The 50 book Challenge

So they have made it – T and her friend committed to reading 100 books in a year last July, and I can’t believe it’s finally finished. In the end she read 55 books, (an extra 5 in the last 10 days to help out her friend) and as of 7.50 tonight they were done. T’s books included some dense classics, some challenging language and topics, some scripts, some poetry and a couple of novellas which don’t count as cheating when you’ve also ploughed your way through Mrs Dalloway at 13 years old.

There was a point four weeks ago when she was worried she would have put herself off reading for life, but 24 hours later she was planning her first post challenge read (The Secret Commonwealth if you are interested – well once she’s re read the whole Harry Potter series). They have so far raised over £900 for Unicef – thank you so much if you’ve donated.

You can sponsor them here if you’d still like to.

I asked T to give me a quick run down of the books which you can see below:

The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) – Nice but weird

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) – Amazing, very sad

Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) – Actually surprisingly enjoyable. 

Laika (Nick Abadzis) – The only graphic novel read – feel like learnt a lot from it

Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen) – Pointless. About marriage and not much else. Nothing interesting happens.

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) – Bit disturbing but interesting concept and easy to read

To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) – Powerful

Tess of the D’urbervilles (Thomas Hardy) – Neverending and surprisingly dark for a pastoral setting

Bad Science (Ben Goldacre) – technically dense. Interesting but I didn’t need to read a whole 50 pages on homeopathy if I’m honest.

The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stephenson) – Dark, disturbing and weird

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) – The first 250 pages were a slog. Then it was terrifying

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Sue Townsend) – supposed to be funny. How is divorced parents, alcoholism and school boy crushes anything but a tragedy?

Finn Family Moomintroll (Tove Jansson) – very nice

The Book of Dust (Phillip Pullman)- amazing and it must have been good because I read 70 pages a day for a week

Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck) – enjoyed it.

Winnie The Pooh (A.A. Milne) – Made me cry because I love it so much

Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf) – Took ages to read. Very little activity or plot.

The Pearl (John Steinbeck) – Dark stuff

Animal Farm (George Orwell) – good job we did this at school otherwise I wouldn’t have understood it

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder (Jo Nesbo) – In my defence I had the flu

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) – really upsetting but incredible story

Word Nerd (Susin Neilsen) – easy read

Mortal Engines (Phillip Reeve) – Very good book and great adventure story

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman (Richard Feynman) – Absolutely loved it. Really interesting story of his life

The Magician’s Nephew (C.S.Lewis) – quite weird, evil queen on streets of Victorian London – very odd

Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) – Brilliant, very funny

Murder In The Mews (Agatha Christie) – one of the three murders in this Agatha Christie book I actually nearly worked out

Song of the Lioness (Tamora Pierce) – book 1 from the Alana Quartet

In the Hands of the Goddess (Tamora Pierce) – great adventure, dreamy story, wish I could find book 3 and 4

The Spy That Came In From the Cold (John Le Carre) – Complicated – lots of difficult spy stuff, quite sad

Under Milk Wood (Dylan Thomas) – Truly bonkers but quite amusing and very quick!

Blood Brothers (the script) (Willy Russell) – wanted to include a script although I did know the story

Lord of The Flies (William Golding)- Brutal

Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare) – Very dense and difficult even though I knew what was supposed to be happening

Pocketful of Rye – Another (Agatha Christie)

The Music Shop (Rachel Joyce) – Idyllic and lovely

The Hand on The Wall (Maureen Johnson) – Third in a YA murder series I’ve been reading. Great ending, amazing setting

What I Was (Meg Rosoff) – Again idyllic then takes an unexpected turn

The Long Earth (Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett) – Great sci fi novel. Long but easy to read

The Travelling Companion (Ian Rankin) – Very unexpectedly dark with no ending. 

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstein) – my favourite out of the 50. Amazing. 

When We Were Very Young (A.A.Milne) – quick and easy. Insisted on reading poems aloud.

The Lion and The Unicorn (George Orwell) – Rants about socialism for 150 pages

The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett) – nice idea, easy to read novella

The Little White Horse (Elizabeth Goudge) – nice

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – more (Agatha Christie)

Theodore Boone (John Grisham) – Read it in one day (300 pages or something). Book about a teenage lawyer.

Frontlines (Michael Grant) – Made me look at the armed forces in a different way

The World According To Bob (James Bowen) – Life affirming

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) – Really made me think about independence. Loved it.

Glad To Wear Glasses (John Hegley) – Very easy poetry book

Stuff Happens (David Hare) – I have learnt a lot about the Iraq war.

The Art of War (Sun Tzu) – there was something weird about my copy of this book as it repeated itself a lot. but I now know you should never attack an army while it’s awake and happy and marching

Black Beauty (Anna Sewell) – Never really thought about horses much before. Quite interesting. Learnt about bearing reins.

The Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys) – Turned Jane Eyre on it’s head.


So there we have it. Please god we’ll have a break before she sets herself her next mad challenge.

If you want a recommendation she’d say The Night Circus, Jane Eyre (and The Wide Sargasso Sea) and The Book of Dust.  Happy reading!








  1. Wowsers – what a wonderful broad list of books. I bow to you Tilly – I wouldn’t tackle some of these!!


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