By Claudia Schwarz
Most New Year’s resolutions never make it to February, but maybe a late one will last the distance. Instead of simply setting yourself a quota of books to read per week, why not make it more entertaining. I have listed a few fun challenges that could get the ball rolling!
Read a book you’ve lied about reading:
We’ve all had to read novels for university or school. But, did you really read them? Or did you just read the first few chapters, give up, and memorise a summary of it online? If so, now’s the time. Drag out that old, feared classic and you might be amazed. Not all of them are as cryptic as they may seem. Especially when you’re reading them for fun and don’t have to worry about analysing a character’s every move.
Re-read a book you did read in school:
I was completely confused by Brave New World when I had to read it for school. Without the pressure of trying to memorise and deconstruct the plot, you will manage to see it in a completely different light. Reading a book for school really does take the fun out of it! So, go on, try and remember that book you had to read in secondary school, the one you thought was way too complicated and boring. Try to read it again. I promise you; you’ll be surprised at how different the reading experience will be. Fahrenheit 451 or The Wasp Factory come to mind.
Read the book of a movie you love:
Think back to your favourite movies. Chances are, it is based on a book that might just knock your socks off. If the book is anything like the movie, then it’s definitely worth your time. Why not watch and read The Godfather, Hidden Figures, or even The Exorcist? The cinematic version often drastically cuts down the storyline of the book or even completely excludes an important character. Who knows, reading the ‘same’ story might just have a few surprises in store for you.
Read a non-fiction book:
Autobiographies are something I have avoided like the plague. Yet, one that has caught my attention is Becoming by Michelle Obama. If, like myself, you are not a huge fan of reading about someone else’s life, there is still a huge variety of other non-fiction texts to choose from. History and nature can make for fascinating subjects to read about, and that’s only naming a few. One gem of an autobiographical prose is They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery, an eye-opening, empowering book that I think everyone should read.
Read a book about mental health:
We are in a strange and confusing time at the moment. Remember to mind yourself, and check in with yourself. Take a few breaks from staring at the screen and try to go for a walk, or even make yourself a nice cup of tea and breathe. Improving your mental wellbeing is important but sometimes it is difficult to know where you could start. I can highly recommend The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon to those struggling with their mental health. The book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson is a great addition to anyone’s bookshelf. She writes about “the beast” that is anxiety in a very engaging way.
Read an absurdly long book:
Why not read In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, which is a stunning 4,215 pages long. We are challenging ourselves after all! If you are now saying to yourself “No one’s got the time for that”, well, I completely agree. How about a compromise? War and Peace with its 1,225 pages is much easier to read and, as an added bonus, you can cheat by watching it as a movie or film series.
Read a book situated in Cork:
It is fascinating to read a book about a place you know or are living in. The familiar streets and shops start manifesting themselves in your mind while reading. You can walk through town with the protagonist and recognize the different places. Here are two novels to get you started: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney and To Keep a Bird Singing by Kevin Doyle.
Read a book that has been translated into English:
Foreign authors, with their varied cultures, languages, and ways of life, definitely have something to teach us. One of my all-time favourites is a book I found in a hotel lobby in Spain. It is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I urge any thriller fans or lovers of literary mysteries to read it. By stumbling upon this book, I have seen Barcelona through a different perspective and learned quite a lot about the Spanish Civil War. If my mention of history made you curious, you might like to try The Infamous Rosalie by Evelyn Trouillot. Originally published in French, this haunting story of a Creole slave on board the slave ship Rosalie, will captivate you. The ultimate challenge for bilinguals (and anyone else who dares to try) is to read a book in its original language. Afterwards, you can check if the translated version actually holds up to the original.