A Challenging Read
Remember that new year's resolution you set yourself back at the end of December? Yes, that one. If it was a personal resolution to read more then take a bow; we applaud you. If it was a personal resolution to read 365 books over the course of this year then it's quite possible that you're a) the Jersey Festival of Words chairman and b) Jennifer Bridge.
One book a day. Every day. For a year.
We caught up with Jennifer to find out how her challenge is going, as well as what she's been reading...
What made you decide to attempt the 365 book challenge?
I wanted to set a target. I knew from day one it was unachievable but I thought that hopefully I’d read some interesting books along the way and probably read more than I usually would. That has been borne out as I’m already on book 42.
What books have you read so far?
1. Epistemology and Moral Philosophy - Dan Cardinal
2. The Reckoning - Yrsa Sigurdardottir
3. Cultural Amnesia- Clive James
4. Catch and Kill - Ronan Farrow
5. The Absolution - Yrsa Sigurdardottir
6. Station X - Michael Smith
7. Protest and Power - David Kogan
8. Invisible Women - Caroline Criado-Pérez
9. Eleanor Oliphant - Gail Honeyman
10. Talking To Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell
11. Sweet Sorrow - David Nicholls
12. Made in Scotland - Billy Connolly
13. Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng
14. Down and Out in Paris & London - George Orwell
15. Munich - Robert Harris
16. The Shadow Killer - Indridasson
17. Checkpoint Charlie - Ian MacGregor
18. March Violets - Philip Kerr
19. The Pale Criminal - Philip Kerr
20. The Confessions of Frannie Langton - Sara Collins
21. Berlin Diary - William L Shirer
22. Every Day Subversion - Kerry Kathleen Riley
23. Unwanted - Kristina Olsen
24. Hunger - Roxane Gay
25. Motherwell - Deborah Orr
26. The Second Sleep - Robert Harris
27. Cold Earth - Ann Cleeves
28. How the World Thinks - Julian Baggini
29. Wild Fire - Ann Cleeves
30. How to Argue with a Racist - Dr Adam Rutherford
31. Our Man in New York - Henry Hemming
32. The File - Tim Garton Ash
33. The Magic Lantern - Tim Garton Nash
34. The End of the Cold War - Robert Service
35. They Divided the Sky - Christa Wolf
36. The Missing - Michael Rosen
37. Mudlarking - Lara Maiklem
38. Occupational Hazards - Rory Stewart
39. Smile or Die - Barbara Ehrenreich
40. A Line in the Sand - James Barr
41. Guest House for Young Widows - Azadeh Moaveni
42. Broken Greek - Pete Paphides
Of the books you’ve read so far which have been your favourites?
The stand-out books for me have been:
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow – a white knuckle ride with Ronan as he uncovers the truth about Harvey Weinstein.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Pérez is a brilliant book that makes you want to shout with frustration at the male only crash test dummies, the unisex (i.e. male shaped) body armour for soldiers and police, the medical trials on men not women and so on and so on.
The File by Timothy Garton Nash – an extraordinary book in which Timothy carefully dissects and offers his thoughts on discovering and reading the file that was kept on him by the Stasi during his time in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Occupational Hazards by Rory Stewart – In this book, Rory Stewart tells of his time running a region of post-Saddam Iraq. He is resourceful, endlessly patient but also quietly firm and determined. I can’t help thinking that if he can do that he can definitely run London as Mayor.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently reading Broken Greek by Pete Paphides. It’s a memoir of Paphides’ childhood in Birmingham. Being of a similar age so much resonates; rediffusion TV, trying my first pot noodle, all the pop songs of my youth, the UK winning the Eurovision song contest and so on. As a music journalist, Paphides’ knowledge of music is exceptionally detailed and every aspect of his childhood is set against the backdrop of music. It’s an extraordinary book and with the Spotify playlist he has helpfully provided, readers can have a fully immersive experience.
How do you decide what to read?
I don’t want to read just for the sake of reading so there is always a slight trepidation as I never know what I will be
reading next until I’ve finished the previous book. I have my default favourite genres of Icelandic noir and anything to do with the Berlin Wall and I will return to searching these genres but I try to see if a book emerges and comes to the fore of my consciousness.
How easy are you finding it to read a book a day?
Well, obviously, it’s impossible while combining with work and other commitments but the challenge has made me move reading up the priority list and remove social media from my daily routine. I don’t own a television so it has simply been a case of swapping my Radio 4 listening habits to reading instead. I listen to audio books when I’m walking my dogs or on the bus, and read in the evenings and early in the morning. At the weekend, I devote most of my time to reading.
With thanks to Jennifer Bridge.