‘Have they seen the whale yet?’
So this post needs a big SPOILER ALERT! I have something I’d like to complain about and if you’re planning on reading Moby Dick any time soon (which you should, by the way) you might like to stop right here.
I’ve warned you, right? Now I can go on.
I’d never understood the appeal of fantasy. I’d read just a handful of fantasy books in my life, and pretty much all of them left me rolling my eyes and scoffing, “as if that would ever happen!” Sure, I enjoyed the storylines and that feeling of adventure, but I couldn’t see how the addition of a goblin or a wizard was adding anything to the story. When I critiqued an early version of my friend’s brilliant and now published novel Game Bird, I (embarrassingly) wrote in the margin in red pen, ‘It’s a great story… but could be better if you just took out the dragons.’ I’m glad he completely disregarded that one!
When I came to The Hobbit in my 100 Book Challenge I didn’t have high hopes. And then everything changed…
I have a confession to make. I got caught up in the COVID-19 panic-buying that happened in late March. But mine wasn’t toilet paper or hand sanitiser: it was books.
I remember the day clearly. We’d had dinner, I’d put the kids to bed. I thought I’d check my phone one last time before heading upstairs (never a good idea) and saw that all museums, art galleries and LIBRARIES would be closed… indefinitely.
It was an intriguing title that sounded light and fun, and I thought it might be just what I needed after 5 weeks of the dense emotional roller-coaster of Love in the Time of Cholera. It didn’t disappoint: I enjoyed reading every word.
In the book, teenage Christopher tries to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog. As we read on, it’s clear that he sees the world in a unique way – through numbers and facts – and that he struggles with most human interactions.
I started reading this one in February 2020, coincidentally at the exact same time that our lives were flipped upside down because of COVID-19. ‘Love in the time of COVID’ became my private little joke as I made my way through this first (of two) García Márquez books listed in my 100 book challenge.
‘It’s a bit like an adult version of Peter Rabbit. But the rabbits are real.’
‘You’re not really selling it to me…’
There I was, trying to describe to my work colleagues the latest book from my 100 book challenge. And I expect I’ll have just as much difficulty here…
I thoroughly enjoyed this one too!
As I progress through this 100 Book Challenge I’m loving books more and more. Am I becoming the more discerning reader? Perhaps. I find I’m worrying less about how many pages I have to go and I simply enjoy the ride.
Far from the Madding Crowd was full of love- and hate-able characters, countryside that felt like home (my parents were born in England and so many of my family’s stories involve adventures in the south), and short, engaging chapters where there’s always something happening.
A few chapters in to Bridget Jones’s Diary I was feeling a little bored. After recently reading the complex and multi-layered novels of Confederacy of Dunces, Rebecca and Dracula, Bridget Jones seemed all to simple and predictable.
A few more chapters in I was hooked and had to quickly eat my words. This book was fun to read.
Have I ever read a book as perfect as this one? I think not.
Every single page of this story was enjoyable to read. I had never heard of this book before seeing it on the 100 Book Challenge list, so I had no idea of what to expect. The bizarre title and inconspicuous author name gave me no clues either. So I just opened the book and began to read.