This is it! The end of the road. Did we make it or did we try our best but still leave a few categories unread? Find out below. Also, don’t forget to read through to the bottom to enter our giveaway and win yourself an awesome post-holiday present. The giveaway for this month is a copy of the novel Unhinged by A. G. Howard, part of a series inspired by Alice in Wonderland but with it’s own mad twist.
*Note: I will not have finished all these books by the time this post goes up, but intend to finish them by the end of the year.
A book with a number in the title — Batman Year One by Frank Miller — This Batman origin story was excellent. Rather than facing Wayne up against one villain, this collection showed Wayne and Gordon simultaneously trying to bring down the corrupt political system. It also introduced Catwoman, though she didn’t interact much with the other characters. The art was definitely dated, but it wasn’t distracting.
A mystery or thriller — Watchmen by Alan Moore — I’ve seen this movie and had intended to read the graphic novel for some time. This is one of the books I haven’t finished yet. I am definitely invested in the story, but the art is so dated, it’s making the book difficult to get through. It’s my least favorite period for comic book art.
A popular author’s first book — Smile by Raina Telgemeir — This graphic novel memoir was so cute! Raina is running when she trips and falls on her face. One of her front teeth falls out, the other one gets jammed into her gums. It starts Raina’s adolescence with loads of extensive dental work, and changes her life for good. Raina learns quite a bit through the experiences.
A Pulitzer Prize winning book — March by Geraldine Brooks — This is the only book I have yet to start, but I love Geraldine Brooks, so I’m pumped!
A book your mom loves — A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness — Thanks mom, for recommending a six hundred page book that ends in a cliffhanger, and has a thousand page sequel. Thanks. I loved this book. So wonderful.
A book that scares you — Through the Woods by Emily Carroll — This graphic novel tells five fairy tales. All super creepy. The art is simplistic, but definitely gorgeous. I’m glad this was short, because if I’d had to read any more, it definitely would have given me nightmares.
A book more than 100 years old — A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens — I’m reading this with my 8th graders, and having fun with it. I love Dickens’ writing. I know I’m alone in that.
A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t — V for Vendetta by Alan Moore — This is on many high school reading lists, and for good reason! The book, which is very similar to the film, is amazing and makes a powerful statement. Again, I found the art to be dated, though I didn’t hate this art as much as Watchmen’s art.
A book that came out the year you were born — Jurassic Park by Michael Crighton — While totally different from the film, this book was awesome. What surprised me was how many people had no idea this was a book first.
A trilogy — The All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness — I would probably have finished the whole challenge easily if I hadn’t gotten hooked on this series. The books are huge, but it was totally worth it. I’m halfway through the third book, and I am devouring it!
A book from your childhood — A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein — This was my favorite book as a kid. I took this challenge as an opportunity to share this rhyming story with my boyfriend. Having never heard the book as a child, he wasn’t nearly as impressed as I had been the first time I read it.
A banned book — Drama by Raina Telgemeir — How is this book even banned? Really? This is the story of a middle school stage crew. I was on stage crew, so I was super into this book. It is a romance and a coming of age story. Wonderful story, wonderful art.
I didn’t meet any new categories this month, because I didn’t finish much. Just as last month’s updates went up I finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. Then in early December I raced through Euphoria by Lily King because I knew there was a long queue for it at the library and I wouldn’t be able to renew it. And then I started a whole number of things that I haven’t finished, but did sit down and read We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in under thirty minutes (it’s based on a TED talk she gave). I expect I will finish another book or two by the time the end of 2015 really rolls around, but this post will already be up by then.
Even though I didn’t fulfill all the categories of this reading challenge, I enjoyed doing it. And some categories I didn’t fill, like “a book of short stories,” were only because I counted the books that fulfilled them for some other category, and didn’t want to triple-count. The funny thing is that I even had books picked out for some that I missed, but I never got around to reading them (I’m going to blame the pile of BEA books I’m still working through in part for that). I also didn’t fully succeed in my other reading goal for the year: making 50% of what I read be by writers of color. It was more like a third in the end, but that was already much higher than last year, so I plan to continue pushing towards that goal in 2016. In making this effort I’ve come across so many amazing writers that I might never have found if I was only paying attention to things like genre or reviews.
A book at the bottom of your to-read list — Wolves of the Northern Rift by Jon Messenger — Though there’s nothing really wrong with it, I kept passing over this book as I scrolled through my kindle collection picking my next read. Perhaps because it has male protagonists written by a male author and thus would be unlikely to provide me with content for this blog. Or perhaps I sensed that it would be little over-the-top steampunk in the beginning; one of those books that mentions top hats, zeppelins, and pocket watches all within the first few paragraphs in case one wasn’t enough (see our post on avoiding terrible tropes in steampunk lit). It turned out to be better than I expected, reducing the clichés, and building an interesting world of magic slowly seeping into the human realm through a rift and the Inquisitor and his assistant who are sent to halt its spread at any cost. One cool fact about the author is that he wrote his first series while deployed in Iraq. You can check him out here.
Sarah has nothing to add this month, but it’s been a fun challenge!
A book from your childhood — Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans– Madeline’s Rescue is such a timeless classic.
A book that became a movie and a book based on a true story — A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson — A Walk in the Woods is Bryson’s own account of his very ambitious hike on the Appalachian Trail. It started out as just a whim, but he did his research in earnest. Including some pretty scary research into bear attacks, insect borne diseases, hypothermia…just to name a few. After sending Christmas cards with a request for his friends to join him on this adventure, he finally heard from an old college buddy. Katz calls up one day and says if you’ll have me I’d love to join you on that hike of yours. Bryson is so desperate he jumps at the offer and when he hangs up his wife reminds him just how much Katz drove him crazy. This is how the adventure begins, with lots of humor and many different accounts of trivia related to the states they traversed, famous historic figures and some not so famous people that were involved with the trail. He also touches on the environmental issues and certain government agencies that hinder the hikers and the trail itself. This was a really fun way to experience the Appalachian Trial, because just like Bryson the trail is practically in my backyard, but this book will be the only way I make the journey.
A book that came out the year you were born — The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster — The Phantom Tollbooth‘s many uses of wordplay really challenges the young reader to think. The main character, a young boy who’s completely bored with everything in his life until the day he comes home from school to find a very large box waiting for him in his room. The boy follows the directions within and it turns out it’s a car with a token for a tollbooth. He drives the car into a magical land where you need to be careful what you say because everything is taken very literally. I enjoyed this book and wish that I had known about it when my kids were young.
Don’t forget to click on the link below to enter our December giveaway and win a copy of Unhinged!
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