Blog & Reading Challenges Update

Well, it’s been a while! I accidentally took an impromptu two weeks away from this blog. It was very unintentional, as I had lots of posts I wanted to publish, and it also means I’ve missed lots of great writing from blogs I follow that I’m going to catch up on ASAP.

As lockdown eases where I am, I’ve returned to work, and the sudden reprisal of full days means my reading has slowed and I have not got around to blogging at all. I’d like to think I’m back in the swing of things now, however, so thanks to everyone who stuck around. 🙂

For this post, as well as giving you an update as above, I thought it’d be nice to track my reading challenges.

One of the things I’ve realised about myself is that although I do enjoy reading, I often have to challenge myself to do it. Absurd, right? And yet, I’ve read more books this year than I have been doing in past ones, and many are books I’ve always wanted to read but never quite got around to. This also helps me produce a more reliable schedule of reviews, because I’m actually reading new books and not the same faves over and over!

Anyway, because of that, I have a whole boatload of reading challenges I’ve set up for myself. I thought I would use this opportunity halfway through the year to see how I’m getting on with them, and also give you a glimpse into future review posts !

Reading Women Challenge

The Reading Women Challenge is about engaging with works written by women who are the past winners of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is one of my favourite literary prizes, as it both commonly features fiction I myself have picked up and read just out of interest, and leads me to the most interesting and diverse array of books. This challenge has enriched my reading experience so much, both in terms of book subject and author diversity.

Books read: 12/24

What have I read?

  • Song of Achilles, The Glorious Heresies, A Crime in the Neighbourhood – Reviews
  • Half of a Yellow Sun, Fugitive Pieces, Property – Reviews
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Power, When I Lived in Modern Times – Reviews
  • An American Marriage, Home Fire, The Idea of Perfection – Reviews
  • Currently reading: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

Thoughts: I’m so glad I decided to do this challenge. I have repeatedly come across absolutely excellent writing leading the way in innovation within contemporary lit, as well as voices from all over the world. Not all of these books are favourites, and I did not even enjoy reading them all, but I did for the majority, and in each case the skill and talent of the author is clearly apparent.

Should you do this challenge? Absolutely! It was such a great idea by the Women’s Prize for Fiction team and I’m looking forward to reading this year’s winner too!

Hugo Best Novel Shortlist

This is not a challenge I’ve actually made a post about, but I’m doing it all the same: reading the six novels shortlisted for the top Hugo Prize. I vaguely thought I’d like to read more sci-fi than usual, and this is an excellent way to do so, as nothing seems to be a bad book and I am rediscovering my love for the genre in a way I had forgotten, recently.

Books read: 2/6

What have I read?

  • Gideon the Ninth, The City in the Middle of the Night
  • Currently reading: A Memory Called Empire

Thoughts: Both of these books were exceptionally good, and I’m honestly expecting nothing less from the others. The thing about sci-fi is that it can be very hit and miss – does the worldbuilding overwhelm the plot, or is it too vague so you forget its sci-fi at all? Although these books strike that balance in different ways, the constant is the sheer originality of all the books I’ve read so far, and the way in which this does not at all overwhelm character voice.

Should you do this challenge? I actually think this would only be enjoyable if you’re a sci-fi fan. However, definitely check out one or two if not.

The Jane Austen Read

One of the pleasures I’ve discovered during quarantine is Jane Austen, so much so that I’ve quickly become one of those people who thinks it’s essential reading. I thought this would be a nice time for me to read, or reread, Austen’s six novels, and I have to say I’m enjoying it A Lot.

Books read: 2/6

What have I read?

  • Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility.
  • Currently reading: Mansfield Park.

Thoughts: I’d only fully read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice before this, having kinda disliked Northanger Abbey and gotten bored with Emma, despite the many assurances I am given that last is excellent by anyone who’s ever read an Austen book. For this challenge I started with the books I hadn’t read – but I’m getting around to these rereads soon! Thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Should you do this challenge? I’m sure most people have already decided whether or not they enjoy Jane Austen, but if you ever revise your opinion like I did, yes.

That’s it for my reading challenges!

If you saw my post a while ago about my reading habits, you’ll know I’m reading several things simultaneously, which is fun but is not helping me finish anything!! I’m hoping to actually start writing reviews again too, as it feels like I haven’t for ages, but likely it will all happen at once as I finish these self-set reading challenges haha.

How is your reading going? Are you still doing well or has it petered off and now you watch Netflix for an hour in the evening and give it up? Let me know!

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