Fifty Book Challenge 2014

In step with my new tradition of attempting to plough through at least fifty books a year, this year I have managed it with a week to spare. I thought I would compile the list (mainly because I am amazed that I have found the time) but also highlight the ones that were well worth it, in my humble opinion.

Full, exhaustive list:

  1. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  2. Oranges in No Man’s Land, Elizabeth Laird
  3. Allegiant, Veronica Roth
  4. Second Star to the Right, Deborah Hautzig
  5. How I Paid for College, Marc Acito
  6. Oops, Hywel Roberts
  7. Strange Meeting, Susan Hill
  8. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
  9. Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
  10. Revolver, Marcus Sedgewick
  11. The Bailey Game, Celia Rees
  12. The Daydreamer, Ian McEwan
  13. Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgewick
  14. The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook, Jim Smith
  15. What’s Left of Me, Kat Zhang
  16. the Wish House, Celia Rees
  17. The Iron Man, Ted Hughes
  18. The Photograph, Penelope Lively
  19. Fearless, Tim Lott
  20. Floodland, Marcus Sedgewick
  21. Blood Money, Anne Cassidy
  22. The Willow Man, Sue Purkiss
  23. The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriaty
  24. The Wells Bequest, Polly Shulman
  25. Pimp Your Lesson, Isabella Wallace
  26. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capone
  27. The Bunker Diary, Kevin Brooks
  28. Edge of Nowhere, John E Smelcer
  29. The Dark Horse, Marcus Sedgewick
  30. Malarky, Keith Gray
  31. All The Truth that’s in Me, Julie Berry
  32. Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys
  33. Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill
  34. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  35. The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness
  36. The Butterfly Lion, Michael Morpurgo
  37. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  38. Wonder, RJ Palacio
  39. The Tulip Touch, Anne Fine
  40. Gone, Michael Grant
  41. The Book of Dead Days, Marcus Sedgewick
  42. Paper Faces, Rachel Anderson
  43. Paper Towns, John Green
  44. Hunger, Michael Grant
  45. Lies, Michael Grant
  46. Plague, Michael Grant
  47. The Quantity Theory Of Insanity, Will Self
  48. Exchange, Paul Magrs
  49. Witch Hill, Marcus Sedgewick
  50. On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

I think we can safely say that a) I have discovered (a little late in the game) an unfounded and complete love of Marcus Sedgewick, thanks to the librarian at my old school. Midwinterblood was like nothing else, and so beautifully written. The same llibrarian was also the lovely human being to force the Carnegie finalists into my hands- up to that stage, my only experience of Kevin Brooks was what I believed to be a weak plotline in IBoy. Bunker was both bleak and raw, but had what I love about fiction; the presence of humanity in the most unimaginable of circumstances.

Hill’s Strange Meeting is definitely one for the teacher out there- I used an extract from this book to read to year 10 when teaching Wilfred Owen. The graphic and stark description of the character’s portrayal of the front line portrays his numbing experience perfectly.

I was pleasantly surprised by Celia Rees; I find it quite accomplished of both her and Sedgewick to be able to twist several different stories in such a way that it never felt like I was reading a particular ‘style’ that you sometimes come across with writers- my ideal author is someone who does not fit a pattern, or writes consistently in the same way. The unpredictability and skill of being able to write with eloquence but unlike that of a previous book is the ideal!

Exchange is one for any book lover- the Exchange is a book shop set up by a man that simply asks for books in exchange of other books- an extension of the free book shops that are now popping up, the concept extends from an exchange of reading to an exchange of the different aspects of the character’s lives and experiences between one another.

Joe Hill was a recommendation and quite possibly next to The Road, one of the most dark and terrifying books that I have ever read. I have strayed from the supernatural in quite some time and this conjured up a nasty, realistic twist on the idea of the dead remaining unsettled. The main character Judas makes quite the sceptical lead, and his cynicism bonds the entire story together.

I think the underlying theme of dystopia throughout my fifty books is pretty clear! Zhang’s What’s Left of Me is one of a trilogy which I have still yet to track down the remaining two of, and once again gave a sense of realism to the way that the world could work out. Both this, Michael Grant’s series (still unfinished) and Patrick Ness’ KONLG touch upon elements of the world that we know and play out the possibilities, and consequences of what could be, but also reinforce the fact that as humans, the small comforts and necessary compassion that we hold for one another still remains.

I was going to close with my all time favourite, but in true book worm style, that is impossible. I am however incredibly happy that I finally made time for the Book Thief, after being told by so many people about its beauty. The narration of Death makes it all the more poignant, and his encounters with Liesel are both heartbreaking and eye opening.

What next? I need to get my teeth into all the grown up stuff that Neil Gaiman has done that my eyes have yet to see! I quite enjoy recommendations rather than seeking books out. The perks of having so many English teachers on your Twitter timeline!


    1. I really enjoyed it- definitely well worth it. I like Hywel’s style of writing- the visual impact really helped the dyslexic in me!

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