December’s reading was quite eclectic a mixture of what I would term easy to read but very enjoyable books that allows you to escape your world for a time, some Scottish island books not brilliant in terms of plot or writing but allowing me back to the islands. Some historical fiction for a project I’m involved with and my challenge book of the month. A book I’ve read at least once before.
1. Three wishes by Liane Moriarty 3/5.
2. No kiss goodbye by Janelle Harris 3/5.
3. Island by Victoria Hislop 4/5.
4. The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse 4/5.
5. The Uist Connection by Libby Patterson 3/5.
6. Let the light shin by Nick Alexander 4/5.
7. Crash Land by Doug Johnston 3/5.
8 &9. Winter Folly and the Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor 3/5.
10. Gaslight by Steven Price 3/5.
11. Edgar Alan Poe and the London Monster by Karen Lee Street. 4/5.
The last challenge book of the year was to reread a book I’ve read before. All year my choice of this was Dr Zhivago. It’s one of my favourite books of all time and in the depths of winter is the perfect time to read it. But it’s a fairly long read and given I was tasked with reading other books one of which Gaslight was almost 800 pages. I decided to rethink. So the Island by Victoria Hislop was my choice. I owe a lot to this book. It was the book that got me back to reading and challenging myself after a couple of years post having kids when all my mind could cope with was magazines and the odd easy novel. I picked this book up one of my first purchases at our local bookshop and have never really looked back in challenging myself out of my reading comfort zone ever since. It was interesting going back to it. In one way reading a book you’ve read several times before is like putting on a pair of old slippers. It’s very familiar almost boring in its familiarity and then like a new patch in a old slipper you find things that you don’t remember first time round. Or as you are reading it older you take things from it that your younger self wouldn’t. I enjoyed it greatly.
Another book of note was the new book by Amanda Prowse. This tackles the very difficult subject of anorexia and mental illness in teenagers. Not an easy read and I hesitated before reading it. But she tackles it in a very empathetic way but a realistic one too with some really graphic very distressing scenes. The older I get the more I think we are all fighting our own secret challenges it manifests itself for all of us in different ways. But for younger people there is so very much to challenge and scare them that mental issues are a real issue and not enough is being done for these kids facing these issues. It’s easy to think well my kids are ok so not in my backyard but I know these issues will be facing a child very close to you whose parents will be worried sick with anxiety that they are losing their child to something that can’t be fixed by calpol or a drug and fighting a system that you need to fight to get noticed which means trying to prove your child is worse than another child who is also ill. So I applaud Amanda Prowse for tackling this issue. Not an easy book to read and for some the ending maybe too trite but it was a book for me I needed to read. And by the end of a rollercoaster of emotions I could see why she ended it the way she did.
Other challenges were the two final books especially the 800 pages of Gaslight. Did I enjoy it? Yes. But if I hadn’t been challenged to read it I wouldn’t have. It started to fit for me as a book 300 pages in which is quite awhile to get going. It was very well written and researched and I did enjoy the latter part of the book. But would have given up on it well before the 300 pages if I didn’t have to read it. The final book about the London Monster also set in a similar period of Victorian History grabbed me from the start. It was funny, well written with a great plot that had me laughing while enjoying being taken back to another time and place which is what good historical novels are for me about.
I have greatly enjoyed my 2016 reading challenge. It has at times been a challenge. But has made me think each month and I’ve read books I wouldn’t have other wise read. So thanks to my friend Susan who suggested it. And interesting my next blog will be my top ten books of 2016. And four of the ten books in the list are from the challenge. So very much worth doing. As my ex boss used to say to us “If you do what you’ve always done you will get what you’ve always got”. It is true for reading as much else in life. Happy New Year.