Thursday, August 22, 2019

2019 Reading Challenge Complete!

One of the joys of life after law firm is having enough time to read for pleasure. This year, I planned to read at least twelve non-fiction books (done!) and twelve novels (see below). I've been surprised to learn I'm not as excited about fiction as I once was, but reaching this goal has helped me work on that.

I just finished the last of the twelve novels I set out to read this year. Here's the complete list of novels, in the order in which I read them:
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. A friend recommended Haruf's Plainsong trilogy, which was available through the public library, but all copies were checked out when I searched for it. I placed a hold and read this while I was waiting. Short and sweet.
  • Milkman by Anna Burns. Don't take this one with you on a vacation. It's exhausting and slow moving although I enjoyed the conclusion. Perhaps this is more of a reflection on my own taste in fiction, as this novel won the Man Booker Prize in 2018.
  • Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Read on the recommendation of a friend. This is the first book in a trilogy that follows the place more than the people in it.
  • Eventide by Kent Haruf. This is the second book in the trilogy. More sparse language. More affection for the characters developed in Eventide than those met in Plainsong.
  • Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews. The book is better than the movie (isn't that almost always the case?). Enjoyed learning that the author once worked for the CIA and looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy at some point.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amol Towles. Tedious in parts, to the point that I felt somewhat confused as to why this book is so widely recommended, but then I reached the end of the book, where the pace of the story picks up in order to deliver a happy ending.
  • Benediction by Kent Haruf. This is the third book in the trilogy. More sadness and suffering in this book than the prior two.
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. My favorite story of the year. Many strong female characters. The story is driven by interesting female characters, but probably a bit too racy in parts for young readers.