Tuesday, February 18

Reading Challenge 2013 / Reading Challenge 2014


This is a slightly late round up the books I read last year. I reached my Goodreads Challenge Target - I think I've actually managed to read the same amount of books the past few years that I've been doing the Reading Challenge, which is interesting, or not.

Anyway, the final Reading Challenge Update from last year...

12. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

On a beach in Santo Domingo, a doomed relationship flounders; in the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover's washing and thinks about his wife; in Boston, a man buys his love-child, his only son, his first baseball kit. At the centre of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible voice of Yunior, a young Dominican finding his way in New Jersey. As he and his family persist through broken promises, broken hearts and painful longing, passion, as always, triumphs over experience.

This is the first of Junot Diaz's books that I have read completely. I tried reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but I couldn't get into his writing style; he's almost conversational in the way he writes, like you are listening to him tell you the story of his life. It's not that I dislike the way he writes, but it's just that it's a little easier to digest with the short stories in This Is How You Lose Her.

One thing I didn't enjoy, and I know this is a completely personal thing, were the huge chunks of the stories that were in Spanish; I know some will say this adds to the authenticity of the stories, but I resent having to use a foreign language dictionary in order to follow the story.

13. Perfume by Patrick Suskind

In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent.

It took me a while to get through this book, I think at first I got a little caught up in the 'horror' side of it - the idea of someone  like Grenouille lurking in the shadows absolutely terrified me. So I stopped reading it for while. But, I couldn't resist going back to it for all the other things that make it such an incredibly fascinating book, evocative, haunting and dark.

14. How Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley

What happens when the minibus full of your fellow wedding travellers hits a bear in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness? Or you hear the voice of your high school's long lost queen bee from a bathroom cubicle? Why is there always a moment of utter disorientation when you emerge at street level from the tube station, no matter how many times you make the journey? It seems that Sloane Crosley can barely step outside her front door without being reminded of just how perplexing and absurd adult life can be.

I loved Sloane Crosley's first book (I Was Told There'd Be Cake) - it was recommended to me by a friend and I fancied a funny read, so I thought 'why not?' and I loved it; I had no idea who Sloane Crosley was and I  loved it. I still have no idea who Sloane Crosley is, but I loved it enough to go on a year long hunt for this, her second book. Of course you can imagine my disappointment, when I didn't love this quite as much. I didn't even dislike it, it's just that I found it a little boring. 

Sometimes I get the grand idea that I could write a book of essays based on exciting times in my life, then I think about the exciting things that have happened and decide that the majority are 'you really had to be there' stories. That is probably the best way to sum up this book - the polite chuckle you make after someone has told you a not particularly funny/interesting story. Disappointing.


As I mentioned in my last 'Recently' post, I won't be doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge this, just because I want to try a different kind of challenge. I've started making a list of mini-challenges that I want to do during the course of the year, which I'm hoping will be a little more exciting than a numerical target. This is what I have so far:

Finish an already partially read book on my bookshelf.

 Ask someone with different interests to recommend a book they love, read it!

Re-read a book I love.

Start reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

Borrow a book from someone else's bookshelf.

I've already nearly done a couple of them, having reread parts of Mindy Kalin'g Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and gotten a list of recommendations from various co-workers - my to read list is definitely growing.

If anyone has any suggestions for mini-challenges or book recommendations then let me know!


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