Sunday, June 05, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge - Days 1 And 2

Recently I've been reading a blog called the Egotist's Club, which is just finishing up a month-long book-themed blogging challenge - it looks like it could be a fun idea, so I think I'm going to give it a try. There are 30 different topics to cover - conveniently, one for each day in June:

Day 1 – The best book you read last year
Day 2 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 3 – Your favorite series
Day 4 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 5 – A book that makes you happy
Day 6 – A book that makes you sad
Day 7 – Most underrated book
Day 8 – Most overrated book
Day 9 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

Of course, we're already a few days into the month, so I'll have to double up on the first few. In addition, I'm going to set a couple of other boundaries - no using the same book for two different days (although no promises about using different books by the same author, or from the same series), for example. Also, I might tweak the topics a bit as I write them up - but only a little.

So, having said that, let's get started, shall we?

Day 1: The Best Book You Read Last Year

Nothing like starting off with a difficult one, is there? There's lots of different variables to consider, including defining "best" in this context, deciding what exactly constitutes "last year", and remembering just which of the many books I read were during that timeframe.

In the end, I decided simplify things by going with the books I found most memorable, and were most likely to revisit in the future. The field was quickly narrowed to two contenders:

The first is a novel I've blogged about before, Monster Hunter International. Reviewing my previous post on the subject, I find I have very little to add, besides reiterating that I really did find it that good - both the writing and the ideas behind it. I haven't acquired either of the sequels yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

The second book is also one I mentioned before, but only in passing, and therefore I can spend a bit more time on it without being repetitious. C.S. Lewis Collected Letters, Volume 1: Family Letters 1905 - 1931 was a fascinating look into the early life of one of my favorite writers (whether he's the favorite will have to wait for another day).

 There's lots of interesting information to be learned about Lewis and his formative years in this book - things like his literary tastes (I was rather surprised to learn that he liked Jane Austen, the Brontë family, and Algernon Blackwood; and that he apparently disliked G. A. Henty), his service in World War One, and, of course, his philosophical and spiritual shift from nominal Christianity to Atheism, and back to a far more solid Christianity. Walter Hooper, the editor of Lewis' letters, is to be commended for choosing the perfect missive with which to end the volume: the 18 October 1931 letter to Lewis' best friend Arthur Greeves, in which he describes his famous conversation with Hugo Dyson and J.R.R. Tolkien about religion and mythology.

"Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened . . . " While the portion of the letter that begins with this has been widely quoted, reading it as the culmination of Lewis' philosophical thought is quite different than reading just that fragment. That is, I think part of what makes reading any collected correspondence so interesting - seeing the personal transformation of the author as they mature.

Day 2: A Book That You’ve Read More Than Three Times

I'm a trifle curious as to why this isn't simply "The Book You've Re-Read The Most Often", but it doesn't really matter as I suspect my answer would be the same, regardless.

The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien, is a book that probably needs no introduction. For myself, I was blessed enough to have been introduced to it at a very early age, it being one of several books that my parents read out loud to my siblings and me. It's been one of my favorites ever since, especially when I needed something to distract me from, say, an afternoon of homework.

As I've grown older, my appreciation for the book has grown as well, being able to better recognize and relate to the book's theme of maturation. Despite the occasionally alarming news coming from the studio I'm excited for the upcoming film as well, but even if the film is a complete failure it will take nothing away from the masterful storytelling and timeless truths of the Tolkien's work.

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