Fifty Book Challenge: complete!

Anyone who knows me will know how my favourite type of competition is one with myself. I had two resolutions this year; I wanted to go to the theatre more times than I drank, and I wanted to read fifty books. The first one has worked out pretty well (it really is a work in progress, watch out 2014), and the second one is finally complete with five days to spare. I wanted to say thank you to the books for 1) existing- I find it to be the most therapeutic thing for my tired brain; being a long term sufferer of insomnia, they are they only thing to send me off to sleep, and 2) getting me to the end of my own self-imposed challenge. I won’t write about every single book, as several are clearly for school stuff, and they were not all loved equally. But, nevertheless, thanks books.

1) Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope
I decided to start with Cope’s collection to reintroduce myself to poetry. I feel that this had been ignored for several years until my return to university at 24 and I am keen to enjoy both the act of reading and writing poetry again.

2) Macbeth by William Shakespeare
My Shakespeare tragedy top three features this, followed by King Lear, followed by Hamlet. I have been outwardly vocal with my top three and been met with nothing but laughter at the fact that my top three tragedies even exist. These laughing folk don’t know what’s good for ’em.

3) Holes by Louis Sachar

4) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

5) Woman in Black by Susan Hill

6) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

7) Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

8) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Almost beating my favourite book of all time (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, in case you want to read a bloody good book).

9) Unlocking Assessment by Sue Swaffield
It takes some getting into, and the end may not be what you imagine.

10) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

11) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Believe the hype. This was the start of my weeping year of books.

12) Trash by Andy Mulligan

13) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

14) Divergent by Veronica Roth

15) The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

16) Mr Stink by David Walliams

17) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This book will always remind me of @mulberrykate and a lovely lady called Rachel who gives the best hugs.

18) Stormbreaker by Alex Rider

19) Heroes by Robert Cromier

20) Our Day Out by Willy Russell

21) The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

22) High Windows by Philip Larkin

23) Flour Babies by Anne Fine

24) The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon

25) Drama Games by Jessica Swales

26) As you Like It by William Shakespeare

27) Kid by Simon Armitage

28) Dear Nobody by Bertie Doherty

29) Collected Grimm Tales by Carol Ann Duffy

30) Life of Pi by Yann Martel

31) The Man Who Forgot His Wife by John O’Farrell

32) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

33) The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Again, tears. It appears this couple know exactly what they’re doing in the world of literature.

34) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

35) The Road by Cormac McCarthy

36) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

37) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Upon finishing the opening chapter, I announced that I was indeed Amy. Upon finishing the book, I swiftly retracted by statement.

38) The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
A beautiful, beautiful book about love.

39) Insurgent by Veronica Roth

40) Beautiful Disaster by James McGuire
Trash. I feel it fits wonderfully amongst all of the harrowing fiction I have read this year. I read this straight after The Road, which I think is the main reason that I managed to finish it.

41) Room by Emma Donoghue
When I tell people the rough outline of this novel, they shudder and ask me why I would want to read such a thing. This reaction probably personifies how I choose my literature.

42) The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

43) Educating Rita by Willy Russell

44) How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper

45) Journey to Jo’Burg: a South African Story

46) Blood Brothers by Willy Russell

47) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

48) The Society of Others by William Nicholson
Like nothing else I have ever read. Which is definitely a good thing, and one I will be recommending.

49) Like a Hole in the Head by Ivan Noble

50) War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

I’m genuinely excited about sharing my list with my students, and starting a 2014 fifty book challenge!


  1. Oo – how does the book of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close compare with the film? I’m normally a fan of the book instead of the film, but really enjoyed the film! I’m presuming it’s well worth reading the book! I will download to my Kindle.

    1. I have not seen the film, as I enjoyed the book so much that I am keen not to alter my perception; it really is a poignant read and made me very emotional.

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