Recently, I embarked on a challenge to get myself reading more, of different genres and basically just using books and words as a way of cheering myself up. Books and reading let you escape – to Paris, to Vienna, to Hawaii. With books, you can travel anywhere (albeit in your mind), whilst improving your vocabulary and feeling a major sense of accomplishment after finishing the last page (akin to publishing that epic blog post you’ve spent ages writing, or baking the most amazing birthday cake)!

When I set out on my own reading challenge, I promised myself that I would come back here and let you all know how I’m getting on, which books I’ve loved, which ones I’ve hated and whether the sheer amount of reading I’m doing on top of everything else is causing me to go insane yet (probably).

So, without further adieu, let me introduce you to the first five books I’ve finished for this reading challenge and which part of the challenge they’ve ticked off:

1. Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

“Why do people automatically think that because you’re carrying extra weight you don’t feel the cold? I’m not a fucking walrus. My blubber is not that beneficial when it comes to staving off cold temperatures.”

This is no. 33 on my reading list: A book set in two different time periods.

This entertained me throughout our Morocco trip, and I think it was really quite fitting to be reading this whilst stuffing my face with all-you-can-eat food and drink. Based around a couple’s (fictional) diary entries from the day before and the present day, this book focuses on the hilarity behind losing weight and keeping fit, such as the embarrassing effects of a cabbage soup diet and going to the gym. I found the author to be impressive for being able to write as both a man and woman (and for it to be believable), and it was quite an amusing read, although he seriously needs to rethink who spell checks his work! I’d say this book is a good choice for a bit of humour and as a good pool-side read whilst you’re chilling out in the sun. Fat Chance, I give you 3.5 stars.

2. Happy: Finding joy in every day and letting go of perfect by Fearne Cotton

“Happiness, you gorgeous warm ray of sunshine. I love it when you spring up out of nowhere and take me by surprise and how you can make clouds part and corners of mouths lift…”

This ticks off no. 15 on my reading challenge list: A book with a subtitle.

I’m definitely partial to an uplifting soul-improving book, and this one certainly ticked those boxes. Fearne writes from a place of knowing depression and how to overcome the lows, teaching you how to stay positive and laugh in the face of adversity. I loved the fact that there were hand-drawn images by Fearne herself plus lots of little challenges throughout the book to get you involved. Hands down, I can say that I did rethink my inner self and soul throughout reading this book, as you can see by this short essay I wrote on finding passion in the everyday. Happy, I give you 5 stars.

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

“What of Art?
-It is a malady.
–Love?
-An Illusion.
–Religion?
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
–You are a sceptic.
-Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.
–What are you?
-To define is to limit.”

This is no. 2 on the list: A book that’s been on your to be read list for way too long.

This book has been sitting on my bookcase for approximately 5 years. Having watched the film, I was intrigued as to whether the book would be just as creepy and compelling as the movie, however, I’m afraid I was disappointed. This is bad, considering I’ve been an Oscar Wilde fan since childhood (see below). However, I can’t help but say that I was left feeling underwhelmed by this one, although the imagery was really quite beautiful as you can see from the above quote. Maybe this one could have been re-written into something of the epic poem variety? Anyway, it was a short read and it does feel good to know that this book will longer attract dust on my bookcase, now that I’ve actually read the damn thing. The Picture of Dorian Gray, I give you a meagre 2.5 stars (sorry)!

4. The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde

“The fact is, that I told him a story with a moral. Ah! that is always a very dangerous thing to do.”

This is no. 25 on my reading challenge list: A book you loved as a child.

I love, love, love these short stories!! When I was about seven, my wonderful mother bought me an illustrated Oscar Wilde treasury of these famous short stories:

  • The Happy Prince
  • The Nightingale and the Rose
  • The Selfish Giant
  • The Devoted Friend
  • The Remarkable Rocket

I will forever remember the pink cover from my children’s edition – I just wish I’d kept it to hand down to my children, as my new treasury doesn’t have beautiful illustrations! But these stories are still so lovely to read. Only a few pages long each, complete with breathtaking metaphors, similes and a moral compass, these short stories may just live with you for a long time too. I will never forget these stories! The Happy Prince and Other Tales, I give you 5 stars!

5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

“Oh! it is absurd to have a hard-and-fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.”

This ticks off no. 12 from my list: A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read.

This was another ‘based on a movie, Oscar Wilde’ find, this time written as a play. I briefly remember watching the Colin Firth movie a few years ago and being quite amused by the story. It basically involves a couple of men who pretend to be named “Ernest”, fall in love with two women who unravel their lies and this whole group love square starts happening. Thinking about it now, it all seems rather incestuous with so-and-so’s brother, cousin, sister, all kinds of relations thrown in together. But Mr Wilde writes the play with light-hearted humour and a lot of idiocy! The Importance of Being Earnest, I give you 3.5 stars as you did make me chuckle in places.

So, that’s five literary gems down, 52 more to go. Tune in next time where hopefully I’ll have another few books conquered on my reading challenge!
Would you give any of these books a go? Or have you already? What did you think of them? Write me a little note in the comments section below…
Text Sources:

Nick Spalding, Fat Chance, 2014
Fearne Cotton, Happy, 2017
Oscar Wilde, Treasury of World Masterpieces, 1888-1899 (re-printed 1983)

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