Book Challenge by Erin 6.0: Preliminary list

What, another book challenge…. is I’m sure what my readers are thinking. Especially those who aren’t interested in my book posts. Sorry, but they’re not going to stop any time soon!

Erin’s next book challenge starts on 1 January and she’s asked us to try and get our preliminary lists up by 15 December. I don’t want my (full) real name being associated with my blog on Facebook, so my list is going here instead. The image below links to the Facebook group (I hope!). If you want to join in you can track your progress there, on your blog or on Goodreads (there’s a group). Erin is the most accommodating host ever!

bookchallengebyerin6-0

So, the basic rules: All books must be at least 200 pages. Only one re-read allowed. Only books read between 1 January and 30 April 2017 count. Most important: HAVE FUN!

Now the categories and my (tentative) choices.

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.
TBD based on what I cannot resist reading the second I get my hands on it during the challenge time frame.

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.
Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse because it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for I don’t even know how long waiting for me to read it.

10 points: Read a book with six words in the title.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez because it’s on the BBC Big Read list.

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.
I looked at all the books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet and would you believe not a single one had a green(ish) cover? So this one is TBD until I find a green book.

20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title (inspired by the book Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin that I read last challenge with a character who is obsessed with homonyms.) Only ONE word in the title needs to be a homonym. Helpful link: https://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html
The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas. Homonym = by (bye/buy). Yes, it’s that simple!

20 points: (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favourite author.
I love how this one assumes I have one favourite author! Really? Just one? Umm, nope! That said, I am choosing a book by an author whose books I really, really love. The Trespasser by Tana French.

25 points: (Submitted by Christina) Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.
Umm, does anyone know of any book that’s set in Basel? Other than a small part of The Night Circus? Didn’t think so! I will either have to find one of the local crime novels that are so popular in the German-speaking world or take Erin up on her kind offer to use a book that’s set near where I’m from in England, in which case I will read Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay. It’s set in Whitley Bay, which I think is close enough to Northumberland, and I already own it having bought it precisely because it’s set in Whitley Bay…

30 points: (Submitted by Peggy) Read a “Rory Gilmore” book. The character of Rory from the Gilmore Girls was shown reading over 300 different books throughout the series. Choose one of them from this helpful link: https://www.buzzfeed.com/…/all-339-books-referenced-in-gilm…

I am currently very tentatively saying Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, but it’s long so please forgive me if I later change my mind Erin!

• 30 points: (Submitted by Stef Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)
The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat is a war story and I hate war stories! If I can’t bring myself to read that one for the challenge, I also have Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, which is a science fiction/space travel novel. Also not my favourite genre… unless Douglas Adams is involved. So we’ll see which of those books I can force myself to read 😉

35 points: (Submitted by Ferne) Read a book with time travel. Helpful link: https://www.goodreads.com/…/4018.The_Best_Time_Travel_Books…

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. I was considering this one for the homonyms category (our/hour), but then I read the synopsis and remembered that it mentions travelling back in time, so it’s going in this one.

So, that will be my reading for the start of next year… providing I can manage to resist the lure of some of them until then (The Trespasser and The Secret by the Lake, I’m, looking at you!)

Will you be taking part in the challenge?

Friday letters

Good morning! How is everyone today? I hope you have some nice plans for the weekend (even if it just having a lazy couple of days and relaxing – those kind of weekend plans are also nice). As for me, I’m finishing work early today to travel up to Jan’s dad’s place. This week his mum turned 60 and she’s having a bit of a celebration tomorrow. Since neither of us took holiday, it will be a whirlwind trip… 5 and a bit hours there tonight, Saturday with his family then another 5 and a bit hour train journey on Sunday! At least it will give me plenty of time to read 🙂

Now for some letters:

Mail box

Dear work. Could you please stop switching between really busy and almost nothing to doand find a happy medium?

Dear birds. I’m glad you found your food, but I wish you wouldn’t get spooked and fly away the second I enter my living room. It’s hard to remember to creep around my own flat just in case any of you are out there enjoying a snack!

Dear BBC Big Read voters. I feel like some of you misunderstood the question you were being asked. You were supposed to vote for your favourite books, not the longest ones you’ve ever read! Far too many of the books on the list have over 1,000 pages.

Dear Basel Christmas market. This time next week you will be on your second day! The festive season is coming around far too quickly.

Dear cross stitching. You are coming along fairly well. Not too many more little stitches to go! Next comes the hard part… making you all into pretty Christmas cards. Can I manage you all before it’s too late?

That’s all for today. Happy weekend everyone.

Book Challenge by Erin 5.0 – complete

I actually did it! I finished Erin’s book challenge.

