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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Reading Challenge for 2019

Last year, I was so pleased to beat my previous personal record by 6 books meaning that I managed to read 48 books in total. The elusive target of 50 is still taunting me though and I feel I must be getting closer to being able to achieve it, surely?! I will be tracking my progress on Goodreads as usual and over on my Reading Challenge page.

Here are some of my favourites of those 48 books from last year:

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18 for 2018

This year I have been enjoying the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast as well as Happier in Hollywood. Gretchen and Liz (her TV writer sister) are creating 18 for 2018 lists and since I have been missing my birthday lists, I thought I’d jump on board. I have made most of them finite things I can do throughout the year with just a few that are year-long goals.

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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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Book Club: Perks of Being a Wallflower

I loved this book very much and probably exactly equal to the amount I loved the film. I rooted for the protagonist Charlie throughout the book and the reveal about what had happened to him might not have had the same impact as the corresponding moment in the film but was crushing nonetheless.

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On Wednesday night, we gathered at Berylune for our book club chat. Overall, the group enjoyed the book although some more than others. A coming of age story of a troubled teen in 1990s America, the book takes you through a year in the life of Charlie.

I had seen the film (written by the book’s author Chbosky) and had loved that and the book didn’t disappoint. Other comments from our members:

‘I’m wondering if I will feel more for the characters after I’ve seen the film.’

‘I really enjoyed this book. It took me back to the 90s and reminded me of My So-Called Life.’

‘I really liked the references to other books. Having read lots of them, it added a new dimension to reading the story and understanding the characters.’

Our next book club meeting will be online only. Our next book is Celia Rees’s This is Not…

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I read this first as an impressionable teenager which was probably the ideal time for the first reading. It is a book that has stayed with me, along with the other volumes in the autobiography. Maya Angelou is the epitome of an inspirational being.


Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as the first book for the Twitter book club set up by my teaching buddy called the #LETbookclub (Lost English Teachers). We get together on Twitter on the 1st of each month at 8pm. I am so glad I was asked to read this book because I had not heard of this series and I would probably have never chosen it since I rarely read crime fiction nowadays (simply because my reading plate pretty full). In my late teens and twenties, though, crime fiction was pretty much all I read for a while. I had not read much of this book by the time of our first online meeting so I was not really able to comment properly and since I had bought the book as an ebook, I was not really aware of its genre – I had assumed because the protagonist was 11 years old that it was aimed at girls or young adults but this is apparently a book for adults.

Now I have read it, this is more clear, especially since the vocabulary is somewhat advanced and I suppose the subject matter (a murder investigation, essentially) although I would be happy for girls or young adults of both genders to read it since the main character, Flavia de Luce, is fantastic: precocious, clever, passionate about science, brave and feisty. Her character is probably polarising – I can imagine some people finding her intensely irritating – but I loved her and I was cheering for her to get to bottom of the mysterious murder, which she ultimately does, of course, in a most satisfying ending.

Tense in parts, captivating, exciting and original with some lovely literary references to boot, I will definitely be open to reading more Flavia de Luce books, if I ever have time.

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