2018 Reading Challenge
It takes just one person. One person to believe you are capable of achieving something before you even believe it yourself. Words are a powerful thing. And that can’t be truer in more ways than I can count for on this post.
Especially, if your goal is all about reading words. And it just so happens that that one person, that person encouraging you to finish 51 books in less four months is 10,446km away. (And no Yams, it’s not you. In fact, you were the opposing current that kept wanting me to crash back to shore. But I must say, the challenge you posed, or rather the lack thereof, was the greatest push.) So, thank you?
Wait. It didn’t quite begin that way. The original Reading Challenge was to read one book a week. So simple math, that would be 52 books for the year. Being the true procrastinator that I am (and yes, because people have work and stuff, plus some other stuff, so making time to read can be quite tricky), I finished my first book of the year in August. And in September, I decided that this was the year. The year I would finally tick something of the The List. So what I need to do: Fifty-one books in sixteen weeks.
Bonus: Yami will supply my 30 books for next’s year’s reading challenge. The catch? (Because there’s always a catch with Yams) No book less than 250 pages. (Looks like you’ll just have to wait until next year, J Conrad)
So the question, did I make it?
Here’s the list. There may be spoilers ahead. Possibly. And if you haven’t read or may have plans on reading any of the books below, best not to read the text in italics.
- All Your Perfect by Colleen Hoover
I’m an avid fan of Colleen Hoover’s. You never really know where she takes the story, and more often than not, it usually includes two twists that keep you invested throughout the book. She also has these incredible characters that you fall in love with and want to be best friends forever. Characterisation over plot. Always.
- Love and Luck by Jenna EvanWelch
Five words: Ireland. You and I? Someday.
- November 9 by Colleen Hoover
There were a couple of arches in the plot that weren’t quite convincing. The climax of the story felt forced. [Spoiler] How can Ben possibly go in a relationship with his dead brother’s wife after 3 months from his death? Perhaps, an ex would have made more sense. It felt out of character.
- Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
Honestly, this book took a while to read. Not because the story wasn’t great or the writing because they were. It just took a while to get past the The Beauty and The Beast plot line everyone knows a little too well.
- Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
I am writing this 7 books after I read Turtles All The Way Down, and honestly, I don’t quite remember much.
- Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Let the girl have her chick flick novel.
- The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
I was somehow sad it ended. It was a fun, light read that I thoroughly enjoyed. It would make for a brilliant movie adaptation.
- All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This book broke my heart into pieces more than I was willing to admit.
[Actual spoilers that will definitely ruin the book for you]
Finch was one of the characters that you want to keep in the closet (irony intended), safe because you know things are not going to look too great for him towards the end of the book. He was the kind of character that you miss, dead or alive, after you finish a book. It was brilliant that the author chose to write both Violet and his perspectives. I don’t think it would have worked without hearing from Finch himself. There was just a greater impact when you no longer don’t. There was a moment though, that I hoped the ending would have been different. But I’m almost certain the author neither wrote the story to fantasise the liberation of unshackling the chains weighing a person down nor glorify the stigma of suicide, but rather to hold out the hope of better tomorrows for those who are left behind by those that can’t be saved. I also found out a finch is a bird, often symbolised as a sparkly omen of high energy and bright days of the horizon. I mean, how apt (though ironic) is that?
- Slammed by Colleen Hoover
After Finch, I need a happily ever ending with one of Colleen Hoover’s books. And it has poems, and Will Cooper. So yes. But Ridge, first.
- Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
Still waiting for a paperback edition of Maybe Now. And the completion would be nice. Yep, back to Ridge.
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The 1951 version of Finch, but less suicidal, just more lost. Holden was fun, though.
- Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
Not what I was expecting. At all.
- This Girl by Colleen Hoover
It’s the third book in the Slammed series, so yes, of course.
- Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
It lacked something. I’m not certain. Perhaps, more description, insight, connection, dialogue, character development? But looking back, it had all those. I know better than to compare between authors, but I needed, at the risk of sounding whiny, more. Perhaps, an indication of it being a good, or even great, book?
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This book was incredibly beautiful. It wasn’t just the content (or heavily worded medical jargon –though admittedly, I did enjoy those too), the writing was so gracefully written. I had to reread most of the sentences to soak in the meaning, the cadency of the prose and elegance of how the words just flowed. This book doesn’t just inspire you, it gives you so much more — it offers you a sense of purpose, a goal and a completely different perspective of life, death and the time you do in between.