At the end of last month, I had read five out of ten books. This month I didn’t have any Shoguns to read so I got through the final five relatively quickly. Here’s what I read in October:

challenge-books

5 Points: Freebie

I was originally going to read Outlander by Diana Gabbaldon, but I ended up changing it (sorry Erin!). I just couldn’t face historical fiction right now after the epic that was Shogun! Instead I read Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, which was mysterious and magical and somehow very English (with its bluebells and woods and a cup of tea for any and all problems). The continuous switching of viewpoints without warning was annoying though, so I gave it 3.5 stars.

20 points: (Submitted by Barbara A. Wild; she’s a twin and is a mother to twins.) Read a book with twins as characters.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is beautifully written and very readable, but very, very dark and also very confusing. I felt like I didn’t really “get” it the way I was supposed to, so while I liked it well enough I only gave it 3 stars.

20 points: (Submitted by Christina Mapes) Read a book from the following list of books made into movies: http://www.popsugar.com.au/…/Books-Being-Adapted-Movies-327…

I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It was much easier to read than a lot of classics and I powered my way through it in two days (thank you two-hour train journey!). Jan had already warned me that Victor Frankenstein spent most of the time whining , so I was at least prepared for that, but Captain Walton was just as bad. Ohhh, poor little me, I have no friend to love me and sympathise with me. And then I finally found a friend but he’s been through so much and I can’t persuade him not to want to die. Ohhh.. woe is meeee! Even the damn creature was whiny on the few occasions we actually got to hear from him – admittedly he had a good reason for it, but still, So. Much. Whining. Plus, whatever else this book may be, it isn’t horror! I enjoyed it though, despite all that, and gave it 4 stars. Also, I’m impressed that Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote it. I wanted to be an author at 19, but the drivel I produced doesn’t bare thinking about!

30 points: (Submitted by Ericka Blankenship) Read a music related book.

I read I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne and really, really enjoyed it. Some of it I knew already from watching documentaries about Black Sabbath/Ozzy, but a lot was new. Somehow Ozzy seems very down to earth despite his fame. And credit has to go to Chris Ayres for turning Ozzy’s drug-addled memories into something coherent, readable and compelling. 4 stars – not perfect but really good!

35 points: (Submitted by Ferne Merrylees) Read a book originally published over 100 years ago.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling is surprisingly readable despite the fact that I felt like I was missing something. The language was really hard to understand at first, but it gradually got easier. 4 stars.

I certainly read a range of books for this challenge, and with The Diary of a Nobody, Artemis Fowl, The God of Small Things, Frankenstein, Shogun, The Clan of the Cave Bear and Kim I managed to make quite a dent in the BBC Big Read as well! And now I have a few days to read whatever I want before Megan‘s next challenge starts.

Previous check in posts for this challenge are here, here and here.

Book challenge by Erin 5.0 – month 3

books

In the third month of Erin’s challenged I managed to read a grand total of two books. One of those books had over 1,000 pages though, so I feel no shame! Also, for one of the categories I ended up reading a book that was not included as a suggestion on my preliminary list. Sorry Erin! Here are the categories I completed in September:

25 points: read a book set in a country that you have always wanted to visit.

I literally just finished reading Shogun by James Clavell about half an hour ago! It’s a good job I had this week off otherwise there’s no way I would have got through it this month. My copy has 1,210 pages… that’s a lot of reading for just 25 points! It’s set in Japan, which is maybe not a place I’ve always wanted to visit (did I care about visiting anywhere when I was 5?), but I’ve definitely wanted to go there for a long time. I was reluctant to start reading this epically long book, but by the time I’d read the first chapter I was hooked. It did get tedious at times and I felt like it could have been a lot shorter, and the author’s obvious love for his main character also grated occasionally (yes, Blackthorne is sooo well endowed and so clever and can learn Japanese faster than anyone, ever. I get it!), but overall it’s a really good book. I gave it 4 stars (although I will never read it again… that is far too many hours of my life that I won’t get back!).

30 points: read a historical fiction book.

I originally suggested two tentative possibilities for this, but what I actually ended up reading was The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. It’s the story of a clan of Neanderthals who adopt a little Cro-Magnon orphan girl – you can’t get much more “historical” than that! There were a few things that annoyed me about this book – most notably the weird things the author felt the need to explain, like what hypothermia is – but I got through it quickly despite it being pretty long (495 pages) and I was always interested to find out what would happen next so I gave it 4 stars.

That’s five out of ten books read, and this month’s 55 points brings my total up to 90 points. One month, five books and 110 points left to go!

Both books are also on the BBC Big Read, so that’s another two books closer to completing that category for my 35 before 35 list.

