Who is on Goodreads? I am and I’m doing a reading challenge this year. Goodreads gives you the chance to set yourself a reading target for the year. My self-imposed target is 12 books in 2018. That’s only one a month so totally manageable. I love reading, but tend to go through periods where I will read everything in sight then, almost as if I tire from it, I’ll then take a few weeks off and read nothing. Using Goodreads to monitor my reading progress should help to keep me on track.
So, as we near the end of March I’m ahead of target with five completed books under my reading belt. Woohoo! This doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll stay ahead of the curve though, it just means I’ve a couple of books in the bank should I go through a non-literary period.
The books I’ve read so far in 2018:
Dominion by CJ Sansom
Sansom is the author of one of my all time favourite books; Winter in Madrid. I read it probably about 10 years ago and is one of the few books that float around my head when people ask me what my favourite book of all time is. It is impossible to answer that question, but Winter in Madrid comes close to being my answer. He also wrote Dissolution and no matter how hard I tried, I just could NOT get into it. And I did really try. So when I found Dominion on a market stall in Wells I thought I would either love it or absolutely hate it. I decided the £3 price tag made it worth the risk. Am I glad I did? Well, it’s historical fiction (my favourite genre), but with a twist. It covers what might have happened if Hitler had won the war. With Hitler’s politics slowly starting to infiltrate the UK and the Jewish communities being segregated just like what happened during the war. It’s a story of spies and politics and relationships. Of people towing the party line because it’s easier and those who make a stand because it’s wrong. It’s a huge book of about 700 pages and in fairness I started it at the end of 2017 (but I’m keeping it for my reading challenge!). I did really enjoy it, but I think I was disappointed by the ending. It was one of those books where as you’re reading it you’re wondering how on earth the author will pull together the ending. Where you’re not really sure what the happy ever after is… you know? And when it got to the end? Well, I was a little disappointed and I felt it was somewhat rushed. I won’t give it away in case you want to read it, and I would recommend that you do, but I think there may be scope for a follow up book.
Nod by Adrian Barnes
This is the second book I read this year and I felt like someone recommended it to me, but no one I asked owned up to doing so meaning I have no idea where I came across this book. It’s the end of the world, which has been brought about by the fact that suddenly human beings are no longer able to sleep. As we all know sleep is very important and this book shows how quickly the human race could fall a part if everyone was deprived of sleep. And I don’t just mean that they were only getting a couple of hours or nodding off then waking up. They were completely incapable and without any sleep at all they will all die in around 4 weeks, but not before the psychosis sets in. We follow the main character, Paul (one of the few adults still able to sleep) as he navigates this new world and tries to get his partner to safety as she slowly succumbs to the psychosis. It’s not a long book and so the action is packed in from the start and quite violent, which I surprisingly found quite hard. I don’t know, maybe I like a little more preamble to my novels. I generally found Nod to be fairly one dimensional and predictable with the only surprise being how quickly Barnes predicts the breakdown of civilisation.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This book is quite different to the previous two. It follows the life of Eleanor who, as you may expect, is completely fine. She is happy in her job, with no need or desire to move on or chase a promotion. She doesn’t socialise with her colleagues, or any one else for that matter. Her life is carefully planned and executed and follows the same routine every week. It all changes when a chance encounter and a good deed throws out her routine and forces her to challenge the way she lives her life and the events of the past that have made her who she is. This book was an easy read and I did find it quite interesting. I didn’t particularly warm to Eleanor, but that’s okay, I don’t think we’re supposed to (or maybe we’re supposed to find her endearing?). To me though it felt a little slow and maybe a little clumsy, particularly with a new, quite pivotal character introduced in the last third of the book (which I found quite unusual) and some minor plot points that seemed to be forgotten about. A nice book that I think is aiming for heart-warming, but falls a bit short for me.
The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright
Okay, so this one has been sitting on my Kindle shelf for months gathering metaphorical dust. I was at a bit of a loss with what to read next so I went searching the Kindle archive. It tells the story of Maggie, who wakes up in a psychiatric hospital in 1964 and Jonathan, an expectant father in 2008 who is struggling to make peace with the difficult relationship he has with his parents. I really enjoyed the 1964 chapters about Maggie as I guess they are a little nod to historical fiction, but not so much the 2008 chapters about Jonathan. Those sentences look like this was a really long book with 1964 chapters about Maggie and 2008 chapters about Jonathan… but you know what I mean, right? I also had a sneaking suspicion that I knew what the twist would be pretty early on and when a particular event happened about half way through those suspicions were confirmed. I don’t want to say it’s predictable, because I did quite enjoy the story, but it’s nothing more than an easy read. Take it on holiday with you, it’d be perfect for reading on the beach.
The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker
The second apocalyptic novel this year and if I’m honest I think I need a break from them for a while now! Oh and both written by authors called Adrian… what are the chances?? Edgar is the central character in this book and he is portrayed as an alright guy who is quite lazy in life and in his relationships with his wife and kids. A catastrophic event brings the destruction of Britain, which Edgar would have been more prepared for if he hadn’t been drunk when it was announced on the news. Straight away this character has work to do to become a better human being and you just know that at the end he will be, right? For a book with the words ‘running club’ in the title, I was surprised that 200 pages in and there had been very little running, but I guessed how it would be integrated. Again, this book was alright, but I found it a little repetitive and I genuinely had no idea how Walker was going to bring the book to an end. I thought I would have been equally as disappointed by the happy ever after as I would have been by the not-so happy ever after I thought would be the alternative. To give credit where it’s due, by the last few chapters I found myself reading faster and realised that suddenly this ‘write-by-numbers’ book that I’d thought it was had suddenly become a bit of a page turner and I was genuinely quite happy with the ending. Again though, surprised by how quickly these authors predict the end of civilised society in the face of disaster.
So that’s me five books in and I’m technically two books ahead of my challenge. I don’t know if I would have continued to read as frequently as I have done if it wasn’t for Goodreads and this challenge. As much as I enjoy reading I do sometimes find myself staring mindlessly at the TV for hours or worse scrolling mindlessly through Instagram! Reading feels like a far more wholesome pass time and as an aspiring writer I think it’s really important that I read a lot.
There you have it, all the books I’ve read so far this year and my thoughts on them. Currently reading Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey, which is a memoir about living with OCD. You could say my reading tastes are somewhat varied…
What are you reading at the moment?