Here are the final 7 books from my Book Challenge that I started back in… 2016, I think. Victory!!! 🙂
A Book That Was Banned Before
22. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
This one was a fascinating read, especially knowing that it was Anne’s actual diary. I’ve read many fiction books written in diary form, but this is the first real diary story I’ve read, and that made it all the more interesting to me. Anne Frank was clearly a writer by nature, and she does a great job of telling the narrative throughout the book’s time frame. I smiled at her dramatics (which she had a lot of; she is a young teenage girl, after all) but was also touched by her character; she was honest, aware of her faults, tried to make her situation liveable, and grew as a person throughout the 2 years she was there. I was impressed by the way it worked as a book; there might have been some dry, repetitive entries but it was still very readable, and knowing what comes after it created very poignant moments within the story, like when she talked about how she wished she could write something that would last. After the intimate way she described herself and her family’s life in the Annex, the abrupt cut-off followed by a factual description of their capture and eventual deaths was jarring and sad. There is very good reason for this to be the classic that it is, and I’m glad I finally read it.
A Book I Didn’t Finish
23. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
This is definitely a creative concept. It has great world-building, even if I didn’t always understand the politics or what was going on or how anything worked. I felt like Jasper Fforde really knew what was going on, which sounds obvious, but what I mean is that I feel like he was very consistent and ingenious with his own world, and wasn’t just trying to throw together whatever sounded cool (because there are books that do that and don’t pull it off). It had some really clever moments (I loved how the bookworms affected the way the dialogue was written) and good characters, and clearly was having a lot of fun with creating “the new ending” for Jane Eyre. My biggest problem was that the writing style was just a bit too… advanced for me? I know I’m not stupid, but it was just sometimes too hard to catch on to things, and it made it a bit difficult to read. I’m glad I finally got to it, but I will have to put a lot of shorter books in between this and the next time I read one of his again. But it was definitely fun.
A Book That I Own But Never Read
24. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
I was supposed to read “Three” by Ted Dekker because I’ve had it longer, but I really didn’t feel like falling asleep reading a thriller type, so I switched to Sophie, who is much more light-hearted. She has the same format for every book: some adorable and quirky girls gets herself in an awful conundrum where she constantly has to lie and hilarity ensues, and then things almost go horribly wrong but then she manages to save the day and falls in love in the process. I’m always stressed out until she resolves it, but everything always turns out better than you expect. This was no exception; it was ridiculous but has a great ending and a fun time getting there and was a solid read by this author.
A Book That’s Intimidating
Les Miserables by Hugo Face
I read this one in 3 months out of determination, which only means I had to renew it 4 times. ? It is very long; it’s got 5 parts (Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Something-Involving-the-Rebellion, and Jean Valjean) and each part is divided into about 10-15 chapters, and each chapter is divided into about 5-12 “sections”. At the beginning of almost every “part”, they had an entire chapter about something unrelated to the specific characters (the history of Waterloo, nun life, types of revolutions, the building of the Paris sewers) with the exception of the Priest section at the very beginning of the book. Some of these were very long and hard to read and they were the most boring part of the book.
But the rest of it is filled with rich characterization, plots that are all interwoven with each other, and fascinating descriptions of mental battling. Jean Valjean is a fantastic character who has an incredible arc that still feels natural. Knowing the play beforehand helped me to follow the storyline, and I think the musical does a good job of taking the right portions of it and putting it together while still creating intimate moments with all the various characters. I loved Jean Valjean more after the book and Marius less. I am very glad I read it, and if I figure out the long sections to skip for a reread, I will want to read it again down the line.
A Book I’ve Already Read
26b. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’ve seen 3 versions of this movie and decided it was time to reread the book, because the last time I read it was in school and I just didn’t get it. This time around it made a lot more sense. It’s quite an interesting story; I can’t decide if it’s more about Gatsby and his character or more about the insincerity of those around him in that part of New York. The whole ending saga, Nick is quite disgusted by all of the people in the town, which seems to seep into his overall view of the society in the big city, which seems to be his point for the whole book. The characters are all interesting, and it’s rather sad. I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about it as a book; it was quick-reading, but occasionally I had trouble following the basic narrative with the guy’s writing style. But it was nice and short, and quite intriguing as stories go.
A Book That Was Made Into A Movie
27. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
I liked this one! It was super fast reading, which was nice shortly after Les Mis. The hopping back and forth between characters kept the pace moving very quickly, and I liked all of the girls. I think the one I have the hardest time getting into is Lena, the girl who went to Greece. Maybe it’s because nothing happened except her wandering, painting, and making all kinds of conclusions about this guy in her head? She doesn’t even talk to him, so their falling in love is very cheesy. But the other 3 had very interesting arcs, and the conclusions were sweet and fairly realistic. I’m sure I’ll give the sequels a go at some point.
28. The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stopard.
I asked my dad “what’s another play I should read?” and he went upstairs and found this book for me and so this went on my list as the very last book! (A year later, he claims he doesn’t have a copy of it, so maybe he gave it away.) This was wacky, but I surprisingly really liked it! I was worried by my dad saying over and over again “it’s weird and surreal” that I wouldn’t get it at all, and I don’t know if I could explain the point to you, but I thought it was clever, funny and really interesting. It was so short that I read it a second time to pick up on more stuff. I loved the way the characters in the play within the play describe each other out loud in the style of a character bio; I liked the hinting throughout the first half of what’s going to happen in the second; I loved the sudden switch when the play is being repeated with different people, and I liked the conclusion even though I might not have understood everything. It was entertaining, very clever and just a good read. Now I’m gonna be on the hunt for ever seeing this play live. Fun choice for ending my challenge, Dad… the only one I felt the need to read twice!
And that is the end of my 28-Book Challenge! Some final notes?
THE “CLASSICS” I FINALLY READ: Connecticut Yankee, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Grapes of Wrath, Don Quixote, Jane Eyre, Cyrano de Bergerac, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Diary of Anne Frank, Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby (11)
BOOKS I WOULDN’T HAVE KNOWN ABOUT WITHOUT DOING THIS: I Feel Bad About My Neck, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, the Gary Paulsen books, Bunnicula, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Eyre Affair, The Real Inspector Hound (7)
BOOKS WHERE I PREVIOUSLY KNEW A WORK BASED OFF OF THEM: Connecticut Yankee, Wicked, Don Quixote, The Fault in Our Stars, Where the Red Fern Grows, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Great Gatsby, Sisterhood (8)
ONES I AM NOT LIKELY TO REREAD: Connecticut Yankee, Wuthering Heights, Wicked, Judah’s Wife, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Eyre Affair (7)
FAVORITES: Calamity, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Fault in Our Stars, Alcatraz, Les Miserables, Sisterhood, Real Inspector Hound (8)
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Mo Willems (Gerald and Piggy books), I Feel Bad About My Neck, The Fiction Class, Don Quixote, Bunnicula, The Undomestic Goddess (6)
Thanks to everybody who helped make this a wonderful challenge! Now, on to the next one! 🙂