Tag Archives: Reading Challenge 2019

The End (finally)

Seven months shy of twenty years ago* I complained to some friends that my kids were reading books that I thought were too young for them. One friend suggested I buy a book, the first in a series, place it in a prominent location, and tell Clare and Andrew they should not read it because it was too advanced for them. He went on to explain that the book seems to be written at a grade school level, but is full of higher vocabulary (with embedded definitions by the author/narrator).

Photograph of six Brainstormers at a rare non-virtual meeting.
Possibly the night I first heard about A Series of Unfortunate Events (George is on the far right)

Shortly thereafter I bought The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket and placed it on the living room coffee table. When one of the kids asked about the book, I did as George instructed and told them that I bought it for myself and that I thought they were too young to understand it.

Of course I read the book first, and found it delightfully unusual. The kids, one at a time, stealthily picked up the book and read it too. I continued buying the books as they were published until we had a full set (plus an extra The Hostile Hospital for some reason).

I grew tired of the books after a while, they are very formulaic, but intentionally so. I’d read one, then not read another for a while — and eventually stopped after reading The Carnivorous Carnival.

When Netflix announced it was producing a television series based on A Series of Unfortunate Events I was interested, but when I learned that Neil Patrick Harris was playing Count Olaf, I knew I had to watch it, but I wanted to make sure I’d read books before it aired. I didn’t manage to finish them before the series aired, but did manage to finish each book before I watched the Netflix episodes that featured the events in the books. I started reading them again through our library’s ebooks (our hard copies disappeared with one of the kids once they left for college or life after college — although they both deny taking them). I finished The End at 5:00 this morning, having pretty much stayed up all night to do so.

Then after a few hours’ sleep I watched the last episode in the Netflix series.

It’s taken me nearly twenty years to finish a set of 13 books written for children. The mystery has been solved for me (who is Beatrice?), although I am still confused. I am sure the internet will explain it to me though.


*I might be misremembering this since the books would only have been published the month before the gathering in which I thought this conversation took place, so maybe it was more like eighteen years ago…

Three more finished

I’ve recently finished three more books: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, and Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker.

A Wizard of Earthsea just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would have probably liked it more as a teenager. There were parts I liked, but I guess I am over fantasy books. Which is sad.

Now, Nine Perfect Strangers, on the other hand, was my cup of tea. That Moriarty woman just doesn’t write books fast enough for me to devour them. This one was not quite as good as some of her others (Big Little Lies, for instance), but fun to read. That’s okay right? If I read for pleasure?

Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside is a book that I would have gladly never have heard about. I didn’t like it when I read part of it for book group, but liked it somewhat more when I picked it up again as an audio book. Then I got tired of it once more and it was almost painful to listen to it after a while — not that the narrator was bad — he was pretty good, but I had no interest in the story — especially after Bruno and the other detective hooked up. I finished up reading the book last night and I will never revisit Bruno’s countryside again. What a waste of time.

Three finished, one more added

Our book group selection was an easy read: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I cannot say I thought the book was well-written, but it kept me interested through to the end. I’d seen that it was also a Masterpiece Theatre production and planned to read it (in fact I’d bought it in December) anyway. The book dealt with homosexuality, unmarried pregnancies and interracial relationships in 17th century Holland. I think it could have been more effective if only one of those topics had been addressed. As it was I grew weary of the angst caused by the fear of being caught whenever a new then-outlawed activity was revealed. It will be interesting to hear the various comments. I am sure one friend will announce this book should never have been written.

Yesterday morning I finished The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. It was a bookgroup read back when I was still using my Nook instead of a Kindle — a long time ago. I started reading it but could not get into it. I think I skipped book group that month. I imagine reading it will give me more ideas of books to read — just what I need. I enjoyed this book, except for one thing. It seems that everyone in Schwalbe’s family is extraordinary, especially his mother. It made me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life.

Also yesterday, I finished Lemony Snickett’s The Penultimate Peril. I will be pleased when I am done with these books. They are very much the same, witty and clever, but also repetitive. I can now watch a few more episodes of the Netflix series.

The new addition to my list of books I am reading is the newest Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers.

My sister-in-law asked me how I kept the books straight. I don’t have a problem with that — and they actually help me sleep because when I get to a point where I cannot get to sleep I go through the books I am reading and remember where the characters were when I last saw them.