I finally finished Megan‘s 2016 summer reading challenge… just now! I read the final page of The Potato two minutes ago. Phew! At the end of month 2 I was on 135 points. Here’s what I read in month 3:
5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long.
I read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for this category. It was… not what I was expecting. I thought it was a dystopian novel, but it turns out it’s utopian. Also I was surpised by all the free sex – mainly because one of my classes in Austria read it. One of my classes of 13 year olds that is! I can only imagine how the immature boys in my school would have reacted to that… Anyway, the book started off okay but mostly I found it kind of weird. I gave it 2 stars.
10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essays. (Sincerely hoping novellas count as short stories here!).
I read Different Seasons by Stephen King. This book almost would have counted for the film category – three of the four novellas have been turned into films and I’ve seen two of them! The novellas are Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (filmed as The Shawshank Redemption), Apt Pupil, The Body (filmed as Stand By Me) and The Breathing Method (not a film as far as I know). None of these books are actually horror, although the events of Apt Pupil can certainly be viewed as horrific! But all of them confirmed for me why I believe Stephen King is a master storyteller. 5 stars (although The Green Mile remains my favourite Stephen King book).
20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of. (Subitted by me so not completing this category would have been embarrassing!)
I read Papillon by Henri Charrière. Despite the fact that I had read the film, I only vaguely remembered the story as “something about Steve McQueen escaping from prison by jumping off a cliff??”. You can tell the film made a great impression on me! SO I went into the book with some trepidation – honestly I was only reading it because of the BBC Big Read! So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really, really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t always the best written (or maybe that was the translator?) but it didn’t matter because it felt like I was sitting down to chat with the author. Actually, I bet this would be brilliant as an audio book! I gave this one 5 stars as well.
30 points: Read a microhistory.
And finally we come full circle… as mentioned, I read The Potato by Larry Zuckerman for this. As the title suggests, it’s all about the humble spud. But actually it’s more than that… it’s a social history of Europe (and briefly of America) with chapters explaining why the potato was so slow to gain popularity (first superstition about root vegetable, later it was known as a food for the poor and as a “lazy” food… and English peasants wouldn’t even eat it for decades because the Irish did, and although they were poor they weren’t that desperate). I enjoyed reading this but I would have preferred more information on the actual potato itself alongside all the (fascinating) history stuff. Also, it kept making me crave potatoes! 4 stars.
So, overall this was my best reading month of this challenge, with only Brave New World being not that enjoyable (although short enough that I should have got through it quicker than I did… if only I hadn’t got bored part way through!).
My next task is to complete Erin‘s challenge – for which I read precisely one book in August!