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50 Book Challenge 2018 Part Three

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southeastdweller Mon 05-Feb-18 17:36:34

Welcome to the third thread of the 50 Book Challenge for this year.

The challenge is to read fifty books (or more!) in 2018, though reading fifty isn't mandatory. Any type of book can count, it’s not too late to join, and please try to let us all know your thoughts on what you've read.

The first thread of the year is here and the second one here.

What are you reading?

ScribblyGum Sun 11-Mar-18 06:59:04

The Mako Mori test is an alternative to the Bechdel which possibly works better for literature. It requires a female character with her own narrative arc that is not supporting a man's story.

Tarahumara Sun 11-Mar-18 07:29:12

I was at a fundraising quiz last night and there was a round on first lines in books, which made me very happy! I got one that I would never have got if it hadn’t been for this thread - The Crow Road by Iain Banks - someone mentioned the first line of this recently on this thread and it stayed in my mind - thank you!

The only one I missed was “The sky above the port was the colour of television tuned to a dead channel” - any takers? (No googling!)

ScribblyGum Sun 11-Mar-18 07:42:53

22. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

The book starts with the community of a Peak District village gathering in a car park waiting for instructions for how to go about searching for a 13 year old girl who has gone missing the night before. Each chapter then follows a year in the life of the village for the following thirteen years.

From the summary and the blurb it sounds like this is a murder mystery/thriller but as the years slowly go by you realise that McGregor is trying to do something different. The book is partly about how a tragic event can mark a community but it’s more a study on the life cycle of an English village.
As a reader you are constantly reaching for clues and solutions to the disappearance. For those who have read Ancillary Justice where the mind is perpetually wanting to assign a gender to the characters and the author won’t let you, McGregor does a similar thing here but with solutions to the mystery. So many scenes where you are willing a clue to be found and the author is quietly having to remind you over and over again ‘this is not what I am trying to do in this book’. It’s a maddening device and yet I feel like I've learnt something about myself having finished it, and perhaps will be a better critical reader in the future.

The book contains a multitude of characters who we follow through the progression of each year. Time is marked by annual festivals (New Years Eve, well dressing, Mischief Night) and by the changes in the natural world; tiny snippets about the life cycle of the local flora and fauna. All is told in a fleeting and detached observational manner which at the beginning is frustrating and by the end feels entirely natural. There is a lot McGregor packs in but all told very sparingly. When I finished last night I felt like I'd been on a marathon speed dating weekend with thirteen years worth of the Archers with short tea breaks in the company of the Chris Packham.

One of those books where you can tip your hat to the skill of the author and nod in agreement to its inclusion in the Booker longlist and win in the Costa novel award. Did I enjoy it though? Really not sure but I quite like that feeling of doubt.

Toomuchsplother Sun 11-Mar-18 08:13:30

Scribbly I agree about Reservoir 13. I did enjoy it but I have read so many reviews and comments where people are disappointed because it's not the mystery/ thriller they thought it would be.
Re the Bechdel test I do think it is limited but was interested in the concept. I think it is unlikely any one test will ever capture the premise of how a female character is presented, successfully or otherwise.

Have just finished 45. Lady of the English - Elizabeth Chadwick Typical historical fiction retelling of the story of Matilda, daughter of Henry I. She was Empress of Germany before the death of her husband and should have succeeded to the throne of England. However she was usurped by her cousin Stephen on the basis of her sex. She spent her life fighting for her throne, finally passing the right to the crown on to her son Henry (II) from her second marriage. Chadwick keeps you reading but it is as usual a light touch. Interesting to give some knowledge of Matilda story which I didn't know in any detail. The thing I find irritating about Chadwick is that she writes about strong women but always includes some storyline of desperate and forbidden love, often on very slim historical evidence. In my opinion it's not needed, Matilda's story is stronger and compelling with out it. Also there was an unsettling account of Matilda being forced to return to her husband who had literally beaten her almost to death. Chadwick has her first response down as one of intense sexual desire toward her husband. I found it strange and distasteful to say the least.

Toomuchsplother Sun 11-Mar-18 08:19:54

Also The Chronicles of Narnia are all 99p on Kindle today.

ScribblyGum Sun 11-Mar-18 08:50:51

splother I can understand that, but wonder if McGregor is making a point about how much our society loves a 'missing white girl' narrative. How many books on the thriller and mystery shelves in the book shop feature exactly that?

Thanks to Murine and Satsuki for the reccomendation for the Coen brothers version of True Grit watched it with the family yesterday and we all enjoyed it very much. Keen to watch the John Wayne version now to compare.

Toomuchsplother Sun 11-Mar-18 08:53:55

Scribbly very possibly. I just loved it for the way it looked at how a village and it inhabitants change and evolve over time.
It was a novel where not much happens in on the surface but actually lots of small but very meaningful stuff is happening all the time.

