Reading Slump/November Reading Wrap Up

November has probably been the best month I’ve had of this year in terms of happiness and life goals, but was by far my worst month for reading. Whilst those two statements by no means hold any correlation – aka I was not happy because I wasn’t reading, and in fact my only source of discontent this month was that I couldn’t really read much – it was so beneficial to my reading goals to have a break.

Through the month of November, instead of reading on the tube every day and before I went to bed, I was writing in an attempt to write 50,000 words in one month – something which for the first time ever I managed to do. It’s amazing in retrospect what we make time to do, and it was a great chance for me to see just how much I could do in a short space of time. Whilst I love writing and still adore the idea of one day publishing a book, at this point in my life it isn’t something I’m pursuing full time. Instead, I want to be reading all I can whenever I can, which is why my commute time and pre-bed routine has returned to reading, reading, reading.

In October, I was also in quite the reading slump toward the end of the month. Whilst I had been loving the Pullman series, having finished The Subtle Knife and diving straight into The Amber Spyglass, I found that they were so dense and intense that it was too much to go straight from one to the next. Having two chunky books in the same world meant that I wasn’t reading as much, and going straight from the end of book two full of action and plot twists into book three which started off with descriptions and setting up the story, the change in pace threw off my reading burst. November gave me a break from reading which I didn’t know I needed.

It got to mid-November and I found that I was actually truly missing reading, but knew I wouldn’t be able to fit in a whole novel amidst typing out almost 2000 words every day. So I picked up a small collection of poems by Keats, the one thing that I read front to back in November, and truly enjoyed it. Small enough not to bog me down with pressure of finishing it in time, and beautiful enough that it only inspired me further, I found that I was counting down the days to get back into reading.

One thing that NaNo helped me see was that you can so easily get bogged down with plans and goals, something which sometimes the challenge of reading 50 books in a year can do to me. Having this time out has only benefitted me, shown that I’ve picked up The Amber Spyglass again and am now racing through it and enjoying it so much more.

 

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November Wrap Up

It happened – I finally hit 50 books. This means that although 2016 was a complete mess in general, at least I was successful when it came to reading. Thank God.

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First up was Throne of Jade, the second book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Just like the first one, I absolutely adored the main characters – the relationship between Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, is just perfect. However it took my a long time to get through this book, only partly due to university obligations. I just found that although I adored the characters, I didn’t need to know anything more. The plot isn’t exactly fast paced, and with a multiple book series I think it could have benefitted with a more gripping narrative. So although I did like it, I’m not incited to read the rest of the series.

Then I had the true joy of reading Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, a childhood book that I had never read before and it’s been on my list for years. Unexpectedly, it was even better than I imagined it could be – and has definitely inspired an upcoming post about children’s books. A lovely story, a sarky narrator, and magical realism alongside the real magic. Sweet, charming, and just a brilliant read – helped greatly by a great edition with gorgeous pictures.

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Then I read Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, which I ended up giving three stars. Based on a Russian folklore, this story is crazy beyond belief without much clarity. If you ever pick it up, I’d highly recommend reading up on the folklore beforehand, as the story makes very little sense without it – unlike other modern takes on fairytales, such as Novik’s Uprooted. I didn’t anticipate one of the twists at the end which was a great surprise that I enjoyed, but overall I think the book could have benefitted with some more character work as I didn’t actually like the two main characters, Vassa and Erg.

I then read a YA book about witches, called The Graces. Very easy to read, I finished it in a few short days and, although it was intended to be YA, it read more like teenage fiction. However the final twist at the end was also hugely unexpected, and I loved it once I realised all the clues that had been dropped through the narrative. Apart from that, the overall story was a bit simplistic and it was like Twilight but with witches. Essentially, the setting is a new girl in town at a school where there is this family rumoured to be witches that always hang out together and are super popular and everyone adores them. Every girl in school is in love with the boy character, including the protagonist, but she gets close to them and pretends that she isn’t in love with him, whereas she’s completely obsessed. Thought it would have been brilliant if this was played up a bit more, so the reader is completely turned off and even concerned about the main character and her obsession, but that doesn’t come to pass. Still, a fun, easy read.

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Finally, I read Fire Inside You by Jennifer L Armentrout and, as I usually do with her books, read it in one sitting. There’s not much I really feel like I need to say – Armentrout has a great style of keeping you hooked, dropping lines at every chapter end that make you think ‘Ok, after the next chapter I’ll stop’. She makes her characters likeable and overall it’s just lovely to read.

That means I’m on 51 for the year! I’m so excited that I met the goal, and have already planned a new challenge for next year which I’ll announce with my December Wrap Up. I’m currently on book 52, but it’s not taking priority at the moment as I focus on getting my university work done and dusted before Christmas. Best of luck to any of you attempting a reading challenge, let’s do well in something this year.