Reading Challenge Check-In – August 2021

It has been a few months since my last reading challenge check-in, so I’m here to rectify that! I thought I would share some of my favourite reads since March, as well as how they track against the challenges I set for myself at the start of the year. I lost a bit of momentum with my reading a few months back but I worked my way out of my reading rut and I’m back with a vengeance now!

The Performance

This book is set in a Melbourne theatre the night of Black Saturday, so it was certainly something I could vividly imagine as it played. The unfolding tragedy is only a small backdrop to the book, which focuses on the inside thoughts of three separate women. I found the elements describing the action on the stage (a performance of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days) the least compelling elements – but that may be because I’m not overly familiar with the work. The rest however I loved, and found myself wanting to learn more about each character which is always a good sign!

Revenge, Murder in Three Parts

This book not only met a few of my reading challenge criteria (diverse author and protagonist, not really a genre I choose often) but was an excellent read as well. It’s a layered read that is all about family, cultural norms, power struggles, sexism and more. It’s less of a crime novel than it may seem from the title, but that doesn’t mean its not also a gripping, page-turner of a read. There’s a reason it was shortlisted for the Stella Prize this year!

Reading Challenge Check-In August 2021 | I Spy Plum Pie


This was an incredibly hard, but incredibly important read. Louise Milligan is an incredible journalist and this was a very well researched, thoughtful and moving book about what it is like to be a victim or a witness to sexual assault in the Australian court system. It made me at times incredibly sad and unbelievably mad but also amazed at the strength and resilience of people. It may not have specifically ticked any of my reading challenge criteria, but I absolutely recommend you give it a read.

The Believer

After absolutely loving The Trauma Cleaner, I knew I needed to pick this book up despite stories of things like UFOs and paranormal activity not being in my wheelhouse normally (but hey, that’s what’s a reading challenge is for!). I’m very glad I did – sure, this book is about all those things, as well as religion, incarceration and death, but at its core it’s about people and what drives them. I connected more with some parts of the books than others, but it was definitely an interesting, compassionate, well researched read. I had to take my time to really absorb it all, but it was well worth it. 

Reading Challenge Check-In August 2021 | I Spy Plum Pie

The Comeback Summer

Back in the day I used to read a lot of sports books, but in recent years they haven’t been my go-to genre. I did, however, read Geoff Lemon’s previous book about the sandpaper scandal which I thoroughly enjoyed. I picked up this book for my dad for Christmas then borrowed it back when he was done so I could also read it! It was another excellent read, although maybe not as incredible as Steve Smith’s Men (which is a high bar, it won a lot of awards!). Geoff has a background as a poet so he writes about sport with a real grace, and he also doesn’t take it all too seriously. Absolutely worth a read if you’re even slightly a cricket fan.

In My Defence I Have No Defence

This is pretty recently released book by a Melbourne author and it was exactly what I needed to get out of my reading rut. A funny, heartfelt, clever book about finding your way through life – I didn’t want to put it down. It’s not structured like a standard novel, instead each section covers its own little topic, but all on the theme of self-improvement and finding your ‘best self’. 

My Year Of Living Vulnerably

Much like Rick Morton’s first book (which I also read and really enjoyed!) this book is an incredible personal story interwoven with research and data. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it really does. It’s confronting at times, but also so thoughtful, moving and really well paced. It covers everything from loneliness to masculinity, doubt, forgiveness and touch. It’s probably not a book for a quick read on the beach, but it’s definitely one I recommend you pick up.

Reading Challenge Check-In August 2021 | I Spy Plum Pie

So I think it’s safe to say the part of my reading challenge I continue to struggle with is reading the classics. I just keep getting distracted by new releases! If you have any recommendations of where I should start I would love to hear them!

What have you been reading lately? Do you have any suggestions for my reading challenge?

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