2022 Reading Challenge discussion

ARCHIVE 2016 > Simon Evans' 20 Book Challenge

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message 1: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments Originally I set my challenge at 10 books minimum for the year but I've decided to be a little more ambitious. My goal is now to read 20 books in the remainder of the year.

P.S. Because I'm a slow reader...

message 2: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:17PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments I'll start my challenge with what I just finished reading today. So here we go.

1. Time & Time Again by Ben Elton
Time and Time Again by Ben Elton
I had been looking forward to reading this book ever since I bought it for my step-dad last year in November. Unfortunately, it went missing but I recently found it and powered through it. It's a nice read and I'm almost certain I'll pick up another book by Ben Elton soon. The ending had an ominous message that no matter what we do, bad things will always happen it seems. I liked that because I'm not a fan of "happily-ever-after" endings. The concept was cool too and pulled off well, in my opinion, although the ending was rushed. Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


message 3: by Sue (new)

Sue (sueme) | 18 comments Hello Simon,
Being a slow reader is often a great way to read. I took almost exclusively science and math courses at the university I attended. It was imperative to understand each detail, thus I too read slower than many people. It became a habit that I do not regret. I often can spot minor typographical errors, wrong words, grammar mistakes for those authors whose books I review. I then send them a private note with what I found. They then have the option of correcting those problems on their ebooks, or not. Reading is GOOD. Speed is NOT IMPORTANT. Just keep reading.

message 4: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments Thanks Susan. I need to keep this in mind really. I can get quite self-conscious by how slowing I read and then when I try to speed read I miss half of what's going on.

message 5: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:18PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I fell in love with this book as soon as I picked it up. I'd been meaning to read it for a long time and I'm so glad that I finally did. It was everything I hoped it to be and more. I don't think I can find anything wrong with it, to be honest. There was one chapter in the middle that felt a bit slow but overall it was an amazing story with fabulous characters and very thought-provoking messages.


message 6: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:19PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 3. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1) by Dan Brown
For a while, I'd been meaning to read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code but didn't realize it was the second book in the Langdon series after Angels & Demons. Since I'm such a stickler for doing things in order, I had to read Angels & Demons first and I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it. It had good pace, simple structure, well-developed characters, brilliant plot twists, and seemingly in-depth research and planning. It was a bit cheesy and even cliche in some places but that happens. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I shall now get onto reading The Da Vinci Code at some point.


message 7: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:22PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 4. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
(Nominated book of the month)

I read this as it was the nominated book of the month and it was on my to-read list because you gotta read Tolkien at some point, right? I regret it... Well, I don't. I'm glad I finally got it out of the way but I didn't enjoy it for many reasons.

Tolkien's overly description style was tedious to read and I skipped over a lot of it. He focused too much on world-building and describing things and not enough time on characterisation. To me, the characters were poorly developed. The hobbits annoyed me and only Boromir caught my attention near the end. Even the plot was boring. It just felt like walking and talking and eating most of the time. And it dragged on but that's probably due to all the description weighing it down. I doubt I'll get round to completing the trilogy for a long time but I might read The Hobbit before then.


message 8: by Simon (last edited Aug 09, 2016 10:17PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 5. The Star by Arthur C. Clarke

Okay, this text may have been cheating a bit since it's a short story and thus was only 5 pages long... So obviously it was a quick read but packed with a powerful message and the conflict between science and religion. I could tell that was the point of this story but I think there could have been more in it even if it was just a short story. Perhaps some more characterisation? I'm just a character-driven kinda guy really. Interesting read, though. I wouldn't say it's a waste of time.


message 9: by Simon (last edited Sep 22, 2016 11:48PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
(Studied for university)

There, I can tick Joyce off of my list of authors to read even if it wasn't Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake that I read. I had to read this for university otherwise, I probably wouldn't have read anything by Joyce for a long time. I can see why it's so acclaimed; it was a revolutionary style of writing for the time, coming off the backboard of realism. It was interesting to read as well because of this but personally not my cup of tea so I'm a bit uncertain about how I'll like Woolf's writing next.


message 10: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (thatssomecatch) Funnily enough, The Fellowship of the Ring was the first book I read on joining Goodreads - for basically the same reasons as you! I came to a slightly different conclusion, while completely agreeing that the novel is full of typical archetypes, I feel that this just highlights how complex Frodo is. He seems pretty complex, and I think it was his characterisation that pulled me through the novel.

