This year our local bookshop is conducting a reading challenge. Now that Moira goes to bed at 7:30pm, I thought, well, why not! Reading is quiet, portable, and doesn’t require me to get into a “mode” the way that writing does. As January revealed, I like a structured challenge, and I have been enjoying the Twig’s reading challenge since January 2. I’ll be reporting on my progress periodically.
AND I want your recommendations for the categories I still haven’t completed!
Twig Book Challenge
Number in the title:
Became a movie:
Written by someone under 30:
Non human characters: Norse Mythology 2/10- Fascinating to see the origin myths of the Norse culture. Like the Greeks, the Norse gods are fallible, petty beings with unique strengths and weaknesses. The family trees are complex and the world structure is hard to follow, I had to keep referring to the glossary and the diagrams. Tolkien’s worlds are largely influenced by the Norse myths, and it shows very strongly in the collection I read.
Supposed to read in high school:
Mystery or thriller: Ripper, Isabel Allende 3/6- fantastic page turners from one of my favorites. Her characters are much more developed than most mysteries, which, of course, I liked. There were definitely some amateurish missteps in the clues, like she was trying to mislead the reader. But the final reveal was so original and satisfying that you don’t mind the stray details. There were also some story lines and characters that should have just been left out, but it all worked together to create no just a mystery, but a mystery enshrined in a fascinating and intriguing cast of characters.
One word title:
Short Stories: Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood 1/8 I just love MA. She’s the best. Each of these stories was enjoyable in its own right, but together they were symphonic. They were futuristic, but not sci-fi. They had a reflective tone, which tells you MA is aging with grace and giving us glimpses into how age shapes imagination. My favorite was “Torching the Dusties.”
Own but never read: Secret Pilgrim, John Le Carre 1/23 Lewis is a JLC fan, as is Doc Simons. I read TTSS in college, and am familiar with some of his other stories from their movie adaptations. This one was another interesting series of stories that included reflection on aging. The spy’s growing compassion and cynicism were moving, and each story rang true of how “drama” matures in our lives as well.
Popular author’s first book:
Author you love:
More than 500 pages:
Award winner: Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole 2/1- I laughed the whole way through. It was absurd, and there was no real plot, but it was brilliant. The main parody, Ignatius J. Reilly was a lovely characature of the over-indulged intellectual white man who feels that the universe shows its own stupidity by refusing to acknowledge his brilliance. Seeing that character get his comeuppance was a personal treat.
Based on a true story: Wife, Maid, Mistress, Ariel Lawhon 2/16- This was a clever hypothesis for a real life “whodunnit.” The role of each woman was empowering, without being too on-the-nose. I love a good 20’s-30’s period piece.
More than 100 years old:
Set in a country you’ve always wanted to visit:
From childhood: Chicken Trek 2/28- Two hours of my life well spent. I loved this book as a kid, and I loved it as an adult. Its zany, silly, and hilarious. Oscar J. Noodleman was a literary hero when I was a kid, and Chicken Trek is vintage 3rd grade humor. And it made me hungry for fried chicken.
Set in the future:
Set in high school: Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell 1/10- My YA guru, Lee recommended this one. I was surprised by the maturity of the content and how wonderfully relatable the characters were. The heroine in particular was refreshing. She was not an unconventional beauty. She wasn’t a beauty at all. But she was attractive and winning. It walked the fine line between gritty and romantic very well, which impressive since it was set in a really unappealing place with characters I wouldn’t necessarily sympathize with on my own.
Written in different language: Gunnar’s Daughter, Sigrid Unset 2/4- I’m so excited to discover Sigrid Unset. This book was super empowering. The heroine is a survivor in a world that rivals King Arthurs. In fact I prefer it to the rest of the medieval world.
Started but never finished:
Recommended by Twig:
I love this approach and would like to join you. For me, building reading lists simultaneously takes the joy of spontaneity away and overwhelms with so many choices. I like the focused, yet broad direction of these themes.
Recommendations (although I think your taste is more academic than mine):
Supposed to read in high school: Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Author I love: Have you read anything by Stephen Fry or John Hodgeman?
Scares me: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. (Scary kids novel)
Set in the future: Wool by Hugh Howey. This is my current favorite book series.
That’s exactly what I loved about their list. I feel like anything I come across that I want to read will somehow fit onto the list. I’ll investigate your recommendations. It’s hard to get less academic than Chicken Trek! Yours look perfect.