Sunday, June 5, 2011

50 Book Challenge

I decided at the beginning of the year to do the 50 Book Challenge, and normally it wouldn't be a problem for me to read two or three times that amount in a year, but this year has been a STRUGGLE. It's June and I've completed a grand total of 11 books so far. I have a lot of catching up to do, but I'm pretty confident I'll get there. I've got a couple more Book Depository orders on the way and I'm raring to go.

Anyway, here's my list so far:

1. The Road. I'm sorry - I know people love this book, but I found it a total snorefest. It's not that I don't like Cormac McCarthy, it's just that for pages and pages and pages and pages and pages NOTHING HAPPENED. It was like The English Patient all over again.

2. A Gate At The Stairs. I bought this after reading a rave about it in some columnist's top books of 2010 list. Again, nothing happened for ages - blah blah blah blah bang massive plot twist blah blah blah blah. Excruciating - it took me two months to finish it, and it's only a couple of hundred pages.

3. True Grit. This was a better read than the other two, but it still took me a while to get through as I was slumping big time. It's highly stylised (not a bad thing), and reminds me a bit of Cormac McCarthy, though not nearly as grim. In fact, parts of it are very funny.

4. Caught. Aaah, now we're cooking with gas. I'm not a big fan of the crime genre - a lot of it is very samey-samey to me - but I do like me some Harlan Coben. He writes page-turning thrillers that almost always have some silly twist ending that relies on a weird coincidence or obscure link between two or more people. But I get a lot of enjoyment out of turning those pages, so I can forgive the dumb endings. This one is about a social worker who is accused of being a sex offender on national TV, and how he may or may not be connected to a missing teenage girl.

5. Copycat. Gillian White is a favourite author of mine from years ago, but annoyingly I never kept her books and now most of them are out of print. I've managed to get hold of three, and I'm still looking for others. Her genre is hard to describe - I call it suburban horror, but it's not OMG MONSTERS horror, or slashers or the like. It's about awful things happening to ordinary people, and the hidden nastiness and secrets behind closed doors. Copycat is about two women, friends and neighbours, and one's obsession with the other, which leads to murder.

6. Sister. A blurb of this caught my eye when I was having a mini spree on Book Depository so I threw it in. At first it annoyed me because it's written in the second person, a style I find insufferably pretentious. I almost chucked it after a couple of chapters but I persevered because I had nothing to do one lunch time and after a while it began to grow on me. It's the story of an English woman who has made a life in America, but comes home when her younger sister goes missing. Once you get past the style, it's a pretty rivetting story.

7. Gone For Good. Another Harlan Coben crime novel, this one is about a man whose brother disappeared years before after allegedly raping and murdering a neighbour. The man finds evidence that the brother - long considered dead - is still alive. I didn't like this one as much as I have liked his other books, but it was still highly readable.

8. The Witch's Cradle. Gillian White again (as you can see, when I get into an author I tend to read several of their books in succession) - this one is about a young couple who appear in a reality documentary about poverty and how they are manipulated by the producers. It has a bit of a silly twist to it, but aren't all twists kind of silly when you really think about it? Sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief and roll with it.

9. New York. Edward Rutherfurd writes historical books about places (London, Russia, etc,) using one or more families throughout to tell the story. This one is about the wealthy Master family primarily, from the early settlement of New York in the 1600s to 9/11. I'd read London years ago and loved it (that one was two or three families spanning about 1000 years), but this one wasn't as good. There were quite a few people who were just left by the wayside when it seemed their stories should have gone somewhere. Ruthless editing, perhaps...

10. Joe College. Tom Perrotta wrote the book Election, on which the movie was based (the Reese Witherspoon one, not the Tony Leung one), and also Little Children, which was made into a film with Kate Winslet. His books tend to be semi-autobiographical coming-of-age kinds of stories, which I quite like. This wasn't one of his best, but it was still an enjoyable and easy read about a guy who hooks up with a girl in his home town he's not really into, while trying to get the attention of another girl at college he really likes.

11.Refuge. The third of the Gillian White novels I managed to get hold of - this is about a woman whose son is involved in the killing of a baby, and the repercussions of that. The public's outrage, the attacks on her and her family, and so on. It seems to be loosely based on the Jamie Bulger case (don't Google if you don't already know what that is - you really don't want to know). Again, there is a bit of a silly twist, but it's a good story for 95% of the time, and quite realistic.

I am currently reading Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America and Election.

*This is a revised and updated version of a post I did recently on my other blog.


  1. Glad to have another person on board the challenge! I might have to get myself a copy of True Grit, I've heard nothing but good things about it (and I loved the recent film - still haven't seen the original).

  2. True Grit is worth reading, Jess. It's quite wry. :-)

  3. Sounds like a great challenge. I've just finished A prodigal summer by Barbara Kingsolver. I recommend it if you haven't read it yet :)

  4. Gosh you're doing well, I think so far I've only managed to get through three books (all trashy vamp lit) lol

  5. Make-up Fairy, I read it years ago, but I have a terrible memory so maybe I should read it again - I don't remember anything about it!

    Jade, you have 3 children to run around after, I'm surprised you have had time to read any books at all! :-)

  6. are you doing this challenge on goodreads or just in general? I'm doing the 50 book challenge too and I'm a little behind...I'll catch up though! :)