Some of you will know about my 2016 Reading Challenge. I have settled on my list (although I reserve the right to change my mind – particularly about the penultimate category!).
I have very much enjoyed thinking about my choices. Some came to me instantly, as you will see below. Others took more research, weighing up, or general pondering. But now that I am finished, I am delighted wth the overall collection. It will be a good set to contribute to my goal of reading at least 50 books in the year as a whole.
A book published this year: The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon
The first collection of short stories from the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Out of all the lists of books to be published in 2016 which I skimmed, this jumped out at me. I remember reading The Curious Incident and being completely dominated by it for weeks afterwards. I suspect this set of stories will be no different.
A book you can finish in a day: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I can’t recall ever having read anything by Edith Wharton. So this needs to be remedied as quickly as possible. I love any form of art set in winter, particularly paintings, but novels do it for me too. I am looking forward to spending a day with the folks trapped in the snow-bound New England mountains.
A book you have been meaning to read: Guernica by Gijs van Hensbergen
A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller: In the light of what we know by Zia Haider Rahman
Recommended by the glorious Edinburgh independent bookseller Golden Hare Books. Not a book I had even heard of. I see it has very mixed reviews on Amazon. We shall see….
A book you should have read in school: Silas Marner by George Eliot
The curse of the English lesson on great literature. As with many students, any book I was required to study immediately became something to be hated and avoided at all costs. Such a pity because, if I could talk to my teenage self now, I might well encourage myself to take English Literature at University (perhaps with history of art thrown in – oh and a textiles degree course on the side…). Anyway, I digress. Silas Marner was a set text at some point for me, so needless to say, it did not get read properly. Now is my chance.
A book chosen for me by someone else (in my case by a dear friend): For all the tea in China by Sarah Rose
For this category, I knew that Clanmother would help me with a fabulous recommendation. She is wonderfully well read and knows me very well. Within minutes of asking her to come up with something, she responded with this title – the perfect read for me. Something combining Scotland, tea, and a riveting read – what could be better?
A book published before you were born: Waverley by Sir Walter Scott
Another Scottish reference, I’m not ashamed to say. What I am ashamed to admit is that I have never read anything by Sir Walter Scott, so I had better get on with it. This seemed as good as anywhere to start.
A book that was banned at some point: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A book you previously abandoned: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I knew when I started this book the first time round that it was not a page turner; that the beauty lay in the writing and the slow pace of the novel. But I guess I must have been in the wrong place for it at that point. These days, I am more disposed to novels where not much actually happens, and where one can savour the ideas and thoughts coming off the page. I hope this means that this novel and I can become friends after all.
A book you own but have never read: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
One of my many hobbies is birdwatching. I love the grace, charm and beauty of birds. I love their colours, their characteristics. Everything really. I particularly love coastal, wading birds. But I am happy looking at whichever species is there to be seen. The other day, there were around 20 goldfinches flocking in the tree outside our kitchen window. Wonderful. Anyway, this is why I am desperate to read Helen Macdonald’s masterpiece and why I have picked it as my January read.
A book that intimidates you: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
This is the category which gave me the most difficulty. At first, I thought ‘I’m not intimidated by books’. But then, on reflection, I realised that there are some types and genres of books which I tend to avoid because I am either fearful of them or daunted by them. These are mainly: horror; mega fantasy sagas; and anything thicker than about three inches. So, should this be the moment to step into the world of Game of Thrones? How about taking on the mighty two-volume Romance of the Three Kingdoms (China’s first ever novel)? No. I have just been having a bloggy conversation with one of my friends and book experts about how important it is to push oneself and explore new boundaries. So horror it is (eek!). I decided to consult said friend’s blog for recommendations and Salem’s Lot was my pick from his reviews of horror books. I shall have to build myself up for this one.
A book you have already read at least once: An equal music by Vikram Seth
After the last category, this is like a soothing breeze, or putting on a cloak of gossamer silk. I don’t tend to read books more than once. But I knew straight away that I would be picking An Equal Music for this category. Those of you who know my LeapingTracks blog, will know how much I adore classical music. This novel is an homage to the beauty and transformational power of music. I can’t wait to read it again, to write about it, and to play music from it on my other blog.
So there you have it. As i said at the start of this post, I am really excited about my choices. Do let me know what you think. And tell me what you are reading too. Remember, I’ll be needing recommendations to fill up the rest of my quota to reach my minimum-50 goal! 🙂