Tom Bombadil though. What was that.

message 11: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments Eliza wrote: "Funnily enough, The Fellowship of the Ring was the first book I read on joining Goodreads - for basically the same reasons as you! I came to a slightly different conclusion, while completely agreei..."

I think you're right, Frodo probably is more complex than he appears and is certainly one of - if not the most - complex character in the novel. I still found him annoying because he seemed to screw up a lot of things up but I guess it makes sense that he would. I mostly skimmed the Tom Bombadil bits. It made no sense to me.

message 12: by Asiuol (new)

Asiuol K Congrats on your progress, Simon.

message 13: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:22PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 7. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
This book was recommended to me by someone I worked with during inter-semester break. I thought I'd give it a go to see if it would change my mind about the supernatural genre. Sadly, it didn't. I'm still not a fan of it.

Things I didn't like about it: genre, character (mostly just the protagonist), plot (which got too out of hand for my liking).

Things I did like about it: humour (I always enjoy obscene and satirical humour), structure (I thought it followed a decent arch)


message 14: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:23PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I understand why this is perhaps among the most renowned books of the 21st century. It's beautiful. At some point, I even began questioning my own predestination and inevitable mortality... A very clever piece of literature.


message 15: by Simon (last edited Sep 22, 2016 11:48PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 9. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
(Studied for university)

Like Joyce, I had to read this for my English course. It was quicker to get through than Joyce because it was shorter and perhaps easier to follow. After reading both Joyce and Woolf now, I think I can conclude that I'm not a massive fan of modernism literature. I was able to appreciate and style and innovation of both books, though.


message 16: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:23PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 10. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1) by Stephen King
From what I've heard, The Dark Tower series by Stephen King is phenomenal but the first book is a bit slow. The Gunslinger definitely felt...odd, to me. It jumped into things very quickly I found, but then seemed to dawdle along and acted more as a set-up for the later books in the series. Yet I liked the premise, the setting, the characters, and the absurdity of it.


message 17: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments And there goes my original goal of 10 books. Woohoo! I'm going to try and stretch my goal out to 30 books now but I'm not setting anything in stone. Time to read this month's nominated book now: The Kite Runner.

message 18: by Simon (last edited Sep 04, 2016 08:24PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
(Nominated book of the month)

I was disappointed by this book. It had been hyped up for me in the past by others. I found it dull and the narrator, Amir, incredibly frustrating. It was easy to read, however, the Amir eventually improved somewhat by the end. There were silly little unrealistic coincidences and cliches as well that bugged me. Some things didn't have enough details or emphasis put into them while other things had too much. I honestly don't know why people rave about this book as much as they do.


message 19: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 12. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising, #1) by Susan Cooper
I was given this book as well as the following three several years ago but never got around to reading them for whatever reason. I haven't read all of The Chronicles of Narnia but this reminded me of it. It's more old-fashioned YA/children's fantasy which, nowadays, are often just glamorised high school romances in fantasy/dystopian settings.

This was a nice read, though. It felt very traditional which is neither bad nor good. It wasn't anything special but still enjoyable.


message 20: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 13. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1) by Terry Pratchett
Finally got around to reading some Pratchett. I wasn't wowed by his work but this book was enjoyable enough. It reminded me of Douglas Adams only more fantasy-focused instead of science fiction. Which reminds me, I must re-read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and complete that series.

