Reading challenge 2013 – part two


A year in reading – from the bar to the beach, from book club to kitten club.

Back in May I wrote a “quick” rundown of the books I’d read so far in the year, working toward my goal of 30 books. I’ve been meaning to write another update post but life got in the way. I finished my challenge, reaching my goal. Yippee!

I’m not sure if it’s cheating but I have read  a couple of “light” reads that take just a few days to read. These a basically mental Q-Tips for the brain. (Me on Goodreads)

Here’s my list again and a few thoughts (I’ll keep this brief – ready, set, go):

In the Woods by Tana French

An intriguing read. I do want to read the next two but I wasn’t blown away.

Discovery of Witches and Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness

Couldn’t put these down. It’s like Twilight but with more substance. Sort of. I mean, yes, it’s a vampire love story. But with history.

Things Fall Apart by Achebe

I had difficulties getting through this classic. I’m glad I read it. I think. But I wouldn’t say it’s a must read. I’ll take “Heart of Darkness” any day.

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht

Interesting novel. Strange concept. Not incredible but not bad either. I liked the concept of myth versus reality.

The Family by Mario Puzo *

Our July book club choice. Fascinating. And it led to some lively conversation. (Plus the Italian theme book club was awesome – wine, cheese, meats). Impressed by how easy it was to read.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

A powerful story about the slums of India. Certainly puts life in perspective. But I wish I could do something about this and yet, it’s a lot like reading about a train wreck you can do nothing to stop.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

The “It” book of the summer. I completely agree with Katherine’s review here. A little predictable but I liked the interchange of perspectives and alternative storytelling.

Serpent’s Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz

A follow-up to the first book I read a couple of years ago about the witches of East End. While it’s a light beach read, what I do like about these stories is the tie-in with Norse mythology. I’m looking forward to the third book since it will have more historical parts to it. Apparently I’m into witches now? (Also, the TV series just started on Lifetime. More Q-Tips for the brain.)

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick *

Our August book club choice. I wasn’t thrilled about this since I’d just seen the movie. I have a lot of opinions about the book but overall it was a quick read. It screamed like a replica of “Catcher in the Rye” and/or “Perks of Being a Wallflower” to me. I like some parts of the book better than the movie but it isn’t: “the book is better than the movie.”

Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella

I love a good Shopaholic book. Becky Bloomwood is just so honest. I love her.

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones/ City of Ashes / City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I read this hoping to catch up before the movie. It was no “Hunger Games” or “Divergent” but it wasn’t bad. A nice, dark YA read. I’ve decided to just stop with the original trilogy. I don’t have much hope for the others being any better.

The Engagements by Courtney Sullivan *

I liked how this book weaved together various stories from various times to connect them all. The small twist at the end was pretty good. I also feel like I learned a lot about the real story behind the marketing of diamonds and the creation of the diamond engagement ring myth. Overall, I enjoyed this book.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Probably my favorite book I read this year. I loved that I got insight on the Mormon religion and history, something I knew almost nothing about. And while this book is pretty anti-Mormon, it’s also about a larger view of organized faith and the things that people do in the name of their Gods, regardless of which faith they belong to.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell *

Book club picked this for our non-fiction month. It was pretty interesting and I feel like I learned a variety of things but I don’t know how much I can apply it to my daily decision making. The Pepsi Challenge was kind of fun though.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

My SIL has been talking about this book for years so I thought I’d read it before it became a movie. While it’s a YA book, I loved that it had so many different levels. It definitely made me stop and think for a few days. Better than the movie, but the movie wasn’t bad.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence *

“The ’50 Shades of Grey’ for the 1920s.” That’s my book club synopsis for it. Definitely not worth it. I hated every minute. Compared to his contemporaries like Fitzgerald and Sinclair, Lawrence’s writing was just drivel. OK so it was about a woman’s sexuality. It was still terrible.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Good. I kept waiting for some big, adult explanation that never came. I did love the ending though. Short enough that it’s worth reading.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

This turned out to be another of my favorite books for the year. I cried. A lot. A wonderfully different view of WWII with beautiful heart.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

A huge letdown. I hated that Tris and Four have the exact same voice. Several times I had to go back to the start of the chapter just to tell who was talking. The whole “bigger picture” part of it wasn’t that compelling. It felt rushed and halfhearted. Even the big twist at the end didn’t hold any power for me.

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas

While I don’t necessarily agree with his outlook on life and suburbia, I did find this book to offer good insight into a mindset I don’t understand. I know several young men with this belief so I enjoyed getting a deeper understanding of why they might feel this way.

Moving into 2014, I’m trying to find a way to broaden my reading the year. I read a lot of YA and fantasy books in 2013 but I want to make sure I’m really reading quality books. I honestly would love suggestions. Anyone?

One Response to “Reading challenge 2013 – part two”
  1. Sharon says:

    Read the Rushdie book Jonathan sent e
    Great read
    theEnchantress of Florence

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