I’ve set myself a reading challenge for the year, one that is something of… well, a challenge. I want to read 20 books this year. Last year, I think, sadly, I read eight, tops. And I have set myself challenges before (like joining in with A Year in Books) and have never quite made it to the end.
Since the summer I’ve been listening to The High Low podcast and it’s been giving me so many reading tips. Combine this with the Books and Authors podcast by BBC Radio 4 and I have a long list of books that I want to devour.
So far this year I’ve already managed six books – nearly as many as all last year. And some of them have been absolute corkers.
The year in books, so far
- To Kill the President – Sam Bourne: A gripping thriller and the perfect holiday read. The only “problem” is that the character of the President is a thinly veiled portrait of Donald Trump, and I now find it hard to remember what craziness he has actually done and what is from this book.
- House of Spines – Michael J Malone: A ghost story of sorts, without being a real ghost story (something this big scaredy cat just cannot cope with).
- A Dangerous Crossing – Rachel Rhys: I really enjoyed this period story set on an Australia-bound liner. Or enjoyed it right up until I guessed the denouement, which somewhat spoiled the rest of the book for me.
- Nabokov’s Favourite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing – Ben Blatt: One to dip in and out of but fascinating stuff. Ben uses data to analyse which writers use (or overuse) adverbs, and which are authors’ favourite words.
- Lullaby – Leila Slimani: One recommended by The High Low ladies. This book blew me away. I had been worried that a book about a nanny who kills her two young charges would be too disturbing. I needn’t have worried, as the book focuses on the why rather than the how, and the exceptional writing and careful translation ensure that you are gripped.
- The Sparsholt Affair – Alan Hollingshurst: I loved the characters that Alan Hollingshurst has created in his latest novel and I adore his writing. But, like The Line of Beauty, I felt this book was also about 100 pages too long. I have to admit that I sped through it towards the end.
And next up for my reading challenge for the year? I’m already halfway through The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (another High Low recommendation). I also have The Romanovs by Simon Sebag-Montefiore (after listening to him interviewed on The Penguin podcast) and Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge (yet another High Low recommendation, from an episode where they also interviewed her).
I remember reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark long ago. But I don’t remember so much about the actual story. And then I heard an episode of the Radio 4 podcast recommending one of her other novels: A Far Cry From Kensington. So that is now sitting at home, waiting to be read.
This week I also picked up I’d Die For You & Other Lost Stories by F Scott Fitzgerald, which I have been wanting to read for a few months. When I found it at the library this week, out on display, it was just asking to be borrowed.
The libraries here are amazing with so my choice. Nearly all of these books that I’m reading are borrowed from them. I buy some books if I think I will read them again, but otherwise I am the library’s best friend.
The Romanovs aside (a massive tome of 784 pages), I am pretty confident in completing my reading challenge for the year. 2018 is going to be the year when I get my book mojo back.
Have you ever set yourself a reading challenge for the year? How did you do? And what is currently on your reading list?
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