2016 Reading Challenge

 

Deep breath guys, we’re nearly at the end of 2016!

For all the unpleasant things that have happened this year, several good things happened in my life; I got another ferret, got my degree (2.1 baby) and reignited my passion for reading (which had suffered somewhat during said degree).

At the start of the year, I found this 2016 Reading Challenge, saved it to my phone, and started it in June, as soon as I’d finished my exams. Whilst I’d read a few other books in the first half of the year, I couldn’t commit to a challenge whilst finishing my course. I was initially posting my progress on my instagram, but failed to keep up with the posts after a short social media break, so decided to collect them all here instead.

In short, welcome to my run down of my attempt at the 2016 Reading Challenge!

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A Book Published This Year:

REBEL OF THE SANDS – ALWYN HAMILTON

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“Tell me how you want your story to go, he says, and we’ll write it straight across the sand”

We all know what they say about books and their covers, but I totally bought this because I loved the cover art (shiny) and title (‘rebel’ and ‘sand’ in one book title, sign me up!) but this book did not disappoint and was totally up my street; YA fantasy with a female protagonist set in and around a desert – I am already excited to re-read it before the second book comes out in February.

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A Book You Can Finish In A Day:

IN A DARK DARK WOOD – RUTH WARE

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(image from Goodreads)

“There was something strangely naked about it, like we were on a stage set, playing our parts to an audience of eyes out there in the wood.”

I raced through this, clearly! Really fun little mystery/thriller without being super heavy or emotionally draining. Apparently intended to be adapted into a movie by Reese Witherspoon, which I look very forward to seeing.

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A Book You’ve Been Meaning To Read:

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S – TRUMAN CAPOTE

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Really enjoyed reading this, and looking forward to re-reading it with a more critical eye having thought about it a lot after finishing it the first time. Not what I was expecting, but definitely in a good way. I’ve never watched the film properly and having read lists of differences between the book and film, I’m hesitant to, and am thinking of starting a list of books that deserve remakes of their adaptations – but that’s a discussion for another time!

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A Book Recommended By Your Local Librarian or Bookseller:

THE WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN – ALAN GARNER

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(Photo from Goodreads)

Recommended by staff at Waterstones, Swansea. This children’s fantasy novel made me feel totally nostalgic even though I’d never read it before. A wonderful tale of two children plunged into a fantasy world that they’d only before known in stories, myth and legend, it is definitely a must read in children’s literature.

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A Book You Should Have Read In School:

OF MICE AND MEN – JOHN STEINBECK

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(Photo from Goodreads)

Having never had this as a set text, it took me until the shocking age of 26 to finally read this, and I’m so glad I did. There’s nothing I can really say about this that hasn’t been said before, other than I wish I had read it back in school.

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A Book Chosen For You By Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child or BFF :

THE OTHER HAND – CHRIS CLEAVE

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(Photo Credit: @jaynestockton)

My sister recommended this book to me after reading it herself. This is a beautiful story about two different women – a Nigerian asylum-seeker and a British magazine editor and mother – and how their lives cross. The way the story unfolds is intriguing and emotional and carries an important critique of the treatment of refugees in Britain.

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A Book Published Before You Were Born:

THE GREAT GATSBY – F SCOTT FITZGERALD

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With references to this book wildly scattered throughout an awful lot of media I’ve watched or read, it seemed high time to give it a go. Like Breakfast At Tiffany’s, this is a book I’d like to go back and read with a more critical eye, but the first time around I enjoyed it for what it was, though felt a small disconnect between myself and the narrative (this of course is not a criticism and merely an acknowledgement, and likely due to it having been written by a man in the 1920s, with the audience certainly not intended to be a girl in her 20s in the 2010s)

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A Book That Was Banned At Some Point:

PEYTON PLACE – GRACE METALIOUS

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(Photo from Goodreads)

I have a lot to say about this book and what I’ve read about the author and the proceeding film and television adaptations, but I’ll be saving that until I have re-read it. Peyton Place is a book about small-town scandal that was released in the 1950s and shocked America, causing it’s banning from several places, specifically by the Canadian Government from 1956-1958. More than the scandal, however, this book is a wonderful piece of feminist fiction, that deals with women coming to terms with themselves, including in terms of privilege and sexuality.

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A Book You Previously Abandoned:

SABRIEL – GARTH NIX

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(I had to get my cat, Siberia, in this photo because I pictured Mogget as her the entire time)

I started this book in 2014 or 2015, and could never get into it, but having seen it spoken of so highly by people in my personal life and by many book blogs, I knew I had to give it another go. It still took me a while to get through, but when the talking cat showed up, I was a little bit more sold! It’s an odd book; for the first half the writing felt somewhat stunted and awkward, and the story seemed to trudge along. By the end of the book it picked up and I was enjoying it a lot more, with the writing feeling far more smooth; enough so that I’ve ordered the sequels, and am pretty excited to read them.

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A Book You Own But Have Never Read:

STAR WARS: RED HARVEST – JOE SCHREIBER

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A friend bought me this book for Christmas about five years ago, and it’s been in my TBR pile ever since. I don’t know why it took me so long to read because it’s a freaking Star Wars zombie story set during the Old Republic era (if I was to have a favourite Star Wars era, it would be the Old Republic) with a female protagonist! Easy to read, fast-paced and exciting, I’d recommend it to any other fans of Star Wars and/or zombies.

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A Book That Intimidates You:

FRANKENSTEIN – MARY SHELLEY

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(Photo from Goodreads)

This may seem like an odd choice for an intimidating book, but it was the set book for my main class the first time I attempted a degree back in 2008. I never finished it then, having dropped out, and have since had a bit of a mental block towards it, given it would always remind me of a time in my life that was somewhat unpleasant. But I completed a different degree this year, so I figured it was time. What was particularly interesting about finally reading this was how different the story is compared to how I’ve seen it represented in a lot of current media.

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A Book You’ve Read At Least Once:

LULLABY – CHUCK PALAHNIUK

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(Photo from Goodreads)

“Big brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat”

This was a tricky choice, given how much I like to re-read stuff (there are books I read at the start of this year which I’ve already re-read), but Palahniuk is definitely one of my favourite authors, and given the hype about – and the money I spent on – the kickstarter for the movie earlier this year, it had to be this one. This novel was written during a particularly dark time in Chuck’s life and deals with some heavy themes – the first time I read it, I remember it getting in my head enough that it played with my anxiety, in a great way.

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There are plenty of other brilliant books I’ve read this year too, but I feel it necessary to give a big mention to Sarah J Maas, whose books I’d never read until this year. My father bought me Throne Of Glass for Christmas last year, and I started it on New Year’s Day 2016. I raced through it, thinking it was a wonderful trashy Hunger Games-esque romantic novel set in an interesting fantasy world. Little did I know that the trashy romance was more of a prelude to a brilliant story full of twists, politics, fantasy and a lot of crying. I have devoured all of her books at least once this year (the Throne of Glass series and the A Court Of Thorns and Roses series), and have forced them on several friends.

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(My Sarah J Maas shelf. Define: ‘obsessed’)

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Anyway, that’s it from me for 2016. Did you complete any book challenges this year or read anything worth raving about? Let me know!

Hope you all have a great New Year’s Eve and wonderful 2017. Happy reading!