Books Before 30 – A Recap

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.


Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee

Books Before 30; another update

Since I updated my Books Before 30 list earlier in the year I have felt as if I have made zero progress. Although, it seems as if I’ve managed to cross a few books off without realising. (Read: without remembering I began this challenge. Again.)

Two books went unfinished, it turns out neither Cold Comfort Farm nor Cider With Rosie are my cup of tea. I didn’t connect with the humour of the first nor the rural idyll of the second.

I’m still in the first few chapters of The Trial by Franz Kafka, some other book always comes along to usurp it.


I’ve read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe & Small Island by Andrea Levy, two amazing books. Yet, my list still distinctly lacks diversity.

You can see the entire list on the Books Before 30 page.

As always, if you’d like to recommend me anything, do. I’m a year and a half away from this now, I probably should gain some ground.

What bookish challenges are you undertaking?


Books Before 30 – an expansion

I’m writing this while listening to John Green’s Crash Course in Literature series. I may not be a fan of his writing, but his love of literature is addictive.

But enough about John Green – I’m procrastinating already – here are my additions to my Books Before 30 list. I’ve pulled from various sources which include: Classics I feel I should read, Pulitzer Prize winners, and winners of the  Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously know as the Orange Prize).

Ta da!:
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Trial by Franz Kafka
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne
When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
March by Geraldine Brooks
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
Oroonoko by Aphra Ben
On Writing by Stephen King
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

What do you think of my choices? Got any to add?