I set myself a reading challenge for my year abroad

Just over a year ago, on my 20th birthday, I was getting ready to spend a year away from Uni to embark on my year abroad in Paris. Yes, I was excited, but I was scared – would I get lazy? Would my brain turn into mashed potato? How would I remain critically stimulated? With this in mind, I set myself a challenge – even though I was going to be working 35 hours per week and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I was going to read 12 books on my year abroad. One per month. Manageable, right?

Spoiler alert – I failed.

Not spectacularly, though – I managed a very reasonable 10/12. The problems began to arise near the end, in June, when I truly succumbed to the pull of podcasts and stopped reading on my commutes (I would like to publicly blame Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes). I still think it’s worth documenting it as planned, though, so let’s just ignore the fact that my summer this year was a bit of a fail. And that one of the books on this list is, in fact, a play.

August 2017
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, 1985
Thoughts: dark (duh – look at who wrote it), thought-provoking, disturbing.

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September 2017
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, 1938
Thoughts: Utterly gripping – I stayed up reading until 4am to finish it, utterly un-put-down-able.

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October 2017
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, 2016
Thoughts: very witty and clever – a knowledge of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is needed.

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November 2017
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, 2007
Thoughts: a super easy and accessible read, harrowing, heartbreaking.

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December 2017
La Fille du train (The Girl on the Train) by Paula Hawkins, 2015
Thoughts: brownie points to me for reading this in French! I already knew the plot, so not as exciting as I’d hoped.

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January 2018
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, 1939
Thoughts: totally understand why this is such a classic – I’d recommend it to anyone.

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February 2018
Rock ‘n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard, 2006
Thoughts: love Stoppard’s cynicism. Would love to see it performed one day.

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March 2018
Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis, 1987
Thoughts: surprisingly ungrotesque for Easton Ellis, but nihilistic and revealing.

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April 2018
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, 1962
Thoughts: I loved it – such incisive prose and cutting meaning running through it.

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May 2018
Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis, 2010
Thoughts: extremely self-indulgent but addictive and yep – you guessed it – gross.

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