I did it! I was flagging towards the end. If I were to do a challenge like this again I would choose each book as I go. In fact, that’s pretty much what I’m doing now, as I begin to read books that have piled up since January (!) when I started this challenge. I suppose that you often think that you will get around to all of the books you buy but, sometimes, you never end up feeling like it. This challenge has definitely made me think more when I buy books: am I really going to read it? Or will it just sit on a shelf for years?
I read, or skim-read and gave to Oxfam, all of those.
#17: The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
This is a big book. I liked some of the ideas in here. People are always very quick to talk about how awful everything is now, without giving a lot of thought to their statements. This book aims to prove that humans have become more peaceful; but how can something like this be proved? It is a huge book but, funnily enough, I felt that it didn’t go into as much detail as I wanted it to. The premise is interesting but is it too much for one book?
#18: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Lorrie Moore’s writing is amazing, but I didn’t enjoy this plot. In the middle of the book the tension starts to pick up and then it just stops – there are a lot of words at the end that just seem to be there to make it novel-length. I can’t wait to read some of her short stories. I love her wordplay and her darkness.
#19: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
It’s Wuthering Heights. There are wiley and windy moors. I haven’t read a Victorian novel for a long time, so this made a for a nice change of pace. However, I didn’t love it. It reminded me of Ann Radcliffe’s rather humourless Gothic stories, which I had to read at university (and which Jane Austen lampooned in Northanger Abbey).
#20: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
This novel is written in Victorian-style prose and, although I admire what Catton has done, I just wasn’t into it. It is impressive because I had just finished a Victorian novel and the writing style seemed realistic, but it wasn’t for me. Because it was the last book of the challenge I wanted to finish it, but life’s too short.
Another thing this challenge has taught me is that we can only read a finite number of books, so they might as well be books that you enjoy. I don’t see the point in trying to plough through a book that doesn’t grab you, even if it has won awards or is regarded as a classic.
Thank you Eva Stalker for inventing #TBR20. It’s been interesting!