50 Book Challenge 2018 Part Six
southeastdweller · 05/06/2018 08:12
Welcome to the sixth 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, the second one here, the third one here, the fourth one here, and the fifth one here.
How're you getting on so far?
danadas · 09/06/2018 23:59
- Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell
2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
3. Class Murder - Russell Leigh
4. Cold Sacrifice - Russell Leigh
5. The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown
6. Friend Request - Laura Marshall
7. Persons, Unknown - Susie Steiner
8. Kate Moretti - The Vanishing Year
9. The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths
10. Together - Julie Cohen
11. The Accident - Dawn Goodwin
12. Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
13. If you Knew Her - Emily Elgar
14. He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly
15. The Perfect Neighbours - Rachel Sergeant
16. Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie
17. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
18. Don't Trust Me - Joss Stirling
19. Into the Water - Paula Hawkins - I haven't read Girl on the Train so can't compare. There are a lot of characters in this and the vast majority of them are unlikeable! Chapters are short and each switches between the (approx. 10) characters.
A river/pool with a long, tragic history is the focus of the story - all the way back to witch trials. A woman is found drowned, presumed suicide, the latest in a long line of female suicides in this river. Lots of mystery, interwoven stories, secrets and dark tales. I enjoyed it but it wasn't the easiest to follow. Going to read GOTT for interest.
RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie · 10/06/2018 01:50
The Martian is 99p, if anybody who is into adolescent gibbering about potatoes hasn't read it yet.
Toomuchsplother · 10/06/2018 07:38
84. These is my words: The diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881 - 1901. - Nancy E. Turner This is a novel based on the life of the author's Great Grandmother. It tells the story of the families arrival and settlement in Arizona in the late 19th Century. It's a tale of hardship, cowboys and Indians. Sarah, the central character, is a feisty intelligent woman ahead of her time.
The story is told in the form of Sarah's diary which was my one issue with the book. At the beginning much is made of her limited education, she describes herself as barely literate , yet she is keeping an accomplished diary. This theme runs through and never really quite resolves itself.
However, on the whole I really enjoyed this. There are 2 sequel novels which I will look out for.
Remus, you make The Martian sound so appealing!
Tarahumara · 10/06/2018 07:48
Ignore Remus. The Martian is fab!
Cherrypi · 10/06/2018 09:48
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Lois is a software engineer who starts ordering from a mysterious take away with only two items on the menu. They gift her a sourdough starter and she becomes obsessed with it and joins an underground market of fellow makers.
I loved this book. A good adventure with a technology side. The author throws in a great one liner now and again. Can’t wait for his next book.
Dottierichardson · 10/06/2018 11:09
The Owl Service by Alan Garner – Garner’s brilliant children’s fantasy, reread in a fit of nostalgia after seeing his memoir’s due out soon. I really didn’t get this when I read it as a child, Alison reaching late puberty as a catalyst for the story for example. It made far more sense read as an adult, I especially relished all the mythology/Mabinogian references.
- Let Me Alone by Anna Kavan – Published in 1930 this ‘coming-of-age’ story centres on Anna from her birth, in 1901, through to her late teens. Kavan’s later work has an elliptical, hallucinatory quality but this is a straightforward, semi-autobiographical novel. I found the prose style sometimes overwritten, and very much of its time – shades of Winifred Holtby, Antonia White, even Somerset Maugham – yet despite some shortcomings it has a curious intensity which kept me reading and engaged throughout. The story follows Anna from a remote village in Spain, through to England after WW1, and finally colonial Burma (Myanmar). Anna is dependent on other people’s unfathomable whims: her sadistic, terrifying father, her ‘pleasure-greedy, butterfly’ aunt and finally her suffocating husband. Only school provides a brief refuge. Bookish and prickly, Anna desperately tries to ‘connect’ with people but feels as if she’s on a ‘pedestal of isolation’ that she can’t escape. As her world becomes ever more claustrophobic Anna slowly learns how to rebel. I thought in this novel that Kavan was struggling, like her main character, to find her own voice, and it was at the points where that voice emerged that the novel was most successful. Years later she rewrote the Burma section as Who Are You?, it’s almost unrecognisable, inserting a Burmese character to address the colonial aspects of the story. I’ve been a fan of Kavan’s later, more surreal fiction for a while. I don’t know how familiar people are with her: she had a difficult life, mental health problems, heroin addiction, but somehow managed to survive and write. If this novel is at all representative of how she grew up, it explains a lot about her – the father more than resembles Patrick Melrose’s -and her intense privacy. I read this because of my liking for Kavan but anyone interested in the period or vintage/early feminist fiction might find it worth trying. If you haven’t come across her and like the sound of her later, stronger work, I’d recommend her SF/apocalyptic novel Ice (Brian Aldiss and J.G. Ballard were huge fans) recently re-published as a Penguin Classic.
