50 Books in a Year Challenge!

I should hire her to read the books for me... no, none of that blasphemy!
I should hire her to read the books for me… no, none of that blasphemy!

As you may have guessed from the title, for the entirety of 2014 I had been endeavouring to read 50 books. Why did I do this you may be asking? Well a friend of mine when I was still a student at University (I know, I live the sad life now) had done the challenge and was now on the 100 books in a year, maybe in 150 but I forget. But I do remember thinking it would be a lot of fun to do, since I’m a bit of a literary nerd, so I decided to give it a bash.

I gave myself a couple of rules so I couldn’t cop out with “easy reads”.

  • No Comics or Manga – way too short usually and I would have completed the challenge by February.
  • Short Stories do not count, unless they are part of a collection.
  • If a book is several books in one, but can be bought separately, they count as individual books.

That’s it really. And how did I do you ask? Not that well… I’ve read 38. I had two whole months due to work and living back home where I couldn’t find the time to read or read more than a few pages so that really didn’t help. But I’ve still enjoyed it all the same and plan to do it again this year, hopefully this time making the 50 mark.

I encourage you all to have a go! You start looking at books you really wanted to buy and convince yourself to get them, buy books you might not have otherwise because there a bit shorter and help with the total and you just get to read so much by so many authors!

If you want a look at what I read this year, then here’s a list with a little review on each (don’t worry, only a few words) though I might make some of these full reviews so look forward to those in February, my Book Reviewing Month!

