So, it has been a year. This day last year I began my 40-by-40 reading challenge. 12 months gone, 15 books read, another 4 or 5 begun and set aside for later. As I write I am halfway through the 16th book and number 17 is on my beside table, ready for starting in a week or so.
Fifteen books in a year is not a huge achievement, but since I started out hoping to finish a book a month, I’m pleased to have surpassed my goal. With reading, as with other areas of my life, I have found that by setting a goal and being more mindful of my reading habits I have been more careful in what I have spent my time on. I’ve taken a closer look at what I enjoy reading. I’ve taken the time to understand the characters, to stick with a story when my interest in it has lagged and to read more by authors whose work I like.
Book 15 was Douglas Kennedy’s Leaving the World. I hadn’t read anything else by Douglas Kennedy before and probably would not have picked this book for myself. However, having rejected Parade’s End as too challenging in the run up to Christmas and needing something to read on a long train journey, I grabbed it from the shelf where one of our guests had left it behind. It looked like an easy read. It wasn’t.
Actually, I should clarify that. It was not a tough read in terms of being high brow or difficult to follow. It was a page turner and a decent read in terms of language and storyline. It was the topics covered that were sometimes a challenge for me. Relationships, death, birth, mental health and crime all feature and the storyline takes the reader to places she wouldn’t have thought this book would take her.
Elements of the story – especially the daughter-mother relationship – reminded me of the relationships detailed in Bay of Angels. Other elements are similar to the themes in the book I am reading now, a German novel called Weil Sie Das Leben Liebten (Because They Loved Life) by Charlotte Roth.
As yet I have not had the concentration and peace to read Wolf Hall and Bringing Up The Bodies, two of the novels on my original list. I tried Look Who’s Back and didn’t enjoy it enough to keep going. The Water Babies is still on my list, as is Bambi, the German original and I hope to read those this year. Next on the list of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia. Being a hug Downton Abbey fan, I am sure that I will devour Belgravia within a few days. That’s my main motivation for ploughing through Weil Sie Das Leben Liebten. So im signing off writing for tonight to get back to my reading.