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2015 Reading Challenge

Last year PoPSugar challenged everyone to read a little more outside their comfort zone and expand horizons on your reading. I thought it’d be fun (and it did turn out that I found some great books) but there were also some that I didn’t quite enjoy as much. So here’s my challenge in review:

  1. A book with more than 500 pages: Afterworld by Scott Westerfield was a great read, to be honest. I loved the insider take on publishing and the whole story-within-a-story.
  2. A classic novel: Crime and Punishment by Fyodr Dostoyevsky. This was honestly my favorite of the year, I couldn’t stop talking about it for ages. There’s just so much greatness in this book, so many nuances, so many amazing characters… basically, hail Dostoyevsky and the Russian masters of fiction.
  3. A book that became a movie: The Martian by Andy Wier. One of my favorites as well, I was laughing so hard that I started crying. A book about the innocence of the human nature and helping other people and coming together as one.
  4. A book published this year: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was my chosen debut. Although I liked some fantasy aspects of it, I wasn’t a big fan of the worldbuilding. It sounded more like a dystopia than fantasy, and sometimes I found myself mystified at the things happening in it. But I did enjoy both the plot and the characters!
  5. A book with a number on the title: Ready Player 1, by Ernest Cline. I know loads of people love this book, especially the ‘nerds’, but to me it was a bit of a disappointment. Too many references (like TOO MANY) and I couldn’t concentrate enough on the story. I get that you love the 80’s and the culture that grew out of it, but you don’t have to reference it three times in every paragraph. A lot of the hype of the book came from nostalgia, but nostalgia and references don’t really help build the plot, you know?
  6. A book written by someone under 30: The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon. To be honest, I wish I had liked it more. Loads of people love it, but it personally wasn’t really my style. Felt the romance was too bland and the whole monsters-vampires from other dimension thing didn’t work out for me.
  7. A book with non human characters: Doctor Who — 12 Stories, 12 Doctors. I loved this one! Loved to get to see different takes on the Doctors in sweet short stories. There were some that weren’t so good, but overall I loved it deeply.
  8. A funny book: He’s Back by Timur Vermes. This book is polemic but I loved so many of the ideas in it, and had a good laugh at many of the jokes. Of course, it’s deeply controversial, so sometimes I’d laugh and then feel guilty about it. But I found it interesting to see a German’s perspective on Hitler and the fact that they’d rather find something to laugh in the end.
  9. A book written by a woman: The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. This also wasn’t a huge hit for me. There’s a brazilian meme to define it perfectly and I’ve been using it ever since. There’s no translation but it pretty much reads as “crime occurs nothing happens”.
  10. A mystery or thriller: Six Years Later by Harlan Coben. This was my first Harlan Coben read and I thought it was interesting. I was hoping it’d be more on the murder mystery side than thriller, but I enjoyed it all the same.
  11. A book with a one-word title: Panic by Lauren Oliver. I love all of Lauren Oliver’s book and Panic was no exception. Delicate and strong at the same time.
  12. A book of short stories: Livro dos Vilões. This is a Brazilian book by some YA authors I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I loved the stories brought here told from the villain’s perspective in the retellings. So great!
  13. A book set in a different country: Love in the Time of Cholerae, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez has been on my list for some time and I can’t believe it took me so long to read it. I loved his lyrical writing and the story and basically everything about this book. It felt very South American and I loved the atmosphere.
  14. A nonfiction book: Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard. This was a research book for a pirate project of mine and I’m so glad I picked it up. Woodard makes pirate history so interesting while attaining to the facts.
  15. A popular author’s first book: Carrie by Stephen King. I had read Stephen King before and I enjoyed Carrie, but it was far from a favorite read.
  16. A book from an author that you love but haven’t read yet: Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK AND NEIL. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
  17. A book a friend recommended: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Unpopular opinion time: this was such a middle-class white male DRAMA. It had some great points on society regarding the latest generations but seriously? Sometimes I felt like I was rolling my eyes constantly. Excuse me dude, you’re white, middle-class, a man and have a stable job. Puh-lease.
  18. A Pulitzer-Prize winning book: All the Light we Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. This book was so delicate and lyrical and everything that’s beautiful. It shone bright in my heart.
  19. A book based on a true story: The Pianist, by Wladislaw Szpilman. Such a powerful, powerful story of survival. Heartwrenching.
  20. A book at the bottom of your TBR: The Truth about Alice, by Jennifer Matthieu. I wasn’t expecting to like it much, but I ended up enjoying it deeply. It has a nuanced narrative that perfectly depicts high school.
  21. A book your mom loves: Of Human Bondage, by W Somerset Maughan. I think I just rose above a lot of white male authors and their dramas, to be quite honest. I couldn’t enjoy it at all.
  22. A book that scares you: Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill. I had never read anything by Joe Hill, and this book kept me on the edge of the seat and without sleeping too much at night. Excellent read.
  23. A book more than 100 years old: Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is such a short book, but it’s so good. Classic narrative.
  24. A book based entirely on its cover: A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray. Have you seen this cover? IT’S GORGEOUS. And in my opinion, so is the book inside. Loved the story and the alternative universes.
  25. A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t: Poemas by Vinicius de Moraes. Confession time: I’ve never been a poetry kind of girl. I simply don’t enjoy it much. I skipped the book in high school, but revisiting it was actually good. They’re all very short and sweet poems by one of the greatest modern Brazilian poets.
  26. A memoir: Agatha Christie. I LOVED reading her autobiography. Her love for writing just seeps off the page, and it was so great reading about all her adventures and childhood. I wish she was my best friend.
