50 Book Challenge Update

We are just over a quarter of the way through the year and I have read 15 books which I am pretty happy about. According to Goodreads.com, I am one book ahead of schedule and I have read a fair variety of books including these two which have become new favourites:

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I set an assignment for my A Level class to read a dystopian fiction novel and thought I really ought to read a couple myself (on the list I gave them, I had read quite a few but I am determined to get through as many of them as possible. I started with this particular one because I had been teaching students to analyse language using the first paragraph of the novel. It’s a masterclass in hooking the reader (it certainly worked on me and at least one of my students who also went out and bought a copy after my lesson).

The whole novel blew me away and I want to read it again already. It is gripping and feels scarily prophetic as it takes us through a dystopian world where books are banned and burned when found. It is my own personal nightmare! It is beautifully written and I raced through it. I will be seeking out more of his work, starting with his collection of short stories I sing the Body Electric as this has been recommended to me by my lovely friend Jessica.

First, though, I am going to start The Power by Naomi Alderman which is already on my bedside table.

That list of dystopian novels if you are interested (those in bold are ones I have read):

  1. The Power by Naomi Alderman
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess [seen the film, not sure I can stomach the book]
  4. The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey
  5. The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey
  6. Fatherland by Robert Harris
  7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  9. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking trilogy) by Patrick Ness
  10. More Than This by Patrick Ness
  11. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  12. 1984 by George Orwell
  13. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  14. Brave New World by H. G. Wells
  15. The Sleeper Awakes by H. G. Wells
  16. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  17. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  18. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

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Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

I hadn’t realised when I started that this book was a kind of sequel to My Name is Lucy Barton but when I did a little reading around online, it seemed that it didn’t really matter if you read it without having read My Name is Lucy Barton first and I was already so hooked, I was only too pleased to forge on. Lucy Barton is a writer who now lives in New York who grew up in extreme poverty. Anything is Possible is a series of vignettes which tell the stories of a host of connected characters from her hometown and beyond.

The writing is sharp, economic, profound and beautiful. Strout captures these characters so precisely and carefully that it is incredibly hard to believe they aren’t living, breathing people out there in the real world. Again, I gorge on this book and read it relatively quickly (by my usual standards) and I have My Name is Lucy Barton ready to read. I can’t wait.

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