“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis
I’m taking the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge, setting a goal for myself that I’ll make it to 50 books or audiobooks this year. So far, I’m on book 6 and on track to make my goal. As part of my reading challenge, I’m setting an additional goal for myself to make sure atleast 50% of the books I read this year are by female authors. I hope you’ll join me in my challenge, however big or small your reading list for the year is.
I’d love to share what I’ve been reading so far this year, including my own personal Goodreads rating for each book. I also welcome your suggestions for what to read next – What have you been reading so far this year that you’ve loved? If you’re looking for extra inspiration past this list, check out my list of favorite reads from 2017 to help get you jump-started on your own reading challenge.
I grew up loving the film Practical Magic but didn’t realize that it was based on a book by Alice Hoffman until I came across the prequel. The Rules of Magic begins in 1960s New York and follows the Owens sisters, Franny and Jet, and their brother Vincent as they navigate magic and love amid a family curse.
Franny, the eldest of the Owens siblings, is tall with pale skin and fiery red hair. She’s intimidating and solitary, preferring the companionship of the birds who flock toward her or her only friend, Halen. Beautiful and shy middle sibling Jet, nicknamed for her long black hair, has the ability to read minds. Vincent, the youngest, is intensely charismatic and draws people to him as easily as trouble. For those familiar with Practical Magic, you’ll enjoy learning more about Franny and Jet, the aunts who raised sisters Sally and Gillian Owens and more about the family curse that prevails into the next book.
Goodreads rating 4/5
I love a good memoir once in a while. Sometimes they’re funny or empowering like Amy Poehler’s Yes Please or Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants, and sometimes they’re just an entertaining way to pass your daily commute. Much of Faris’s writing centers on love and relationship advice pulled from experience and her podcast. Though I wasn’t in the market for advice, I found Unqualified to be moderately entertaining and enjoyably quick.
Goodreads rating 3/5
Roxane Gay’s memoir tells the story of her body from childhood trauma through her present state. It’s raw and unflinching, taking the reader through introspective dialogue around her assault and how its shaped her relationship with food, exercise, and the people she interacts with. I respect that the author is upfront about the fact that this is not a book about losing weight or finding joy in dieting, it’s not even about letting go of trauma or pain. There is no argument for a resolution, it simply is a statement of what happened and how she has dealt with it so far.
To be honest, I found Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body difficult to push through all the way. Though it came highly rated on Goodreads, I often felt myself at odds with some of Roxane Gay’s writing, particularly how she positions herself against other women. The author writes with a great deal of anger and based on her experiences, I believe that a great deal of it is justified. But there is an anger toward other women that I feel is misdirected. Rather than embracing the idea that all women have different bodies and different challenges, she seems to mark those who are different from her as the enemy because they do not have the same body and the same challenges that she does.
I’ve spent the past few weeks reflecting on my opinion of this book wondering if I’m just not grasping the point, if I don’t understand her position because my background or my own experiences have not positioned me to understand her perspective, or if my idea of feminism is just wildly different than hers. In the end, while I champion her for speaking out about her experience, can’t help but feel discouraged by her position to other women.
Goodreads rating 2/5
The best way I can describe The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily is that it is a light read with some heavy themes. Abelard and Lily break a door, end up in detention, and realize they both share not only a love of classic literature but some of the same neurodivergent struggles as well. I appreciate that the author has written teenage characters with identified ADHD, Dyslexia, and Asperger’s because it so rarely comes up in lit, but is so prevalent in real life. I was disappointed that a major theme throughout the book was a potential surgery that could cure Lily’s ADHD, as I think that distracted from some of the positive messaging around neurodiversity. However, the characters were well-defined and quirky so it was fun to see their relationship evolve and proved to be a quick read.
Goodreads rating 3/5
This was one of those books that I actually began last year sometime and intermittently picked at and set back down for months at a time. That, in itself, is as good of a review as any to grasp my interest in this novel. The Ninth Wife follows a folklorist named Bess Gray who experiences a whirlwind relationship with a handsome Irish musician who has been married and divorced 8 times over. Bess only learns this after he proposes marriage to her, making her his prospective 9th wife. The story follows Bess as she travels across the country to help her grandparents move to Arizona, tracking each of his 8 ex-wives down along the way.
This was a fluffy read but I didn’t feel like any of character threads were ever fully resolved. The author spent ample time crafting backstories and challenges for each supporting character but then abandoned their threads before you could see how they impacted the overall story. I was left feeling like you could have chopped out the majority of the supporting characters and still ended up with the same resolution. Unfortunately, the supporting characters were much more interesting to read about than the protagonist.
Goodreads rating 2/5
Currently in Progress
I purchased this book several years ago because I was intrigued by the cover. Unfortunately, it’s resided on my bookshelf unread the entire time I’ve had it. I was recently perusing Audible for a new audiobook to keep me company on my commute and decided it was time to digitally crack this one open for my 2018 reading challenge. The Winter Sea follows an author named Carrie Mclelland as she writes her latest historical novel, set in Scotland’s Slains Castle, where she takes up residence while she writes. As she makes progress on her book, she begins to wonder if her words are not merely fiction, but an ancestral memory of fact. I’m about a quarter of the way through so far, and it’s just barely starting to pick up. The author switches between present time with Carrie and what she has written so far of her novel, which can be a bit distracting, but I anticipate will ultimately serve to interweave the plot lines.
Goodreads rating TBD