  27. A book you can finish in a day: Austenland, by Shannon Hale. Loved it, loved it, loved it! As a Jane Austen fan, it was a hilarious and heartwarming read.
  28. A book with antonyms on the title: Night and Day, Virginia Woolf. This book has less ramblings than Mrs Dalloway had, but I still felt myself wandering off during the book. I guess Virginia isn’t really my thing.
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino. GOD, THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK!!!!!!! I just love Calvino’s writing and the concept of it and basically everything. It’s meta inside meta, and it’s amazing. I want to marry this book. I want to do my master thesis on it.
  30. A book that came out the year you were born: The Sword of Truth, by Terry Goodkind. I loved Legend of the Seeker, the TV Show. I love fantasy tv shows, to be honest, and legend of the Seeker had great characters. I was really excited to jump into the book, but what I found was a lot of telling and things weren’t as interesting. The ending was a real surprise though, and pretty different. But as far as things go, the TV Show is still my favorite.
  31. A book with bad reviews: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. It’s a truth universally acknowledged here in Brazil that Paulo Coelho’s writing isn’t great. That’s what everyone says. But when I read the Alchemist I actually found it quite enjoyable, even if it does seem like a whole load of self-help BS.
  32. A trilogy: Of Poseidon, Of Triton and Of Neptune by Anna Banks. I loved this trilogy sooooo much. I loved the easy romance and the sweet plot and everything, basically. It was deeply enjoyable and I kept swooning over it.
  33. A book from your childhood: Shouldn’t you be in school?, by Lemony Snicket. This was my first cheat-novel for the challenge. I didn’t really know what we were supposed to read (or re-read?). But ASOUE was a big part of my childhood and one of my favorite series, and reading any book by Lemony Snicket brings me right back to it.
  34. A book with a love triangle: Zodiac by Romina Russel. I loved this book, it had so many great details and it was so fun. Also Romina’s a fellow South American author, so I’m rooting for her and her success story gives me inspiration.
  35. A book set in the future: The End of Eternity, by Isaac Asimov. I love everything by Asimov and this book was no different. The concept, the futuristic things… everything!!!!
  36. A book set in high school: The Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Such a powerful book on school mass-shootings and survivors. This was nuanced and a great read.
  37. A book with a color on the title: Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Uh-oh, unpopular opinion again. I really liked the story and it had some great concepts, but I couldn’t overlook so many of the deeply ingrained sexism that went on with the book. I know that people are like ‘yeah but rape’s a normal thing to them’, but all those careless mentions and everything else made my stomach churn. It’s entertaining and the plot is awesome (although not-unseen) but I couldn’t ignore all the sexism going on with it.
  38. A book that made you cry: The Accident Season, by Moira Fowley-Doyle. I didn’t imagine falling in love with this book as much as I did. But I loved it and want to keep it close to my heart forever.
  39. A book with magic: The lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I really enjoyed so much of this book and what it builds in a fantasy world. Truly riveting — I just missed the presence of more important female characters (that weren’t killed for the sake of the plot… *sigh*. When are we going to get over this??)
  40. A graphic novel: Maus, by Art Spiegelman. This graphic novel was just too much for me. I can’t even begin to speak about it because it’s so nuanced and great and well-built.
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before: Fazendo meu Filme, by Paula Pimenta. Paula is one of the most prominent Brazilian YA novelists over here and my sister’s been pushing this book on me for YEARS. I finally picked it up and it’s such a cute romance that left my heart warm. Loved it.
  42. A book you own but never read: The Secret History, by Donna Tart. Thoughts: ALSKGA~FSAHDKALSÇ. I can’t speak. I love everything about it. OBSESSED.
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown: Alvores, by Lauro Kociuba. Lauro’s one of the emerging Brazilian fantasy writers. Although technically I wasn’t born in Curitiba, I’ve lived there for most of my life, so I consider it my hometown. Having a fantasy book set in it was just great.
  44. A book originally written in another language: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. I’ve been meaning to read the series for years, and I’m SO GLAD I finally picked it up. I love Mikael and Lisbeth and so many great things about this book. It’s such a great mystery, one of my favorite genres.
  45. A book set during Christmas:My True Love Gave to me, org by Stephanie Perkins. This book was just lovely and so many great stories by authors I love. I can’t even begin to list my favorite stories. It’s just cute and well done.
  46. A book written by an author with your initials: Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins. I really enjoyed the lyrical writing of this book. Simple and lovely.
  47. A play: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. I’ve been meaning to read Hamlet for years. I’ve read all of Shakespeare’s comedies, but I hadn’t really read many of his tragedies. I really enjoyed Hamlet, though I admit I was a little frustrated. (HAMLET, YOU’RE THIRTY YEARS OLD. GET A GRIP ON YOURSELF.)
  48. A banned book: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita is such a complicated and admirable book. The writing is so gorgeous it made me want to cry, and the story is so, so horrible. But I still loved how Nabokov brought it to life — and still can’t believe people can see it as a love story. It’s nuanced, delicate, has so many layers and is a gut-wrenching story about a pedophile and his obsession. To you, Dolly, I hope you’re alright in the end.
  49. A book based on/turned into a TV Show: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanne Clarke. At first, I didn’t expect to love it. But it sucked me in and I loved that it was a mix of fantasy and Dickens-Austen novels. Everything about this book is great, basically.
  50. A book you started but never finished: Nihal of the Land of the Wind, by Licia Troisi. I got this book YEARS ago but started and never picked it up again. 2015 was the year to get back to it, and I didn’t really enjoy the book. Too much telling and the writing style didn’t connect with me.

So I completed the challenge, and hope you guys liked reading about it and consider picking up some of my recommendations. These are just my thoughts on some of the books, and if you disagree, let’s talk! I love having book discussions. 😀

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