52 Books Challenge: January

So, for the fourth year in a row, I am attempting to complete the challenge of reading 52 books in a year. I have always adored reading, and thought that settnig myself the target of reading one book a week would be fairly realistic. My attempts so far have proved that this is not the case (real life does like to get in the way), but I’m pleased with the start I’ve made to 2017, and thought I’d end each month with a little round up post of the books I have managed to tick off my list. I’ve also added a cheeky little star rating for ease. This is what I’ve been reading in January…

Trump: The Graphic Biography

My boyfriend bought me this as a stocking filler-type Christmas present. I was intrigued, as it wasn’t a book I’d have ever bought for myself. Basically it tells the story of Donald Trump, from entitled rich kid to wealthy businessman to Republican nominee (it was published prior to his actually winning the election. And yes, I still feel a bit ill even just writing that sentence…). I liked the fact that a fairly heavy topic (I know only a little about US politics and even less about economics) was broken down into an easier, illustrated format. It was eye-opening to say the least, and only served to heighten my dislike of *deep breath* the new President (urgh, can’t believe I just said that). But it was a great into the American system, and I would highly recommend it for an overview of the sorry state the US finds itself in today. (★★★)

The Sun is Also a Star

I was addicted to this book, and couldn’t put it down. It’s one of my favourite books of the last few months, and it enchanted me throughout. 17 year olds Daniel and Natasha meet one ordinary day in New York City. He is on his way to an interview for Yale, and she is desperately trying to reverse the deportation order hanging over her family. Their meeting sparks a chain of events which span just one day, but which has ripples throughout the lives of all of those they encounter around them.

Heartbreaking, heartwarming, uplifting, addictive. I was hooked on this book from beginning to end. I loved the threads running through it about fate and destiny alongside the practicalities of science, and whether or not the two can have any kind of harmonious relationship. The nods to multiverses, stars and space was a fascinating touch, and I loved Natasha and Daniel’s characters. I was rooting for them throughout, and I urge you to read this book and fall in love with them too! (★★★★★)

The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse

This was one of my boyfriend’s stocking fillers, because it reminded me of our first date. We were both so nervous, and we went for a walk along the South Bank from Waterloo to Tower Bridge. On the way we stopped at the Tate Modern, and this book from the gift shop was about the only thing we took in. We read most of it there and laughed throughout, and it was great for diffusing the nervous tension!

But anyway, the actual book. You remember all the old Ladybird books you used to read as a child? Well here is the 2.0 version for adults, complete with adult topics (such as The Hangover or The Bride). I love the tongue in cheek, humorous tone. From the opening of “When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth”, I was hooked. There are some brilliant lines in there: “The baddies in video games were often zombies. This is because zombies bought far fewer video games than Russians, Germans, terrorists or robots.” So funny. Keep it to hand for a pick-me-up on grey days when you need a good laugh! (★★★)

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

An examination of race relations in America from the experiences of an African-American writer, in the form of a letter to his teenage son. I’ll be honest, I found this one really hard-going. The way it was written made it difficult for me to relate. I don’t appreciate his references to the “despotic police” and his statement to “forget about intentions…good intention is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.” He seems to be of the opinion that a person’s good intentions are worthless, and I could not agree less. I think good intentions count for a great deal, but sometimes one person just cannot change the world. He paints the African-American life as a constant uphill struggle, and although I tried my damndest to enjoy this book, it’s a depressing read and not one I would rush to read again. (★★★)

My Dad Wrote a Porno by Jamie Morton, James Cooper, Alice Levine and Rocky Flintstone

This is the funniest thing I’ve read in years. I sniggered like Muttley from Wacky Races and genuinely gave myself hiccups from choking on a glass of squash while reading this. Basically, a few years ago Jamie Morton’s dad (the eponymous Rocky Flintstone) wrote an erotic novel, and showed it to his son, before self-publishing it on Amazon. To cope with this trauma, Jamie shared it with the world in a podcast co-hosted with two of his closest friends, James and Alice. Week by week they read a chapter of the book and dissected all its many flaws: bad grammar, clunky dialogue, cringeworthy sex-scenes, all examined for our listening pleasure. And now they have published the book with all their annotations alongside. This is a graphic story, and probably not suitable for anyone under 18 (though to be fair, the cringe factor is so high that it’s probably not suitable for anyone over 18 either), but it is SO hilarious, as is the equally epic podcast. I cannot recommend this enough for the inevitable LOLs it will give you. (★★★★)

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

A British classic that I’d never yet got around to reading, and I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed. Although it captured brilliantly the thoroughly self-absorbed mindset of a teenage boy, the plot felt, to me, a bit depressing. I didn’t warm to many of the characters, and the story itself was dated. I imagine that, had I been a teenager in the 80s reading this when it was first published, it would have resonated far more with me. As it was, unfortunately it just failed to hit the spot. (★★★)

Current Total: 6

Have you read any of these? Can you offer me any reading suggestions for the month ahead?

  • I read all the Adrian Mole books when I was a teen:) I imagine I wouldn’t like it much now

  • my friends all rave about My Dad Wrote a Porno (book AND podcast) and I really need to give it a go. I’ve made a bigger effort to read more books on my commute to and from work and I’ve found myself just shooting through my lists. Happy to add your recommendations to it!

    Angela | the Awkward Blog

    • Sophie

      You won’t regret it, it’s brilliant! I’m trying to read more books on my commute too – so often I just end up watching a YouTube video on my phone, and it’s a bad habit I need to break! Hope you’re making some headway with your list!