Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 | Book Challenge No.1

As mentioned in this post, I hope to read my way through a book challenge by the end of 2015. I've decided to break the list up by groups of five, and the books listed below are the first of ten sets.

1. A memoir - It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
After reading an interview with Addario in the New York Times a few months ago and learning that she published a memoir of her career, I was instantly intrigued. It's What I Do briefly covers her childhood before exploring her beginnings as a photographer and the burden her career places on her personal life. Equal parts exhilarating and heartbreaking, Addario's firsthand account of her experiences as a conflict photojournalist is a must read for anyone interested in photography, journalism, or modern wars.

2. A book you can finish in a day - The First Bad Man by Miranda July
I had heard from multiple people how incredible Miranda July's debut novel was and I was honestly a little disappointed by it. The story of Cheryl, a tightly wound eccentric woman, having her life disrupted by the moving in of Clee, Cheryl's boss' bullying daughter, failed to interest me as much as I'd hoped. The first few chapters were outrageously hilarious but I found myself being less and less able to keep my interest the further I read. The First Bad Man is short (less than 300 pages) and I was able to finish it in a matter of hours, but it was far from the most enjoyable reading experience I'd had.

3. A book of short stories - Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's third collection of short fiction feels like a "Best Of" album - it's stuffed full of wonderfully crafted poems and short stories, including some of Gaiman's most beloved characters like Shadow from American Gods and Eleven from Doctor Who. Some excerpts are sci-fi, some are horror, some are fairy tales, and every one of them artfully mixes elements of reality and myth. I am not usually a fan of short stories but I loved Trigger Warning, and it has become my favourite of Neil Gaiman's works. 

4. A book set in high school - All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I was initially hesitant to read Niven's newest as I'd heard mixed opinions on it and as I'm not usually a fan of YA novels I kept my expectations low. As such, I was not disappointed. All the Bright Places tells of two high schoolers, Violet and Finch, who meet while contemplating death atop a belltower. The book follows the two characters as they struggle through their lives facing their respective demons. While I appreciate Niven's efforts to tackle the difficult subject of mental illness, I thought the over-dramaticness of the novel detracted from what could have been a fantastic plotline, and as such I neither disliked nor liked the book.

5. A popular author's first book - Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Having read and loved Flynn's other two novels - Gone Girl and Dark Places - it was only a matter of time before I read Sharp Objects. Keeping in line with her other books, Sharp Objects features a first person, unreliable narrative, this time about a reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate a series of murders. The twists at the end kept me guessing and I enjoyed it even more than Dark Places. For anyone who likes mysteries and/or Flynn's other works, I would highly suggest this one.

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