I saw this 30 day book challenge floating around the interwebs and thought it sounded like fun. However, dragging it out for over 30 days (and finding enough substance for each prompt to fill 30 posts) did not sound so fun. So, I condensed it a bit. Or, a lot. Whatever. Voila!
Day 01 – Best book you read last year:
Does it make me sound like a crazy teenager to say the Hunger Games trilogy? I hope not, because that’s definitely my answer.
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times:
When I like a book, I tend to re-read it frequently, so there are many of these – all the Harry Potter books, A Year in Provence, Summer Sisters, and many more.
Day 03 – Your favorite series:
Harry Potter. Obvi. Next question.
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series:
Close call, but probably Goblet of Fire. I think it’s because this seems to be the book where they all start growing up, and the stakes get raised a TON with the resurrection of Voldemort. Also, I think the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball are so fun.
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy:
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. It’s easy to read, and all his stories are so delightful. Definitely the ultimate travel fantasy.
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad:
There are many. For one, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – so chilling. Also, Cold Mountain. Man, that ending is crushing. Whyyyy, after all that time, did that have to happen? And, this will sound silly, but…The Polar Express. It always makes me sad when he loses that damn bell (stupid hole in his pocket!). And, I remember as a child being disturbed that the boy was the only one in his family who was a true believer.
Day 07 – Most underrated book:
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. And, please, do not watch the movie version of this before you read the book. In fact, do not watch it ever. Nicholas Cage + terrible Italian accent + attempts at emoting = disastrous.
Day 08 – Most overrated book:
I don’t know if this is technically overrated since I think many people would probably agree that it’s terrible writing, but the Da Vinci Code. That damn book was everywhere for awhile, and it annoyed me so much. Also, Beloved. Is it sacrilegious to say that I just. don’t. get. this. book.? Also, part 2, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Also, part 3, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Too pretentious.
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving:
To me, Russian literature does not exactly scream “fun,” but I loved both Eugene Onegin and Crime and Punishment. In fact, taking a Russian lit class and reading those two novels is what really made me a fan of Russian authors circa the 19th century (which also sounds pretentious, but I’m owning it).
Day 10 – Favorite classic book:
Obvious choices, but either Pride and Prejudice or Little Women. Both so, so good.
Day 11 – A book you hated:
Twilight, Twilight, Twilight. I felt offended that I spent money buying this book (lesson learned: patronize your local library). I actually laughed out loud on several occasions while reading it, and let me tell you – it’s not because Stephanie Meyer is a brilliant humorist (sidenote: do you remember when Stephen King said she couldn’t write worth a damn? My hero.)
Okay, Twilight was obvious. Other books that really disappointed me? A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway – both of the protagonists were so unlikable that I couldn’t have cared less when Catherine Barkley died at the end. Also, as previously mentioned, Beloved by Toni Morrison. Ugh, ugh, ugh. It’s really gross to try to write a coherent paper about a book that you just cannot stand, as I had to do with Beloved during high school. And finally, Saturday by Ian McEwan. I think McEwan is a fantastic writer generally (see: Atonement. Stunning book.), but I really hated this one. And the protagonist is such a creeper.
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The night before my junior year of high school started, I stayed up until like 3 am reading it. I thought it would end up being an all-time favorite, but I’ve never read it again. And, the more I think about it, the more it creeps me out. You know what scene I’m talking about, right?
Day 13 – Your favorite writer:
Oh so many, but you know who I’m going with? David Sedaris. He never fails to make me laugh, and sometimes you just need to laugh.
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer:
Me Talk Pretty One Day. I love all this books, but I think this is Sedaris at his best. I love when he talks about learning French and his life in Paris.
Day 15 – Favorite male character:
Seems like an obvious answer, but I have to go with Mr. Darcy. Hot damn.
Day 16 – Favorite female character:
Hermione. Elizabeth Bennet. Abilene from the Help. All strong, smart women.
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Not sure this is my favorite book, but one of my favorite quotations ever is from Corelli’s Mandolin: “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love,” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you:
This also feels sacrilegious, but The Great Gatsby. I liked it, but I had built it up in my head so much that it was bound to disappoint. I just didn’t love it the way I thought I would.
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie:
In general, Hollywood always gets it wrong. But two times it got it right? Pride and Prejudice (both the BBC version and the newer one with Keira Knightley). And, I really love Under the Tuscan Sun. It is NOTHING like the book (other than the fact that it happens to take place in Tuscany), but it’s a delightful movie.
Day 20 – Favorite romance book:
One Day. This is also a good segue from question 19, as I’m still weeping over the way Hollywood butchered this story. Anne Hathaway’s “British” accent continues to haunt my nightmares.
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood:
Any American Girl Book, but especially the Molly stories.
Day 22 – Favorite book you own:
Probably the entire Harry Potter series. This whole post is basically an ode to my enduring love for Harry Potter.
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t:
Yikes, there are so many. But, to name a few? War and Peace, Lolita, and Master and Margarita have been high on my list for awhile now.
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read:
On Beauty by Zadie Smith. White Teeth was the one that got all the critical acclaim, but I enjoyed On Beauty much more. It’s a hidden gem.
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most:
Bridget Jones, in the sense that I feel like I need to get my shit together. Sloane Crosley (who’s not a character, I know), also in the sense that I feel like I need to get my shit together. Beth from Little Women, in that I’m always the quiet one (though hopefully I don’t die from scarlet fever). Hermione, in that sometimes I might be a know-it-all (although, of course, I am ultimately lovable and brave). Now where’s my Ron?
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
I don’t know if it changed my opinion about one specific thing, but a book that changed how I looked at life in general was Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick. The basic gist of the book is examining how we’re trying to do everything in our lives faster nowadays, but asking: to what effect? Where is it getting us? Now, I think about this idea often as I go through normal things in my daily life. There are two examples that Gleick gives that I always think about: pushing the “door close” button on an elevator (which apparently doesn’t make the door close any faster, but which people – including myself – do anyway) and microwaving something for 33 seconds rather than 30 because it’s quicker to punch “3” twice rather than punching “3” and then “0” (this is something I never did but, ironically, started doing after I read the book).
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending:
My Sister’s Keeper. It comes out of nowhere and just guts you. Also, you can add this book to the list of ones that Hollywood butchered by COMPLETELY changing the ending from the book. And also, by casting Cameron Diaz.
Day 28 – Favorite title:
100 Years of Solitude. So evocative. And man, I love that book.
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked:
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. This got a lot of bad reviews, but I actually found it pretty good. I didn’t really enjoy all the musings on her own relationship (a little too self-involved, but that seems to be a hallmark of her writing). However, I loved her research on what marriage means in other cultures and how it has evolved over time. So fascinating.
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time:
I honestly don’t know if I have an all time favorite; I think different books are good for different moods. It might be the entire Harry Potter series. It might be Little Women, or Pride and Prejudice, or Corelli’s Mandolin, or A Year in Provence, or 100 Years of Solitude, or Me Talk Pretty One Day. All excellent.