My Reading List 2016

Over the past couple of years I have documented every film that I have watched and reviewed them all using Letterboxd.

As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading, using Goodreads as a way to set myself a reading challenge.

So, this year I set myself a challenge of reading 18 books, and for the first time since doing so, I have managed to exceed my target, hooray!

Here’s how my 2016 challenge went, with a short review and rating for each of the books:

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You Should Be Reading: January 2017

(Written for Filmoria)

Last month began my monthly feature, You Should Be Reading, with the end of what 2016 had to offer in terms of book adaptations. Now it’s time to step into the new year, and to take a look at what adaptations are being released in January 2017.

With two true stories, one delving into the past surrounding a court trial regarding the holocaust and another focusing on present technology as a man attempts to use Google Maps to find his birthplace and family, a children’s fantasy involving a monster that looks like a tree, a historical Japanese fiction set in the time of Hidden Christians, and a crime story about a bootlegger turned notorious gangster in the 1920’s, there’s a huge and varied selection of book adaptations that are being released this month.

Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

“In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”

Written by British author Diana Wynne Jones, and first published in 1986, Howl’s Moving Castle is the first of three books in Jone’s Howl series, followed by 1990’s Castle in the Air and 2008’s House of Many Ways.

For Sophie Hatter of Market Chipping, Ingrary, being born the oldest of three is only the beginning of her troubles, since the oldest child is doomed to fail first. When Sophie’s father dies, her stepmother, Fanny, takes Sophie and her two sisters out of school. But whilst Lettie and Martha go off to become apprentices, Sophie is left with no one to talk to but the hats she creates. One day, the Witch of the Waste makes a visit to Sophie’s shop, and leaves Sophie under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance of breaking it is to find the ever-moving castle in the hills and plead with the castle’s owner, the heartless Wizard Howl. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie makes a deal with Howl’s fire demon, Calcifer: if Sophie can break his contract with Howl, then he will fix her curse. Finding herself caught up in Howl and the Witch’s conflict, Sophie soon discovers that there’s far more to Howl — and herself — than first meets the eye.

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You Should Be Reading: December 2016

(Written for Filmoria)

This month sees the introduction of my new monthly feature for Filmoria, You Should Be Reading, which looks at what book adaptations are being released as films over the following month.

If you love reading just as much as you do watching, then this feature will tell you everything you need to know about the upcoming films that are based on books, giving you ideas on what you should be reading in anticipation for the release of their adaptations.

To start things off, December will see the adaptation of two real-life memoirs, firstly with Clint Eastwood‘s nerve-wrenching drama, Sully, and secondly with Oliver Stone‘s political thriller, Snowden.

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You Should Be Reading: Story Of Your Life (Arrival)

“I’d love to tell you the story of this evening, the night you’re conceived, but the right time to do that would be when you’re ready to have children of your own, and we’ll never get that chance.”

Story of Your Life is a science fiction short story written by author Ted Chiang, which is a part of his Stories of Your Life and Others collection, originally published in 2002.

Premised during an alien invasion after multiple mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, linguist Dr Louise Banks is recruited alongside mathematician Ian Donnelly and US Army Colonel Weber by the military to assist in translating communications with an alien race known as Heptapods. As mankind scrambles for answers as to why these aliens are here, Banks tries to distinguish between their two distinct forms of language – the Heptapods’ spoken language, which has a free word order, and their written language, which has a complex structure that a single semantic symbol cannot be excluded without changing the entire meaning of a sentence – a vital study to maintain peace with this mysterious race.

Titled Arrival and set to be released on 10th November, the film adaptation is directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly, and Forest Whitaker as Colonel Weber.

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Book Review: Story Of Your Life

“I’d love to tell you the story of this evening, the night you’re conceived, but the right time to do that would be when you’re ready to have children of your own, and we’ll never get that chance.”

Story of Your Life is a science fiction short story written by author Ted Chiang, which is a part of his Stories of Your Life and Others collection, originally published in 2002.

Premised during an alien invasion after multiple mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, linguist Dr Louise Banks is recruited alongside mathematician Ian Donnelly and US Army Colonel Weber by the military to assist in translating communications with an alien race known as Heptapods. As mankind scrambles for answers as to why these aliens are here, Banks tries to distinguish between their two distinct forms of language – the Heptapods’ spoken language, which has a free word order, and their written language, which has a complex structure that a single semantic symbol cannot be excluded without changing the entire meaning of a sentence – a vital study to maintain peace with this mysterious race.

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You Should Be Reading: The Light Between Oceans

“There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory. Isabel is part of him, wherever she is, just like the war and the light and the ocean. Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone. He watches the ocean surrender to the night, knowing that the light will reappear.”

The Light Between Oceans is a 2012 debut novel by M.L. Stedman, which follows war veteran Tom Sherbourne, who returns home to Western Australia after fighting in the western trenches of World War I in Europe. After meeting and quickly falling in love with the young Isabel, the newly married couple move to an isolated island where Tom maintains the upkeep of a working lighthouse, and Isabel gets used to married life away from her family. But as Tom struggles with his numb emotions from serving in the war, and after the heartache of not being able to start a family of their own, the couple rescue a baby girl who has washed up on an adrift rowboat. Believing their prayers may have finally been answered, Isabel encourages Tom to informally adopt her as their own but, as a man of principle, Tom is torn between reporting the lost child and pleasing the woman he loves. Against his better judgment, he agrees to let Isabel keep the child, naming her Lucy and informing their families that she is their own. But when Tom and Isabel return to the mainland a few years later, they soon discover that their actions may have had devastating consequences for the lives of others.

Set to be released on 4th November, the film adaptation is directed by Derek Cianfrance and stars Michael Fassbender as Tom Sherbourne, Alicia Vikander as Isabel Sherbourne, and Rachel Weisz as Hannah.

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