Reading Challenge: The Twelve Books of Christmas, Week 2

I started this week with 9 more books left to read in my Twelve Books of Christmas challenge. The premise is simple: read 12 books in December.

I was terribly disappointed by 2 of the books I read in Week 1, but this week has been much more satisfying! Here are the three books I’ve knocked out this week:

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
599 Pages; published in 2015
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Goodreads Page

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

At nearly 600 pages, Illuminae might seem like an odd choice for a reading challenge like this – but trust me, those pages fly by. Script-like dialogue, diagrams, images, and wide margins trim down its actual reading time to a reasonable length.

This book absolutely lives up to the hype! Check out my full review.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
209 Pages; published in 2005
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Goodreads Page

Rebecca Solnit has emerged as an inventive and original writer whose mind is daring in the connections it makes. A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Solnit’s own life to explore the issues of wandering, being lost, and the uses of the unknown. The result is a distinctive, stimulating, and poignant voyage of discovery.

Ever since I first read Rebecca Solnit’s essays in Men Explain Things To Me, I’ve planned to read everything she’s ever written. Her writing is philosophical, sharply observant, well-worded, and… unfocused in a focused way, if that makes any sense. Reading her words is like a kind of meditation.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is, as you might expect, all about getting lost in different ways: orienting yourself in nature, relishing the pleasure of longing, personal transformation, dealing simultaneously with loss and with the unfamiliar. Along the way, she manages to involve moribund native Californian languages, medieval Italian portraiture, haunting family photographs, abductions of Europeans in the New World, abandoned cities, country music and blues, New Mexican desert, a classic movie, early cartography… and so on and so forth. Very eclectic, and very interesting.

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastards #2) by Scott Lynch
Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastards #2)
by Scott Lynch
Audiobook: 25 hours, 34 minutes (Print version: 558 pages); published in 2007
★ ★ ★ ★
Goodreads Page

After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke Lamora and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can’t rest for long—and they are soon back doing what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves…

I started this audiobook a couple of months ago, but managed to finish the final 9 hours this week by listening while doing household chores and knitting. Now I’m sad it’s over!

Just like its predecessor, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas is full of hilarious banter, inventive insults, dirty fighting, and (of course!) thievery. I applaud the addition of a dark-skinned, middle-aged, mom-of-two, badass pirate.

Admittedly, this one dragged a bit in the middle. Locke and Jean seem to spend a looooong time getting set up for their next heist(s), and it feels like there’s a lot of idle time spent learning the basics of maritime life. It picks up eventually, though, and the payoff is satisfying as always.

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  • Reply Shaina December 12, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Three winners! 😀 When I first saw Illuminae’s page count, I was amazed that you managed to get through it, but it sounds like the format lent itself well to fast reading.

  • Reply Kaja December 15, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I’m glad you liked the second Bastard book. I often listen to audiobooks while doing chores, too, it makes them much more enjoyable. What are you knitting? 🙂
    I borrowed Illuminae from a colleague just last week so I’m excited to see you liked it so much!
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