Any good writer will tell you that you need to read more than you write. Yet, I have found that I sometimes get caught up into a single genre. I’m a big fan of Fantasy settings, so a huge amount of my reading is done there. Over the past six months in particular, though, I’ve really started to feel challenged on increasing my range of reading, and so going into 2016, I’ve looked at a few of the “reading challenge” ideas that go around at the beginning of each year, and have settled on this one.
- A book published this year (2016).
- A book you can finish in a day.
- A book you’ve been meaning to read.
- A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.
- A book you should have read in school.
- A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.
- A book published before you were born.
- A book that was banned at some point.
- A book you previously abandoned.
- A book you own but have never read.
- A book that intimidates you.
- A book you’ve already read at least once.
This is certainly not meant to be the exhaustive list of everything I read in 2016, but it was a good starting point for something to get me a little out of my comfort zone. I’ve done a bit of looking around to come up with a collection of titles, and here’s the ones I’ve chosen.
A book published this year (2016)
This was actually the hardest of all of the categories for me to pick just one book from. I looked through a number of different lists of anticipated books of 2016 and there looks to be some amazing books coming out this year. Set in 19th century Paris, GoodReads tells me that the story follows an intriguing tale of the life of soprano Lilliet Berne.
A book you can finish in a day
This book won the “Mans Booker Prize” in 2011, and, according to Amazon, is “a novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting.” At 163 pages in length, I think that’s a pretty feasible expectation, so it made the list. A similar sounding base plot to The Queen of the Night, actually, as the protagonist is forced to come to terms with certain aspects of his past.
A book you’ve been meaning to read
I know, right? Mr “I-usually-only-read-fantasy” is listing one of the biggest fantasy sagas of the 21st century as the book he’s been meaning to read? The problem is that with Tolkien, Eddings, Feist, etcetera, I just didn’t quite get up to Martin before Game of Thrones came out on TV, so then I was busy watching it instead. Now that the TV series and books are basically up to date with one another, though, I figured I might as well get started reading.
A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
Most of my life, these days, is online – therefore, I’m counting Amazon as my local bookseller. It’s kind of cheating, but Amazon’s been recommending this thriller to me since before it was released, and I’m keen to pick it up. I’m a purist reader at heart, but it’s a lot easier to carry a hundred e-books around on my iPad than it is to carry 100 books around.
A book you should have read in school
The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx
The problem with being a book geek, was that every book I should have read in school, I did read in school. However, when it came to The Shipping News, I just found the story so boring and annoying that I didn’t really enjoy it that much. This is a book that won both a Pulitzer prize and the U.S. National Book Award, and was turned into a screenplay. So I figured, let’s give it a second chance.
A book chosen for you by your sibling
Honestly, I tried to cheat here. I knew that last year, my brother read and enjoyed The Martian, and so was expecting that, in asking him which book he would recommend I read this year, that he’d say that one. Instead, he came at me with a memoir from NASA flight director Gene Kranz. I think he still did alright, though. I’m looking forward to reading this one.
A book published before you were born
There are so many classics that I still need to get through, but this one was easy, as The Count of Monte Cristo was always going to be next on my list of old classics to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie version of this with Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce, and after reading The Three Musketeers, Dumas’ other classic was pretty much a requirement.
A book that was banned at some point
The toss-up here was between this and A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which will no doubt get read at some point as well. Apparently, Ulysses was banned in Australia from 1929 to 1937, and then again from 1941 until 1953, primarily, it seems, because there were so many copies in circulation that the ban was ineffectual anyway.
A book you previously abandoned
Honestly, this is probably the biggest challenge in my list, from my perspective. Only because the reason I abandoned it previously over struggles to engage with the story itself. I’ve read other books, though, that were a struggle, and some of them have turned out to be worth the struggle in the end, so let’s see how this one goes second time around.
A book you own but have never read
I’m an obsessive book buyer. There’s actually a whole heap of books in my possession that I’ve bought and am yet to read, so this one was picked solely on the basis that it was the first one I saw. I have read, previously, The Mermaids Singing by McDermid, so reading more of her work has been on the cards for a while.
A book that intimidates you
I first tried to read War and Peace when I was about ten years old, because it was mentioned in a Peanuts comic strip. I kind of failed at that time, for obvious reasons. I was a good reader, but the language of that epic was still beyond my reach at the time. Tolstoy still intimidates me, but I’ve been meaning to read this for a while.
A book you’ve already read at least once
I read this book and its sequel, Shadows of Eden, in high school, borrowed from the library. A few years ago I was at a garage sale and found both of them in a box and figured I’d grab them and see if they were as good as I remembered. In the same vein as many other books that I buy, they’ve since sat on my shelf waiting for action.