Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #5
And here we go again – another round of books for my two reading challenges.
Book #21 (Both Challenges): The task was to “read an assigned book you hated or never finished.” I had vague memories of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome during the same term I had to read Willa Cather’s My Antonia. So I tossed a coin and Frome won out. While it is not a fun book, being about the inability to escape one’s responsibilities, it was a very well-written one. I was surprised at how easily it read, given the subject matter. I can’t say I would recommend it for light reading, but if you are interested in the classics, this is a good one to read. In fact, it was sufficiently good that I may very well give My Antonia another try!
Book #22 (Both Challenges): I wish I could say the same for the next book on my list. The task was to “read a book with a cover you hate.” I had wanted to try some Henry David Thoreau, specifically because I could not get into Walden back when I was in college, so I figured I would try a shorter work, Walking. I was underwhelmed. I thought I would enjoy this piece because I love walking – before I became disabled, I would walk three to five miles a day just for the hell of it. For Thoreau, however, walking seems less an enjoyment than a political statement. The bulk of the piece is spent eschewing civilization and its comforts. For me, a devout city walker (I do live in New York, one of the best walking cities in the world), this is so far outside my wheelhouse that I can’t wrap my brain around it. Oh, well, I suppose they can’t all be winners.
Book #23 (Goodreads Challenge): My ex and I were discussing this past month’s obituaries and – of course – Sue Grafton was included. He noted that he had come across an interesting bit of info in one of the obituaries about her: She said that she had gotten the idea for her Kinsey Millhone series by reading Edward Gorey’s The Ghastlycrumb Tinies. I had not read this, so he pointed me to a free PDF version. It’s a very quick read, and if you like Gorey’s twisted sense of humor you will enjoy it.
Book #24 (Goodreads Challenge): One thing I love to do is review books, as you may have noticed. Occasionally, a publisher will send me an advanced reading copy, such as Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake. This is a rerelease of an old Westlake book by Hard Case Crime, Like all the best Westlake books, it careens along at ludicrous speed (See Spaceballs). While a more in-depth review will follow on the publication date, the book involves a practical joker who ends up in prison as a result of one of his jokes going horribly wrong. He falls in with one of the “bad” groups of the prison and is compelled to assist in planning and executing the robbery of two banks — while still in prison. Definitely a fun read, and worth the time spent. If you like books with a cast of oddball characters, this is one you will love.
Book #25 (Goodreads Challenge): Got a lovely little surprise this morning while managing the books on my Kindle – a little gem of a story from one of my favorite writers – the absolutely charming Lawrence Block. It’s called Who Knows Where It Goes?, and has all the things I like about Block’s stories. It’s well-written and depicts how easily a plain, prosaic man can accept work that is inherently evil in order to maintain his lifestyle. Pretty much anything by Block is worth reading, and this is no exception.
Book #26 (Goodreads Challenge): I was going through the backlist on my Kindle, and found Nancy Nahra’s quick, little hagiographic book, Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady in Courage. It was just okay, not noting anything new to me about its subject.
Book #27 (Both Challenges): The Woman in the Window, by A.J.Finn was another recommendation from the forums for the Book Riot Challenge. It actually was a page-turner of the best kind – twist upon twist, with elements of many of the old black and white movies the heroine loved so much. This is not to say that the protagonist is likable – she’s not really. However, the story has so many interesting turns that I don’t recommend starting this book before bedtime – I was up all night reading it.
And that is it for this entry, I think. I am six books away from finishing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. We’ll see how long it will take me to accomplish that – possibly in the next entry or the one after that.