First things first, I should’ve jumped on the readathon bandwagon a long time ago.
I always felt intimidated by readathons, probably because I have an overwhelming anxiety to complete an unrealistic and stressful TBR, but this time I had no excuse to not participate.
Plus, I’ve really been trying to amp up my reading, and what better way to do that than forcing myself to read for a week?
If you’ve never heard of the Reading Rush, it is an annual week-long readathon (July 20-26) hosted by Ariel Bissett and Raeleen Lemay. The goal is simply to take one week to read more, as well as challenge your usual reading taste with unique reading prompts.
Every readathon includes 7 new reading prompts, and these challenges are, perhaps, my favorite part of the Reading Rush. They’re always so unique and interesting, and they make me actually look forward to reading something I usually wouldn’t pick up.
And, let’s face it, if anyone needs more motivation to read, it’s moi.
To recap, here’s a list of the 2020 Reading Rush challenges:
- Read a book matching the color of your birthstone.
- Read a book that starts with the word “The”.
- Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve seen.
- Read the first book you touch.
- Read a book completely not in your house.
- Read a genre that scares you or your least read genre.
- Read a book that takes place on a different continent than yours.
For a detailed 2020 Reading Rush TBR, check out my previous post.
As a slow reader, I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete my full TBR of 7 books in 7 days — I envy anyone who can read a book a day — but I did manage to finish 3 books.
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
The first book I finished was Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
I’ve been meaning to get to this short, 50-page novella for about 3 years now, so I finally bit the bullet and picked it up. Don’t ask me why I never read this since it is so small because I couldn’t tell you why.
I chose this novella specifically for the read a book that starts with the word “The” challenge. I was hoping it would be able to overlap with the other prompts, but, sadly, it does not.
This story made me laugh out loud, squeam in my seat, and broke my heart all at the same time, and I ended up giving Kafka’s Metamorphosis a 4/5. I can definitely see why it’s a classic that almost everyone has read.
I specifically loved Gregor’s character and how, despite the fact that he just woke up as a human-size bug, he’s still more worried about losing his job than anything else. His character arc is very unusual and, let’s face it, nauseating, but I think the underlying metaphor has a lot to say about us as humans and our — primarily — poor priorities.
Even though the story itself was phenomenal, I couldn’t give it a 5/5 because of the plethora of grammatical errors. To be fair, the introduction of my edition stated that the edition and translation contained the original, unedited text. Kafka did not share his writings with many people while he was alive, so much of his original works are unedited and consist of a lot of errors.
I realize being a stickler on grammar isn’t the most popular opinion, but it hendered my experience with the story, personally. However, I still enjoyed the story over all, and I wouldn’t mind picking it up again sometime.
Adèle – Leila Slimani
After I finished Kafka’s novella, I immediately picked up Leila Slimani’s Adèle.
I didn’t know much about this book, other than it being about a French woman who loves attention and feeling wanted, and Noelle Gallagher hated it (which scared me a little, tbh). Little did I know that I would stumble upon one of my favorite reads of the year.
Since Slimani’s novel is set in Paris, France, I picked it up for the challenge read a book that takes place on a different continent than yours. Unlike Kafka’s novella, Slimani’s novel does overlap with the “read a genre that scares you or your least read genre” since it’s a domestic thriller, but you’ll see in a little bit that it doesn’t really matter.
I gave Adèle a 4/5. To be honest, now that I’m looking bad, I don’t know why it’s not a 5/5, but I’m sticking with my gut on this one. Don’t let the rating fool you; I will definitely be re-reading at some point, and it has become a favorite of mine.
Slimani’s Adèle follows, you guessed it, Adèle, an unhappy wife/mother living in the heart of Paris’ beautiful city. With a ER doctor as a husband, Adèle is able to participate in a complicated and secret sex life filled with numerous affairs and one-night-stands.
I’m not sure if anyone else is weird like me, but I love reading and watching movies that explore humans’ desires and sex lives. I think because of the taboo surrounding that act of sex and sex culture — even though it’s a natural thing that almost everyone is bound to explore one day — is what peaks my interest. Plus, it’s like reading about a whole other world, even if it does get weird from time to time.
Adèle reminds me of the Nymphomaniac movies directed by Lars von Trier, but toned down a lot. Adèle is such an interesting character, coming off as one of those terrible protagonists that you can’t help but root for, which we all know I love. Even though she is constantly cheating on her husband and not taking care of herself, I couldn’t help but feel for Adèle. Personally, she seems like a woman suffering from possible post-partum depression, but that could be up for debate since I’m not an expert on that particular subject.
I could go on and on about this book, but I might have to save it for another time. All in all, it was a wonderful book.
A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena
The final book I finished for the Reading Rush was Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House.
My mom let me borrow this book and said she couldn’t put it down. Naturally, I selected it for a readathon if it truly was an edge-of-your-seat type book, but, boy, was I highly disappointed.
I originally picked Lapena’s story for the read a genre that scares you or your least read genre because it’s a domestic thriller, much like Adèle, but with a layer of crime.
Whereas Slimani’s novel followed a woman’s chaotic sex life, A Stranger in the House follows Karen and Tom Krupp, a newly married couple of 2 years. Much like every other domestic/crime thriller novels, their marriage is picture perfect with a beautiful suburban house. That is, until Karen has a car accident and is found in the same area as a murdered man. Karen just so happens to wake up with amnesia (shocker), and the plot unfolds from their as everyone tries to piece the puzzle together.
I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty hard time getting through this novel, and I ended up giving it a 2/5. At first, I was pretty unimpressed with the basic writing style and typical domestic thriller clichés, but I carried on because I did want to see what happened. However, the ending completely ruined the book for me.
I’m definitely going to be making a separate spoiler-filled post about Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House because I just have to vent about this book.
Before Everything – Victoria Redel
I did start Victoria Redel’s Before Everything, which I already know is going to break my heart, and I’m about 25 pages in. Somehow, I didn’t even realize that it’s a novel written in prose, but I’m super excited to dive into it. I’ve never read a book written in prose, so I’m interested to see how that differs my reading experience. I also chose this book for the prompt read a book matching the color of your birthstone.
The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
Technically, I didn’t start Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew for the read a book that inspired a movie you’ve seen challenge, BUT I did read the introduction. I plan on reading it immediately after writing this, so I’m counting it in the “leftover” section. From what I learned in the introduction, this play seems to be incredible — as if I expect anything less from Shakespeare — and touches on themes of gender and marriage.
I’m really happy with my overall performance in the 2020 Reading Rush, even though I didn’t get to all of the books on my TBR.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to be more involved on the actual Reading Rush website with forums and all of that fun stuff next year. I’m definitely going to be working on my reading stamina until then!