Now that we’re midway through 2019 (where has the time gone?), many bookworms will be at the halfway mark of their 2019 reading challenge. Back in January, I set myself the challenge of reading 30 new books this year on Goodreads, but I also set myself specific tasks and books to read. I’ve been in a bit of a life slump this year for various reasons, but I do seem to be getting through a fair amount of reading. Although I’m doing well with my target of 30 books, alas, I keep getting distracted from my list of things to read. I also haven’t had a lot of motivation to blog recently, so hopefully, this post will help me to get back on the blogging bandwagon.
Here’s a reminder of what I want to achieve, and what I actually have so far.
- A Shakespeare Play You Haven’t Read Before
I adore Shakespeare but there is still so much of his work that I haven’t read yet. I’ve even got a beautiful illustrated edition of all of his plays, and yet there is still so much to get through. I’ve got a second copy of As You Like It along with a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I purchased new a few years back. When I eventually get around to this challenge, it will be one of these two plays that I pick up.
- A Book You Read a Long Time Ago
This is a difficult one and although I have a few titles in mind, I suspect that whatever I pick up will be something decided on completely at random. I’ve considered all sorts of things for this challenge including some of the Sweet Valley High books, something by Roald Dahl, and even Charles Dickens’ masterpiece Great Expectations.
- A Book with Time or Day in the Title
For this challenge, I’ve bought a children’s book called Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford. If the title wasn’t intriguing enough, I love time travel narratives and the fact that the eponymous hamster is called Alan Shearer just made me laugh so much I knew I had to read this one.
- A Book by a Local Author
Strangely enough, this challenge is the hardest one to decide on simply because of the matter of deciding what exactly I mean by local. Is it someone from my town, my county, my area of England? Who knows? I still haven’t properly decided. I’ve considered material by Frank Cottrell Boyce but nothing has grabbed me enough. I’m leaning towards May Sinclair as her book The Three Brontës has been sat on my shelf for quite a while now but we’ll see. I could also go for something by Charlotte Brontë’s friend and first biographer, Elizabeth Gaskell, but again, nothing is grabbing me. Another possibility is something by Frances Hodgson Burnett as I’ve recently bought The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, the former of which I’ve started reading, and both of which would help me to tick off another challenge on this list.
- A Book That Was Originally Published In A Language Other Than English
I’ve highlighted this challenge as I’ve actually completed it. I read Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan earlier this year which was originally published in French. It translates as Hello Sadness in English but isn’t as miserable as it seems. Published when the author was just 18, this is arguably a piece of juvenilia that would allow me to tick another challenge off my list. The novella follows 17 year old Cecile who is spending her summer on the French Riveria with her playboy father, his mistress, an old family friend, and Cecile’s new lover. It’s a seductive, sensuous, wistful, and at times, rather intense book but I really enjoyed it.
- A Novel Based on a Real Person
I actually started this challenge way back in January but only got a short way into the book before putting the task on hold. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a love of Science Fiction, and in particular the works of Philip K. Dick (just read Ubik right now) so I was pleased when I stumbled across Michael Bishop’s novel, Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas, which promises to be just as outrageous as a lot of Dick’s work. I really need to get back to this one soon. Perhaps it can be my holiday read.
- A Collection of Short Stories
In addition to my Philip K. Dick binge at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, I also went on an Agatha Christie, and more specifically, Hercule Poirot binge. I bought Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories, and although I read a few and loved them, the novels kept pulling me back in. As there are so many stories in this collection, I’m honestly not sure that I’m going to finish this one and be able to tick this challenge off my list.
- A Book That You Haven’t Read Before Because You Find it Intimidating
The book I had in mind for this was Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. I’m not one to be put off by big books but this one is ridiculously long. I’m definitely not going to get through this one now even though there is an unloved copy sat in a local library. I also had in mind John Bunyon’s A Pilgrim’s Progress which has sat unloved on my own shelf for many years now. It’s survived my many book purges over the years so it’s about time that I dipped into this one.
- A Classic of Children’s Literature You Haven’t Already Read
As I’ve already mentioned, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess are going to help me to complete this challenge. I do also really want to read The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, but we’ll see. I need to get a move on with this task anyway.
