Reading Challenge – Part One

December 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Some of you may be aware of the reading challenge that goodreads enables you to take every year. This year, I set out my goal to read 50 books throughout the year (possibly not the best idea, considering it is my final year of university) and finally finished 50 books today. I’ve already written reviews for numerous of these 50 books but I thought a short review for each book couldn’t hurt, along with a Top 10 of 2013. Here’s the first 25:

1. The House of Memories by Monica McInerney 

Kind of sad this is the first book I read of 2013, apparently. It wasn’t the worst but very amateur in characterisation, plot, writing… everything, really.

2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

My problems with this book has more to do with the fact that it’s a fetishized, sexualised and often unrealistic representation of the Japanese geisha culture and that Arthur Golden profited from the book whilst, not only erasing the actual experiences of geishas, but actually putting them in harm’s way and being entirely unapologetic for it. You can find more about this here.

3. The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant 

I don’t think I even finished this one. It wasn’t terrible but pretty uninteresting, and the writing was rather bad. I just couldn’t bring myself to keep going.

4. IT by Stephen King

I would have called myself a pretty huge Stephen King fan before I read this book. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that it’s pile of misogynistic crap. I can’t go into detail without huge, huge spoilers, but I will say that despite whatever other merits the book may have (and yes, it is well-written and interesting despite its length) the end is more than disappointing. It’s not worth the 1000 pages or so you have to read to get to it.

5. The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin

I was pretty excited for this as it’s a well-appraised feminist book but I was pretty disappointed. I really shouldn’t have been surprised, considering when Chopin wrote it. But at the end it came down to white, middle-class feminism. Nothing particularly radical or exciting.

6. Looking for Alaska by John Green

John Green is obviously a huge phenomenon in the young adult genre and this was my first book by him. I could understand his appeal and appreciate that his prose is pretty well crafted. I even quite enjoyed the second half of the book but all of the characters irritated me in the first half of the book – most of all Alaska.

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I don’t think I even have to say anything much about this. I love Oscar Wilde.

8. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

I fell in love with Kingsolver after The Poisonwood Bible and wasn’t disappointed by this book. Although it’s fairly different from The Poisonwood Bible, much less takes place, it’s wonderfully written and an enjoyable read.

9. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

10. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

A pretty generic Young Adult Novel. It’s not bad, really, just a little bland.

11. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I enjoyed this a lot more than Looking for Alaska. It’s a pretty sweet book but I felt like it dragged on a little bit too much and at times the characters irritated me (yes, I have an overarching problem with John Green’s characterisation).

12. If I Stay by Gayle Forman 

Read my review of this here. It’s a pretty interesting concept but with fairly terrible execution. Overall, pretty bland.

13-15, Avatar The Promise

p. 1, p.2, p.3

I’m a huge Avatard. I have been since I was about 10. And as much as I love the artwork in these comic books, the writing and plot are disappointing.

16. The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot 

Had to read this for my Modern American Literature class in university. I also wrote an essay about the gendered social relations in The Fire Sermon, and I think writing essays about a work always makes you appreciate it better. The Waste Land is pretty much a literary masterpiece and I think everyone should endeavour to read it.

17. My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Another book I had to read for my Modern American Literature class. It was very interesting, engaging and well written. The narrative structure was probably my favourite thing about it.

18-21. A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows

I think I wrote a generic review of the series here. It’s a very popular fantasy series right now, obviously. I won’t argue that the plot is very engaging and it’s an interesting book to read… if you can get past the fact that George R. R. Martin actually cannot write. And this is not even an exaggeration. I have in actuality cringed at some of the sentences he has written. You can ignore it, however, so long as the plot stays interesting… which stops at A Feast for Crows. It took me a long time to get through that book. Apparently, the next book is better but I haven’t been able to will myself to read it yet.

22. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The Howl’s Moving Castle movie is one of my favourite movies of all time. I pretty much watch it once a month – that’s how much I love it. So I was naturally pretty excited to read the book. It’s vastly different from the movie, but wonderful in its own way.

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Read review here. Another book for my Modern American Literature class. I absolutely adored it and it was a pleasure to read.

24. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I remember getting through this book incredibly fast. It’s very simplistic in its writing but that only adds to the charm of it. It’s a collection of short stories of immigrants – very engaging and enjoyable to read. One of Lahiri’s novels is also nominated for the Man Booker Prize this year.

25. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

A heartbreaking story that was executed wonderfully. I also enjoyed the movie starring Kristen Stewart.

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