Book Challenge by Erin 5.0 – month 2

I briefly mentioned it yesterday, but I thought this deserved it’s own check-in post, even though I only managed to read one measly little book for Erin’s book challenge! It as at least on the BBC Big Read though, so another book down for that.

NobodyFor the category “Read a book with five words in the title” I read The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith (did you count the words? There really were 5!).

This book isn’t about anything in particular, but it’s strangely compelling. It’s the diary of Charles Pooter, a senior bank clerk who works in The City of London (for non-Brits, that doesn’t just mean London… the City of London is a separate entity within London where all the financial institutions are, including the London Stock Exchange). The book is supposed to be hilarious, although I disagree. It has a few funny moments, but hilarious is a bit strong! It does give an interesting (if satirised) insight into everyday life in a middle-calls Victorian family. I gave it four stars.

This category is worth 10 points, so combined with last month’s 25 that gives me a total of 35! It’s a good job Erin is generous with her challenges and has given us until the end of October to finish reading!

Lesson learned: if you’re going to do two challenges at once, try to find books that overlap!

Summer reading challenge completed!

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!

Summer Reading Challenge Month 2

Well, I will definitely not be getting to pick a category for Megan’s next reading challenge since 5 people have already finished and I’m lagging behind. One month to go! Can I do it?

For now, here’s the progress I made in July:

challenge-books

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children.

I read Telling Liddy by Anne Fine, who has written many children’s books, the best known of which is probably Madame Doubtfire (filmed as Mrs Doubtfire). Telling Liddy is the story of four sisters. The titular Liddy has a new boyfriend and when one of the other sisters hears a rumour about him, they have to decide whether to tell Liddy. One sister thinks they should, the other 2 agree but then when Liddy gets mad act like they never wanted to tell her, leading to the sister who thought they should tell being blamed for everything and ostracised. Anne Fine is an excellent writer, but this book just didn’t do it for me. It was kind of odd and I didn’t care about any of the sisters. The whole family dynamic was just weird to me. I only gave this one 2 stars – I think I’ll stick to her children’s books in future!

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia.

I read The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison-Allen. This list says it’s set in Appalachia and it had already been on my to-read list for a while. I liked this book. It was cute and comforting – a bit like the literary equivalent of comfort food. Not a masterpiece, but a nice little read. Garden Spells is better though, so if you haven’t read this author before I would go for that one. I gave The Peach Keeper four stars based on my enjoyment of it rather than any particular literary merit.

15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing.The_Magus

Ah, this was the book I was struggling with last month! I read The Magus by by John Fowles for this. The first part of the book draaagged. It was so full of “clever” observations and unnecessary convoluted descriptions. About half way through it started to pick up a bit and I actually enjoyed the middle part. Then the ending was really confusing. Overall, the book left me feeling like I wasn’t not clever/intellectual enough to be reading it. Three stars because I liked it more than I thought I would. I won’t read it again though! (Picture included so you can see the cover I didn’t like).

25 points: Read a book with a punny title.

I read Faust Among Equals by Tom Holt for this one, the original phrase of course being “first among equals”. Apparently this is a sort of sequel to Faust, but you can read it without having read Faust (I haven’t!). This book was quite funny/clever in some places, but the humour often seemed forced or too much, like the author was trying really, really hard to be “punny”. The writing style reminded me of Douglas Adams, but not as good. It was a quick read though and I quite enjoyed it. Four stars.

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural.

I read Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson for my plural word and The Secret History by Donna Tartt for my singular word. Both are on the BBC Big Read list.

Secrets was okay, but it is very much a children’s book. There are obviously children’s books that adults can enjoy (even by this author!), but this one doesn’t fall into the category for me. I can see why a ten year old girl would like it though. I gave it three stars.

The Secret History was not what I was expecting! I’m not sure what I was expecting though. I bought it without reading the description purely to cross another book off the BBC Big Read. Turns it it’s a sort of murder mystery in reverse – we know who committed murder; the book explains the why. I really enjoyed this one, even though it was just as full of Greek references as The Magus. The difference is this one didn’t seem to be looking down on my non-Greek-speaking self. Five stars!

So that’s 105 points gained this month. Added to my 30 from last month gives me a total of 135. Four categories worth a total of 65 points to go. I’m actually part way through books for two categories, so hopefully I’ll complete the challenge in August.

I also read some books for Book Challenge by Erin 5.0, but that will get its own post.

Friday letters

Guuyysss… how on Earth is it Friday already?! This week has gone so fast! I was shocked when I realised it was Thursday yesterday and not Wednesday like I thought. This weekend I’m mostly going to be finishing off a cross stitch, but I’m hoping I’ll also find some time to relax since it’s the last weekend for a while that we don’t have either visitors or plans (or both!).

letter box

Dear wardrobe. We love you! It’s so nice to actually be able to find all my clothes! And that new wood smell you’re still giving off is also nice.