- A Piece of Non-Brontë Juvenilia
Technically I’ve competed this challenge by reading Bonjour Tristesse but I don’t want to double up on books for different challenges. I’m currently slowly making my way through The Journals and Poems of Marjory Fleming. I hope to go back to this one and complete it soon.
- A Piece of Brontë Juvenilia You Haven’t Read Before
There are hundreds of pieces of the Brontë juvenilia that have been published that I haven’t read yet. If I can get back on track with my Brontë blogging soon, I’ll hopefully tick this one off and have more reviews and information about the writings. Although I always mean to become more familiar with Anne and Emily’s Gondal, I’m always drawn back to Charlotte and Branwell’s Glass Town and Angria. Perhaps it’s simply because there are so many surviving pieces from the latter worlds, and so few from Gondal that it’s very hard to get into the writings in the same way.
- A Brontë Biography You Haven’t Read Before
Again, this challenge is highlighted because I’ve actually completed it. Earlier this year I read Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy by Nick Holland. It’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend. You can read my review of it by clicking the link here.
- A Piece of Brontë Inspired Fiction You Haven’t Read Before –
Another challenge ticked off. I’ve actually gotten through five pieces of Brontë inspired fiction this year. I’ve read We Wove a Web in Childhood by Cally Phillips, a play based on the Brontë juvenilia which you can read more about by clicking here. It’s an interesting play, but it borrows too much from the actual juvenilia to feel like an original piece. It’s really co-authored by Phillips and the Brontës but they aren’t credited. Another title I read was Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit by DM Denton. The clue is in the title for this one, it’s a fictional account of Anne’s final years, however, there is a healthy dose of the other Brontës which will please Brontëites. After a slow start, it turned out to be a lovely read. You can read my review by clicking here.
Next up was The World Within: A Novel of Emily Brontë by Jane Eagland. I’m currently trying to write a review of this one. It’s marketed as Young Adult fiction due to the fact that it depicts a teenage Emily but I’m not sure I’d market it in that way. It’s fairly light and an easy read which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. It does play fast and loose with certain Brontë facts and events, but it is a work of fiction so I guess that’s allowed. Following this is Mr. R: A Rock & Roll Romance by Tracy Neis which is a re-telling of Jane Eyre which re-casts Mr. Rochester as an ageing rockstar and Jane as the young nanny who is hired to watch the daughter of one of Mr. R’s drunken bandmates. I enjoyed this one and it kept me entertained on my morning train ride to work. A review will follow soon. Honestly. Last but not least, I recently stumbled upon the short and sweet Brizecombe Hall by Catherine E. Chapman. It’s a pleasant Jane Eyre inspired read with just a hint of Agnes Grey and likeable characters that could have easily gone on for longer. You can read my review by clicking here.
Who knows whether I will complete my challenges but the intention is there. As for my Goodreads challenge, I’ve currently read 18 of 30 books this year. Here’s a list and ratings for those who are interested. Once again, thanks for reading.
Now Wait for Last Year by Philip K. Dick – 4 stars.
Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath – 4 stars.
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan – 4 stars.
Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy by Nick Holland – 4 stars.
We Wove a Web in Childhood by Cally Phillips – 2.5 stars.
The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick – 3 stars.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie – 5 stars.
Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case by Agatha Christie – 5 stars.
Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit by D.M. Denton – 3.5 stars.
The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie – 5 stars.
Transformation by Mary Shelley – 3 stars.
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie – 5 stars.
The World Within: A Novel of Emily Brontë by Jane Eagland – 3 stars.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – 4 stars.
One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence – 4 stars.
Brizecombe Hall by Catherine E. Chapman – 3.5 stars.
Mr. R: A Rock & Roll Romance by Tracy Neis – 3.5 stars.
Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause – 5 stars.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon.
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it.
By Nicola F. a.k.a. The Brontë Babe.
Thanks for reading. Find me on twitter @BronteBabeBlog where I tweet about books, the Brontës, and animal rights, or on my Brontë Babe Blog Facebook page. Look me up on Goodreads too. I also have a side project where I blog about my love of Classic Crime Fiction over at The Classic Crime Chonicle. I’d love it if you joined me there.
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