One of the pleasures of entering the blogging world is the discovery of so many other bookworms from all corners of the world. No longer do we need to wait for a physical book club meeting to find our next read or hear other readers thoughts about a text. At any time of the day or night we can just jump online and join the conversation.
I am always amazed by the number of books that some readers manage to read each month or each year, but then I remind myself that everybody’s life is different. At the end of the day, or the year for that matter, it’s not about how many books you have read but how much you enjoyed reading, discovering new writers and expanding your own horizons. Sometimes I devour books and sometimes I like to take it slow. And sometimes life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of reading as much as I would like.
After completing last years Goodreads challenge, I set myself some reading goals for this year, including reading for diversity, reading more non-fiction, achieving gender parity, and upping my book target just a fraction. And for something new, I have added a new reading challenge. Teresa Smith, Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse run a book bingo challenge. The beauty of this kind of challenge is that it doesn’t require adding any more books to my reading list. When I have finished a book, I look at the bingo card and see if it fits one of the squares. It will be interesting to see how many squares I get marked off by the end of the year. This is how my card looks so far:
Novel with 500+ pages: Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra
Science Fiction Themes: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Author I’ve Never Read: India – A Million Mutinies Now by V. S. Naipaul
Introducing … end of the month reading updates
Between caring for Dan, studying and other family and life commitments, I don’t really have time to write detailed book reviews of every book that I read. Sometimes it’s just enough to keep up with logging the books on Goodreads and give a rating. But I thought it might be interesting to give a brief monthly update on my reading journey as it progresses through the year. Some months might turn out to be a bit leaner than others but here is what I read during January.
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
I have read a few books by Isabel Allende, but I didn’t realise that Daughter of Fortune formed part of a loose trilogy, together with Portrait in Sepia and The House of the Spirits, both of which I have read before. Daughter of Fortune follows the story of Eliza Sommers and Tao Chi’en, from their early life in Chile and China, to the Californian Gold Rush in the late 1840’s. There is a running theme of the expectations and limitations placed upon the lives of women but the cheapness and degradation of young Chinese girls sold into prostitution as Sing-Song Girls was particularly disgraceful.
Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
Portrait in Sepia, the next book in the trilogy, picks up the story of Aurora, Eliza’s grand-daughter. Despite the prevailing expectation for young women to become “obedient wives” and “sacrificing mothers”, Aurora is determined to learn the art of photography. I really enjoy Allende’s stories for the way she brings the history and people of that part of the world to life. Unfortunately I have to now wait for The House of the Spirits to be returned to the library so I can finish off the series.
Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra
Belinda Alexandra has been one of my favourite Australian writers for a while. This was another reread, although it is surprising how much of a story one can forget. Set in France, Wild Lavender follows the story of Simone, a young woman who grew up on a Lavender Farm but nurtures a dream of a life on the stage. Love, loss and the occupation of France during World War Two all play a part in Simone’s life as we see her mature from a young country girl to a woman of courage and strength.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Having The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on my TBR, I knew Douglas Adams wrote science fiction but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. Described as “a thumping good detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic”, I laughed out loud all the way through. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read THGttG.
India: A Million Mutinies Now by V. S. Naipaul
And now for something completely different, my first non-fiction book for the year. I had not read V. S. Naipaul before but I picked up a couple of his books, including this one, at the Toowoomba Lifeline Bookfest last year. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, however his grandparents were indentured labourers from India. India: A Million Mutinies Now is a kind of travelogue, based on Naipaul’s trip to India in the late 1980’s. It wasn’t necessarily an easy read but I did find it very interesting. I really liked the way Naipaul allows the people he meets to speak for themselves about their histories, their lives and what matters most to them. The role of religion in people’s lives was a strong theme and the chapter about the Sikhs was particularly interesting. I am looking forward to reading some of his fiction.
Well, that wraps it up for my January reading update. I am not totally thrilled with the “reading update” title – it sounds a tad boring to me, so I am open to some suggestions. Let me know if you come up with something better plus whatever you’ve been reading lately. Found any new favourites?
8 thoughts on “January Reading Update”
Glad to have you officially on board with bingo! I loved Wild Lavender, one of Belinda’s best I think. And Daughter of Fortune, along with The House of Spirits! I loved those two. I haven’t read Portrait in Sepia though.
If I remember correctly, The House of Spirits was my first Isabel Allende book, but having now read Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia, I am keen to reread it. Portrait in Sepia does dip back into the time of Daughter of Fortune, and of course, there are family secrets to be revealed and heart break too. Such a frustrating and oppressing time for women! I have enjoyed all of Belinda Alexandra’s books and I believe there is a new one out now, which of course, I will have to read as well.
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I didn’t enjoy the latest Belinda Alexandra as much as her previous ones.
The House of Spirits was my first Isabel Allende book too. I really enjoy her writing.
I had heard that Belinda Alexandra was venturing in a different direction. It will be interesting to see when I eventually get to it.
I love the Bingo idea! I have never tried a reading challenge. I said I’d maybe try one next year. But this Bingo idea seems more attainable! Great books. Allende is definitely on my list for this year, and now I want to check out Belinda Alexandra as well.
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I’ve only just started getting into reading challenges. There’s so many out there we do need to be careful about overcommitting ourselves, but yes, the bingo idea is quite attainable and flexible. Belinda Alexandra writes historical fiction and I like her approach to research, immersing herself in the music and food of the times as well as the history. I think it gives her writing a real sense of authenticity.
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What a great update! One of my goals this year is to go back to reading more classics, but there were also so many books new books released in Jan and Feb this year that I’m having some trouble getting to older books.
It’s a never ending problem isn’t it. So many books, so little time. I like to read across a variety of genres and eras, so I often don’t get to new releases until much later. If only we could spend all day reading!