Sunday, November 6, 2016

Reading Challenge Updates

-A book at least 100 years older than you.  I did read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for this one, as planned, and actually found myself rather disappointed.  While I can see where the appeal for this came from in its time, I think certain aspects of it have not aged well, and the endless listing of types of fish really wore on me.

-A book recommended by a family member.  My family aren't big readers (my father, a huge Jimmy Buffet fan, has been reading A Salty Piece of Land for, like, 10 years, no joke, and still hasn't finished it) and my mother, the only one who does read, refused to actually recommend a title.  But she did say she was interested in reading The Killing Floor, the first book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, so I read that.  I didn't really enjoy it, though I have read other books from my mother's shelves (The Help and The Thornbirds immediately come to mind) that I've enjoyed quite a bit.  This one just missed for me, and since she hasn't read it either, I have to think she probably wouldn't have recommended it if she had.

-An autobiography.  This ended up being a strange one.  As intended, I read Papillon by Henri Charriere, but it ended up being this weird book that Charriere put forth as an autobiography, and seems to be partly autobiographical, but also has a strange mash of all kinds of other stuff in it.  It also doesn't go into his life before he was accused of the crime at all, which seems very strange.

-A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with.  This is another one that went as planned!  I did I'm leaning towards Shutting Out the Sun for this category, which is about Japan.  I liked the first part of the book, which was generally about hikikomori, a group of people who literally shut themselves up for years (but are not agoraphobic) and a neat chapter about women, as well, but I had some serious reservations about the second half of the book that really dragged it down for me.

-A book published before you were born.  I picked out Wuthering Heights a while ago for this and stuck with it.  I enjoyed it overall, despite having some complaints about one of the characters and how the end was a bit strange.  It's probably a better story of obsession revenge than The Count of Monte Cristo, though.

-A classic from the 20th century.  I switched from Lolita to  One Hundred Years of Solitude for this one.  I enjoyed it, despite some really weird incest dynamics (but they served a point other than to titillate) because Marquez has a beautiful writing style and the magical realism of the book was so on-point.  It was an exhausting read due to some stylistic choices, though.

-A book with a protagonist who has your occupation.  I absolutely could not find a book that fit this category, so I twisted it a bit to a book with a protagonist who has an occupation I would like to have.  I ended up reading Blood, Bones, and Butter because it's the memoir of a chef.  While Gabrielle Hamilton, the author, has a wonderful way of writing about food, I found that I really couldn't stand her as a person and consequently didn't enjoy the book as a whole.

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 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 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 book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.  I hate talking to people and therefore didn't actually ask for a book in this category, but lucky me, I got one anyway!  A local bookstore always puts bookmarks in the books you buy, and for their 40th anniversary this year the bookmarks are printed with book recommendations from some of their sellers past.  From this list, I got Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie.

-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 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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