Also, two consecutive books that quote T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land? Yes, please. It’s a good poem.
- The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Started off with such great potential. Then the sequel happened.
- It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
Normally, a trying character would be less exasperating if the book was written in her/his POV. That was not the case with this book. I’m certain I dislike her because of her thoughts and reason.
- We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
Okay. So reading a trilogy back to back (to back), you’ll sort of feel some attachment with the characters. Belly is better-ish, I think. Well, more towards the end of the book (very end). It did leave me pondering over her actions, why she did what she did. And I suppose that’s what makes a good book, good. The after thoughts and the ‘Aha’ moments.
- Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kremmerer
This was nice. Really nice. There were layers that made it so much more… — just more. The writing was memorable with a great balance between being dramatic and realistic. The characters felt whole. I felt a jolt when I saw it had a sequel, and I’m not surprised to read it would be about Rev. He was, perhaps, the most intriguing character in the story.
- Thanks For The Memories by Cecelia Ahern
This book was far longer than it should have been. And to be honest, the subplot, the interactions between Joyce and her father, was far more amusing to read than the main plot.
- How To Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern
Contrary to the title, this isn’t your typical romance novel. It addresses a deeper, darker subject matter, and the subplots (yes, plural) came together well with the main plot. It just worked. There were times, when I thought the story was diving into a pit, but it managed to pull it self up again. The characters were believable and stayed true throughout.
[Side rant] Often, when in doubt, I would ask my friend if I would be able to complete the goal, and after a few words of encouragement, he would immediately ask, is it still enjoyable for you? After reading Ahern’s How To Fall In Love, I think I finally understood why he kept asking me. I keep looking for simple reads to shelf off immediately so I can jump on to the next one. I failed.. I am failing to appreciate the underlying meaning, the hidden emotions and unsaid words of the stories I read. And if you can’t think about a book long after you’ve read it to learn a thing or two, did you really read it?
- Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern
Despite the fact that I had already seen the movie, I still read this. Perhaps that was the sole reason I picked it up. Letters and unconditional friendship? Yes, of course, I’ll take a bucketful please. As to be expected, like almost all movies, it was nothing like its movie adaptation. And that was disheartening as I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (Yes, it’s Sam Claflin, but focus). And this is one of those rare times the movie, though predictable, was more satisfactory to watch than to read the book. The book was a delight to read for the first 200 pages, perhaps, but dragged on unnecessarily. The rainbow at the end? I got to watch Sam Claflin again after 50 years of Alex and Rosie.
- Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
A heavy read that dealt with a lot of society’s troubles. It was fairly slow-paced, and when it wasn’t, it felt rushed. The climax, though, was worth the turtle-paced wait. I’m not certain the reason behind how the book was divided, I couldn’t seem to figure it out. I, however, felt that perhaps, the third part of the story could have shown us a year after: how Charlie has faired after her move with Felix, her art, her first visit to Scarlet, her reunion with Blue and her first encounter with Riley out of rehab.
The secondary characters were thoroughly interesting, and to be able to learn a bit more about their past (in a subtle, not in-your-face way) would have perhaps given the story some much needed layers. Two books after, I still think about Charlie, Blue, Evan and Riley. And that probably, definitely, says more than anything I have said above.
- This Could Change Everything by Jill Manson
Scarlet was probably the only character I liked in this book. And we don’t even see much of her.
- Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven
To be honest, I’m just glad no one died. I still miss Finch.
- Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
A wonderful read that had me smiling and crying with tears of joy every time Melody kicked ass.
- My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Sohpie Kinsella may be my next go-to author. The characters felt whole, layers in the story made it interesting, then there were some not-too cliched plot twists thrown here, and then there was Alex.
- Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett
If I were to ever write a book, I would name my main character Alex. I want in in whatever Name-Your-Lead-Alex group there is.
- More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kremmerer
Sequel to Letters To The Lost. Reeling because I see more of Declan and Rev. Honestly, the story would have worked without Emma as well. Seriously though, just have Dec and Rev.
I do like how the plot wasn’t centered on the romance, so perhaps that’s why the connection between Rev and Emma felt a tad forced. I wouldn’t give it anything below a 5-star Goodreads rating because I’m incredibly hooked with Kremmerer’s writing. Letters To The Lost still remains a personal favourite and Rev being afavourite character. (Side note: Would have been nice to see more of Juliet).
