Books I read in January

I’m doing the PopSugar Reading Challenge again this year. The 2018 Reading Challenge has forty books on the basic list, and another ten on the advanced list. Since I read over a hundred books a year, reading these fifty shouldn’t be too hard. Though there is one category that may be a challenge – a book that was being read by a stranger in a public place. If I had occasion to take a trip I might well see someone reading in an airport or on a bus or train, but in my daily life, the only people I see reading books are family and co-workers.

Still, I’m making good progress with the books I’ve read so far.

The Painted Girls by Cathy Buchanan – this was for our book club, but it also fits for “a novel based on a real person.” Two real people, actually, sisters Marie and Antoinette van Goethem (and their little sister Charlotte, though she plays a lesser role in the novel). I generally enjoy historical fiction, but this one didn’t interest me as much. Perhaps it was the setting, late nineteenth-century Paris (I tend to read novels set in the British Isles), perhaps just that I didn’t much like Antoinette, and as the book went on I didn’t care so much for Marie either. Interesting, but not all that enjoyable.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – this retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello just sounded interesting, plus I realized as I read that it fit for “a book about a villain or antihero.” I’m not sure how believable the whole story is, but it is interesting just to see how Chevalier adapted the play (even though I have never seen or read Othello).

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston – another book that I selected just because it sounded interesting (alternate history, science fiction) and discovered as I read that it fit for “a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist.” I haven’t read a lot of books set in Canada, so it was interesting to get that perspective, and Johnston has created an interesting alternate history where the British Empire remained a world power by valuing all the peoples and cultures of its far-flung domains, encouraging intermarriage among different ethnicities, even (especially) in the royal family. Again, I’m not sure how realistic a picture it paints, but it’s an interesting perspective.

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan – I would have read this anyway because I enjoy the series (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard), but it was handy that it also fit “a book set at sea.” Sometimes the sea isn’t in our world (hard to explain that if you haven’t read the series), but it’s still sea (except when they have adventures on land, but then they get back on the ship again).

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – this was the first book I set about intentionally reading for the Reading Challenge, for “a childhood classic you’ve never read.” I’m not sure if I just never happened to read it, or chose not to. I would not have liked Anne much as a girl, though as an adult I can appreciate her somewhat more. (Though unlike Matthew, I think I would find her ceaseless talking would annoy me after a while.)

Three other books I had started in 2017 but finished in January, An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor (continuing a series I have been enjoying on audiobook during my commute), Political Correctness edited by Rachel Bozek (a book I found in the college library that sounded interesting, as I like books that present two sides of a controversy), and State of Fear by Michael Crichton (an audiobook on MP3 that I listened to while riding my exercise bike, and although I found the storyline stretched belief and the “message” of the book overshadowed the storyline, it did get me through several hours – over several weeks – of biking).

2 Responses to Books I read in January

  1. Kizzie says:

    Are you intending to read the rest of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series. I read them several years ago, as an adult, and enjoyed them.

    Although I love to read, it takes me a long time to get through a book these days. Part of that is because reading online takes much of my reading time. By “online,” I don’t mean only Facebook or AJ’s blog, but there are a variety of articles I come across and save to read, ranging from current events to theological matters to articles on historical events. And then there’s World magazine, which I read in print.

    Also, I have finally made peace with the fact that, although I am an avid reader, I am not a fast reader. I can’t imagine reading a whole book, unless it is very short, in a day or a weekend, as some people mention doing. But I think some of that is intentional on my part, as I can read faster than I do, but I prefer to go slower and absorb and enjoy it more that way.

    Recently I read that John Piper, an obviously intelligent man, also is a slow reader, but has come to embrace his slower reading style.

    • Pauline says:

      I might try another of the Anne of Green Gables books. One of the other prompts in the reading challenge is to read the next book in a series you have started. I hadn’t figured out what series to use, since generally if I like a series I have already gone ahead and read more. But this one would work.

      How fast I read depends on the book. Non-fiction often takes more time to read carefully enough to understand well. Some fiction has more to it, in terms of ideas and language, and I may read more slowly to enjoy and understand it. But other novels really don’t have much besides the basic storyline, and I don’t feel I’m missing much by reading faster. I used to (when I was a teen/young adult) think those kinds of novels weren’t worth reading, but now I think they have their place. They have at least as much depth as most TV, and for various reasons I much prefer books to TV for entertainment, even when I’m not trying to learn anything.

      And of course I go through about two or three books a month in audiobook format, during my commute and while exercising, so my monthly book total is higher than it would be if I just “read” books on paper. (I don’t do ebooks, because it’s just not that comfortable reading on the computer, and I don’t have a smart phone or other e-reader – though I do read articles online on various topics.)

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