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. This quarter’s reads have reviews, last quarter’s reviews are on the previous Twig post.
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
Supposed to read in high school: Silas Mariner, George Elliot – Okay…I didn’t finish this one. Just like I didn’t finish it in high school. And my (probably unmerited) boredom with the story and its dense prose elucidated something for me. I’m all for making students read classics, and the value of great books, and whatnot. Here’s what I’m more in favor of: teenagers loving to read. Killing their love for reading by making them read the compendium of short classics (whether or not they are interesting) is one way to kill that love. It makes classics seam boring and tedious. In contrast: we read The Count of Monte Cristo in 8th grade, and discussed it in great detail. It took something like 4 months. But it did a lot for my love of reading and valuing of classic literature. I’m sure Travels with Charley, The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, and Silas Mariner are all great in their own right, but it’s not because they are short. What makes them great is not necessarily what is going to make high school students (or tired 31-year-old moms) want to read them.
Mystery or thriller: Ripper, Isabel Allende 3/6
One word title: Euphoria, Lily King 5/3 This was a fun, quick read about a love triangle in the tropics. I didn’t think it was as great as everyone else seemed to. Sometimes I think anthropology, hidden tribes, and tropical climates are just an inviting formula to write about Western people throwing off their sexual mores and getting in touch with their primal selves. This does interest me and it makes for gripping reading. But it’s not exactly groundbreaking anymore. Not sure how closely the story hangs to Margaret Mead’s life, but it did remind me of the ill fated love triangle of The Galapagos Affair.
Short Stories: Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood 1/8
Own but never read: Secret Pilgrim, John Le Carre 1/23
Texas Author: Aransas, Stephen Harrigan, 3/20 A simple book about something that has bothered me for a while now: man’s assumed right to take animals into captivity and make them perform for us. I liked this book a lot, largely because he did handle the dilemma fairly and honestly.
Popular author’s first book: Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver, 3/25 Everything I love about BK was here in this book. The earthiness, the openness, the bits of drama in a larger more subtle story that explores human relationships. There were some problems with this one (the fraught love, for one, was not developed evenly). But I always love her strong, bewildered women.
Author you love: Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood 4/12 MA never fails me. This one started slow, and managed to build a page turner without ever recounting in graphic detail the grisly double murder at its core. I love MA’s feminism. It’s tied in with the good of humanity.
More than 500 pages:
Award winner: Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole 2/1
Based on a true story: Wife, Maid, Mistress, Ariel Lawhon 2/16
Funny book: Native Tongue, Carl Hiassen 4/21 When I fantasize about justice being served, CH is the one administering it. That’s all I’ll say.
More than 100 years old:
Set in a country you’ve always wanted to visit: The Slap, Christos Tsioklas 3/28 I wanted very much to love this book. And I did like it. I was gripped. I was upset when I was supposed to be upset. But I was also sort of upset when I don’t know if I was supposed to be upset. The only place that the author seemed truly at home was the heady, drug fueled senior celebration day for a teenage boy half in and half out of the closet. It felt a little indulgent that the very real issues in the lives of these adults eventually boiled down to an identity crises in a teenager. On the other hand, maybe that was the point. I know a lot of teenagers who would like to think so.
From childhood: Chicken Trek 2/28
Set in the future:
Set in high school: Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell 1/10
Written in different language: Gunnar’s Daughter, Sigrid Unset 2/4
Started but never finished:
Recommended by Twig: