Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Reading Challenge Updates

 -A science-fiction novel.  I read The Three Body Problem for this, which won the Hugo in 2015.  I thought it was good but not intriguing enough to have me scurrying off to buy the next one--which apparently suffers from translation issues, anyway.  While the premise is interesting I found the problem seemed somewhat removed in time from the "present" of the story, which I think detracted from the urgency somewhat.

-A satirical book.  For this, I took on What If? which uses science to answer absurd hypothetical questions and makes fun of how things work in general in the process.  It's fun but I think it works better in the blog format that it originally premiered in than it does as a book.

-A book you haven't read since high school.  I returned to The Ropemaker for this category, which was one of my favorite books in high school.  I enjoyed it again, still finding that it's a rich world and an interesting main character who I think can appeal to a wide range of ages despite being only twelve herself.

-A book written by a celebrity.  I saw Elixir by Hilary Duff ages ago, probably when it first came out, but I didn't read it because I was skeptical.  I had good reason to be.  I don't think this worked particularly well as a book, despite having a few really cool elements going for it.  I think it would be better suited to a TV series which, given Duff's professional background, isn't really surprising.

-A book based on a fairy tale.  I settled on Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister for this, which is a historical fiction take on the classic Cinderella story.  I liked it as a historical fiction novel, but I think it was missing some of the magic that makes the original story and its many other adaptations so, well, magical, and the twist at the end didn't entirely please me.

-A book that intimidates you.  Despite the intimidating page count of The Count of Monte Cristo, I got through it in pretty short order.  People rave about this, but I actually didn't like it so much, finding some of the reasoning lacking and the pacing uneven.

-A book from Oprah's Book Club.  I picked Stolen Lives off an Oprah's Book Club list, before I even realized that the book club is still going on Goodreads and there are still new selections being released!  That's something to keep an eye on, but I really enjoyed Stolen Lives.  The content matter is terrible, but fascinating, and the strength of Malika and her family is truly astounding.

Still to Come
-A National Book Award winner.  I don't really know much about book awards, as I tend to ignore them in favor of reading whatever interests me at the time.  So I had to pull up the list of National Book Award winners to have something to go off for this one.  Most of them didn't really intrigue me (who decides what makes a book award-worthy, anyway?) but I eventually picked The Shipping News off the list as looking at least mildly interesting.

-A book recommended by someone you just met.  I asked the NaNoWriMo Facebook group what they thought I should read this year; one reply was already on the list (Grave Beginnings) but the other was not; therefore, I shall be reading The Machinery by Gerrard Cowan for this category.

-A book at least 100 years older than you.  I'm actually going to get around to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for this one, because I want to read one of the steampunk novels that started it all as research for my own writing.

-A book recommended by a family member.

-A graphic novel.  I love Neil Gaiman but am not a huge fan of graphic novels, so I've avoided his Sandman series up until this point, despite buying my boyfriend the entire series for various occasions.  Now seems like a pretty good time to give them a go and start in Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

-A book with a protagonist who has your occupation.

-A book of poetry.  I'm going to do something I don't usually do (unless a category specifically calls for it) and re-read a book for this one: I Was the Jukebox by Sandra Beasely, which I read for a writing class in college.  I'm not a big poetry person in general, but there is one poem in this book that I found really amazing, and I'd like to read it and write about it again.

-A classic from the 20th century.  I'm going to do Lolita for this one, because I feel like I need to squish a Russian novel in here somewhere.  What really makes a classic, anyway?  I don't know, but this list that I found says Lolita is one.

-An autobiography.  I picked up Papillon by Henri Charriere at a used bookstore in New Jersey (Broad Street Books in Branchville, if anyone out there is in the area; it was absolutely lovely and I look forward to going back the next time we're in the area) but put it down in favor of another title.  Now I wish I'd bought it!  Charriere wrote this book about his wrongful conviction for a crime and his subsequent escapes from prison.  Most autobiographies bore me on principal, but this one actually sounds interesting.

-A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with.  I'm leaning towards Shutting Out the Sun for this one, which is a non-fiction book about Japan's "lost generation."

-A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.

-A book you should have read in school.  This I'm going to fill with The Odyssey, which every other English class in my high school read, but my class as a whole did not because our teacher was too busy having raptures about the hero's journey in the Star Wars series to actually assign it to us.

-A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.  My boyfriend has selected The Samurai's Tale for this category for me.  I don't really know much about it other than the title, so we'll see how it goes!

-A book published before you were born.  Let's face it: most of history is before I was born.  This means that I have a very wide scope of titles from which to choose.  I'm going to go with the classics and choosing Wuthering Heights for this one.

-A book you previously abandoned.  I'm planning on using Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for this one.  I've had this book for years, and started it at one point, but I just couldn't get into it.  I'm hoping that time will have improved it some for me, just like how I liked Vellum much more when I returned to it years after first purchasing and attempting to read it.

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