2015 Literary Birthday ChallengePosted: 29 December 2014
I’m wary of committing to too many book challenges — that I might find it chafing against what I want to read, or that I simply won’t follow through… but I think I’ll give this one more a try. I signed up for the event hosted by You, Me and a Cup of Tea because it sounded easy enough and rather fun. Chasing down birthdays for the authors of books I want to read this year provided me with plenty of opportunity to procrastinate when I could have been doing things like folding laundry or, say, actually reading.
The idea is that each month I will read one book by an author who was born during that month. Goodreads has a group page set up and there are links on that page to lists people are compiling of authors who would meet the criteria. I am planning to come back and update this page with each relevant entry.
January The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien 1/10/15
February The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark 2/25/15
March The Inspector-General, by Nikolai Gogol 3/30/15
April Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington 4/19/15
May Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming 5/4/15
Now, I think that should be the end of the challenges I enter. Sometimes I have already found it confining to keep up with 2-3 book clubs, although I certainly read enough books to do so if I would just choose those which I am “supposed to read.”
I can’t believe that a new reading year is about to begin! 2014 has had quite a few delightful reads, so I will close this post by listing what I wound up deciding were my ten favorite new-to-me books of the year.
1 How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
I’m just not sure books get any better than this one, though one must have read the preceeding books to fully appreciate it.
2 The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
I laughed my way through this whole book. I loved the sciency nerdy stuff and thought there were a lot of good insights into media coverage, human resourcefulness and the value of persisting.
3 The Golem and the Jinni (P.S.) by Helene Wecker
From the description, this would not seem like my kind of book at all, but I simply loved it. Beautifully written, and very much a charcter-driven book. I will be re-reading this one in the near future.
4 We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I knew nothing whatever about this book when I read it (inhaled it, really). I’m glad for that, because if I’d known more I couldn’t have enjoyed it as much.
5 Twelve Angry Men (Penguin Classics) by Reginald Rose
I’d seen the (great) movie long ago, but had never read the play. I highly recommend it.
6 The Return of the Soldier Rebecca West
A surprisingly powerful novella on the effects of shellshock in the aftermath of WW1.
7 Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
This one was very painful to read. The author put it all out on the page – her raw emotions and golden memories. Gradually, one sees her find her way forward after her nearly unthinkable loss.
8 The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli by Lisa Abend
I loved this book about the workings at one of the world’s most famous restaurants, and the lives of the apprentices who were a part of it for one season.
9 Station Eleven by Hilary St. John Mandel
More than post-apocalyptic, this reads as a literary novel that follows human nature in the wake of a worldwide flu pandemic. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I was going to.
10 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
In the end, I had to put this one on my list because it was just such a fun read.
I had to leave off several that could have qualified but perhaps were just nudged out by one or more of the above.