I decided to put together four lists this year – one of authors I wanted to read, another of books which had caught my eye, and projects made up of French and Scottish-set books. I have not done anywhere near as well with my yearly challenges as I had anticipated. I overstretched myself rather; although I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year, I have neglected these lists over the last few months, and have been reading at whim instead. I thought that I would just write a relatively concise post about how I did with my challenges in terms of numbers, and which books were particular highlights for me. You can see my full list, with all of the titles, here. On a brighter note, I did manage to complete my Reading the World challenge, where I scheduled a review of a piece of translated literature every Saturday. My full list can be found here.
With regard to the authors, I actually did rather well. Out of nineteen pinpointed, there were only four which I did not get to (Amelie Nothomb, Lydia Millet, Leena Krohn, and Gunter Grass). Wonderful discoveries for me from this list were George Sand, John Wyndham, Ira Levin, and Anita Desai. It was lovely to revisit some favourite authors too – Rebecca West and Agatha Christie, to name but two.
With regard to my book list, I fared worse. Out of quite an extensive list of titles (thirty-four in all), I only managed to read seventeen. There were a few books which I was disappointed with (The Shining by Stephen King, The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn), but I found some new favourites too. Amongst those which I rated the most highly are the beautiful, quiet Welsh novel The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price (review here), the gorgeous and immersive This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell, the perfectly paced The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, the haunting and strange Fell by Jenn Ashworth, the hilariously funny Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson (review here), the profound and beautifully poetic The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss (review here), and the downright creepy The Dumb House by John Burnside.
My efforts for my French reading project were paltry; I only read nine books out of a list of thirty. Particular standouts for me were the lovely non-fiction account by Peter Mayle of his move to France, entitled A Year in Provence, Julia Stuart‘s terribly charming The Matchmaker of Perigord, the wonderfully bookish A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse, and the beautiful Strait is the Gate by Andre Gide. Of my rereads, I very much enjoyed revisiting Irene Nemirovsky, whose books I adore, as well as Elizabeth McCracken‘s searingly touching An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination.
My Scottish reading project was a little better. Out of twenty-nine books, I read eight, and gave up on four. I was particularly charmed by Anne Donovan‘s Buddha Da, my reread of Maggie O’Farrell‘s wonderful The VanishingAct of Esme Lennox, and Jenni Fagan‘s engrossing, and awfully human, The Sunlight Pilgrims.
I have set my sights a little lower for my 2018 reading challenge, choosing only to participate in the Around the World in 80 Books group on Goodreads. I will be reading books from, or set within, eighty different countries around the world, and could not be more excited about what I will discover.
How did you get on with your 2018 challenges? Do you always set reading challenges, or do you prefer to read without any restrictions?