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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.


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