boy ages about 9 or 10. It is very well done, with moments of horror mixed in with moments of innocence. Very sad in places but deals with tough subject matter in an accessible way for children.

Category: A book you think SHOULD be turned into a movie

Book 22: VOX – Christina Dalcher

This book was good – it had a LOT of potential and the ideas behind it were exciting and scary – all the hallmarks of excellent science fiction. However the plot was either too thinly there or badly edited, I can’t tell which, but there were several key moments in the plot that weren’t clear or didn’t make sense. It could have done with some things being more clearly padded out as it felt a bit rushed, especially at the end. It would however make an EXCELLENT movie if someone tightened up the script a bit.

Category: A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature

Book 23: Mythos, by Stephen Fry

I enjoyed this one – it was a little hard to get into, and I quickly lost track of who was who in the early chapters. However, i persevered and it was easier to follow once I got to the more familiar characters – was a great reminder of some classic greek myths!

Category: A book that makes you nostalgic

Book 24: A slip of the keyboard, by Terry Pratchett

This was a nice but random collection of Sir Terry’s articles, speeches and other oddities. A nice little insight into his thoughts and musings especially after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and on his early successes. One thing that is clear is that poor Terry spent a lot of time being told that “science fiction isn’t real literature” and he’s a little bitter about it!

Category:  A book set on a university or college campus

Book 25: The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

This was really good – I enjoyed it a lot. The characters were really well-developed and I liked that they all had flaws. It was about male friendships and complex relationships, and reminded me a lot of A Little Life, but was significantly less traumatic!

Category: A book by an author whose first and last names begin with the same letter

Book 26: 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff

I LOVED this – such a quick, easy read and it was just FANTASTIC! A real love letter to Literature and London. Go out and read it IMMEDIATELY.

Category: A book involving a zodiac or astrology sign

Book 27: The stars are fire, by Anita Shreve

This was good – a quick easy read, set in post-WW2 on the east coast of the US, it was interesting and fairly easy to get through (somewhat of a trashy romance type book if I’m honest, but not quite). Cheated on the category but it mentions stars so it’s close enough.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 28: The Tulip Touch, by Anne Fine

This was recommended by someone who was doing it with their class at school. It’s quite a difficult read and covers some really complex issues. Anne Fine was children’s laureate and it shows – she has a way of getting into the head of a 10 or 12-year old better than any other writer I know. It’s extremely vivid, and this was written at a time when the UK was reeling from the Jamie Bulger murder and trial, and people were asking themselves what makes a child into a murderer – are they born evil or were they the product of how they were raised? This book doesn’t give any answers, (and spoiler alert it doesn’t go that far into anything that dark and twisted) but it does raise questions about individual vs collective responsibility, about whether or not we can really hold children to account for questionable actions if they have not been taught morals and ethics at home, and it raises ethical dilemmas about children’s games that sometimes go too far.

It’s dark, and gripping, and hard to forget.

Category: A book that includes a wedding

Book 29: Don’t be a dick, Pete, by Stuart Heritage

This was a very funny book, written by a very funny journalist about his rather fraught relationship with his brother Pete. While occasionally a little tense, it’s witty and clever and made me laugh. It perfectly describes what it is to have complex sibling relationships.

Category: A ghost story

Book 30: The Pier Falls, by Mark Haddon

This was a fab selection of short stories (one of them was a sort-of ghost story so it counts!).

The are well written, intriguing and dark (like many of his other works, they always have a somewhat sinister edge). i enjoyed it a lot.

Category: A book set in space

Book 31: The long way to a small, angry planet – Becky Chambers

This was good – a little out of my usual area but I enjoyed it.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 32: Preparing for Introductions

This was a really useful book to help me get ready to meet my baby girl!

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 33: Roar, Cecelia Ahern

A friend bought me this – on paper it’s everything I love, feminism and short stories for the win! However sadly these fell a little flat for me. Some nice ideas in there, lots of interesting plays on stereotypes, but she’s a little too heavy-handed with the metaphors and they are a little laboured at times. It’s a shame as I think another author could have taken this concept and really done something brilliant with it, but nevermind.

Category: None (can’t find one that fits)

Book 34: Dad You Suck, Tim Dowling

This was HILARIOUS – made me laugh out loud and I loved it!

Category: A book by two female authors

Book 35: Peggy and Me, by Miranda Hart

This one is cheating on two fronts – firstly because it’s not two female authors, it’s by Miranda about her and her dog, but she writes from the dog’s perspective in places so I have shoved it in here as I am failing at meeting the categories!

Secondly it’s cheating because I only got halfway through and gave up. I like Miranda and think her sitcom is hilarious but her writing style isn’t quite as funny as I want it to be.

Category: A book with a question in the title

Book 36: How to be a husband, by Tim Dowling

Totally not a question in the title but near enough. I loved his other book (Dad you suck) so read this one too, though it wasn’t as funny as the other one.

Category: A book inspired by mythology, legend or folklore

Book 37: Bridge of Clay, by Markus Zusak

This was great – a saga about a family of boys, with many references to the Iliad and Odyssey.

Category: A re-read of a favourite book

Book 38: Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

Read this to my daughter and also while she was falling asleep. Really enjoyed re-reading this! It’s been a very long time, and he has a very particular and lovely writing style!

Category: None

Book 39: It could only happen in Oxford, Turl Street Storytellers

A lovely little collection of short stories. None of them will win any awards but lovely to read something local – all the stories are based in different parts of Oxford.

Category: A debut novel

Book 40: Butterflies and Baked Beans, Suzi Clark

This is a lovely, light-hearted book written by my friend’s mother. A work of fiction, though knowing the family there are certainly some striking similarities to true events. While light and funny this book also has plenty of sadness in it, and most notably, the description of my friend’s dad’s passing, which though I had heard the story when we were teenagers, reading it again from her mother’s perspective made it so real and so very sad.

A lovely, easy read.

1 thought on “2019 Book Challenge

  1. Pingback: 2020 Reading Challenge | Had we but world enough and time…

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