In the summer, I shared that I was participating in Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge. I’m making good progress; I’ve checked 38 items off the list and have 14 more books to read before the end of the year. With about eleven weeks left in 2015, I should be able to finish the challenge without too much angst.
My fall reading has been eclectic, to say the least. I started September with a semi-autobiographical graphic novel for kids and ended with a hefty unconventional literary work. As much as I am enjoying the challenge and appreciate the way it is broadening my reading horizons, I’ll be ready for some serious comfort books (i.e. Susanna Kearsley, Kate Morton and Jane Austen, etc.) as a reward when this is all over.
El Deafo by CeCe Bell. I thought this graphic novel was charming. CeCe Bell uses her own experiences to create a story about the tribulations and triumphs a deaf girl growing up in a hearing world. It’s funny and authentic to elementary/middle school life. El Deafo is the type of book my children would have loved when they were younger. (Fulfills the graphic novel requirement.)
All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr. This is, by far, the best book I have read in 2015. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are fascinating, and the story is engrossing. My mom called it “luminous” and I agree. The storyline moves between past and present to eventually bring the main characters, a blind Parisian girl and an orphaned German boy, together in the city of Saint-Malo during a WWII Allied attack. I cannot possibly do the story justice by trying to briefly describe it. Just believe me when I say it is a beautiful, beautiful book. (Fulfills the Pulitzer Prize-winning book requirement.)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank. I doubt that Anne Frank needs much introduction or explanation. Her diary is a candid glimpse of life for Jews in hiding during the Nazi occupation in Belgium. It was unsettling to witness her intellectual and emotional growth as a young woman juxtaposed with the atrocious living conditions she endured for two years before she, her family and housemates were discovered and eventually executed. Her account has validity as a historical document and as a witness to the perseverance of the human spirit under extreme duress. (Fulfills the book originally written in a different language requirement.)
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. The plot of this book based on a curse involving generations of “mermaids” who can hold their breath underwater for very long periods of time. All the women of the family drown on the same day of the year at about the same age. The story alternates between a brother and sister who are the last survivors of the family and the history of the creation of the curse. Frankly, I feel luke-warm about this book. It was well-written, but I wasn’t particularly attached to the characters or impressed with the development of the story. When I finished reading, I felt dissatisfied even though I am still unable to articulately explain why. (Fulfills the book published this year requirement.)
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. The Good Earth tells the story of Wang Lung, a poor Chinese farmer who overcomes many adversities to become a wealthy land owner in pre-Revolutionary China. I liked the book, especially the simple but eloquent writing style which complements the story. I also enjoyed the peek into a small part of historical Chinese culture. (Fulfilled the requirement of a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t.)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is a firefighter living in a dystopian future whose job requires burning books. After he meets an interesting young woman who seems to reject the current culture, he begins to have doubts about his job and his life. I expected the main focus of this book to be about the evil of burning books. Instead, it is a much larger commentary on the shallowness of modern culture which seeks happiness and pleasure without consequences above all else. The end result of this pursuit will result in lives without meaning, feeling or beauty – life without life. This is a thought-provoking read which seems more relevant now then when it was first written. (Fulfills the banned book requirement.)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. The French Lieutenant’s Woman is the most unusual book I’ve read this year. The novel is set in Victorian England with a simple love triangle as it’s main plot. There are several things that make this book unusual. The author interjects himself into the story on several occasions to provide a behind the scenes look at the development of the characters and storyline. He also goes off on tangents about Victorian culture and mores (which I particularly enjoyed). To make sure he fairly addressed each of the main characters’ desires, he provides three separate endings to the story. The abundant humor also caught me off guard. I enjoyed this book even though it became intellectually heavy at times. The quality of the writing alone entices me to consider some of his other books. (Fulfills a book that came out the year you were born requirement.)
I am also linking this post to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit. Take a peek to see what other bookworms are reading.