“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
I loved the motivation of a Reading Challenge last year, so I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy again in 2018. It’s not too late to join in… and you can still track your reading with MMD’s free printable kit if you’re interested – Get the free kit here! The second quarter of the year has come and gone, but I still want to keep up with this challenge, however delayed!
I blogged about my plans for the challenge here, and shared my Q1 progress here, so today I’ve got another update on the first six months of reading in 2018. Whenever I’m in a rut or can’t decide what to read next, this list really comes in handy!
Read in Q2:
A book that’s more than 500 pages
I’ve been hearing buzz about this book ever since it came out, and the themes of star-crossed love, blogging, and commentary on race in America drew me in. I loved the writing, although it dragged a bit in the middle, so I suppose it earned its place in the 500+ pages category.
Read in May – Full review here!
A book recommended by someone with great taste
Obviously, I had to ask my friend Sommer for another recommendation, since she introduced me to the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy for the 2017 reading challenge and she’s always sending me great recs. She mentioned this one a while ago, and with the movie coming out soon, I finally jumped on the bandwagon. This story of crazy rich family drama is so much fun! I’ve been on the library hold list for the sequel for weeks, but I can’t wait to read it as soon as I get my hands on it.
Read in June – read the full review here!
Sommer has recommended so, so many winners over the past couple years, so I’d be remiss not to share the list she sent (the day before she had a baby!):
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Book #1 in the Chaos Walking series)
- Feed by Mira Grant (Book #1 of the Newsflesh trilogy). I’m usually anti-zombie but Sommer’s description has me so intrigued: Bloggers in a post-zombie apocalypse world.
- Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book nominated for an award in 2018
Winner of the National Book Award’s top prize for fiction and nominated for several other awards this year, Sing, Unburied, Sing was a tough but worthy read. The lyrical writing sucks you right into each and every moment described by mother and son, both haunted by the past and present, as they travel to Parchman, the Mississippi prison. (Not-so-fun fact: my middle school took us on a field trip to Parchman when I was in the 7th grade; it was quite an education.)
Read in May – read the full review here.
A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
Maybe I cheated by getting this recommendation from a podcast instead of an in-the-flesh librarian or bookseller, but I did check it out from the library AND the What Should I read Next? podcast guest was Annie B. Jones, owner of The Bookshelf, who I know and love on Instagram for all her great book reviews and suggestions, so I’m counting it!
This was a fast-paced summer read, as promised, and it ticked a lot of topics that interest me: young women with a plan, reality TV, pop religion, etc. The ending was a little pat but it was a fun ride.
Read in July – full review here.
Read in Q1:
A book you can read in a day
As short as it is, and even with its flaws, this book has really stuck with me. When a friend asks for advice on raising her daughter as a feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s response became this book. Her take on feminism also resonates with me, and her suggestions made me think more carefully about how I want to approach raising a daughter. I feel like we repeat a lot of feminist talking points in America, but in practice that doesn’t mean we are raising our children as equals. Even if it made me sad that she would have to spell out suggestions like “never speak of marriage as an achievement,” as obvious as it may seem, it’s still necessary.
A book by a favorite author
Each of the short stories in this collection haven’t been printed since their original publications in magazines throughout the early twentieth century… and honestly, I’m not sure they needed to come out of oblivion. L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors, and I love the lesser-known novels she wrote for adults (The Blue Castle is my favorite!) in addition to the beloved Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, so I was hoping that this collection would uncover some new insights, but many of her commercial writings lack depth. Some stories aged better than others, most of them set up one (well-trod) punchline, and only a couple really stood out to me. I already knew that Montgomery reused a lot of material, so many plot points or characters from her short stories also wound up in in the books that I know and love, which was interesting from an academic point of view but didn’t add much enjoyment to the reading experience. I wish I liked it more, but it was still comfort reading to visit her world.
A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction
A powerful memoir, from a heartbreaking perspective: a neurosurgeon on the verge of accomplishing everything he’s worked toward discovers that he has terminal cancer, and has to reconcile his extraordinary potential with the time he has left to live. There’s really no point trying to describe his musings on life and death, but I loved what he had to say. The writing is beautiful; it feels like he was meant to write this book, although I can’t help but wonder what he would have added or changed if he’d had more time. The epilogue, written by his wife, was especially poignant.
A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own
This one was tough to read but so worthwhile; even though I’ve grown up in the same country, I’ve had a completely different experience, and our expectations and fears for our children are heartbreakingly different. I couldn’t help but feel defensive at first, reading as someone “who believes they are white” but I tried to focus on listening to his story and his truth. He writes with so much anger and sadness, and it’s completely justified. That’s the hardest part: everything he says is true, no matter how hard it is to read.
A classic you’ve been meaning to read
I’ve had Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier on my eBook shelf for a while, and I keep hearing that it’s a thrilling gothic novel that doesn’t feel dated at all.
I also have Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh on my actual bookshelf, with one of those modernized illustrated covers that I’m not exactly sure I like, but I’ve heard enough people rhapsodize about the prose of the book and the epicness of the 1981 miniseries that I want to give it a chance.
A book in translation
When I googled “books in translation” I stumbled upon this list by none other than the MMD blog, which I always trust. The Time in Between by Maria Duenas (translated by Daniel Hahn) jumped out at me because I know the Netflix series (I only made it halfway through the first season, mostly because I felt like I couldn’t multitask while watching since it’s in subtitles, but it’s really good!). I know a little of the story from the show and it combines a few of my favorite buzzwords: WWII, fashion, and secret codes.
A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
This is a stretch for me! I’ll keep this category open if something comes up, but after hearing it mentioned on a recent episode of the Literary Disco podcast, my initial thought is to reread Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I remember loving the zany poems in elementary school but I have a feeling it will be an entirely different experience to read it as an adult!
A banned book
I need to do more research for this category – after a cursory search online, there weren’t any books that stood out to me as a good example. So many books that were banned a long time ago (or even recently) are favorites of mine that don’t seem remotely shocking. I’m sure a good list will pop up around Banned Book Week, and in the meantime l’ll keep thinking about this one!
I’ve read 8 books so far, 4 in each quarter, with 4 to go, so I’m right on track! Let me know if I missed any great books that would fit into the challenge!
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