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Jamie John

Reading Challenge 2018

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Same as last year: make a pledge to read a certain number of books in 2018 and then post in here to keep track of your progress. If you're not already signed up, I'd recommend registering with Goodreads.com and setting up their 2018 Reading Challenge to help you keep track, stay motivated and get recommendations on what to read next.

 

This year I have two aims:

  • to read 30 full-length books I haven't read before (i.e., not plays or graphic novels, unless they're especially long);
  • to not buy any more books, either hardcopy or on Kindle, until I've cleared my 'to read' piles, both physical and digital.

 

I mentioned it in last year's thread, but I'm also going to try to be ruthless when it comes to my reading this year; if a book hasn't properly captured my interest by about page 50, then I'll move on. I'll also try to read more, at least five days out of seven, even if it is only a few pages.

 

Starting things off for this year:

 

1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (read 2/1/18)

 

I started reading this before Christmas and, given its small size, expected to finish it in time, but then I spent my evenings playing Mario and drinking wine instead of reading. So it goes. To my shame, this is only the second Dickens novel I've finished after Great Expectations, which I've grown to love, so while I didn't find ACC especially engaging, I expect I'll come to respect it more when I go to teach it in the coming months to my KS4 classes and have to read it again (and again and again and again, until I know it backwards). The story I knew already, like I expect everyone else does, but some of the characterisation is typical of Dickens' brilliance. Scrooge being 'as solitary as an oyster' was a particular highlight.

 

How many books will you read this year?

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I've set 20 as a target. Did 28 last year, but I'm hoping to train our kids to actually get themselves to sleep, which would likely reduce reading time (I tend to sit reading my Kindle while they drift off, which usually takes ages).

 

Currently reading Reservoir 13 and 23 things they don't tell you about capitalism.

 

I'm also a big fan of goodreads.

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My target last year was 10 books and I managed 20 in the end, so this year I'm going to attempt another 20 books, mainly because I was given some long books for Christmas (700+ pages) which I know will take longer to read. Whilst it would be nice to read more books, ultimately it's about what I read.

 

I too will be ruthless when it comes to forcing myself to read books I'm not enjoying. I only abandoned one book last year (B is for Burglary by Sue Grafton; lost track of characters and feel off the radar).

 

Will be including physical, Kindle and audiobooks.

 

So far I have three books on the go and am getting through them.

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Going to give this a go this year.

 

I’m going to be crazy busy this year, so I’m going to aim for 10 books/audiobooks.

 

And as obvious as it should be, I love @Jamie John‘s idea of deciding to quit a book after 50 pages. I waste so much time persevering with medicocre books. 

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My goal is to read 20 books this year. Would ideally like to read more than that but as I only managed 8 this year I thought I would do well to set a reasonable target.

 

Currently completed 0 but I'm dual wielding two at the minute:

 

200px-Cujo_(book_cover).jpg

 

First Stephen King book I've read in a while after I decided I needed a break from him. At his best he's a master story teller, and his worst he's a complete fucking hack often in the one book. And that's how this has played out so far. Started strong and then there was like twenty pages of irrelevant boring shite, then it started getting good again. But then my new kindle arrived.

 

So started this:

 

51AQaBnu1OL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

It's really good, but frightfully racist... Well I haven't decided yet if the book itself is racist, or if it's just the characters in it that are. But either way if you're averse to racial epithets probably give this one a swerve.

 

The next few I have my sights on are Cities of The Plane by Cormac McCarthy (the last book in the excellent border trilogy, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut and A Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich. And then some more Orwell, The Road to Wigan Peer probably.

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I've read some of the Flashman books by George Macdonald Fraser, and I get the feeling he was going for an authentic Victorian setting, warts and all, rather than sanitising it for modern audiences. Certainly as I read them it made me think how far we've come since then, how our attitudes have changed. Having said that I can understand how some people may not like the approach.

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Since having kids the number of books I've read has dropped dramatically; I probably started half a dozen last year and only managed to finish a couple. I've started listening to a lot of podcasts, but I'd like to make time for more books, and a challenge sounds like the kind of motivation I need. On top of my unread pile I have access to a fantastic library at the archery club I've joined, so no shortage of titles I want to read. I've taken home a copy of Paolo Bacigalupi's The Water Knife this week, I enjoyed The Windup Girl so with any luck this will help ease me back into it.

 

I'm going to aim for 12 in 2018. A book a month is perhaps an easy target for some, but for me I think it'll be a good challenge. It'll force me to stop spending my evenings browsing Netflix or wasting my lunchtimes playing Hearthstone, and help me return to a hobby I once relished.

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I've settled on a system whereby I read fiction on Kindle, and listen to non fiction on Audible when on the move, which keeps my progress ticking along steadily. 

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Okay, first book of 2018 completed!

 

01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

 

Pretty short book, but genuinely interesting political read, if you're an old-fashioned leftie like me anyway.

