We’re at the halfway point of the year so it’s time for the next instalment of my reading challenges check-in! I’ve managed to keep up my reading pretty well – although definitely didn’t read as much on my holiday as I expected! However, most importantly I have read some excellent books and ticked off a number of my reading challenges along the way.
All The Presidents Men – Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward
I of course knew much of this story, and in fact I’m pretty sure I have seen the film, but I still found this an excellent read. Having it all laid out chronologically was super interesting, and it certainly didn’t hurt that I had just come back from DC so could picture many of the locations. I’m pretty sure this is classified as a classic too!
Empire Falls – Richard Russo
My sister gave me this to read while staying with her in DC after both her and our mum had read it and loved it. It absolutely lived up to the hype as well – it’s safe to say there is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002. An incredibly wonderfully drawn story of life in a small Maine town, with interesting characters and intertwined story lines. I will absolutely be looking up his other novels and add them to the to-read pile soon!
American Spy – Lauren Wilkinson
This debut novel is based on a true story and wove together a spy story with a tale of family and love. A pretty easy read, it was also an interesting format as it was set out as journal entries to her children. It wasn’t the most complex of reads, but I definitely enjoyed it! Whilst I didn’t pick it purely for the cover (I do love a spy book!) it was pretty eye catching while I was perusing the books at my sisters place looking for something to read next.
Red Notice: True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Fight For Justice – Bill Browder
I picked this one up when Russia first invaded Ukraine, figuring it couldn’t hurt to learn more about how they operate. This book can also account for a book set somewhere I haven’t been (and don’t see myself going anytime soon now!) and a memoir, although I guess it’s not technically a memoir. Either way, it was a gripping, at time mind-blowing read that I devoured in no time and promptly shared around to my family to read.
The Promise – Damon Galgut
I picked up this book after seeing it won the 2021 Booker Prize. I found the story really interesting – three decades of one family in South Africa and jumping between narrators. The content was interesting too – unpacking topics of race, religion and family in post-apartheid South Africa. I did however find this a bit of a slog of a read – obviously the content was never going to be the most uplifting, but even so it took me longer to get through than the page count would suggest. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth reading, just a book I needed to be in the right frame of mind to pick up.
The Night Watchman – Louise Erdrich
I went on quite an American novel run while on our holiday in America, and this was the one that started things off. Another Pulitzer Prize winner and based on the real life of the author, this was such a powerful and important read. I don’t know as much as I should about Native history and reservation life in the US, so this was eye opening as well as excellently written. I think it also qualifies as a First Nations author, just not one from Australia. Absolutely a book I would recommend.
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
This was a fun read packed with quirky characters and an interesting structured that jumped between perspectives for each chapter. It wasn’t the most complex of reads, but they don’t all have to be! I really enjoyed that it was set somewhere quite different to most books – a retirement village – and getting to see the story from so many varied points of views. I have picked up the next book in the series to read, which clearly suggests I enjoyed it!
Who Gets To Be Smart – Bri Lee
I am a little torn on this book – I think the topic is super important and the research was interesting, but for me it lacked a through-line and felt a little unfocused. I certainly didn’t get as absorbed in it as I did her other book that I have read (Eggshell Skull, which I thought was excellent). In fact, the first chapter was the one that grabbed me most as it presented the sometimes dense research in a more conversational manner. It was definitely an area that deserved exploring, I just didn’t love the style of this as much as I had hoped.
Halfway through the year and I feel like I’m doing pretty well ticking off my reading challenges criteria! There’s definitely a few I haven’t achieved yet (books from each season, I’m looking at you!) but thankfully there’s still six months to go!