Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2015 | Book Challenge No.10

I was 3 books away from finishing this book challenge before 2016 but fell short at the end. Fifty books was an ambitious goal, especially as I started it more than halfway through the year. Even so, I read numerous books that I wouldn't have read if I hadn't done this challenge, and even though I won't be doing a similar challenge in 2016, I'm happy I chose one for 2015.

further reading: intro / part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4 / part 5 / part 6 / part 7 / part 8 / part 9

46. A New York Times bestseller - The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Tan's popular book - which earned a television adaptation four years after publication - focuses on four mothers and four daughters, with four parts divided into four chapters each. Each one focuses on the mother-daughter dynamic and the shared bonds between all the women, some with joyful tales and others with painful connections. The Joy Luck Club spans 40 years, beginning with the mothers' mah jong group in the 1940s and continuing on until the death of one of the mothers. Though there isn't much of a plot, the constantly shifting narration makes the story enjoyable as a collection of relationships seen from different angles.

47. A book with antonyms in the title - The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Devil in the White City details the 1893 Chicago World Fair - an event created to commemorate Columbus' 400th anniversary - and the difficulties that the designers encountered while putting it together. More interesting - to me at least - was the additional history of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who disguised himself as a doctor and hotel owner during the Chicago World Fair. Some of the details of Holmes' deeds are disturbing, yet the tale is so interesting that the book is hard to put down.

48. A Pulitzer Prize winner - Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
I've had a copy of this book sitting on my bookcase for years and finally got around to reading it now. Middlesex tells the life story of Cal Stephanides, by going back three generations to discover her Greek roots before tracing the family genetics through to the present to uncover how Calliope turns into Cal. It's an engrossing tale, full of hilarity and peril, and tells of the lengths people will go to find the American Dream.

49. A book that is more than 100 years old - The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Chopin's famous controversial novel is one of the first American novels to focus on women's issues and is widely seen as a mark of early feminism. The plot centres on Edna Pontellier, a woman who struggles to reconcile her need for independence with her role as a wife and mother. While I appreciate the landmark nature of the novel, I was grateful for the short length of it as I didn't find it particularly interesting.

50. A book written by a celebrity - Taking the Lead by Derek Hough
My grandma lent her copy of the Dancing With the Stars dancer's book during a cross-country flight, and it made for some enjoyable light reading during the long hours. Taking the Lead tells the story of Hough's life, detailing the important moments and skimming the rest. As I was reading it I felt like Derek was giving a pep talk through the pages; everything was spun so positively, even the more negative moments.

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