52 Books Reading Challenge: 3-Month Review

At the start of the year I was determined to kick start my reading habits, and set myself a challenge to read 52 books in 2016. Rather than being a target that I’ll race to hit, I’m treating the challenge as a way of reminding myself to always have a book on the go, and to read more widely.

As we reach the 3-month mark, I’m looking back at how I’m doing and what my favourite books have been. I’m currently 2 books behind schedule due to one long and challenging read, but I’m catching up fast and am feeling much better about the amount of time I’m committing to reading instead of aimlessly scrolling Twitter or watching Netflix. These are the books I’ve most enjoyed in the first 3 months. Continue reading

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A Reading Challenge: 52 Books in 52 Weeks

This year, I’ve decided to take on a reading challenge, with the simple purpose of pushing myself to read more. I can’t believe it’s come to this. Really, I’m pretty ashamed. In my uni days I used to read at least 3 books a week for my English course, and even after I graduated there was a long period of time when I still devoured books, revelling in the joy of being able to read whatever I wanted instead of every choice being dictated by a required reading list. In the 7 months I was travelling I took huge advantage of hostel book swaps and never began a long-distance bus journey without a chunky novel in my bag, and when I first returned to the UK I had a 90-minute each way daily commute that I only survived with my head buried in a book.

Reading challenge-book collection Continue reading

Summer Book Haul

It recently came to my attention that my To Be Read pile had all but vanished, and it put me on edge. Although other life commitments mean I’m not as prolific a reader as I once was, I still always find it comforting to know that there’s a stack of books available to rifle through if I feel the need to pick up a new one, so to discover there was only one unread book in my bookcase was slightly disconcerting.

A visit to my favourite second-hand bookshop immediately shot to the top of my weekend to-do list. The Oxfam bookshop in Headingley is an absolute treasure trove with shelves catering for every genre you can think of; I literally don’t think I’ve ever left without making a purchase. The books are absolute bargains as well – with the price of a book averaging out at around £3.50 you’d be hard pushed to find cheaper on Amazon, and this way you’re paying for instant gratification instead of a painfully long delivery time, and helping a good cause!

After an especially successful trip I now have five new books, which at my current shamefully slow reading pace should be enough to last me the summer. Let’s have a look at what I got…

Summer book haul

Closing Time – Joseph Heller

This is actually my one remaining book from my last buying spree, and I’ve been putting off reading it because I’m still not sure what to think about it. Until now I never even realised that Catch-22 has a sequel, and I’m terrified that it’s going to be mind-numbingly mediocre. Even if it’s good, the book revisits the characters contemplating death as old men, and I can’t bear the thought of a character as remarkable as Yossarian dying of something as commonplace as old age…

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

For a feminist bookworm I’m still a relative Margaret Atwood newbie. I read Oryx and Crake at 20 and really enjoyed it, but I followed it up with Cat’s Eye and felt underwhelmed so neglected further reading in favour of more tempting prospects. However a row of Atwood books caught my eye and I remembered reading a lot of praise about The Blind Assassin, so at £2.99 I reasoned it was worth a try. I have very little idea what it’s about – even the blurb is cryptic – but I’m happy to leave it as a surprise!

The Beach – Alex Garland

I’ve seen Danny Boyle’s adaptation of The Beach and (Leo-swooning aside) struggled to pay attention for the full two hours, but I’m a firm believer in books being better than their film adaptations. Besides, most of my purchases are pretty heavy subject-wise, and with the adventure storyline and Thai island setting The Beach feels like a slight break from the serious stuff. I’ve got it earmarked as holiday reading – feels like the perfect material for a lazy day of sunbathing.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tarte

Possibly my most exciting find – I’m super thrilled by this one! Considering how relatively new this book is and the good condition it was in, I almost felt cheeky paying just £4 for it, but I wasn’t going to argue. I read The Secret History earlier this year and fell completely in love – the story was so intensely absorbing, the prose so breathtakingly flawless, that I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t been affected so deeply by a book in a long time, and I can’t wait to see if The Goldfinch measures up.

The Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

Eeeesh. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve picked this up before chickening out and putting it back on the shelf. Even the saleswoman winced at me as she scanned it through the till. Getting used to the slang is going to be a challenge but I’m cautiously optimistic, and I like the idea that I can pick up a made-up language while reading. However I might have to set aside a few hours to really get into this one; somehow it doesn’t feel like casual commute reading…

So there’s my reading list for the summer! What’s on yours?