I might also be a bit tired of fantasy even if this was rather weird, satirical fantasy. It was a good, light-hearted read, though.


message 21: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 14. Beggars Banquet by Ian Rankin
Beggars Banquet by Ian Rankin
My second Ian Rankin book this year. This one was a collection of short stories and I think it's helped me to realize that I don't enjoy short stories as much as novels. With the exception of the last story in this book which about 90 pages long as opposed to the usual 20 pages of the rest, so it was more of a novella than a short story. Needless to say, I still very much enjoy Rankin's style and his Rebus character who had a couple of stories in this book, including the last one. It took me about two months to get through this book but mainly because I'd just read one or two stories in between other books.


message 22: by Simon (last edited Oct 12, 2016 02:31PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 15. White Noise by Don DeLillo
White Noise by Don DeLillo
(Studied for university)

The other books I had to read for this semester's English course were by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf who are both excellent writers although I wasn't really a fan of the modernist style of their work. White Noise, however, is postmodernism and I loved it. It was so quirky and fun to read. I particularly liked the character, Heinrich. I found myself constantly questioning what was going to happen next and if certain things meant something particular was going to happen. Of course, it was completely unpredictable and erratic which I just really enjoyed. Definitely going to read some more postmodern literature now.


message 23: by Simon (last edited Oct 06, 2016 11:49PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 16. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Ross Poldark (Poldark, #1) by Winston Graham
A nice period piece, I think. It seemed very well researched to me. Quite sweet as well for the most part. The plot meandered in no particular direction, though, and some things were predictable. Strong characters on the other hand. Not too challenging other than twisting your tongue around the accents.


message 24: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 17. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine/The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
H.G. Wells has to be one of my favourite classical authors, especially since he is one of the founding fathers of science fiction. I love the thought of time travel as well so anything with time travel as a main concept is bound to win me over.


message 25: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 18. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Finally got around to reading something by Vonnegut and I'm so glad I did. I wish I had read this sooner. It's now my favourite book of the year alongside A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.


message 26: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 19. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
On Writing A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King
I was never into the horror genre so I've steered clear of Stephen King - the legend of literary horror - until recently. This isn't a horror story obviously. It's part memoir, part guide to writing fiction, and it's superb - entertaining, straightforward, and informative. I'll recommend this book to any aspiring writer. It's also resulted in me looking into King's work more. I'd already read The Gunslinger but now I've almost finished Misery too and I plan on picking up soon as well since it's this month's nomination.


message 27: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 20. Misery by Stephen King
Misery by Stephen King
It was because of King's On Writing that I started reading Misery and it was interesting reading them both at once and making connections between the two. Even though Misery was written just over a decade before King's accident, there are some bizarre similarities between the two, at least, I thought so.

A good read, though. I found myself making a face at some of the scenes, that's a credit to how good King's skill at describing things is.


message 28: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments Oh, and I hit my goal of 20 books so let's see if I can make it to 30 before the year is out.

message 29: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 21. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1) by Ransom Riggs
I thought I'd pick up a YA book since I don't think I have in such a long time. It was a fun, easy read. A bit dark but not in a bad way necessarily. I especially liked the time loop aspect of it. I didn't particularly like how the hollowgasts and wights were all out evil basically as I'm often not a fan of characters/things being entirely "good" or entirely "evil" but, hey, it's a YA book. Also, so many adverbs... Ick. But that's just me being pretentious and nit-picky. It was enjoyable otherwise.


message 30: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 22. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
I didn't enjoy this as much and I thought I would and for a surprisingly short story, it took me longer to read than it probably should have because I got distracted by another book. Yet it had an interesting style with perspective and conveyed a thought-provoking meaning.


message 31: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 23. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
This novel far surpassed by expectations which, I'll admit, were rather low. I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It was a greatly dark and gritty twist on the superhero genre. I really liked the characters and their story arcs. The plot was great too and how it didn't give it too much away too quickly - it kept me guessing which I really enjoyed. It's not a masterpiece but it's an excellent and easy read.


message 32: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 24. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I picked this book up as a bit of research and inspiration for a story I'll be working on myself. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it. I had been given the impression that it would mind-numbingly boring but I didn't think this was the case at all. There's so much drama that happens.


message 33: by Simon (last edited Nov 16, 2016 02:53AM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 25. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women (Little Women #1) by Louisa May Alcott
(Nominated book of the month)

