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Reading a book (or fifty)

Last year, I set myself the usual challenge to read 50 books. Since I managed to do this in 2019, I was determined to keep the streak going and I did! I enjoyed a wide range of books.

I re-read some books – the most in a year I think (Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, On Writing by Stephen King as well as texts that I teach like Romeo and Juliet, Stone Cold and A Christmas Carol). I listened to quite a few audiobooks and I read a lot of non-fiction. Last year was not really a year for reading fiction for me – I couldn’t seem to stay focused on it with all the madness going on.

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50 Book Challenge Update

We are just over a quarter of the way through the year and I have read 15 books which I am pretty happy about. According to Goodreads.com, I am one book ahead of schedule and I have read a fair variety of books including these two which have become new favourites:

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Favourite Reads of 2017

It has been such a long time since I have written book reviews for the books I am reading – I used to review every single book. I stopped because (amongst other things) I didn’t really enjoy writing about a book straight after reading it. Either the books I read were powerful, in which case I needed time to digest, or they were not interesting to me once they were finished so I didn’t feel like writing then either.

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2017 Reading Challenge

Despite a valiant last push at the end of 2016, I (YET AGAIN!) did not manage to reach my goal of 50 books in a year. I did manage to equal my personal best of 41 books so I’m pretty pleased about that because despite what some people might think, reading on maternity leave is not as easy as you might think (seeing as reading requires a functioning mind etc.).

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Currently Reading

  
For the third year running, I’ve set myself the challenge of reading 50 books in a year. I have year to manage it, falling 9 or 10 books short but I’m determined! Right now, I’m reading 4 books:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) – a re-read so I can read Go Set a Watchtower with TKAM fresh in my mind.
  2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green and David Levithan) – because I love John Green and after reading Every Day, also David Levithan.
  3. Allegiant (Veronica Roth) – a kid at school gave away a huge spoiler so I put off reading it but with the film coming out this year, I want to read it first.
  4. Someday, Someday, Maybe (Lauren Graham) – I have discovered the joy of listening to audio books in the car or at bedtime when I’m struggling to sleep. 
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We Were Liars

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One of my teaching colleagues recommended this book to me and I read it one weekend – I couldn’t put it down. It is a story of a privileged, rich family and the teenage cousins who summer together every year.

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The protagonist, Cadence, has suffered some kind of brain injury which means she doesn’t remember what happened to her on the island two years ago. She returns to the island aged seventeen and tries to piece together the events that have had such a huge impact on her and her family.

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It is emotional and brilliantly told. The characters felt so real and I loved them all. It is poetic and yet realistic and it took my breath away with its ending.

Favourite quotation: ‘Be a little kinder than you have to’

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Book Review: Moods by Lousia May Alcott

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During our wonderful trip to the States last year, we were able to visit the town of Concord. Not only is this town important because it is where the first shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired, it also boast a great deal of literary heritage with Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson all having lived in the town. It is also where my Auntie and Uncle live so we were able to spend a whole day exploring Old North Bridge and the Minute Man National Historic Park as well as taking a tour of Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. I love the Little Women series so was intrigued and impressed by the writer. I was deficiently inspired to read more of her work so I chose Moods first.

Moods is about first love and duty and I was utterly captivated by it. Beautifully written, understandably moralistic (although not in the least preachy), we are taken through the female protagonist Sylvia’s maturing from a tom boy, spoilt child to a sensitive and good-hearted young woman. She falls in love but the course of her love does not run smooth. I found it quite moving. Alcott has such a lovely way with words that makes her writing seem both antiquated and fresh at the same time. It is basically really lovely chick lit. Here is an example of her description when Sylvia is appreciating the man with whom she will fall in love:

She found [his face] full of a noble gravity and kindliness; candour and courage spoke in the lines of the mouth, benevolence and intellect in the broad arch of the forehead, ardour and energy in the fire of the eye, and on every lineament the stamp of that genuine manhood, which no art can counterfeit.

I will look forward to reading more Alcott; I have Hospital Sketches on my iPad which is the collection of letters Alcott wrote while volunteering during the Civil War and I would love to revisit the Little Women series.