Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015
I haven't updated in a long while but at the beginning of the year I started to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I set myself a goal of 24 books as I thought that it was realistic (2 weeks per book sounds realistic to me, at least), and I completed it with a total of 25 books. Here is the list of the books that Goodreads counted for the Challenge:
1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green. I already reviewed this one, so I'm not going to talk about it for long. Temporary perspective and watching the film has not changed my opinion.
2. 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami. I had wanted to read this book (these books, technically) for a long time and when I finally got to it, I didn't really know that I was in for more than 1200 pages of a constant state of "WTF is going on?", but I couldn't really put it down, partly because I wanted to know what happened in the end. I wasn't disappointed but I'll admit that Murakami's books always kind of confuse me. I'm told it's the way Japanese novels are written: it's not so much about the plot as the writing itself.
3. Eighty Days White - Vina Jackson. I knoooow... I finished the original trilogy and read the two companion books because, as far as erotica goes (in my very short experience, at least), I like that the novels actually have a plot that's not only a couple getting together to have very kinky sex. There is a lot of that, don't worry. I find White the stronger of the two companion novels (I really don't like Luba, the main character in Amber) even though I still think Yellow (the first one) was the better of them.
4. Bridget Jones. Mad About the Boy - Helen Fielding. I knoooow... A friend of mine is an even bigger fan of the Bridget Jones universe and I borrowed the book from her. And I was really, really disappointed with this one, not only because of the lack of a certain main character, but also because what I thought could work in a very interesting way simply don't because the author tries to repeat the formula that made the first book popular.
5. Himmelweg - Juan Mayorga. During the summer semester, I took several literature courses at university. This one was for Contemporary Spanish Literature as a look at drama. It is conformed by 5 acts, two of which are monologues. The play takes us to a concentration camp in WWII era and shows us the experience from several points of view: a Red Cross representative, a Nazi officer, the prisoners... It is really worth reading. I wish I can see it on a stage in the future.
6. Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett. This one was for the Drama Analysis course. I didn't know what to expect from it, I found it really weird (I know it's the point of the text) and I don't really know how to judge it. There is genius in the absurdity of everything, I like that everything is open to interpretation. But I'm not sure I enjoyed reading the text. Maybe on a stage it works better.
7. Si te dicen que caí - Juan Marsé. This is the novel I read for the Contemporary Spanish Literature. It's long, it's complicated... and I loved it. The reader might need some context about the early years of the Franco dictatorship. The edition I read has all sorts of academic annotations, which really helped, and is the uncensored version. It is beautifully written, it is a very powerful text.
8. Uncle Vanya - Anton Chekov. Another one for Drama Analysis. My only problem with Russian literature is that I get lost with the character names. Other than that, the play was fine by me. I kind of expected more, though.
9. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro. I read this book in my Contemporary British Literature as part of the block on literature written by non-British authors within the British literary system. I had heard positive things about another novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, so I expected to like this book, but it took me forever to finish and I feel completely uninterested.
10. Poeta en Nueva York - Federico García Lorca. I love Lorca's plays but I had read very few of his poems. Actually, I rarely read poetry books voluntarily. But I was positively surprised with this book.
11. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams. The last one for the Drama Analysis course that you'll find in the list. This one is also one that I should have read for one of my American Literature courses, so two birds with one stone. I loved it. I'm looking forward to watching the movie with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando soon.
12. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë. I watched the latest movie adaptation with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender with a good friend of mine and something rubbed me off the wrong way. I had the feeling there was more to the book than the movie showed, and since I know I'm supposed to read this for one of my English Literature courses in the future anyway, I gave it a shot expecting something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice (the book bored me more than my love of the movies might lead you to believe) and I was positively surprized.
13. Los dioses mienten (神様がうそをつく) - Kaori Ozaki. I had practically stopped reading manga but then one day I came across a blog with manga reviews and since it's only one volume, I thought I might give it a shot. Seeing the cover, you'd think this is a sweet love story about two little kids and, in a way, it is, but it's way more dramatic than I was expecting. I'd definetely recommend it if you're looking for a more mature manga. Since I read the Spanish translation, I'm copying the Japanese title from Goodreads.
14. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. Remember how I said I was disappointed in the author because he said The Fault in Our Stars was a good book and because of that I might not read his novel in a long while? Well... In summer, the book jar (of course I have one, some times I need destiny to choose for me - mine is not color-coded, though) said the time was right to check this one out. And if I had a euro for every time that I've been wrong because of prejudice, I would have won one euro this time.
15. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling. I'm going to blame Pinterest on this one, and with no shame whatsoever. You see, I started using Pinterest for cooking ideas and one day some random posts about Harry Potter started to appear out of the blue. Nostalgia invaded me and in summer I decided to re-read the whole series (because having a list of 97 pending books is not incompatible with re-reading seven quite long books). The first Harry Potter is pure nostalgia, everything is sweet and magical (pun not intended). As a re-reading, you start to notice little details that you missed the first time. It's nice.
16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling. This is my least favorite in the Harry Potter series and I when I was younger I couldn't quite tell why, but as an adult I think it's because it repeats a pattern and some of the magic of the first book (again, pun not intended) is lost or less present. It's not bad, but it's not that great either, in my opinion.
17. 28 Tage Lang - David Safier. Every time I read or watch something WWII-related I tell myself it will be the last time in a long while, but the while doesn't last that long. Safier, best known for romantic comedy novels, writes about the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto. It doesn't really lose the romantic touch that made his previous novels popular, and it is not as dramatic as other novels, but I think it's a nice introduction to the topic for younger readers in a similar way as The Book Thief is.
18. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams. I watched the movie adaptation a couple years ago and a copy of the book found its way to me, and I'm glad I read the book because it's infinetely better (aren't they always?).
19. Gone Girl - Gilian Flynn. I usually avoid overhyped best-sellers like the plague, but the movie trailer convinced me to take a look at this thriller. I couldn't put it down despite the fact that both narrating voices are very dislikable, but you really want to keep reading to find out how they came to their situation, how they can keep up with their lies and keep hurting each other. Definetely read it before watching the movie.
20. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson. In October 2014, I found myself in a huge bookshop in London that usually offers 2x1 deals. This was my "half-price" book. I'll admit it: I fell for the hype like an idiot. For that and for the promise of a road trip from coast to coast in the USA which is something I've been wanting to do for years. The point of the road trip narrative is to show us the development and growth of the characters, but I really disliked Amy as a character and as a narrator, and Roger shouldn't even be in the title, in my opinion, because he's more in the background. This book suffers from that terrible disease that many YA books suffer from: the secondaries are more interesting than the protagonists but their stories are conveniently ignored.
21. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the Graphic Novel - Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, Tony Lee, Cliff Richards. I couldn't avoid it, sue me. The character design makes it difficult to follow because you're trying to figure out who is who. However, I liked the "sketchy" style. If you're a P&P purist, you might want to avoid this graphic novel. I thought it was a funny twist.
22. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I'm not sure what drew me to this book, it was more of an impulsive purchase with the 2x1 thing in London. The girl at check-out told me I had made a very good choice and I decided to start reading the book on the plane back home but I didn't because of reasons that I'd rather not remember. And the book was left to gather dust on my shelves for a whole year before the book jar reminded me that I even had it. I wish I had read it earlier because I loved every single bit of it, I didn't want it to end. I want more by this author. I wasn't aware of many of the issues she brings up concerning race in America (it's not that big of a thing in Europe... I think... I'm so ridiculously white you might call my skin colour transparent) and I related to Ifemelu's culture shock issues (at a different level, of course, but still). I definetely recommend it.
23. La mecánica del corazón (La méchanique du coeur) - Mathias Malzieu. I picked this one up because of the cover, I won't lie to you. I expected something Tim Burton-esque and I'm going to give this the number 1 spot for disappointment of the year. Thank god it's short, otherwise I might not have finished it. The original is in French but I read the Spanish translation.
24. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins. I didn't want to read this one initially because of the hype, but I took it from a book exchange point expecting nothing and I was positively surprized. The comparison to Gone Girl is unavoidable but they are different stories, both enjoyable.
25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling. Growing up, this was my favorite Harry Potter book, and after the re-read, it continues to be so, even though I found more objections to it than the first time. I started reading it in summer but stopped and started again around Christmas. I think this is also the last book in which I don't find Harry insufferably annoying.
There were a couple other books and manga that I read in 2015 but I didn't include them in the challenge either because Goodreads doesn't have them in their database or because I considered that manga collections were kind of cheating and it takes a lot less time to read a whole manga series than a single book. I might talk about them in another entry.
This was it for the 2015 challenge. I might try again in 2016 with more books (maybe 30, maybe more, I haven't given it much thought yet) or I might just continue reading without keeping track of what I've been reading. Either way, I know that books will be a big part of next year. Let's see what the book jar has in store...