To begin with, I found this book difficult to get into and enjoy. It felt like a bit of a chore to read and I was trudging through it slowly. It got better by the end but I was relieved when it was finally over so that I could move onto something else. I just don't think it's my kind of story to be honest but I'm sure it's an enjoyable classic for young girl going into to their teenage years. It's rather cutesy and preachy and seems to be targeted at a particular audience - which is not me. It's not bad but it's not great and it's certainly not my cup of tea.


message 34: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 26. Master & Commander by Patrick O'Brian
Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1) by Patrick O'Brian
Incredible detail in this book but so much so that the plot and the characters become obscured behind all the technical descriptions and whatnot. I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would but I still appreciate it a lot for the huge amount of research that obviously went into it.


message 35: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 27. Tooth & Nail by Ian Rankin
Tooth and Nail (Inspector Rebus, #3) by Ian Rankin
The third book in the Inspector Rebus series which is probably one of my favourite series. Rankin's books are often quick and easy to get through but also captivating and with some underlying messages.


message 36: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 5832 comments Congratulations on doubling and then beating your goal again! Any new favorites?

message 37: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments Cassandra wrote: "Congratulations on doubling and then beating your goal again! Any new favorites?"

Thanks! The Picture of Dorian Gray is still a favourite this year but so is Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I also really liked Vicious by V.E. Schwab actually which surprised me.

message 38: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 5832 comments All great books! Vicious surprised me too with how much I liked it.

message 39: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 28. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
I started out really enjoying this and being amazed by McCarthy's incredible prose but then it became overwhelming and blocked out whatever plot and character development there was. Although I can see why many consider it a masterpiece.


message 40: by Simon (last edited Dec 10, 2016 02:00AM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 29. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8) by John Tiffany

I'll admit, I never actually finish the original Harry Potter series (books or films) but I've read/seen most of it. I think you can read this without having read all the other books but I also wouldn't bother, it's not very good. It reads like a sitcom that is trying hard to be funny and moving at once but is failing at both. Perhaps it's the way it's written as a script, I'm not sure. The characters felt so much like caricatures, though, and not really relatable at all. And there were so many plot holes...


message 41: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 30. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis
(Nominated book of the month)

I'm sure I read this when I was younger. I know that I at least watched the film. The scene with Aslan on the stone table that Lucy and Susan watch is, for some reason, one of those scenes that always sticks in my mind. Anyway, it was a nice bit of nostalgia to read this and it compels me to finish the series since I never have. It's not an amazing story but it's not bad. It's a good book that all children should at some point, in my opinion.


message 42: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments I'm so happy I managed to read not 10, not 20, but 30 books this year! This year I'm aiming to read 50, here's my challenge for 2017: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

message 43: by Simon (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 31. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
Disclaimer: I listened to this as an audio book instead of reading it.

Although now I feel as though I should go back and read it because I thouroughly enjoyed it once I got into it. I heard that it starts out slow and it definitely does. I was only listening to little bits of it at a time to begin with because I didn't have something to do while I was listening. Lately my shifts at work have included 2 hours of stocking shelves after the shop closes so I've been able to listen to this book while doing that. It made work go a lot quicker and I don't know how I would have coped without this book to listen to.

I am a sucker of bildungsroman stories. As much as I enjoyed this story, however, I was more interested in the supporting characters than Kvothe, the main character, although he is quite charming I think. He almost verges on being "too perfect" as well, though. I'm always a fan of deeply flawed characters (although not too flaw...). My favourite characters were Simmon, Fela, Chronicler/Devan, and of course Bast.


message 44: by Simon (last edited Dec 17, 2016 02:34AM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 32. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Initially liked it well enough then came to dislike it a lot but really enjoyed the second half. When I get a dog I'm going to name him Hareton now. And about Heathcliff, he's almost entirely awful (although there are reasons for that) but sometimes I actually enjoyed him as a character, other times I really did not, and sometimes I was just neutral towards him. Catherine Linton nee Earnshaw, Isabella Linton, Hindley, and Linton were all just awful.


message 45: by Simon (last edited Dec 31, 2016 05:09PM) (new)

Simon (simontaneously) | 173 comments 33. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

The last book I finished in 2016. It was very average in my opinion but unfortunately, not all books can be good or are everyone's cup of tea.


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