Friday, November 13, 2015

2015 | Book Challenge No.6

After my absolute surety that I would finish the next set of 25 books before the end of the year, I hit a few consecutively busy weeks and only managed to read 5 books in the last month. Despite this little setback, I'm stubbornly holding on to finishing before the end of the year, even it means all I do over Christmas is read.

further reading: intro / part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4 / part 5

26. A book you own but have never read - Jane Austen by Peter Leithart
Though I love Jane Austen's books and enjoyed Jon Spence's historically inaccurate Becoming Jane, I've never read a real biography about her. Peter Leithart's depiction of her is short - just over 150 pages - but provides a good general overview of her life and is filled with selections of Austen's writing and letters. I particularly enjoyed the sections about her sister Cassandra and niece Fanny as they were both important to Austen and her writing. For someone relatively uninformed about Austen's life, I liked Leithart's approach, but for anyone who already has a basic knowledge this book might be a little tedious.

27. A book with a colour in the title - A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Tyler's 20th novel - nominated for the 2015 Man Booker Prize - focuses on the relationships between members of the Whitshank family, who, as Tyler describes, "imagined they were special." Most of the story takes place in the Baltimore home that the family patriarch built in 1936, pulling together each character's own narrative as to how the family is the way it is. Weaving through the generations since the house was built, A Spool of Blue Thread illustrates how there's no place like home, even if home is not perfect.

28. A book set in your hometown - A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks
As there are very few novels worth reading set in my hometown, I broadened my options to my home state of North Carolina and went for one of Nicholas Sparks' novels. A Walk To Remember is set in Beaufort, a beach community popular among North Carolinians, and follows the high school love story of Landon, a smart-aleck who doesn't take life seriously, and Jamie, a preacher's daughter whose faith makes her unpopular at school. As with other Sparks' novels, A Walk To Remember has gained rave reviews from romance lovers, but I personally thought it was too syrupy sweet and predictable to be enjoyable. Mercifully it's a short read, but I would not recommend this one for fellow romance non-lovers.

29. A banned book - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
For some reason I thought this book would be similar to A Confederacy of Dunces and therefore I would hate it. Instead I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was. Based on Alexie's personal experiences growing up and equal parts heartbreaking and funny, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian follows a young cartoonist named Junior who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white school. Despite its relevant-to-reality content, The Absolutely True Diary has been banned in many schools because of its controversial content on issues like alcohol, abuse, and profanity.

30. A mystery - And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
As the world's best-selling mystery, And Then There Were None was the perfect choice for "a mystery," and had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the hype is warranted. In the novel, ten people are lured to an island under different pretenses, with each of them responsible for the death of another person as their only thing in common. They quickly learn that they have all been brought to the island to pay for their crimes and will not live to escape. No one else is on the island, yet they die one by one in ways that parallel an old nursery rhyme. I had to read the postscript of the book to figure out who the murderer was as the story was cleverly told, and I was often left with a sense of eeriness after reading it.

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