  1. Thank You, Jeeves
  2. The Code of the Woosters
  3. The Inimitable Jeeves – All by P.G. Wodehouse
    • All came in the Jeeves Omnibus and are all cracking reads! Such gentle and witty humour. I suggest you buy them; I’ve already got my second Omnibus for this year!
  4. I Am A Cat – Natsume Sōseki
    • A Japanese classic, it may be a bit longwinded for some (especially one scene) and a tad long in page length for others but it’s humorous. Probably have a look at Kokoro or Sanshiro before delving into this long one.
  5. The Last Tycoon – F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • As anyone who knows me, I love Fitzgerald so this was always going to be a winner. A bit sad it is uncompleted, due to Fitzgerald’s death, but you can see it was going to be something different and it is full of promise. Probably only get though if you’re a Fitzgerald fan since it is unfinished.
  6. Kitchen – Banana Yoshimoto
    • Two lovely novellas in one (Kitchen and Moonlight Shadow) that have a unique look at Japan. While Kitchen is the better of the two, they are both very much worth your time as short reads.If you fancy reading the full review then feel free to click here.
  7. Burmese Days – George Orwell
    • An enjoyable novel which, although very different from his more famous work, does give a disturbing view of Colonial Burma which makes you disgusted at the British’s view of the indigenous population and British people in their prejudices. Good read. If you want to learn more then click on my full review here
  8. The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
    • A good view on Western attitudes towards Muslims in the post-9/11 years, as well as prior. Not the greatest novel I’ve ever read but does make a strong statement.
  9. A Day at the Office – Matt Dunn
    • An enjoyable romance novel. Got it on kindle and was surprised how much I laughed. The plot’s pretty predictable but still nonetheless likeable.
  10. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
    • Wanted to read this novel for so long and glad I did. As a book lover, this was torturous at times. Also a great commentary on society’s use and obsession with technology. Definitely read. Also, if you want a look at my full review, then click here.
  11. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
    • I got suggested this book when I was in the first year of college and it took me five years to get round to reading it. It’s very enjoyable, though not for everyone. Encapsulates the beatnik spirit but not for those who want, for lack of a better phrase, a significant amount of “plot”. Still great commentary of the age though.
  12. The Moon is Down – John Steinbeck
  13. The Red Pony – John Steinbeck
    • One of Steinbeck’s earlier novels and, while not his best, is still and interesting look of those loss of innocence, adult’s fallibility, the irretrievable nature of the past and coming of age.
  14. The Red House Mystery – A.A. Milne
    • Yes, he did write other things than just Winnie the Pooh. This mystery is more of a “howdunnit” than “whodunit” and, at times, can be seen to be a bit of 1920’s Sherlock Holmes fanfiction, but a nice Sunday read, even if the end is a bit of an anti-climax. If you want more then here’s a link to the full review I’ve done!
  15. The Hunting of the Snark – Lewis Carroll
    • Yes, this is a poem but it sells on Kindle separately so I’m counting it! A complete nonsensical poem and brings the occasional giggle, but I wouldn’t recommend it really. Read Alice in Wonderland instead, that’s really weird and wonderful!
  16. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
    • It’s a decent horror story and, while I understand everything about it, I felt a bit underwhelmed by the end. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe I hyped myself up on it, but I think it hit a bit below par for what I was expecting.
  17. Where Have You Been? – Joseph O’Connor
    • A fantastic collection of short stories and a novella to boot! Focusing on Ireland post boom, remembering a time prior to it, love, depression and others besides, this is a great bit of Irish literature! Glad I got it at Dublin airport!
  18. Miss Lonelyhearts
  19. A Cool Million
  20. The Day of the Locust
  21. The Dream Life of Balso Snell – All by Nathanael West
    • A bit disappointing. Hearing he was a contemporary of Fitzgerald and, upon reading a bit of Miss Lonelyhearts in Waterstones, I was quite excited. But, while Miss Lonelyhearts is good and A Cool Million is alright, it peters out in the other stories.
  22. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
    • Yes, I’ve read it. I’ve not seen the film though so I’m still rebelling against conformity! While I think the characters are a bit too perfect and pretentious at times, the overall story is a good one. I may even watch the film… damn you John Green… you and your good books and YouTube fame. Also if you want a look at my full review of The Fault in Our Stars then click here.
  23. The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility – Morgan Robertson
    • Such a tease. I saw this was the story that “predicted” the sinking of the Titanic fourteen years prior to its maiden voyage. I don’t believe in that stuff but I had a look anyway. The story prophetic story is abysmally short leading to a few other stories, all of which a boorish and made me wish that I hadn’t got this book for free. Amazon should have paid me to read it.
  24. A Clergyman’s Daughter –George Orwell
    • Orwell may not have liked it and, while it does ramble a bit and its plot is a bit haphazard, it does have a good look at faith and its collapse, as well as having a well-placed dig at schools. Not his best, but a good read nonetheless.
  25. The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
    • An amazing science fiction book to start all science fiction books. While different to both film incarnations (1960 and 2002) it has a brilliant look at what the future may hold for man, and it’s not rosy that’s for sure.
  26. The Professor – Charlotte Brontë
    • Charlotte’s first literary attempt before working on Jane Eyre and published posthumously, this book is very weak. With entire sections in French so I have no, or at least a very limited, idea what is going on, characters who as a nuanced as a pack of peas and the representation as English as best annoyed me. Don’t bother.
  27. The Iron Man – Ted Hughes
    • A delightful children’s book that, although is very different from the 1999 classic The Iron Giant, is still a pleasing read.
  28. Dracula – Bram Stoker
    • Starts off fantastically and then peters out into annoying information collecting culminating in an ending unworthy of the Count. While it’s themes of sexual women being a bad is present, and quite a contrast to today’s culture, Dracula takes every advantage to retell absolutely everything that is going on which, in the case of collecting files and diaries, is quite tedious.
  29. The Thing About December – Donal Ryan
    • Another book I picked up in Dublin airport and, like Where Have You Been?, I found it a jolly good read. Following the village “gawd help us”, it tracks his life through one year through both good times and bad. It’s quite funny and sad at the same time. A good read.
  30. Our Zoo – June Mottershead
    • A bit of non-fiction here, but I did it as a follow up to my reviews of the TV series Our Zoo. You can look at the book review here.
  31. Lizard – Banana Yoshimoto
    • A decent collection of short stories. If you like Yoshimoto then you’ll like these, and maybe if you’ve never heard her they’ll be a good introduction, but they’re not her best work.
  32. Strange Weather in Tokyo – Hiromi Kawakimi
    • A quirky love story. While it’s not the greatest story I’ve ever read, it’s off centre strangeness keeps you engaged. Another Sunday read.
  33. The Winter of Our Discontent – John Steinbeck
    • This may have been Steinbeck’s last literary work published while he was alive, but that does not stop his social commentary from being any less piercing. I’d highly recommend reading this as it goes a long way to show what we do to get money.
  34. Schoolgirl – Osamu Dazai
    • It felt like I’d read someone else’s mind and, despite it being someone else, felt quite in tune with mine. Although from 1939, a completely different age to me, it still rings true. Definitely worth a look.
  35. Goodbye, Tsugumi – Banana Yoshimoto.
    • A strange but agreeable story. The plot’s a bit so-so but, since Tsgumi is such a loathsome yet pathetic character, it keeps you from putting the book down.
  36. Brave New World – Adolus Huxley
    • A marvellous and hideous dystopian future. Not since 1984 have I felt so reviled and intrigued by such a future and yet see the sense in their logic. It’s so strange, yet I never felt like putting it down for a second.
  37. Shorter Prose Pieces – Oscar Wilde
    • A few pieces of wit and wisdom from Oscar Wilde. Nothing really literary as it feels like a few newspaper clippings but it’s nice to see Wilde’s opinions on some of the matters of the day, no matter how trivial.
  38. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Not what I wanted the year to end with, being at number 38, but what a way to end. After Dracula I felt a bit unnerved about reading a monstrous tale from the nineteenth century, but Stevenson really does make this tale engaging and, being so brisk, leaves you wishing there was more to read about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Also, if you want a look at the full review then click here.
One day... I'll own them all.
One day… I’ll own them all.

Well that’s my list. I hope you didn’t find it too self-indulgent and at least got some books that look intriguing out of it. I really encourage you to give the 50 books in a Year Challenge a go, you’ll never know what you’ll end up reading just to push that total up. Also, use GoodReads, it’s really good for keeping track of what you’ve read and want to read. Here’s hoping for a more successive 2015!

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. If you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, or just want to suggest something for me to write, leave a comment or send me an email at chronicchronicler1@gmail.com. Thanks again for reading!

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