Okay, so I’ve been pretty busy this month and at times it’s felt like my brain just won’t stop going over and over all the things I should be doing. But I just haven’t had the time. Alongside heading to Valencia for a hen do and then attending my brother’s wedding on the 15th, I also started a new job as a bookseller! As a result of all of these factors, as well as my frequent nervous breakdowns, I’ve spent most of my free time feeling completely exhausted. Which is why my June reading update is being posted at the end of July. I know. I hate myself for it too.
I have to say though, June was a weird reading month for me. I’ve been focusing a lot on reading some graphic novels (which I’d like to discuss in a separate post) as well as a lot of art books (which I won’t mention here) because I want to try out reading lots of different styles. As a result, the only fiction novel I read in its entirety in June was The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Now don’t get me wrong, The Virgin Suicides was a great book. It’s a book I’ve always read bits of but never fully, despite owning the book for at least 10 years, but I don’t really want to focus this entire post on it. If you haven’t heard of this book, in summary it tells the story of the Lisbon sisters, five teenage girls who, one by one, commit suicide. It’s told from the perspective of the teenage boys across the street who have been obssessing over the girls throughout their lives and, years later, try to understand why the sisters did what they did. It’s gorgeous, heartbreaking, darkly funny and a relatively quick read. But as I said, this book isn’t the main focus today. Instead, I’ve decided to turn this post into a mid-year reading update, instead of just a June update, where I can talk about my progress.
Overall, 2017 has been pretty good so far for books (and personal stuff, mostly). I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on some great books, often for free or very cheaply, and have read more than ever. I’ve read a good variety too, making a bit of a special effort to read more diversely – but I’ve definitely got a long way to go.
You may know that I’ve been taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. This is fast becoming an annual thing for me, which I love, and I especially love setting a concrete challenge for myself. This year, I set a year long target of 35 books, 5 more than my target for 2016, and I’m pleased to say that this month I beat my target – with 6 months to spare! I am currently on 41 books and I’m excited to see how many more I can read before the end of the year. Instead of upping my Goodreads goal to a ludicrous target to reach by the end of the year, I’m gonna keep it pretty simple. Inspired by my recent read of The Virgin Suicides, a book I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time, I will be setting myself a target to read 10 books that I haven’t finished, have been putting off, or have owned for a long time and never read. I think that this is a pretty reasonable goal, not too over the top, but still a challenge. I’ve also decided to pick those books in advance which will (hopefully!) help incentivise me to actually hold myself accountable and read them! Now, historically, when I’ve set myself a goal to read specific books it’s gone horribly wrong. I’m very much a person who reads based on how I’m feeling on a certain day, but I’m hoping I will be able to give this a good try! Without much further ado, here are the ten books I have chosen to read between now and the end of 2017!
- They Can’t Kill Us All – Wesley Lowery – I was obsessed with acquiring this book earlier this year, but I haven’t picked it up once since bringing it home! It’s an incredibly important book, documenting the story of the Black Lives Matter movement, and there’s no excuse for why I haven’t read it yet.
- The Sad Part Was – Prabda Yoon – I nabbed this from the Tilted Axis stall at Bare Lit Fest a couple of months ago, when I was volunteering with The Royal Society of Literature. I didn’t know anything about the books, but the lovely lady on the stall gave me some great recommendations. Tilted Axis publish the books that might not make it into English, which is very exciting as it feels like you’re reading something you couldn’t get anywhere else! I was told that The Sad Part Was, by Thai writer Prabda Yoon, is about vampires so, needless to say, I was sold.
- The Secret History – Donna Tartt – I HAVE WANTED TO READ THIS BOOK FOR YEARS. I got a copy secondhand last year but, honestly, have been put off slightly by its size (oi oi!). I tend to stick to books around the 300 page mark so The Secret History‘s hefty 600 pages is a bit intimidating for me. I started it on holiday a couple of months ago and am so far loving it. I love the characters and the build up so far, as well as the beautiful references to Classical literature, but I’ve still got a good 400 pages left to read!
- The Muse – Jessie Burton – Sorry, not sorry, The Miniaturist never appealed to me, but when I spotted Burton’s second novel I was intrigued. I have no idea what it’s about but for some reason this book called to me. Again, it’s a bit of a big one but I really want to try and get some longer books under my belt this year.
- The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett – I was supposed to read this book with my Book Club but I epically failed, only making it through a small portion of the novel. I love the concept of the book, which explores several alternate timelines of a single relationship, but found it slow going on my first read. Hopefully my second attempt is more successful.
- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North – Another Book Club failure. I was so excited to read this book but fell off after a couple hundred pages. I remember really enjoying it but, again, found the pace was slower than I’d like. It tells the story of Harry August, a man whose life restarts every time he dies. He relives his life with the memories of the previous one, studying different professions, dating different people and living in different places. It’s bit of a mysterious book to be honest and I suspect it was about to get really interesting just after I stopped reading it so I’m looking forward to having some of my questions answered in my reread.
- You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried – Susannah Gora – This is something I received last year for my birthday and was one of my favourite gifts! It is a non fiction book that explores the films of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, et al). I’m really looking forward to getting my film criticism hat on once again, as I always loved dissecting films on my course at university. I’m sure this book will be really interesting, especially as a John Hughes lover.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs – Everyone seems to love this book but I’m yet to read it or see the film! In my job, I’m technically the Children’s Bookseller so I’m always feeling like I should be reading more books aimed at young people and this one is on the top of my list. I really love the way photographs have been incorporated into the book, it’s presented so well and feels really satisfying whenever I’ve had a little flick through. I can’t wait to see what this book is actually about having been quite confused by all the film-related stuff I’ve seen for it over the past year!
- The Princess Diaries – Carrie Fisher – I always think reading a memoir is a good idea. I always pick them up when I’m book shopping but, for some reason, most of them never properly get read. I read a bit of Carrie Fisher’s memoir at the start of 2017 but never finished it. I’m excited to hear all about her sordid affair with Harrison Ford. Carrie was #goals.
- Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull – I bought this book back when I still wanted to be a concept artist for animated films. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to do something with my art, but I’m a little out of practice with my illustrations these days! Creativity, Inc. is the story of Pixar. I remember reading the first page online a couple of years ago before I immediately put the book in my cart. I love hearing about the creative process and how things (such as my favourite animated films) ended up getting made. Similarly to the John Hughes book, I think this book will really appeal to me in a more academic way.
So… there’s the list! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve set yourself any goals for the rest of this year – reading or otherwise!