Oh man. It’s July. Which is awesome if you like sunshine, but scary to think the year is more than half over.
As I mentioned in my original reading challenge post, my goal was to read 12 specific books in 2013. On that front, I’m doing great – I only have two more books to go. Regarding the other, less important part of my challenge, however, I’m merely on track; I am striving to read at last 24 books (in total) this year, and so far I’ve read 13.
As long as nothing drastic happens, I should meet both goals this year! And hopefully that means I’ll have time to dive into my growing 2014 list (yes, I’ve already started compiling it).
Anyway, back to the five books I’ve tackled since I posted my quarterly update in March.
- The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
This was – for me – totally and completely unputdownable. Yes, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and have read all seven books and seen all the movies, so I am partial to J.K. Rowling’s work in the first place. But I had heard all sorts of mixed reviews on her first adult novel. Most said it was dark, disturbing and nothing like Harry Potter in the slightest. I was OK with that. I began reading the book with an entirely open mind. And I was blown away. The intricacy, the character development and the ability to capture authentic, relatable situations left me in awe. The only reason I feel this novel was criticized is because it wasn’t what we expected from Rowling… which makes me wonder what sort of feedback it would have garnered had someone else written it. To quote the lady behind our Books with Buzz series:
“[Rowling] nails the multi-perspective commentary with believable characters . . . In summary, I feel as though if someone ELSE had written this novel (try Jonathan Franzen, whose style I find similar), this book would have been praised.”
Enough said. I can’t wait for her next novel.
- Room by Emma Donoghue
This one had been on my reading list for – literally – over two years. I was so excited to finally pick it up, and when I did, I was not disappointed. It’s the story of a boy, Jack, who is born into captivity – his mother as kidnapped as a young adult and bore the son of her captor. It’s told from his simple, narrow perspective. He doesn’t know anything about life beyond the four walls of their room. Although it was hard to get into (nothing exciting happens in the first 100 pages, although they are entirely necessary in setting you up for some serious action), once it got going, it was riveting. It’s shocking and haunting to put yourself in their shoes – what would it be like to be captured and held against your will for years? I was totally fascinated and loved every minute of this novel. Another unputdownable one.
- The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
I bought this for my dad for Christmas last year (along with Half Blood Blues) and after he finished it, he passed it on to me, but with caution: “It’s a simple story, so don’t expect much.” Fine with me! I read tough stuff all the time, so something easy sounded great. I understood immediately what he meant – the plot was uncomplicated, but the characters were expertly brought to life and the writing was crisp, deliberate and tight. I really loved this story, which is (as someone so eloquently put it, although I can’t remember who) a western for people who don’t like westerns.
- The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
An absorbing historical mystery, this one was really really good. I loved the complexity and how the narration flipped back between time periods. I was able to visualize every tiny detail, which really drew me into a seemingly-enchanted world. My only complaint would be that I figured out the ending too soon (about halfway through the novel) so there was no shock factor when the twist was revealed. I wish I hadn’t, though, because then my experience would be so much better. I definitely recommend this novel if you’re traveling in the UK and want to totally escape.
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Ahhh, the classic. When I told people I’d never read it, they looked at me like I had 10 heads. Which is precisely why I set out to read it this year. And I am so, so happy I did (even though I found it hard to get into). What a touching story. I absolutely love Attitcus with all my heart, and it was no surprise that most people agree – he has served as a moral hero and a model of integrity for lawyers since the book was published. Book Magazine‘s list The 100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900 lists Atticus as the 7th best fictional character of 20th century literature, which is quite a statement. I couldn’t help but compare the novel to A Time to Kill… although they’re different, they touch on similar issues. If you haven’t read either, you’re missing out. My next step is to watch the 1962 To Kill a Mockingbird movie!
I’ll leave you with an updated list… just Fall on Your Knees and Little Women to go!
Julia’s 2013 reading challenge:
The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling Everybody Has Everything – Katrina Onstad The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
- Fall On Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald
Room – Emma Donoghue
- Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery The Whole Truth – Kit Pearson To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton Me Before You – JoJo Moyes