Hello from the sick bay!
This is a post I’ve been working on for quite a few weeks. I’m currently wiped out by a chest and kidney infection, but I’m feeling like I’m coming out of the other side now. so I thought I’d update the old blog to stop me dying of boredom. I’m going back to the doctors later on today where they will decide if I need shooting or not.
Anyway. As those of you who know me will know that I love to read. I’ve always loved reading and I’ve spent a lot of time with my head in a book. Every year I set myself a reading challenge on the goodreads app. This year, I decided I wanted to read sixty books. I realise this sounds a lot, but my biggest achievement so far was reading 78 books in 2015, so for me, it seemed manageable.
Bloody hell, that’s a lot of pages.
2017 was a big year for us, because we got married! In terms of my reading though, this really didn’t help. I found the wedding planning incredibly stressful, and for one of the first times in my life, I found myself unable to read! The wedding was on my mind so much that every time I picked up a book, I’d just stare blankly at the text whilst my brain was tackling seating plans, or a food bill etc.
So there was a few months during the summer when I didn’t read a word. Then, as a wedding gift, my brother Jacob bought us a copy of “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil” and it was exactly what I needed. Once the wedding dust (confetti?) had settled, I started reading again by tackling some graphic novels, then easing myself back in.
This reading hiatus left me really behind on my challenge, so I told myself “50 pages a day if you’re working, 100 pages a day if it’s a day off” and I got there in the end!
Here’s all the books I read this year. (The ones in bold were my favourites, which I’ve (very briefly) reviewed below the list, and italicised ones were audiobooks).
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young
- The Girls by Emma Cline
- Pretty Iconic by Sali Hughes
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
- So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
- Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden
10) Pure by Andrew Miller
11) The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman
12) The Trees by Ali Shaw
13) The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
14) Maus by Art Spiegelman
15) Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
16) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
17)Rose Madder by Stephen King
18) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
19) When The Floods Came by Clare Morrall
20) Like A Queen by Constance Hall
21) Ctrl, Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon
22) The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
23) How To Understand Israel in Sixty Days or Less by Sarah Glidden
24) The People At Number 9 by Felicity Everett
25) Domina by L.S. Hilton
26)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling
27) Beautiful Bodies by Kimberley Rae Miller
28) The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
29) He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
30) Rough Music by Patrick Gale
31) Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince by J K Rowling
32) The Children Act by Ian McEwan
33) Habibi by Craig Thompson
33) The Power by Naomi Alderman
34) Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling
35) The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
36) The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
37) Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delise
38) My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
39) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
40) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
41) A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman
42) I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
43) The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver
44) Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
45) How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti
46) Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
47) Nutshell by Ian McEwan
48) Wonder by R.J. Palacio
49) The Bricks That Built The Houses by Kate Tempest
50) The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
52) Kaleidoscope City – A Year in Varanasi by Piers Moore Ede
53) Wool – The Graphic Novel by Hugh Howey
54) Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
55) The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
56) Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
57) Black Hole by Charles Burns
58) Leap Year by Helen Russell
59) The Good Children by Roopa Farooki
60) The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
I was interested to see all the books in one place, and see what that says about my reading habits:
I read 37/60 books by women (so 23/60 by men)
I read 47novels and 13 non-fiction books
I read 7 graphic novels
This year, I felt I read a lot of “easy” books, and the focus felt more quantity over quality. Next year I’m going to set a challenge of less books so I can hone in on some longer, classic novels.
Here are the books I’d recommend that I’ve read this year:
If you’re looking for the audiobook equivalent of comfort food: Listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Stephen Fry
If you want a true life account that will render your troubles insignificant: Read “Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala – written by a woman who lost her family in the Boxing Day tsunami
If you’ve been living under a rock for 27 years like me: Read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Hilarious.
If you need an easy feel good read: Read “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. It’s just been made into a film too!
If you want a weirdly beautiful book with incredible language and imagery, read: “A Year of Marvellous Ways” by Sarah Winman (Thanks for lending me this Mimi!)
For an intriguing historical novel with a touch of the supernatural: “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue
If you’re brave enough to have your heart blown into a million pieces (don’t say I didn’t warn you: Try “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara
For a laugh out loud, read: “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris
The best graphic novel: “Maus” by Art Spiegelman
If you want to fall in love with the characters, and then sob at the end: “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry
For a weepy love story: ‘My Dear I Wanted To Tell You” by Louisa Young
Here is what I did to read more:
Set a goodreads challenge. This is the single thing that motivates me to read the most. For those of you who haven’t come across it, goodreads is a book app. You make a profile, set a challenge and log the books you read. I also really enjoy reading other people’s reviews.
Read what you want to read. This may sound obvious, but to read a lot, you need to read what you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to read anything because you think that’s what you should be reading. This joins onto my next point:
Give yourself permission to ditch rubbish books. I have a fifty page rule: if I’m fifty pages in and I’m still hating a book then I give up and read something else. Life is to short to read shit books (and believe me there are SO many!!!!!!)
Listen to audiobooks. Yes, in my opinion, this still counts as reading. Controversial. Tom doesn’t believe that listening to audiobooks “counts,” but the way I view it, I still know the story, and all the characters, and can discuss the book with someone who has read it.
Always have a book with you. There’s a quote by Lemony Snicket that I feel is a good philosophy for life “Never trust anyone who hasn’t got a book with them.” Similarly, I always feel a little unsettled if I go to someone’s house and they haven’t got any books. Anyway, I digress. Always have a book with you. Those minutes where you arrive early somewhere, or you’re sat on the bus staring at your smartphone can be spent reading instead.
Quit social media: I’ve read SO much more since doing so.
Variety is the spice of life. If I’ve just read a 1000 page literary award-winning piece of literature, I’ll read a trashy page-turner next. Otherwise I get fed up and loose steam.