Reading Challenge Update: Week 1 & 2

There’s two for the price of one with this week’s Reading Challenge updates.  So far, I’m on target for my 100 books, with four under my belt.  I’m going to summarise my reading here, and post links to the full reviews from Goodreads on the brand spanking new reading challenge page.

orlandoThe first book of the year was ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf.  This feels a bit like cheating because I read it last Summer (it’s on my uni reading list), but I’m including it anyway.  I’ll be spending a lot of time with Orlando over the coming weeks as its forming the basis of a big assignment I’m working on.  My general thoughts:  I love it.  Virginia Woolf is one of my all-time favourite writers.  I recently read ‘Mrs Dalloway’ for my book club, so I have been in my element. While on the first read it is an intriguing story, I’m currently on my third read through and I have to say, it gets better each time.  As with all of my uni reading, I do a lot of background and contextual reading which adds a lot to understanding.  I’m having to reign myself in a little here, before I bore everyone.  ‘Orlando’ fits into Book Riot’s Read Harder LGBTQ category.

I’ve also completed the Read Harder’s short stories category with Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Nocturnes’.  ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Ishiguro is a noctuensefantastic novel, so when I spotted this collection in my local library, I snapped it up.  I love short stories, especially when I’m busy with other reading.  It’s good to have something you can dip in and out of; something which takes less commitment than a full novel.  That said  I couldn’t put this book down and read it in one sitting, staying up until 3am to finish the final story.  I’ll post more in my proper review, but if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to read this collection.

Also read is Brecht’s ‘Life of Galileo’ for uni and another re-read galin Emile Zola’s ‘Germinal. ‘Life of Galileo’ is an absolutely brilliant play, but not something I would normally read.   This is
another option for my Uni assignment against ‘Orlando’ and the poems of Okigbo.  Despite my love for Woolf, it was a difficult decision to make because I loved ‘Galileo’ so much.

‘Germinal’ is my first banned book of the year, as it was banned by the Vatican.  I first read ‘Germinal’ in my very early twenties.
germinal(Scarily over a decade ago. How the heck did that happen?)  The thing I’ve noticed about re-reading books later in life, is how much perspective and opinions change.  It can be like reading a different book.  ‘Germinal’ really is a masterpiece and I don’t think I appreciated it enough first time around. I’ve made a note to try to read some more by Zola this year.

Also, I’ve added a new challenge to my list.  (Yes, I know). My lovely librarian talked me into joining in with the Derbyshire Libraries challenge.  There are only four books on it and I’ve got until the end of March, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.  The categories are:  a new author; a new genre; something to learn a new skill and a book to gain a new knowledge.  It should be fun!

One thing I have learned so far with the challenge is that generally I don’t think too much about what I am going to read.  My usual library style is a little bit like Supermarket Sweep – I grab as many books as I can carry (and that my card will allow) and run.  My last visit to the library was a lot more considered.  I spent time carefully making my choices and wondering which category each book would fit into.  While I think this will in the long-term widen my reading; I do tend to go for familiar authors or intriguing covers/blurb; I don’t want my personal reading to become too careful.  I’m going to have to try to keep a happy medium between fun and challenging.

What have you been reading?

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