 

 

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I beat my target for last year, although the Good Reads app failed to add some so I don't know exactly how many I read but it was between 10 and 15. I've set myself the target of 15 for this year and finished Bruce Dickinson's autobiography the other day. Currently got Guy Martin's second book on the go but don't want to read any more biographies for a while after that, I do know that Becky Chambers' third Wayfarer novel is planned to be released this summer so I'm looking forward to that.

 

01. Bruce Dickinson - What Does This Button Do? 

 

I can't remember if I asked this last year or not but is there a way to add "Friends" on the Good Reads app that aren't from Facebook etc?

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I’m not sure what to aim for. I’ve already finished two, but the Kindle reckons I have about 26 hours of reading in the one I just started, which means it should take about two months seeing as I do most of my reading during my 30 minute lunch break!

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

 

Second book done. Decent complex murder mystery. Got three other books on the go, always something to be reading.

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On 12/01/2018 at 21:23, wev said:

I beat my target for last year, although the Good Reads app failed to add some so I don't know exactly how many I read but it was between 10 and 15. I've set myself the target of 15 for this year and finished Bruce Dickinson's autobiography the other day. Currently got Guy Martin's second book on the go but don't want to read any more biographies for a while after that, I do know that Becky Chambers' third Wayfarer novel is planned to be released this summer so I'm looking forward to that.

 

01. Bruce Dickinson - What Does This Button Do? 

 

I can't remember if I asked this last year or not but is there a way to add "Friends" on the Good Reads app that aren't from Facebook etc?

 

Finished Guy Martin's second book, I'm reading them in reverse order as I read "Worms to Catch" last year and preferred that over "When You Dead, You Dead". I like what I know of the bloke but this book seemed to be complaining about most things and didn't really feel like he was pushing things like he did with the chapters on the Tour Divide in the third book.

 

01 - Bruce Dickinson - What Does This Button Do?

02 - Guy Martin - When You Dead, You Dead

 

I've now got Stephen King's IT next on my pile, I've never read anything by him before despite seeing alot of the movies based in his works.

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I've still only managed one book this month as I am about 300 pages into Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is a bit of a beast at 660-odd pages. I don't want to stop now because otherwise it'll seem like a waste, and I do actually like it, but there are far too many lengthy paragraphs about Martian geography. It's all very big and red - I get it. The bits about all the political in-fighting and all the tense conversations are interesting, though, so I'll stick with it and try to get it done by March...

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On 27/01/2018 at 19:54, Jamie John said:

I've still only managed one book this month as I am about 300 pages into Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is a bit of a beast at 660-odd pages. I don't want to stop now because otherwise it'll seem like a waste, and I do actually like it, but there are far too many lengthy paragraphs about Martian geography. It's all very big and red - I get it. The bits about all the political in-fighting and all the tense conversations are interesting, though, so I'll stick with it and try to get it done by March...

The other two books are just as huge and detailed. You've got those to look forward to.

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On 27/01/2018 at 19:54, Jamie John said:

I've still only managed one book this month as I am about 300 pages into Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is a bit of a beast at 660-odd pages. I don't want to stop now because otherwise it'll seem like a waste, and I do actually like it, but there are far too many lengthy paragraphs about Martian geography. It's all very big and red - I get it. The bits about all the political in-fighting and all the tense conversations are interesting, though, so I'll stick with it and try to get it done by March...

 

2. Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson

 

Finally, 670 pages later, and over a month since I started, I'm done with this. There were a number of occasions in the final third where I grew very tempted to skip to the end, but I managed to stick it out all the way through. There's an intriguing 300-page future history novel in there about the hypothetical colonisation of Mars; the only issue is that it's padded out with the same number of pages again of tedious, geographical or meteorological description that, on account of it being, by its nature, entirely alien, is very difficult to visualise and engage with. The narrative ends on a cliffhanger, but after this I can't say I'm prepared to rush out and buy the second in the trilogy.

 

After that tome I'm one book behind schedule, according to my app, so I need to rip through some smaller volumes fairly quickly. I'm the meantime, however, I'm going to read the latest copy of Edge, which I've been neglecting in an effort to get Red Mars finished.

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

 

Two more books done, both non-fiction books on a political theme. Fire And Fury was a strange one in that the actual book is 344 pages but each page is really long, so it felt more like 500 pages. An interesting read although it has its faults. Still reading Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook, and have Paul Mason's Postcapitalism on Audible. Starting something new over the next few days.

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Already forgotten to post what I've read!.

 

01. Doomed — Chuck Palahniuk

Smartly-observed book about our obsession with celebrity and ourselves at the expense of everything else. Well written and a bit disgusting at times.

 

02. The Hepatitis Bathtub & Other Stories — NOFX

Punk Rock stories from the most successful independent band ever. Some are funny, some strange and a lot of tragic accounts of 20 years of being zero-talent fuck-ups, dedicated to a life of playing music for better or worse. Usually worse.

 

03. The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets — Simon Singh

I like his books a lot. Definitely recommend Fermat's Last Theorem. This is a really fun, geeky read. 

 

04. Never Use Futura — Douglas Thomas

Nerdy type book. I am a type nerd. 

