Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reading Challenge: Concluded

On May 16, 2010, I declared a Reading Challenge. My impetus was (impeti were?) a few things... I wanted to stop falling asleep to movies/TV shows/Internet use, I wanted to read more books, I wanted to relax more and do something (read) that calmed me down, and I wanted to go in the opposite direction of where people think our generation is going... people think books (the actual, physical things) are going to be obsolete, that no one is going to read anymore, that we're a technological (exclusively) world... all that. I don't want to be part of a generation that's exclusively that. Anyway, so I instated a challenge, and now (September 5th - the end of the challenge was supposed to be August 31st, but no big deal) I will declare my concluding thoughts on it.

First of all, here's what I read and how I felt about each book:
  1. The Outsider by Albert Camus - this story is translated from French, and is known to be a classic. I'm not sure how it ended up on my bookshelf, but I thought it'd be a good starter book because it's quite short. It was in fact a quick read, and I really liked it. I wouldn't call it one of my favourites, but it was an incredibly interesting story and original idea. I'm glad I read it. The main character was fascinating and the concept of someone being stony and non-emotive and how the general public reacts to that... it was a really interesting look at what we see as "good" and "human" and how we're not necessarily right. Anyway, I won't try to get too deep. Great read.
  2. John by Cynthia Lennon - I think this was probably my favourite of the summer!!! It was surprisingly good, super enlightening, and really well written. It shed a new light on the man I've always loved and admired, and although that light was often dark, it did the thing that learning about John Lennon always does - showed him as incredibly and beautifully flawed and human. Nobody's perfect, and I think J.L. would be the first to tell you that. He wasn't a saint; in fact, he was quite brutal at times, but he was John, and I still love him for it. Great book!
  3. Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman - pretentious, funny, annoying, aggravating, hilarious, and wonderful! I'd love to read Klosterman again though! I might like to read Downtown Owl or whatever his fictional novel is called; I bet it'd be good! He's a good writer, has a wide market, and had some funny stories to tell. I liked it!
  4. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - I cannot wait to read The Tipping Point and What the Dog Saw. His ideas are often a bit simplistic, but they're not obvious (like, say, The Secret). He's a great writer, explores interesting concepts, and I would love to gobble up a few more of his. I've read Blink and Outliers, but I definitely want more! I'd also love to know about writers like him... any suggestions out there?
  5. Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner - I just got Superfreakonomics from the library, so needless to say, I enjoyed the first one. I think I wrote a more detailed entry on this book at some point... oh yeah, here it is... anyway, I really enjoyed it! It's a very simplified way of looking at things (for the sake of a potentially simple audience reading it), but it certainly reveals economics as a varied and complex field. It's not just about numbers - it's about incentives. I'd recommend this book for sure!
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - this shouldn't have really been part of the reading challenge because I've read it before, but the point of the challenge was to start reading again, and I didn't specify that it needed to be new books. Anyway, nothing but good things to say about HP. I'm re-reading the series because I've still never read the 7th book and I really want to read it before the movie(s) comes out. I didn't want to just read the 7th book on its own though - I really wanted to build up the momentum by starting from the beginning. I read this book so fast! It's so good!!!
  7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling - so, so, so good, too! I never liked this book as much, but I appreciated it more this time around. You really can't go wrong with Harry.
  8. The Mother Tongue - English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson - if you're a dedicated reader of my blog, you know that I've talked about this book a variety of times (including in an entry in 2008)... and that's because I've attempted to read it a variety of times. It's endlessly fascinating, but for some reason I've never made it through the whole thing. I don't know what it is... in the end I really loved it. The subject matter is great and Bill Bryson is an incredibly funny and talented writer... I guess it was just dense. He tried his best to lighten it, but there was a lot of history and info and all that, and it was really repetitive in parts, too. However, I'm so glad I've finally finished it, and there are numerous pockets of really interesting stuff! Good book!
What I learned from the challenge:

Like I've said a bunch of times, the point of the challenge was to get reading back into my routine. As of now, I read daily. Every night before bed, I read for at least 20 minutes, and usually longer. Sometimes it's the only time I read each day, but at least I'm reading. Some days if there's nothing on TV, I'll read. Sometimes at work I read during lunch. I still usually choose the computer & TV over reading, but it's progress.

I want to read more though. I want to say no to TV & Internet more often and read during breakfast, after dinner, and for longer before bed. Even though my challenge is over, I think reading 5-8 books every 4 months would be an amazing goal on a regular basis. Can you imagine if I was reading 20+ books a year? That'd be amazing! I want to keep it up!

I want to read more fiction!!! Out of my 8 books, 3 were fiction, and 2 of those were HP. That's bad. Fiction is good for the soul and the imagination and the heart, and the mind, of course, too. That's one of my new goals as well. Bring on the fiction!

What's next on my book list:
  • Superfreakonomics by Levitt & Dubner
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank [still haven't finished this]
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K.R.

Overall, I'm super satisfied with the challenge. I'm reading more, I read 8 books in (almost) the time I meant to, and I read at least once a day... I'm proud!

No comments:

Who's visiting?