My turning 30 has officially put an end to my Books Before 30 challenge, even though I technically gave it up a few months ago.

With Desert Island Discs on in the background (I discovered the backlog, hello Michael Gambon) I thought I would recap how I did. Which will probably consist of reasons why I just couldn’t read half or more of what I listed.

Total number of books: 63
Books I read: 16
Books I gave up on: 4

Some of the books from my list I still count as my favourites now, such as I Capture the Castle, Rebecca, The Blue Castle, and Things Fall Apart. I Capture the Castle especially, it has had such a lasting effect on me. I have an affinity with most naïve or anxious protagonists and couldn’t help but connect with Cassandra.

Four unfinished isn’t too bad. I really wanted to enjoy Dune, it ticks all my sci-fi boxes, but I was unmoved. I felt similarly about Cold Comfort Farm and Cider With Rosie. I wanted so much to enjoy them. Technically this should be five, but giving up on page two of Birdsong doesn’t feel fair – especially when so many people tell me it’s amazing. Something about it starting with an affair bothers me, I find it hard to connect.

In terms of what I didn’t even start, let’s face it, I was never going to read Twilight. I prefer it when my eyes don’t bleed. Many of them are rather intimidating reads to try and fit into a time scale. The sort of books that one should read when the urge hits rather than forcing through. Barchester Towers, For Whom the Bell Toles, Swann’s Way, The Trial, Catch 22…. all fall within this category.

Have you read any of the books on my Books Before 30 list?
Are there any I should try, or retry? State thy case.


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Annabel Gaskell

I’m always starting reading projects and failing. But anything that keeps me reading and considering my too big TBR shelves has got to be a good thing even if I fail. So don’t worry!

A couple you’ve not read from your list that I loved were the John Le Carre and Saramago.


Don’t feel too bad :) I thought I was being pretty moderate when I popped 50 books down for my Goodreads challenge this year. Particularly seeming as I’m on a temporary hiatus from blogging – I’ve only managed 24! Telling myself it’s because a couple were rather long but I just don’t have the attention span at the moment!
Do retry Cider with Rosie when you’re in the mood. It’s a wonderful book and full of the simplicity and naivety of the English countryside. I’m sure you’ll find something in it for you.


Nice job! :D I wish I could give up on reading some books. I have this annoying habit, where I have to finish a book I start (even if it takes months of years). xD

Angie Vincent

Happy Birthday! You’ve read some great books. I would absolutly recommend giving ‘The TimeTravellers Wife’ a go. Its one of my all time favourites. ‘Great Expectations’ is also wonderful if you feel like conquering some Dickens. ‘I capture the Castle” is one of my favourites too. A book I will always want to go back to.

Jenny @ Reading the End

I think you’ve done wonderfully! I am a catastrophe when it comes to making a reading plan and sticking to it, I’m afraid — I try but my intentions always outpace my energy for a reading project. :p If you want to read The Master and Margarita still, I know that the wonderful Alice of Reading Rambo is running a readathon for it in October! You should sign up! Alice runs a great readalong, with plenty of gifs and screaming about the unreasonableness of the characters. Our official readalong food is M&Ms.[1] JOIN US COMRADE. Also, you should read/watch… Read more »


I’ve never actually tried this. I might have to do this challenge. I’m 27.


Only four unfinished is good. I remember watching some of the adaptation of Cider With Rosie years ago and it seemed nice but dull. (That could well have just been the film.)

I Capture the Castle, Rebecca, and The Blue Castle are all on my favourites list. Seeing the link to me beside the Dickens, I’d still recommend it – if you’re after a classic it fits many moods. I’ve read nine on your list and several others I plan to read.