Toomuchsplother Sun 11-Mar-18 08:54:53

Very possibly?!)! - what terrible English! I apologise, it's early but you get my drift!

ScribblyGum Sun 11-Mar-18 09:54:03

Your drift is indeed quite gotten grin

BestIsWest Sun 11-Mar-18 09:58:53

17. The Threat level Remains severe Third rate Thriller set in the HoC. I say thriller, more of a wet fish really.

BestIsWest Sun 11-Mar-18 10:01:21

When I finished last night I felt like I'd been on a marathon speed dating weekend with thirteen years worth of the Archers with short tea breaks in the company of the Chris Packham

Bought smile

MuseumOfHam Sun 11-Mar-18 12:14:56

12. Running Hot by Lisa Tamati Autobiography of a New Zealand woman who has run a number of endurance races. She seems to be frequently ill prepared and makes poor choices, in relationships as well as extreme outdoors activities, but still rounds off many chapters with a little summary of her advice. 'Don't do what I did' would have covered it. Won't win any literary prizes, but an OK quick read if you already like this genre, which I do.

southeastdweller Sun 11-Mar-18 13:18:43

14. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge. An outstanding and long overdue non-fiction book that examines where we are now with race and racism in the U.K and why that's opened my eyes to the institutionalised racism in this country. I'm ashamed to admit that before reading this book my knowledge about black history in the U.K was limited to outlines of the Stephen Lawrence case and Windrush and now I realise how little black history is taught at schools. Highly recommended for everyone, particularly those people dumb or naive enough to think that racism is no longer or not much of a problem in today's Britain.

DesdemonasHandkerchief Sun 11-Mar-18 13:43:28

Sounds like Manchester ByThe Sea maybe Tara, if that was a book before a film?

Tarahumara Sun 11-Mar-18 13:57:16

No Desdemona that’s not it. Anyone else?

CoffeeOrSleep Sun 11-Mar-18 14:26:40

lots of lovely books added to my "to read" list - I've been off reading anything meaty for a while, so helpful to get a list of things that sound interesting.

My most recent updates:
13. Flight of Fancy - Evelyn James - 2nd in the Clara Fitzgerald detective books (set in early 1920s Brighton). Our lady detective is asked by a dashing rich young man to look into the death of his Uncle who died/disappeared some time before. His wife and friend (who'd been to dinner) saw him dead in the garden, ran for help/police, but when they came back, his body had disappeared. Light and fluffy with a surprisingly boring solution.

14. Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz - Set just after Holmes and Moriarty died, this story follows a Scotland Yard detective and a NewYork detective who try to unravel the mystery of a note on Moriarty's body suggesting a meeting with a New York master criminal who'd recently moved to London. Well written and entertaining, with a pretty good twist (which would have been obvious if I hadn't been reading it when half asleep)

15. Burial Rites - Hannah Kent - bit different! Based on the true story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland, who was billeted with a farming family for a few months before her execution. Follows her telling her story to the Priest who visits and the host family. Very slow going, stuck with it as it's a Book Club book, last 100 pages stuff happens and you get the actual story, but could do with better editing.

Right, off to download half these books you've all made sound so interesting!

ScribblyGum Sun 11-Mar-18 15:37:20

Just ordered Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race following you review southeast.

SatsukiKusakabe Sun 11-Mar-18 15:44:42

That line is so familiar tara, I’ve got a feeling I read it recently but can’t place it. Is it a science fiction novel? Or do you not want to answer till someone gets it!

Tarahumara Sun 11-Mar-18 16:36:10

No, I don’t mind saying! It’s Neuromancer by William Gibson - quite a tough one, I thought.

noodlezoodle Sun 11-Mar-18 17:05:59

Ha, Scribbly, what an amazing review. I'm with Bestiswest, had to add Reservoir 13 to my wishlist as soon as I read "a marathon speed dating weekend with thirteen years worth of the Archers with short tea breaks in the company of Chris Packham". They should put that on the cover smile.

ClinkyMonkey Mon 12-Mar-18 03:14:58

Finished The Dry by Jane Harper. Love a good crime novel. This kept me gripped with uncluttered prose, great characters and plenty of tension. Now reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

ChessieFL Mon 12-Mar-18 06:46:51

40. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

After reading the Philippa Gregory book about Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, I realised I had this on my TBR pile. This is a non fiction about the Grey sisters. This goes into all the detail about what happened to them and around them, but I found it rather emotionless - I didn’t finish the book feeling anything about the sisters. It’s very factual. The Philippa Gregory may be little better than chick lit but did at least generate some emotion. However, if you want the facts about what happened this is a good book to seek out.

southeastdweller Mon 12-Mar-18 08:38:13

New thread here

SatsukiKusakabe Mon 12-Mar-18 08:52:13

Ha tara it’s on my Kindle and I have started it about 3 times over the last year, probably why it’s familiar grin. I wouldn’t have got it.

Tarahumara Mon 12-Mar-18 13:26:19

Satsuki smile

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