About a year ago I signed up for my first ever bookish challenge, via Ellie at Musings of a Bookshop Girl. The idea was to diversify one’s reading prospects. It really pushed me to read more, after I finally picked up on reading. And, strangely, I was happier this year. My grades improved. I started going “out there” and having fun. I think books, like always, pushed me to do better.
Challenge length: 1 January 2012 – 31 December 2012
- Cookery, food and wine
- Modern Fiction
- Graphic Novels and Manga
- Crime and Mystery
- Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Poetry and Drama
- Journalism and Humour
- Science and Natural History
- Children’s and Young Adult
- Social Sciences and Philosophy
- Measuring Jug: 1-4 categories
- Cupcake Mix: 5-8 categories
- Mixing Bowl: 9-12 categories
- Two-tier Cake: 13-15 categories
- All the trimmings and a Cherry on top: 16 categories
My plan (which I achieved!) was to aim for a two-tier cake of 14 categories. I got lots and lots of advice from readers of my blog who suggested books to me. I wrote reviews for each of the books I read. Click on the titles to read my reviews.
Classics: Dracula by Bram Stoker – not a fan of the paranormal, I actually really enjoyed this one. Initially I was like, What, this isn’t scary at all! but eventually I slept with my nightlight on!
Biography: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – I did not enjoy this one at all! I think as a biography, Isaacson did a pretty thorough job. It just didn’t grip me at all, and Jobs really annoyed me. Even though I feel terrible about being annoyed with a dead man.
Cookery, Food and Wine: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (thanks to SolitaryDiner for the suggestion) – mh, I was a little ambivalent about this one. Bourdain is really witty and says a lot of interesting things about food. I guess me not being a foodie just took away from it.
History: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (thanks to both SolitaryDiner and Ellie for the suggestion) – ooooooh. This year was definitely a year where my interest in oncology was revived! Emperor is really well written, but as non-fiction it did take me a while to complete. When I am qualified and wiser, I’ll probably re-read this one.
Modern Fiction: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – meh. I did not like this one at all. I’m in the minority though… it seems nearly everyone adored this book. I felt it was ridiculously long, with a bunch of loose strands. No, nope.
Graphic Novels and Manga: Orchid Volume 1 by Tom Morello – way out of my comfort zone, but I loved it! If graphic novels weren’t so expensive, I’d be a collector. I want to read further volumes, actually. It’s not a super original premise, but the art is great and the sub-plots are original.
Crime and Mystery: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – I found this to be a little verbose, and watching the film first probably wasn’t the best idea. I actually thought the movie was better in this instance. I didn’t think I would read the other books, but recently I’ve actually had the desire to read more of Lisbeth. She’s so hardcore.
Romance: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – I was pleasantly surprised by this one and ended up reading Lola as well. It’s not treacle-sweet, it’s just lovely.
Science Fiction and Fantasy: Feed by Mira Grant – this was a pleasant surprise too! It was a little misleading though, in that it’s a lot more about politics and back-stabbing and journalism and blogging (cooooool!) than about zombies. I drew a lot of HIV-parallels. I definitely want to read the sequels!
Travel: The Moon, Come to Earth by Philip Graham – nope, didn’t like this one much either. It was just… not wrapped up. It is quite creatively written though, beautiful and lyrical. Just… more a personal journal than what I was expecting.
Journalism and Humour: American Chick in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson – this was more journalism than humour, and a super-short read. It was nice. Not really too special, but it was about the Middle East, which I love.
Science and Natural History: The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (thanks again, SolitaryDiner) – wow, I wish I had this book when I did neuros in third year! It’s super interesting and inspiring and just… wow. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in health, be it from a medical or a rehabilitative perspective, or anyone remotely interested in science, research and/or biology.
Children’s and Young Adult: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – it was an amazing premise that just fell flat for me. I hear this is one series that gets better as you go along, so I might complete the series.
Social Sciences and Philosophy: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – I felt this one was a waste… the review explains it all. Should have read something a little more… substantial.
I’m super glad I did this challenge! I ended up reading quite a few more books in many of the categories. I’d do something similar again for sure! Check out everyone’s wrap-up posts here.