Friday, December 24, 2010

Finish Line

Early this year, I decided to join a few reading challenges. Here's how they turned out:

1. The Quantity Book Challenge - as of Dec. 24th, 2010, I have finished 199 books. This number earned me the Most Voracious Reader Award at my book club's Christmas party earlier in the month. Yay!

2. The Chunkster Challenge - did better than I thought on this one, with a 5th hefty tome completed last month. Since the rules require a review, pardon my brevity:

- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (471 pages, read March 3-8)- a man's book, if there ever was one. War and love from a very masculine perspective. Classic Hemingway, with very vivid descriptions, and his wonderful prose style. This book struck me as written from a very personal experience, which made it all the more moving. Everyone should read this book.

- The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris (572 pages, read April 6-7) - sequel to her first, and very enjoyable novel Chocolat, this book brings back familiar characters and places them in a similarly challenging setting, particularly with little Anouk beginning to grow up. Harris writes her own version of magical realism, and this book is worth a read for those who enjoyed the first one.

- Middlemarch by George Eliot (795 pages, read May 19-24)- It took me years to get around to reading this novel, but when I finally did, I was not at all disappointed. Interesting characters, a readable plot - one just needs to be in the right frame of mind to read this, because one started, it will be enjoyed and appreciated.

- The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks (480 pages, read May 24-28) - interesting premise, but not-so-excellent execution. Too many things going on at once, and it seemed like everything had already happened before (in a television series or another book). Read during a weekend beach trip, and it was good entertainment.

- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (650 pages, read Nov.1-8) - A brilliant slice of life in the time of the Sun King, but I did wonder why it was called Wolf Hall when the Seymour family didn't feature particularly strongly in the story, though they would play a significant part in the period following where the novel ended. History, politics, intrigue, and one very compelling, intelligent and admirable man.

3. The A-Z Challenge - here's a list of the new authors and titles I've read this year.

4. Filipino Books - the five I read in 2010 were:
- Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
- Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal
- The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker by Gilda Cordero Fernando
- Connecting Flights edited by Ruel de Vera
- 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country by Alexander Lacson

5. Classics - I managed 22 new reads and rereads, listed below:
- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- Beowulf
- The Invisible Man by HG Wells
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- My Antonia by Willa Cather
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger
- Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
- Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal
- Towards the End by John Updike
- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
- Macbeth by William Shakespeare
- Therese Raguin by Emile Zola
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
- 1984 by George Orwell

6. 20 Award Winners - a combination of new and rereads, I didn't think I'd finish this year but managed 21 in the end.
- Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (Booker)
- Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (Guardian Fiction)
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Newbery)
- The Stories of John Cheever (Pulitzer)
- Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (Newbery)
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (Nobel)
- Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco (Man Asian)
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Pulitzer)
- The Dancing Girl of Izu by Yashari Kawabata (Nobel)
- March by Geraldine Brooks (Pulitzer)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Pulitzer)
- The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Newbery)
- Soliders in Hiding by Richard Wiley (PEN/Faulkner)
- Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia McLachlan (Newbery)
- Holes by Louis Sachar (Newbery)
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Booker)
- From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by EL Konigsburg (Newbery)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (Newbery)
- A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle (Newbery Honor)
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Guardian Children)
- The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Costa)

That's all for the books I've read this year. As for the books I purchased in 2010, well, that's another challenge altogether.


Peter S. said...

Oh my goodness, Stepford Mum! 199 books! Give yourself a few hours and I'm sure you'll hit the 200 mark, as there are still 3 days left before 2011.

How did you find Amsterdam? I have mixed feelings about this book. Yes, I would have to agree that it's well written, but I think it's not well written enough to deserve the Booker for that year. Also, McEwan has produced more well-written novels other than that. Critics (and I agree with them) always mention Atonement and Enduring Love when they're talking about McEwan's best works.

Stepford Mum said...

Peter, I did reach 200 - 201 if I finish the book I'm currently reading by tomorrow night :)

I feel the same way that you do about Amsterdam. Of the 3 McEwans I read this year (Amsterdam, Atonement and On Chesil Beach), I was least impressed with Amsterdam and most enjoyed Chesil Beach.

He is such a prolific writer though, so I do look forward to reading more of his work in the coming years. Enduring Love I've not yet read, but I do really like The Comfort of Strangers.

Rachel@Any Idiot Can said...

Wow, you did really well. I once read 247 books in a year but I don't have kids :)

For Whom The Bell Tolls - still on my list of books I must get to - I just never seem to manage to read Hemingway. Sad, eh? :)

Stepford Mum said...

HI Rachel, thanks for stopping by! For Whom The Bell Tolls is just my second foray into Hemingway. I can't seem to bring myself to read Faulkner though.

fantaghiro23 said...

Wonderful list, Iya! Like you and Peter, didn't like Amsterdam much, either. Fell in love with his Atonement, though.

And good luck with your book buying goals next year!