I do this thing each year called Buy No Books June. Partly it’s to give myself a chance to read through my existing toppling towers of books, but mostly it’s because I relish the discipline and challenge of arbitrary rules. True story: when I was 13 I lied to my mom about having to do a school assignment to not watch television so I had an excuse to not watch television.
It’s like flash fiction. There’s nothing harder than being told you can write anything, but given a prompt pic and a mere hundred words suddenly it’s much easier.
So it’s not that I don’t already read a wide range of books, but this year, for fun, I’m doing a modified version of the PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge.
I say modified, because going from PopSugar’s featured articles they expect their readers to communicate with other humans in meat space on a daily basis. Whereas I, and possibly the majority of my Goodreads friends, are more the kind of people whose vocal chords atrophy between Friday and Monday.
Where PopSugar tells you to read, “a book recommended by someone you just met,” book-reading introverts (with or without optional autism *takes a bow*) say, “You meet people?” and “You meet people and discuss books?”
Who are these alleged people I’m supposed to be meeting, and how will they respond when I heartily recommend the book where the MC has to be gang-raped by virus-infected super-soldiers or he’ll die? (To be clear, I totally rec this book.)
So here’s the challenge:
1. A book based on a fairy tale
I finished my first book yesterday: Seven Japanese Tales by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, for #6, a book translated into English. I own Tanazaki’s In Praise of Shadows, which is a marvellous non fiction essay about the charms of the dim, the poorly lit, and the ambiguous, but I’d never read any of his fiction. What was unexpected – and I adored – was the way his fiction is full of shadows too. The narrators are unreliable. You cannot trust any of the underlit ‘facts’ of the story. Their shapes change and deform as you pass through the narrative. And although I’ve owned Seven Japanese Tales for a while I wouldn’t have found the impetus to start it if it weren’t for the challenge. That’s the hidden beauty of rules. Narrow walls can guide you to unexpected places.
If you feel inclined to give the challenge a go you could even come join us in this challenge thread on Goodreads (you need to join the group to see the thread, but it’s a mere formality designed to keep out the occasional random homophobe).
Please drop by the blog and let me know when you find a great and unexpected book, and the rules that led you there.