Dear chocolate. Stop tempting me! There’s a pretty dress I need to fit into in a mere two weeks.

Dear Switzerland. Would you like to explain to me why most supermarkets make you ask for pine nuts at the counter. Are they particularly dangerous? Addictive? What? Inquiring minds want to know!

Dear BBC Big Read books. I’ve said this before, but seriously why are most of you so long?!

Dear crumpets. I think I need to dig out the recipe I have for you and make you again. Toast just isn’t the same!

Enough for today. I need to go and drink a cup of tea on my balcony 🙂

Happy weekend, dear readers!

 

I read (very few of) my books!

Like many readers, I am definitely guilty of buying many, many books that I find going cheap and then not actually getting round to reading most of them before buying more. This problem is currently being exacerbated (yeah… I had to look up the spelling of that!) by the BBC Big Read list. I keep buying books from there without even checking what they’re about then taking one look at the synopsis/length/teeny tiny writing and putting them off for another day. So when Erin announced that she was co-hosting a challenge for people to actually read their books I was all for it!

I already briefly mentioned it here, but today is the day of the official linkup where we let everyone know how we did, so you’ll just have to put up with another post on it 😉

Read My Books (1)

I went into the challenge thinking it would be easy. Like I said, I already own lots of books that I’ve never even opened, so all I had to do was pick them up and read them. I got off to a good start with Amity & Sorrow for the Semi-charmed Summer Reading Challenge – it wasn’t the best book, but it was a fairly quick read. Then I decided to start The Magus… and that was my downfall. I started it on 10th June and only managed to finish it on 5th July! That book draaaagged! Towards the end of the month, I quickly read A Good Talk, which has been on my shelves for so long that I don’t even remember buying it! So that brought my total up to about 2 and a half books. Not a result I can say I’m proud of, but at least I managed to make room on my bookshelves for two new books (I didn’t particularly enjoy either of the books I finished so they’re off to a free bookshelf somewhere to hopefully find someone who does like them).

Since then, I’ve read two books that I technically owned before the challenge since they arrived at the end of May and one that I only bought in June (hey, just because I’d agreed to only read my own books didn’t mean I couldn’t acquire new ones for after the challenge was finished ;-)). If the challenge had been over two months I would have done sooo much better!

Do you read everything you buy straight away or do you end up with many books accumulating on your shelves (or e-reader) like me? And, if the latter, how do you convince yourself to actually read the books you already own instead of buying/borrowing/downloading more?

Summer Reading Challenge Month 1 + Read My Books

During June I was taking part in two reading challenges – Megan’s Summer 2016 Book Challenge and Erin’s #ReadMyBooks challenge, which basically meant that as well as sticking to Megan’s categories I had to read books that were already on my shelves waiting to be read. I did ask Erin whether it would be cheating to read almost all books I already owned since I didn’t already own books for every category, but the point turned out to be moot seeing as I only managed to read a total of 2 and a half books in June. Why must The Magus go on so?

So, checking in for the #SCSBC16:

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word.

For my bad word, I read Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley (full review here); brief summary: it could have been good but was ultimately confusing and lacking in detail. I’m sure there are better books on cults out there! Two stars.

For my good word I went very literal and read A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation by Daniel Menaker. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, but what I got was not it! It is neither particularly helpful for improving my awful social/conversational skills nor is it a particularly good explanation of what conversation actually is. The chapter on the history of conversation was boring and the analysis wasn’t very insightful and the “humour” had an air of trying too hard. Another two star read.

I’m currently reading The Magus by John Fowles for my book with an unappealing cover (the cover of the copy I have doesn’t appeal to me). Goodreads tells me I’m 58% of the way through (it doesn’t half drag on!) so maybe I’ll get some points for it next month? As it stands, I earned a total of 30 points in June.

As for reading my books… Erin’s challenge forced me to have a look at what actually is on my shelves! Amity & Sorrow moved to Basel with us but managed to get lost on the bottom shelf, I have no memory of buying A Good Talk but I must have since it was lurking on the non-fiction bookcase (yes, we have an entire bookcase for non-fiction) and it’s not something Jan would buy, and I finally reluctantly picked up The Magus, which has been lurking ominously for while wanting to be read for the BBC Big Read but being just long enough (and with an unappealing cover to boot) to put me off actually picking it up and getting started. Now I’m part way through, I have an incentive to actually push on to the end so I can cross another book off my 35 before 35 list.