Frogletmamma · 10/06/2018 11:32
Well I have finally finished Mermaid. The writing was lovely but it was very very silly and not in a magic realist suspend disbelief way but just in a what piece of stupidity is going to happen next way. Calmed myself down with The Birds and other stories by *Daphne du Maurier which was very gripping and the stories had the added advantage of being of commute length. On to 30. now but I haven't got a list. Will probably just give you my favourite 5 or 10 at end of year, as the books that are meh or just OK are less interesting.
ChessieFL · 10/06/2018 18:00
Dead If You Don’t by Peter James
The latest in the Roy Grace series. Good writing but the storyline was a little confusing - lots of crimes and I couldn’t work out how or why some of them were linked to the main crime. Also, at the end of the previous book something happened which was clearly a teaser - yet it wasn’t mentioned at all in this one which I thought was odd.
AliasGrape · 10/06/2018 18:20
- The Lesser Bohemians - Eimear McBride - not sure whether I loved or hated this! Loved I think probably, though have quite a few issues with it. Difficult read - partly because of the modernist irregular syntax which it took my brain a few goes to decipher, and partly due to subject matter. The Lesser Bohemians is a love story narrated through the mind of an 18-year-old girl from Dublin who comes to London to take up a place at drama school, and falls wildly in love with an established actor more than twice her age. I mostly wanted to shake her and tell her to run very far and very fast.
Toomuchsplother · 10/06/2018 20:02
Alias , Lesser Bohemians was one of my stand outs from last year.
CheerfulMuddler · 10/06/2018 22:21
I'm interested in the period, Dottie, so might have to take a look at that one.
Also had no idea A High Wind in Jamaica was about children kidnapped by pirates! That sounds awesome.
Sadik · 10/06/2018 22:38
47 Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin
No. 7 in the Tales of the City series. Picked this up in the library as I'm still listening to AM's autobiography on Audible. I must have missed it working my way through the series, as I've read the next two books, but it's as funny and spot-on as always (helped by the fact that Mouse has always been one of my favourite characters).
Terpsichore · 10/06/2018 23:24
Cheerful, it's worth seeking out the film of A High Wind in Jamaica. One of the children is played by none other than young Master Martin Amis, in the days when he was a child actor rather than a budding novelist.
Anyway, I came back to note 41: Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
I think I attempted to read this many years ago, but got nowhere and remembered nothing of it. I didn't expect to be so blown away by it. A book I feel I can honestly call a masterpiece: the use of language is superb (you can see Hardy was a poet); the insight into human behaviour profound; the evocation of nature and the countryside extraordinary. And more than anything, its 'plight of women' message feels almost spookily relevant now, with the whole storyline of Tess's 'seduction'/rape by Alec d'Urberville and its blighting of her entire life - something that to him was just another enjoyable conquest, but to her - and her feckless family - spelt total ruin. The scene where she snips off her own eyebrows and covers her face with a hood to try and erase her beauty was almost unbearable to read. I could bore on about it at length, but won't!
OllyBJolly · 10/06/2018 23:38
Terpsichore love your description of Tess! I remember reading it in my late teens and rereading it as soon as I finished. I never reread books but that one just captivated me. I was so consumed by Tess's situation- how unfairly life treated her- such a moving, beautifully written book.
Dottierichardson · 11/06/2018 00:01
Cheerful re: Kavan, only if you can get it cheap or from library! High Wind is brilliant and the film is good fun I seem to remember, don't remember Amis though, find him very annoying for some reason.
Enticing discussion on Hardy, but had to do so many as set texts that now can't bear to so much as look upon the covers.
Dottierichardson · 11/06/2018 00:05
Cheerful one thing I found striking about the Kavan was how it demonstrated that it was still possible for a woman to be brought up in almost total ignorance of the world, physical relationships etc. I always associate the period with women like Virginia Woolf or Vera Brittain or Wells's Ann Veronica part of wider intellectual/political circles.
PandaPacer · 11/06/2018 06:01
I will have to seek out the movie of High Wind, it is definitely a story ripe for filming!
