Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!
Here we are at week seven of the 2016 Hub Reading Challenge, which means we are somehow a third of the way through already. There’s still plenty of time to dive in, however, even if you’re in my boat, with only a handful of titles read so far.
Like many of you who are bouncing between eligible challenge books and keeping up with current titles for work, I’m zipping back and forth between books I need to read for interviews and Hub Reading Challenge titles. Fortunately, I’ve just finished the amazing Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson, a double duty pick and a fantastic reading experience.
Symphony for the City of the Dead is narrative nonfiction at its best. The story of composer Dmitri Shostakovich and how he came to produce his Leningrad Symphony, written during the three year siege of Leningrad during WWII, is riveting, horrifying, and ultimately life-affirming. Anderson provides historical context and a whole lot of excruciating detail, as well as musical insight and appreciation. He also invites readers into the research process itself, identifying questions and unknowns along the way.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to finish this book without listening to the Leningrad Symphony, and I’m not sure why you’d want to, frankly. (You can listen to it here if you’re curious.) As usual, Anderson challenges me, forcing me to stretch not only my attention and critical thinking, but my imagination and empathy as well, and, as usual, I come away from the experience feeling exhilarated, smarter, kinder, and curious.
Nonfiction is often my Achilles heel during these challenges, but this year I’m determined to broaden my reading experience (which should be crazy enjoyable given the caliber of work on the list) and what better way to start? What about you? Are you tackling a particular list or do you have a micro-goal in mind such as reading from every list or reading only new-to-you authors? Let us know what approach you’re taking and what you’ve been reading or listening to in the comments below, and look for the #hubchallenge hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and the 2016 Hub Challenge Goodreads group.
And if you’ve completed or conquered the challenge, be sure to fill out the form.
-Julie Bartel, currently reading An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir