Summer Reading Challenge – Progress

I thought I’d just type up my progress here in a single post instead of linking back to the Goodreads page (which I haven’t been doing, oops).

The Expert challenge is divided into the three months of summer, June, July and August, and there are 31 books in total. So far I have read 8 books, 7 of which are part of the challenge. I’ve mostly planned books out for June and July, but not yet for August because I want short, quick books to read as I will also be working a lot in the Fringe festival here in Edinburgh which, if you’ve ever been, you will know how crazy it is. The only reason I’ve been able to read so many books thus far in such a short space of time is because I work in a music venue and it is dead in July, the few shifts I do have are so quiet I’m able to read during that time.

So here’s the list:

June
Take Pride: Read a book written by an LGBTQIA author or that features an LGBTQIA character       Casey Plett, Little Fish 
Into the Great Wide Open: Read a book that takes place out in the great wide open        Bill Bryson, Notes From A Small Island
It’s the End of the World: Read a book about the end of the world as we know it        Emily St John Mandel, Station 11
School’s Out for Summer: Reread a book you were forced to read in school                China Miéville, The City & the City
Sick Day: Read a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
Hook ‘Em: Read a book that features fishing or fishermen        Chigozie Obioma, The Fisherman  
Sports-a-holic: Read a book that features a popular summer sport
Dear Pen Pal: Read a book that features letters or journal entries
Father Knows Best: Read a book that features a father        Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
Campfire Story: Read a book that scares the bejesus out of you
Ocean Blue: Read a book that takes place on the water        Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea
July
Get Your Grill On: Read a book that features summer recipes or outdoor summer activities
Backyard BBQ: Read a book that features a family reuniting or hanging out for the summer
Forefathers: Read a book about your country’s independence
The Colours of Summer: Read a book that features a yellow, green, or sandy cover
Red, White, and Blue: Read a book that has the words red, white, or blue in the title
Funny Bone: Read a humourous book
Embrace Your Inner Geek: Read a book about geek culture
Sun, Moon, and Stars: Read a book that takes place in outer space
I Feel a Breeze: Read a book that takes place at a nudist colony or features nudists
Beach Bum: Read a book that could be considered a ‘beach read’
Sand Between My Toes: Read a book that takes place in or around a beach/ocean
August
Let’s Get It On: Read a book that features falling in or out of love
It’s 12 o’clock Somewhere: Read a book that takes place in a bar or heavily features drinks/drinking
Stranded: read a book that takes place on an island or in which the characters find themselves stranded
One and Done: Read a book that you can finish in one day
Lucky to Have You: Read a book that you picked up at a library sale or thrift store
Girl Power: Read a book about feminism or written by a feminist
Life is a Highway: Read a book that features a road trip
Time of Our Lives: Read a book in which the characters go on an adventure
Memories: Read a book that you bought while on vacation
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Summer Reading Challenge – June 2018

I didn’t spend the whole month of June sitting around and doing nothing: I managed to get four books read whilst I was very importantly sitting around and doing nothing.

Father Knows Best: Read a book that features a father

The first I decided to read not because of the reading challenge, or because of any reason actually other than I had heard of the book – and the film coming out – and was browsing the titles available as ebooks in the Edinburgh Library when I saw it: The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. Only after I had read it did I decide to put it into my reading challenge as the ‘Father Knows Best’ one, because I thought the dad was such a sweet and strong father figure, and the main character clearly had a very close relationship with him (and with her mum too, but I just enjoyed the interactions she had with her dad). Maybe I was feeling sentimental because Fathers Day is in June, as well as my dads birthday and my stepdads birthday.

Anyway. I thought this was a great book, clearly a teen novel, and obviously dealing with a serious and relevant topic which I think it did very well. It had the typical things you’d look for in a young adult novel, like the relationships part and the ‘finding your own identity and trying to fit in’ sort of thing, as well as the heavier subjects of dealing with racism and police in America. As a white girl living in Scotland, it was eye-opening to read from the perspective of a black american teenager. Not that I haven’t read from that perspective before, but it’s one of those things where you’re suddenly reminded that this is happening now! Not years and years ago, but actually right now there are these attitudes and behaviours which are just not on.

The next paragraph may contain small spoilers.

After reading The Hate You Give (that last bit made me cry horribly) I went on to Goodreads and read through the reviews, which unfortunately resulted in me being pretty pissed off. I couldn’t believe how many people there were who had given the book awful ratings because of awful reasons. I had to stop after reading one which started with ‘FIRST of all, lets look at the actual definition of racism…’ and ended with calling the main character racist herself because she flinches away from her white boyfriend like 2 days(!) after she saw her friend get shot right in front of her. Um… no.

Into the Great Wide Open: Read a book that takes place out in the great wide open

My next book was also an ebook find: Notes From A Small Island, by Bill Bryson. I enjoyed this book, as I usually do with these sorts of travel/wandering around the countryside type books. I did notice it is now very out of date; I found it very funny when he was complaining about the cost of the bus to Stonehenge, then the price of admittance into Stonehenge, then the price of the guidebook someone attempted to sell to him, all of which adds up to maybe half the price of just the admittance into Stonehenge nowadays.

Often these books make me want to wander along the same paths, but this time I was torn between that desire and the fact that he was mostly in England. As he quite often says, each town in Britain is much the same as the other. I did get very defensive about my home city once he got to Edinburgh, but I agreed with him totally about John O’Groats – there is nothing there. He should have gone down the West Coast of Scotland, but I think probably public transport is too sparse.

My friend is reading a book at the moment which I feel would have been much more interesting: Moonwalker: Adventures of a midnight mountaineer by Alan Rowan (Not to be confused with Michael Jackson’s autobiography). I think I’ll borrow it after she’s done (but not read it til September).

Ocean Blue: Read a book that takes place on the water

For this I read The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, a classic. I could have put this in the fishing category of the reading challenge, but I have a special book in mind for that one.

I read this very quickly, as it’s very short, and also very sporadically towards the end (basically whenever my boyfriend went off to order food or get cutlery or go to the loo in the restaurant). I don’t really know what to think about this book. Every so often I would find myself riveted to a particular moment, but most of the time I felt like it was unnecessarily long. I gave it three stars on goodreads because I didn’t hate it, but I feel like I missed out on the underlying message and I can’t quite wrap my head around what it might be. Think I need to either read it again more slowly or read a three page article which can explain it all to me.

?

The last book I read in June I have no idea which category to put in, and that is The Materese Circle by Robert Ludlum. I read this book because my coworker is a big fan and I said to him that I’d never really read those sorts of books before other than Charlie Higson’s Young Bond books, which I did enjoy but the scene with the sea anenome totally freaked me out (am I thinking of the right book? With the octopus building? And the eels?). So he brought a few in for me to borrow.

This was a hefty book to read, which is why it really sucks that I can’t find a category to put it in. Would it be a beach read? What exactly is a ‘beach read’?

It was great though, totally different from what I normally read, but full of action and intrigue and lots of murdery twists. I did tell my coworker I was a fan of the Jason Bourne films, and this book was just a readable (and much longer) version of them.

Funnily enough, when I told one of my other coworkers what I was reading she also said she was a huge fan and has read almost all of Ludlum’s books. She did say they are all much the same though. I’ll probably read another one someday, but not until I have a spare month to do so!

In conclusion…

So that was all my June reading. Be prepared for many more posts in the future, I’m hoping to catch up on my reading list in July (18 books!) and I’ll probably write a blog post for every two that I read.

Isla

xx

What I learned at XpoNorth

My dream of being a fiction writer is a quiet one. Although authors nowadays are expected to have a personality, a media presence, a charismatic skill at promoting ones own work, it is still largely a quiet profession. There are long hours of reading and researching and sitting in secluded corners of cafes frantically scribbling in a notebook or typing in a netbook (at least that’s what I do).

My dream of being a writer has developed from my love of stories, and of course stories can come from multiple different mediums. So for almost as long as I have wanted to write, I have wanted to work for television. A far more active and social way to express stories.Read More »

A Poetic Finish

Wow! I am done with university! Handed in my last essay ten days ago, actually, just been sending off applications and browsing through jobs and generally having a bit of a holiday. The day after I handed my last essay in I got one of those facebook memory notifications telling me that four years ago I had just heard that I’d been accepted into Edinburgh University! That’s a pretty poetic round-up, doncha think?Read More »

Almost finished Uni…

Been riding a low-but-constant stream of stress and panic the past few weeks whilst getting my dissertation and philosophy essay done. I began to feel, in the middle of writing my philosophy essay, that I perhaps shouldn’t have taken it as a subject. My worst marks are in philosophy and although I enjoy the classes I am always struggling with the essays. With philosophy I also get that thing where when I work really hard at an essay I get a really terrible mark and when I throw something together last minute I end up getting a much (slightly) better mark. So yeah, every other sentence I would stop and think ‘what is the point?’

Handed my dissertation in a couple weeks ago, printed on normal university paper and stapled together by the EngLit Office Secretary because I was that last minute. Handed in my philosophy essay a couple days ago with a few minutes spare so also last minute (although to be fair I had taken a two hour break before finishing up my references). Now I have just one more essay which we have all been given an extension for and it’s the essay which I have actually been looking forward to (nerd) so hopefully the next week will be somewhat relaxing.

… except I’ve gone and challenged myself to the NaNoWriMo 5k 1 week challenge. Where you write 5k in one week, if that wasn’t clear. Starts tomorrow, I better get an idea quick!