 

05. Satan Loves You — Grady Hendrix

I'm going through his back catalogue since reading the excellent My Best Friend's Exorcism last year. This involves a very overworked and frustrated Satan who hates his job, fires Death, is getting sued on Earth and is about to lose Hell to Heaven. Very funny.

 

Currently reading:

American Drolleries — Mark Twain

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I've read a couple of educational books recently:

 

3. Mark. Plan. Teach, by Ross Morisson McGill

I thought this was disappointing, seeing as I'd read and heard lots of good things about it. There are a few ideas I'll take away from it, but I found that a lot of it was overly vague and not grounded enough in examples to be particularly useful. The writer gives you a long list of things that are apparently "vital" to every classroom, but then only writes a short paragraph on how to go about actually implementing them into practice, then all of a sudden it's on with the next idea. A good overview but lacks depth.


4. Seven Myths About Education, by Daisy Christodoulou

This was much better, an excellent treatise on the values of a knowledge-rich curriculum. It is well-written, well-informed, concise and progressive. Recommended to all teachers, as well as anyone else interested in modern education. I think it's best read in tandem with Willingham's "Why Don't Students Like School?", who Christodoulou cites frequently. As she concludes: "Unless we place the powerful and liberating force of knowledge at the heart of our education system, it will continue to fail our pupils and to deepen inequality."

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

05 - Cold Granite by Stuart McBride

 

Cold Granite was superb, a very entertaining crime novel set in Aberdeen. Pretty grim subject matter balanced out by some good humour.

 

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

05 - Cold Granite by Stuart McBride

06 - Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

 

Finished Postcapitalism by Paul Mason (Audible). Really getting into the economics/politics stuff and prefer that to be read to me. Got The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford lined up next. Probably a bit lighter, by all accounts.

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Finished my first book of the year last night.

 

01 - The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi

 

It was good, I enjoyed it. The author writes near-future dystopia well, but I preferred The Windup Girl. A fractured and drought-stricken United States full of desperate individuals. The next book will have to be a lot shorter if I hope to make my target.

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

05 - Cold Granite by Stuart McBride

06 - Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

07 - Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook

 

Finally finished Substance, a really entertaining, sometimes sad account of his time in New Order, as well as other stuff like his tragic relationship with Caroline Ahearne. Well worth a read if you fancy a sumptuous music biography, just take his account with a pinch of salt.

 

That was 725 pages, so my next paperback is 110 pages, The Outsider by Albert Camus.

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5. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training (3rd edition), Mark Rippetoe

 

Very instructive. A must read for anyone looking to get into strength training. Some of the chapters are almost a little bit too detailed, and Rippetoe micro-analyses pretty much every imaginable section of each of the main movements, but he certainly knows his stuff. I like his no bullshit, very dry, "son, i am disappoint" writing style as well. He's like a Tommy Lee Jones character with a degree in physiology.

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

05 - Cold Granite by Stuart McBride

06 - Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

07 - Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook

08 - The Outsider by Albert Camus

 

Okay, so The Outsider was only 110 pages, but a very thought-provoking read. I'm on course to have 9 books read by the end of the month!

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

05 - Cold Granite by Stuart McBride

06 - Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

07 - Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook

08 - The Outsider by Albert Camus

09 - The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

 

And another one down, this time an audiobook. Whilst it had some interesting bits, I did lose interest in places and was glad when it was over so I could move on.

 

Might even get this one I'm reading on the Kindle done this week. That'll be 10 books in the first quarter!

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01 - Out Of The Wreckage: A New Politics For An Age Of Crisis by George Monbiot

02 - Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman

03 - The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph

04 - Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff

05 - Cold Granite by Stuart McBride

06 - Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

07 - Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook

08 - The Outsider by Albert Camus

09 - The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

10 - Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield

 

Book 10 done, a not-bad page-turner, nothing out of the ordinary, but fun all the same. As I write I have no books on the go, need to get on one tonight.

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01 - Superforecasting. Tetlock and Gardner.

02 - Le Belle Sauvage. Phillip Pulman.

03 - Borne. Jeff Vandemeer.

04 - City Of Saints & Madmen. Jeff Vandemeer.

05 - Altered Carbon. Richard Morgan

06 - Broken Angels. Richard Morgan.

07 - Woken Furies. Richard Morgan.

08 - Dogs Of War. Adrian Tchaikovsky.

09 - Space Team. Barry J. Hutchison.

10 - All Systems Red. Martha Wells.

11 - A River In Darkness. Masaji Ishikawa.

12 - The Wandering Earth. Cixin Liu.

13 - Revenger. Alaister Reynolds.

14 - The Demon Haunted World. Carl Sagan.

15 - The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins.

16 - The Freeze Frame Revolution. Peter Watts.

17 - The Handmaid's Tale. Margaret Atwood.

18 - Ironclads. Adrian Tchaikovsky.

19 - Upgraded. Neil Clarke (Editor).

20 - Sea Of Rust. C. Robert Cargill.

21 - Shizmatrix Plus. Bruce Sterling.

22 - Dune. Frank Herbert.

Noumenen. Marina J. Lostetter (In Progress).

Rise Of The Robots. Martin Ford (In progress).

 

 

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