My 2016 Reading Challenge

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Gong Xi Fa Cai!

I intended to write this post at the end of 2016, but, uh… procrastination. Anyway, here it is!

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Every year since 2014, I joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge and set a goal for myself. My target has been consistent throughout the years: 12 books over 12 months. Realistically, I do not manage to stick to a 1 book: 1 month schedule, but I do (eventually) manage to complete my 12 books: 1 year challenge by the year-end. (Tip: the young adult genre is my go-to for quick reads)

This year, however, was different. This year, I over-achieved by completing 16 books. Yes, I read 4 books more than my target! I amazed even myself!

It’s tempting to set this as the new target number for my 2017 challenge, but I’m worried that it’s too ambitious. So I set my 2017 as I had done in the past: 12 books only.

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Here, I am listing down all the books I read and in the order that I finished them (according to my Goodreads account).

  1. “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon
    Read in February 2016
    01-frenchkidseateverything

    French parents think about healthy eating habits the way North American parents think about toilet training, or reading. If your children consistently refused to read, or even learn the alphabet, would you give up trying to teach them? Would you be content to wait for your children to toilet train by themselves, assuming that they’d eventually “grow out of it” or “figure it out”?

    Yes, this is non-fiction. As you can tell, one of my kids is a very picky eater, and I am a desperate mother. While the novel makes sense, I’ve yet to convince my child to eat vegetables at home.

  2. “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton
    Read in February 2016
    02-theluminaries

    … She was a reflected darkness, just as she was a borrowed light.

    I bought and read this novel on the Kindle, so when I saw the hard copy in a bookstore, I was shocked to see how thick it is. I didn’t realize it was that long!

    I started reading it without much understanding of the setting, or the background, and the language set me aback for maybe a month. But once I was settled in, the mystery hooked me in and I blazed through the rest of the chapters.

  3. “Maya’s Notebook” by Isabel Allende
    Read in March 2016
    03-mayasnotebook

    Our demons lose their power when we pull them out of the depths where they hide and look them in the face in broad daylight.

    This was quite a departure from the typical Isabel Allende, and somehow I think it comes from a very personal space. Despite it not being the stereotypical Allende novel, I did enjoy it, perhaps owing to my affinity for crime shows.

  4. “Undermajordomo Minor” by Patrick deWitt
    Read in March 2016
    04-undermajordomominor

    There is an instance of import when one experiences the conception of love, he realized. It was as though you had been waiting for it all along; as if you’d known it was approaching, and so when it arrives you reach out to greet it with an innate familiarity.

    I found this title off of a list, and purchased it without really understanding what I was getting into. I have to say, it’s quite interesting. I’ve seen reviews comparing it to another of deWitt’s works, and it’s possible I might seek out that other title sometime in the future.

  5. “The Book of Lost Things” by John Connolly
    Read in June 2016
    05-thebookoflostthings

    The Crooked Man believed that whatever evil lay in men was there from the moment of their conception, and it was only a matter of discovering its nature in a child.

    This is another title that I found off of a list. I wasn’t sure whether I would call it a children’s book, although it could read like a fairy tale sometimes, but it definitely touches on more adult themes. It was exactly the kind of writing that I wanted to produce several years back (when I was still actively writing fiction). I really liked it a lot. I’d probably read more of his work in the future.

  6. “Blindness” by Jose Saramago
    Read in August 2016
    06-blindness

    If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals.

    I read this novel upon my friend’s recommendation, only to find out after forcing myself to finish it, that she had never read it before. She recommended it to me, because her sister raved about it. I was misled.

    While I appreciate that the prose’s style was different, it just made the text so unintelligible. I’ve lost count of the times I had to re-read paragraphs. Ugh, and the feces. Too much feces.

  7. “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman
    Re-read in August 2016
    07-americangods

    People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.

    I re-read the novel mostly because I saw the trailer for the TV show adaptation. The trailer was soooo good.

    Now, I’m not sure this qualifies as a true re-read, as this version I read is the Tenth Anniversary edition, which has 12,000 more words in it.

  8. “Paper Towns” by John Green
    Read in September 2016
    08-papertowns

    It is saying these things that keeps us from falling apart. And maybe by imagining these futures we can make them real, and maybe not, but either way we must imagine them.

    I didn’t watch the movie, and I’m glad I didn’t. I hated the characters.

  9. “Ministry of Moral Panic” by Amanda Lee Koe
    Read in September 2016
    09-ministryofmoralpanic

    There are things that cut through swathes of memory, there are things you take with you that are non-essential, that drag you down, but you can’t offload them because there is only one way to throw them overboard and that is for you to walk the plank.

    This collection of short stories is my favorite EVER. Her writing is so good, I sometimes wish that they were full-length novels instead. She has a gift for bringing characters to life, they seemed like real people.

    I’d collect all her works and recommend to every reader I know.

  10. “Empress Orchid” by Anchee Min
    Read in October 2016
    10-empressorchid

    I was happy not to be in his place. He could command my death, but not his. But then, what kind of power was his? He was a prisoner of himself.

    I actually purchased this paperback a long time ago, and it’s been sitting in my to-read queue for a long time. Well, actually I still have a lot of books still sitting there. So I finally decided to pick it up, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. I might even read the rest of the series.

  11. “Hollow City” by Ransom Riggs
    Read in October 2016
    11-hollowcity

    Just because they knew it was lost didn’t mean they knew how to let it go.

    I took a long time trying to find this sequel, because I was so intent on purchasing a paperback rather than reading it on the Kindle, and I don’t get many opportunities to shop at a bookstore (but when I do, I end up with a haul). I’ve yet to find a copy of the third book in the series.

  12. “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell
    Read in October 2016
    12-eleanorandpark

    He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.

    I picked it up on a whim while shopping at a bookstore, opened it, and finished it all in the same day. It was surprisingly good, so I purchased another Rainbow Rowell on Kindle.

  13. “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell
    Read in October 2016
    13-fangirl

    “Why do we write fiction?” Professor Piper asked.
    Cath looked down at her notebook.
    To disappear.

    While “Eleanor and Park” was surprisingly good, “Fangirl” was a disappointment for me. Perhaps it’s because I related a little bit to being a fangirl and writing fan fiction. I guess my biggest peeve is that it paints a very bad stereotype for what a fangirl is like. Some of us don’t have disabling psychological issues.

  14. “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling
    Read in October 2016
    14-whynotme

    It’s traumatizing to think that a best friend could become just a friend. That’s because there is virtually no difference between an acquaintance and a friend. But the gulf between a friend and a best friend is enormous and profound.

    This is the first nonfiction I’ve read that was written by a celebrity. While her writing is entertaining, I have issues with how the book was put together. It seems to me like it’s all very random, it had no common theme, and didn’t really tell a story.

  15. “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling
    Read in November 2016
    15-iseveryonehanging

    One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.

    And, not learning my lesson, I read another one. Long story short, I have the same sentiments for this as the previous book. Having said that, I may possibly still read celebrity-written novels in the future. I’m crossing my fingers that they will be better for me.

  16. “The Aviary” by Kathleen O’Dell
    Read in November 2016
    16-theaviary

    And though there’s a grain of truth in every rumor, I’ve found that the worst gossip usually starts with something harmless.

    I purchased this book since it was consistently recommended by Amazon to me on Kindle. And I LOVE it. Similar to “The Book of Lost Things”, it’s the kind of young adult novel that I enjoy reading. Kathleen O’Dell will definitely come up again in my future Reading Challenge lists.

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