- Love, Life And The List by Kasie West
I want an exhibition of my art.
I also want a Cooper.
There’s my list right there.
- Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
I definitely enjoyed this more than This Could Change Everything. I’m not a fan of multiple plot lines with six main characters, but the story came together in the end, so that was all right.
- Wonderlost by Jen Malone
I giggled a lot with this one. No, it was more like fits of laughter. Yup, it’s more that. I also want a Sam. Maybe I’ll name my character Sam.
- Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Can I keep a secret? Can you?
- Confess by Colleen Hoover
The prologue and epilogue were incredible. The end.
- Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham
This book took too long to read. Just didn’t really quite make sense. They may be one person, but Sophie Kinsella is definitely a better storyteller.
- Maybe Now by Colleen Hoover
Ridge. Finally. Ridge.
Paperback will be released in January. So more of Ridge in January.
This book should be counted as 2 books — considering I’ve reread it a few times already.
- Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
Funny read. Too long though, bearing in mind I have 3 weeks and 15 books left.
Also, last name of one of the characters was Finch!
- Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson
The book sat on my bookshelf for far too long, it was just time. It wasn’t anything like the movie, and that’s not completely a bad thing either.
- I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
This was incredibly funny. And a more enjoyable read than the previous Kinsella books I’ve read. And another Sam!
- Paris For One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
I can’t seem to find it in me to read Me Before You, but curious as I am to read one of Jojo Moyes’s books, I picked this one. Didn’t regret it.
- A Summer At Sea by Katie Fforde
Never have I seen anyone who drank so much tea!
- Please Forgive Me by Melissa Hill
One of the books that have been sitting on my shelf for far too long. Writing is great, [brace yourself for actual spoilers ahead] I just felt perhaps Adam was more in the wrong. To be honest, I thought he should have been more grateful than resentful. Who would want to live in a lie their whole lives. And seriously, is he really that daft not seeing how that lady was taking advantage of him? (Also, I am avoiding names of anyone else in the book because I honestly cannot remember any – writing this three books after)
- Going La La by Alexandra Potter
It seems I have taken a liking for English authors. Even though this book actually takes place mostly in LA.
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
Read all of Green’s books when I was younger, and I was a great fan of Levithan’s Everyday, so I figured, this can’t be so bad… right?
Reading update: 8 books. 7 days. Tricky.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
I wish I enjoyed this so I don’t feel completely lame not liking a classic. But I just can’t. I wouldn’t even call it reading — more like skimming over the important bits. Perhaps the problem was I was looking for a fast, light read to meet the impending deadline. This book, however, requires much more, and maybe I didn’t quite give it the justice it deserved.
Yami has lifted the 250 page limit. So yep, I will be reading children’s books from here on out. …. diversifying or rather, broadening the genre I read.
- A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
A wonderful fast paced read. Delaying reading the rest of the books in the series because I don’t want to rush through them.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This was heavily filled with frightening matters that are much too real in today’s world. Above all, a read that should not be rushed.
- I Wrote This For You by Iain S. Thomas
I couldn’t relate the photographs to the poems (poems? snippets?). There were some wonderfully worded lines that make you reread and reread some more to absorb them further, and some photos that were absolutely incredible. I was waiting for a big reveal in the end, but it never came. Maybe they don’t quite work as a collected piece. Or perhaps it just wasn’t written for me.
- No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
Nope. Just nope. Never have I ever been so appalled reading short stories before. If it weren’t for the three days I have left, I would have returned this book. I’m running out of books. Books onward will be books borrowed from neighbouring persons.
Plot twist: Yami has become a really big supporter.
- Belle’s Discovery
From Lu’s bookshelf. No judgment.
It was actually a lovely read.
- Bared To You by Sylvia Day
From a Disney book to an adult book, sure, why not.
- The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
This was an absolute cheat, it being only 26 pages long. But it is a book. And it was counted as a read on Goodreads. So it totally counts. And it’s the tale of Peter Rabbit, what’s there not to love?
And that’s 52 in 4 months!
I need sleep. I probably need to get my eyes checked. But the point of all this? Given the right purpose, will and encouragement, you could pretty much do anything you set your mind to. But you probably already knew that.
2019’s goal? 55. Because 52 in 12 months is way too easy.
Hey Yams, you owe me 30 books! 😉
And a Happy New Year!