One of the goals I put on my 21 Before 22 List is to read a book monthly. Well, actually to read at least one book a month. I made a list in my idea book to remind myself which books I've read and when. Also, I like to keep track on Goodreads to see when I started and when I finished - also very fun to give reviews to the books I've read. I thought it might be fun to share my progress halfway into the year. So here are the ten books I've read in the last six months.
As I'm typing this post, I just realised that out of all these books, I only paid for two. Also, I just realised that I tried reading all sorts of books: starting from short stories, YA novel bordering on fairy tale, historical fiction, non-fictions but, mostly, a good ol' everyday fiction novel. Here's the list of books in chronological order:
- October: The Australian Short Story, edited by Laurie Hergennan
This was the last book my sister sent me (there were a total of four short story compilations) that I had yet to read. It was very refreshing, I learnt a lot about Australia - but not quite enough. Like all short story compilations, this book has some good ones and some not-so-good ones. But I enjoyed it through and through.
- November: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer
My friend Zahra sent this to me to read. I think this was very experimental for Jodi Picoult. As you might well know, I'm a huge fan of hers. But this book didn't sit right with me. I suppose when you're used to books with edges and harsh truths, you read this kind of story and you think there's a lot of censorship going on, sugarcoating and pixie dust. I read it quickly because I just couldn't sit any longer through it. It was categorised as YA novel but I think even teenagers wouldn't read it. Maybe 10-year-olds will but 14 and above would most probably ignore it. I'm sorry, Jodi, but this might be your only book I've ever truly hated.
- November: Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw
This book was a birthday gift from Iva. The first thing that intrigued me toward this literary work was the cover. This one, to be precise. When I read the synopsis on the back, it interested me even more because it was located in Indonesia in the '60s. The story is very incredible, switching from one POV to another and mixing political with cultural and paternal conflicts all at once. The ending was rather iffy for me, but all in all it was such an immaculate read. I could almost imagine myself being in such a setting. I wish I could see Indonesia in the '60s somehow.
- December - January: Letters to Karen by Charlie W. Shedd
As recommended by my Dad, I bought this book on Amazon. It's a compilation of letters from a father to his daughter, teaching her how to keep love in a marriage - or any long-term relationship, really. It touched me that my father wanted me to read this. This book makes me feel like the relationship I have with him has changed over the years and now we can face each other as adults. It also touched me that he might think Firu and I have such a great thing going that we would end up getting married in the end. The book in itself was so enlightening. Some of the advice were already quite obvious to me, but some others were new. I cannot wait to share it with Firu!
- February: Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Like most of his most famous books, this book by Mitch Albom is based on his personal experience as his life brushed with that of a life-altering person - a wise professor, a baseball player haunted by the mistakes he did to his mother. This time, it's his rabbi and a reverend who was once sinful. The book deals a lot with faith, no matter whatever religion you hold. Such a fitting read at the moment as I am trying to get back in touch with my more religious side. It is very eye-opening, I should say. It makes me feel like faith isn't such a heavy weight to bear after all.
- February: The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Along with the book above, this was borrowed from our town library. And they say people don't go to libraries anymore, pfft! At first, I wouldn't've thought this book would place no. 2 so far of JP's book that I hate. I thought the story was about rape - which it was supposed to be - but as I read on, the rape case never went anywhere and was barely mentioned. There was very little to take away from this book, aside from some info on Yup'ik Eskimos. It went unresolved and ended as if she just ran out of papers.
- February: How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
Stories with Asian backgrounds or Asian settings always hit so close to home. This one happens to be partially set in Japan and, obviously, has a Japanese background. Some of it was set during and after WWII, which makes the relationship between all these people more interesting. This book shows the diversity conflicts very well, especially not long after the war. All I kept wondering throughout the book was, does the 'original' "How to Be an American Housewife" really exist? I'd love to read through it. The tips seem incredibly conservative though the title sounds modern. Also from the library, by the way, along with the book below.
- February - March: Room by Emma Donoghue
For as long as I know, I've always wanted to read this beautiful work. It was definitely nothing I've ever read before. Such a great tale! You wouldn't understand what was going on or where it was set the first few pages of the book. Maybe you wouldn't even know some things that were happening too because it was so obscure from the point-of-view of a recent 5-year-old. The languages are really easy to understand, obviously. But his thoughts make me grow impatient at times. Understandable, though, given the unusual circumstance of his early years. The story is probably rather dark and very dramatic but Jack tells it, knowing nothing of the actual weight of the situations. Very soothing and magical, in a way.
- March: Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner & Billy Goldberg
- March: Dear Life by Alice Munro
Wow! Really, wow! I understand fully why this book won the Nobel prize. Seriously, all the stories are written wonderfully and the storyline varies in an unimaginable way. Out of a total of 14 short stories, there is honestly none that I disapprove of. Every story has its own perks and beauty. The synopsis says that each story captures a life-altering moment in someone's life, which rings very true for each and every one of the story. They're told from different angles, though, so the life-altering event might not have been apparent to everyone. My mind is still blown.
- March: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
I also like to document each book I start reading on instagram. Not all of them, though, apparently. But here are some of them. I thought I couldn't go through with this goal as I am busy working on a project right now - which I am still unable to disclose, sorry. But, it turns out, I actually read more books because of it! I don't normally keep track of how fast I read a book but reading 3-4 books per month? That's gotta be some sort of record. Or, well, we'll see. Maybe I will actually widen my horizons and read more non-fiction books too. Look forward to the next six months I'll be reading!