2020 reading challenge

My previous post started, ‘all my life I’ve considered myself a writer’. While that’s true, all my life I have undeniably BEEN a reader. 

I only vaguely remember being read to as a child – I became frustrated early on with the slow pace mandated by reading aloud and switched to reading independently, at my own furious pace. I got in trouble in class for reading ahead in our set texts, zoning out my classmates as they read aloud sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. 

I devoured books throughout my childhood and early adolescence, primarily fantasy, paranormal romance and historical fiction, which held my attention more than other genres. I would reread favourites over and over – I have no idea how many times I’ve read The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.  

But then, as I studied English Literature at an increasingly advanced level, the books I actually read outside of a syllabus for my own enjoyment became few and far between. When I felt the urge to read, I would return to old favourites rather than trying something new, read a whole series at a frenzied pace and then go back to my reading drought.  

Musing on this, I decided that one of my goals this year is to get back to regular reading and expand what I read (though there will still be a few rereads in there, I’m sure). I set up a profile on Goodreads and have set myself a challenge to read 52 books in 2020. 

52 is an ambitious but reasonable number for me because of my reading speed, though this can vary greatly from person to person. I’d encourage anyone who likes to read to consider setting a goal that suits them – that could be 100 books, 12, even just one! There are literally no downsides to reading books, only benefits.

My first book of 2020 was given to me as a Christmas present in 2018 and then sat unread for over a year. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a little outside my usual reading comfort zone, though I’ve greatly valued other stories I’ve read in the past set around the Holocaust – Anne Holm’s I Am David springs to mind, which fascinated me as a child, and before Christmas I read the incredible graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. 

The horror of these true or inspired-by-true stories is not something I can fully grasp – I’m not sure anyone can who didn’t live through it. I found The Tattooist of Auschwitz extremely moving and was engrossed in the story of Lale and Gita from the moment I sat down to read. I finished it in a few hours, cover to cover. 

In its simplistic prose, I would say it is an easy book to read, possibly a deliberate choice on Morris’s part as the story itself is so uncomfortable. Emotionally challenging moments are made of course all the more horrific when you remember they are based on true events. It was a thought-provoking and worthwhile start to my 2020 reading challenge. 

Next up, a reread of a seminal fantasy text I read so long ago I can barely remember it – any ideas? No cheating, fellow students on the Fantasy MLitt who know what’s on our reading list for next week… 

Until then – so much to say, so much to do, somuchkat.  

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