29. The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz Lebovitz is one of my favourite food bloggers, and the source of most of my tips when we go to Paris. He is quite well known in the US but not so much in the UK I believe. I found this book in the local second hand store and thought I would give it a go. It consists of little vignettes of his life when he initially moved to Paris from San Francisco - think embarrassing faux pas with French language and detail on the idiosyncrasies of Parisians. Lots of food chat of course, and very geared towards an American audience in my opinion (especially lots of tips on how they can be less gauche - fanny packs!). Entertaining enough for a quick weekend read with a hangover after a 50th birthday party! I would not pay full price however, just head to his blog for a lot more of the same. Does also contain a few recipes.
I know this is not a food chat, but just because we are on the topic ---- I would highly recommend the chocolate covered caramelised matzoh crunch recipe from his blog. I have friends who beg me to bring this to events, and two children and a husband who will clean the house top to bottom while I make it.
nowanearlyNicemum · 11/06/2018 07:00
:) PandaPacer I love it when the whole family goes mad for something I've been slaving over a hot stove for - and if yours are willing to clean the house for this delicacy I may well just have to check out that recipe!!!
16. A Patchwork Planet - Anne Tyler
This is only the second Anne Tyler book I've read (first was The Accidental Tourist) and I thought it was excellent. Every time I was forced to put it down I couldn't wait to pick it up again, and yet it's not as though there's a huge amount of action in the book - I wasn't desperate to know what happened next I was simply enjoying the ride!
She has an incredible way of showing the quirky sides of otherwise pretty ordinary people and in this novel she does this with each and every character. Through the thirty year old black sheep of a an extremely wealthy family, his neurotic mother, a tortured colleague, his 'old-maid' girlfriend and all of his elderly clients we experience the intricate patchwork that makes up the day to day existence, the loves and losses of these otherwise very ordinary individuals.
Tarahumara · 11/06/2018 07:27
Ah, Tess. I re-read it several times many years ago, but I'm not sure I could bear it now
Ratcarguy407 · 11/06/2018 08:52
Slight update to my list...still minute I know!
1: The Long Ride Home: Sydney to London - Nathan Millward
2: Strongman: My Story - Eddie 'The Beast' Hall
Completed Strongman over the weekend. Was an 'OK' read. Bit disappointing in the end as there is no content about the 2017 World Strongest Man Final, other than the fact he won the title. Apparently this was for PR reasons it seems. Also, I re-watched the documentary bearing the same name after completing the book. Most of the things he mentions on that are in the book, although in more detail. Still worth a read, but maybe not quite what I expected ultimately.
Tanaqui · 11/06/2018 09:24
I liked The Martian too!
51) Can you Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella. Another light and amusing piece of chick lit- imo Kinsella is much better as Kinsella than as Madeleine Wickhan (her other pen name- or possibly her real one I suppose!); if you want engrossing light hearted semi-romance, I don’t think you can get much better (let me know if you can think of any! Heyer, definitely. Maybe Helen Fielding?).
bibliomania · 11/06/2018 09:32
exexpat, you're a reader after my own heart. Miss Mole and I Contain Multitudes represent quite a switch in register, but are both books I have lined up to read.
Sadik, I also love Letters from a Fainthearted Feminist. My copy is in parents' house, and I usually turn to it for a reread when I visit.
Finished Rotherweird, by Andrew Caldecott Found it a bit of a slog by the end - although I liked the setting (quirky small town with mysterious secret), there were too many characters and too much plot. He needed to have fewer characters and allow the reader to get more invested in them (imho).
Terpsichore · 11/06/2018 09:34
Panda I'm a big David Leibovitz fan too - his blog is great.
Terpsichore · 11/06/2018 09:40
Oops, Lebovitz, that should be. Autocorrect fail.
Dottie, I know what you mean about not being able to face Hardy any more because I feel that way about Austen - but Hardy's a new discovery for me. Not sure why but I've always steered well clear, possibly because his reputation as a doom-merchant precedes him so ominously. I'm sure I'd find some of his other novels much harder going but Tess was a revelation.
AliasGrape · 11/06/2018 09:42
@TooMuch yeah, I think I’ve come down on the side of ‘loved it’ now, unsettling as it was! It’s still kind of stayed with me even as I’ve started reading the next in my pile.
I haven’t read her first A Girl is a Half Formed Thing though by all accounts is similar themes but with a bleaker ending! I reserved both from the library (Bohemians came in first) so looking forward to that, though going to read some fluff in between!
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