Literally challenged: update


It’s some time since I posted an update on that infamous Reading Challenge that I set myself. How have I got on since the end of May?

First off I managed to fit in a memoir with Terry Pratchett’s A Slip of the Keyboard. Here, if you remember, he ranges widely across his life, not just in literature but in sickness and in health, travelling around the world and in his own imagination. If that doesn’t count as a memoir I don’t know what does.

Identifying the mystery or thriller was a piece of cake: this was Ellis Peters’ City of Gold and Shadows, a novel set in the Welsh Marches with red herrings, blue murder and plenty of local colour. I enjoyed this enough to consider delving into more of her oeuvre at some future stage.

Now, the Reading Challenge was issued (and accepted by me) last year, so I feel totally justified in nominating Garth Nix’s long-awaited fantasy prequel Clariel, published in 2014, as a book published this year. Though I wasn’t totally bowled over by it I’m glad I gave it a go. In contrast, Mansfield Park: what else is this but a classic romance? I’m looking forward to her last two novels, perhaps to read in their bicentenary years (Emma next year and Persuasion in 2018) with some of her juvenilia to fill in the time in between.

A popular author’s first novel? That’s easy, that’ll be Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Prince of Mists. Though I was castigated by one reader for not rating this highly — even for putting potential readers off — a close reading of my review would have shown that I didn’t dismiss this author out of hand; in fact, I still have another title of his on my shelves which at a pinch could count as a book at the bottom of my to-read list.

The recently-reviewed The Magic World by Edith Nesbit fits the category of a book more than a hundred years old as it was first published in 1912. Another recently-completed children’s book (which I’ve yet to review) is Joan Aiken’s classic Midnight is a Place which celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year. This counts as a book based on or turned into a TV show as it was broadcast in thirteen episodes on British TV between 1977 and 1978.

So, what’s the number displayed by my virtual reading counter*? Twenty-six so far; that’s still three behind where I’d ideally like to be at this stage** but I’m mindful that — as I may have mentioned before — I’m often ploughing through three books simultaneously. Granted, two of the current crop are non-fiction, and goodness knows how they’ll fit into the challenge categories; but I also have a couple of shorter titles waiting in the wings which won’t take more than a day or two to read and review, bringing me much closer to schedule.

* For the incurably curious that virtual reading counter, with an updated list of books read in 2015, appears on So many books

** Incompetent me miscounted the categories — there are fifty, not fifty-two — so I’m actually closer to target than I thought. Thanks to Colonialist for pointing out my mistake …