30 Before 30 | Read 50 Books

50 Books

50 Books

A couple of years  ago I decided to set myself a 30 before 30 challenge. In hindsight, I was over ambitious and picked stuff that involved a lot of time and a lot of money. I’ve got 16 months left and have only managed a few. That’s fine, you never know where life is going to take you really.

But I have had one success. I have surpassed my goal of reading 50 books (never thought I’d have a three hour daily commute obviously!). Here are the books that got me there, starting from 10th July 2013. Links are to my reviews if I wrote them.

  1. Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal. Vapid, insulting, not even good enough to be a nostalgia hit for the Sweet Valley fans of old.
  2. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Attwood. Terrifying vision of geneticists gone mad. A sci-fi masterpiece.
  3. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. A teen love story. With added cancer.
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. A twisty thriller. A real page turner that will probably make a disappointing movie. (I was wrong, it was a great movie! Wrote this before David Fincher signed on)
  5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Heartbreaking, affirming tale of an extraordinary, ordinary kid starting school.
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Coming of age tale with unfortunately tries to take on every issue out there so does not deal with any of them adequately.
  7. Girlvert: A Porno Memoir by Oriana Small A.K.A. Ashley Blue. Wow. Oriana recalls her meteoric rise to porn super stardom through her systematic (and willing) abuse of her body.
  8. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. Dexter is an interesting character, even if no one else in the book is.
  9. Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Funny, charming, just delightful. A rare book that gets it’s secondary characters so spot on as well as it’s main.
  10. What they do in the Dark by Amanda Coe. Potential to be brilliant but the distracting ‘Lallie’ storyline was ruined by the choice of narrators, especially the vapid Quintin and the random chapters by Lallie’s agent. Pretty unexpected ending.
  11. Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. Liked this more than I expected to. Twist was fairly obvious but empathised with main character.
  12. Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson. Err… not my kind of thing. Fluffy basic chick-lit.
  13. Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse. Good paced thriller. Really liked.
  14. Poppet by Mo Hayder. Creepy police drama about mysterious murders at a psychiatric facility. Enjoyed this one very much.
  15. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Really sweet exploration of Aspergers and relationships.
  16. The Universe Versus Alex Wood by Gavin Extence. A buddy book about an cantankerous old man and a kooky teenager. This was surprisingly good, lots of issues tackled and very well realised characters.
  17. Layla by Nina de la Mer. Gritty but poetic with a strong character who you can’t help but root for.
  18. Half Bad by Sally Green. First in a trilogy about good and bad witches. Didn’t grab me and I won’t be reading the rest of the series.
  19. A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin. LOVE! This one and all of the other ASOIAF books listed below are well worth the read if you like Game of Thrones as you get so much more detail in the books.
  20. Bed by David Whitehouse. About a guy who takes to his bed and pretty much ruins his families life.
  21. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. The fictionalised version of Moran’s How to be a Woman. Very funny.
  22. Lighter than my Shadow by Katie Green. Sensitive look at one woman’s struggle with anorexia in a beautiful graphic novel.
  23. Warm Bodies by Issac Marion. Not my fave but a fun little zombie novel.
  24. The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh. Ooh, juicy, controversial, with a deplorable main character.
  25. The Girl with all the Gifts by M R Carey. This was my favourite book of last year. It’s a post-apocalyptic book that’s scarily possible and is currently being made into a film. Read it now!
  26. The Humans by Matt Haig. What would an alien make of what it means to be human? This is a funny and touching story.
  27. The Shock of the Fall Nathan Filer. I didn’t love this. It was very hyped and I just found it to be a bit… meh.
  28. Daughter by Jane Shemilt. Another domestic thriller about a missing teenager. I liked it but they’re a dime a dozen these days.
  29. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. What happens in this book? Nothing much really. I’m glad I can tick it off my TBR list but it wasn’t anything I enjoyed.
  30. The Deaths by Mark Lawson. The concept is grim – a father kills his whole family and himself, but it is actually a really good read. It’s not as dark as it sounds. Promise.
  31. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. A teenager returns to her families holiday island after a tragedy. A good twist and a surprising ending.
  32. A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin
  33. The Bed I Made by Lucie Waterhouse. Similar themes but not as good as Before we Met.
  34. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. A classic. Depression can be overwhelming but is beautifully described in this novel
  35. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. Incredible dystopian YA about a world where girls are bred to please men only. Cutting.
  36. Mortal Fear by Greg Iles. Police drama about a sadistic murderer who uses an exclusive internet dating forum to identify his victims. Brutal, but not especially gripping.
  37. The Circle by Dave Eggers. What would happen if Google literally took over the world? It doesn’t seem that unlikely in this book. Highly recommend.
  38. A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow by George R R Martin
  39. A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold by George R R Martin
  40. This One is Mine by Maria Semple. Not as good as Bernadette. Actually, it’s terrible. Avoid this one.
  41. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. A college student struggles to deal with losing her sister in childhood. This is a slow-burner to begin with but then really picks up around a third of the way in.
  42. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Historical fiction looking a repression in devout Amsterdam. Sugar, sex and sin.
  43. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Again, it’s a ‘must-read’ so I’ve read it but I didn’t actually like it a all. Sorry.
  44. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald. A non-fiction about a woman overcoming the loss of her beloved father while trying to tame a goshawk.  An incredibly moving and beautiful book.
  45. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. The second in the Maddaddam trilogy. As good Oryx and Crake  and provides a good build up to the finale which I’ll read next year.
  46. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin
  47. Cape Fear by John D. MacDonald. Surprisingly slow thriller that just misses the mark for me.
  48. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George R R Martin
  49. Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix. Entertaining haunted house story set in an Ikea like store. Very much enjoyed this.
  50. Jaws by Peter Benchley. Doesn’t live up to the film but well worth a read if you’re a fan.

Phew! I’m now hoping I can read a further 50 books before my 30th. I’ve already read another 18 so should be doable. Please give me some recommendation of your favourite books. I will read any genre (as demonstrated above)!

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