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book challenge

January 6, 2011

I love reading. I can’t bear to be without a book. I don’t leave the house without one, even if I’m only nipping to the shops. You never know, I might have an accident, be whisked to hospital and then be left on a trolley with nothing to read. Unthinkable.

In this year of 2011, where I’m hoping to spread my wings a bit and take on some new challenges, it seems important to get out of my reading rut. I hate to admit it but I’m a bit stuck in my ways. Could you describe it as literary fiction? OK – I’ll give it a go, especially if it’s on the Booker/Orange/Costa shortlist. Is it labelled ‘fantasy’ or ‘science fiction’? Not for me, thank you. This needs to change.

I’ve been looking around the web for a reading challenge that encourages people into new territory and Darren’s at Bart’s Bookshelf seemed just right. You have to read 20 books from 11 categories, so it’s impossible to hide in a familiar genre.

My first book fits in the delightfully-named ‘Willpower, what willpower?’ category, which comes with the explanatory quote. ‘Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?’ (Henry Ward Beecher). If you can identify with that quote – and I certainly can – then you probably shouldn’t get a Kindle, since you can go from quite fancying a book to buying it in less than five minutes. Anywhere.

My Kindle was a lovely Christmas present from my husband and of course I had to check it was working properly. I acquired Persuasion absolutely free, thanks to the amazing Project Gutenberg, but I couldn’t resist buying Heartstone, the latest CJ Sansom. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the other Shardlake novels: Sansom has a real knack for evoking the era of Henry VIII – he’s particularly good on the smells, I feel – and I’m actually a little bit in love with the hunchback detective.

The ‘Willpower, What Willpower?’ category is for any book bought new in 2011, so it gives me the chance to get started on something easy and familiar. Next up, though, I’m determined to move out of my comfort zone.

Do any of you have any reading plans for 2011?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2011 9:14 pm

    I used to be avidly against ‘fantasy’ and ‘science fiction’ but a few years ago, a very literary and not at all teenage-geeky friend of mine kindly started me off on the Tiffany Aching series of Terry Pratchett’s discworld books, and I am hooked.

    The first one I think is the Wee Free Men; then follow Hatful of Sky, Wintersmith, and a recently published one which I am AGOG to read. Cloaked in the parlance and styling of “fantasy” literature, these wonderful books tell the beautiful story of the coming of age of young girl, whose granny was a shepherd. There is lots of magic and bad fairies etc. but I really love them.

    Thought you might like a recommend!

    Enjoy your kindle…

    • Joanna permalink*
      January 8, 2011 6:20 pm

      Very grateful for all recommends! As you can tell from the post, I’ve been basing my reading decisions on criteria that are far too narrow. My son adores Terry Pratchett – I’ll see if he’s got the ones you mention.

  2. January 7, 2011 11:44 pm

    Like you, I felt I needed to explore new horizons and found that joining a book club helped. At one time I belonged to three and found it a good way to stay in touch with old friends and make new ones. I’ve read lots of stuff I would never normally have tried – sci-fi ( Iain M Banks was good); graphic novels (Persepolis and Maus); poetry (Panoramic Lounge Bar) ; and books by male writers I would not think of taking off the bookshelf (William Faulkner next up). My friend has also set up a play-reading group that I’ll be trying out next week. Strangely, the amount I read actually got less when I stopped work _ I can only think that this was guilt at having the time to read. Bizarre.

    Good luck with the challenge.

    • Joanna permalink*
      January 8, 2011 6:23 pm

      A play-reading group sounds a lot of fun! Thanks for the books you mention. Have you seen the film of Persepolis? I LOVED it. And thanks for mentioning male writers specifically – I hadn’t realised it but I think I tend to gravitate unthinkingly towards women writers. Something to look out for as I try to broaden my tastes!

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