Book Reviews · POPSUGAR Reading Challenge · Science Fiction

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update: Week Thirty

Good morning, everyone! I hope that you are having a fantastic weekend so far! It’s been a bit of an unnerving week for us, as my mum has come down with some kind of respiratory illness. She was able to have a teleconference with one of her doctors earlier in the week, and they do not think that she needs to be tested for Covid-19 at this time, which is a relief. She is feeling really lousy though, and my family and I would greatly appreciate it if you could keep her in your thoughts and prayers during the coming week.

Like many people across the country, I live in an area that is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases. Earlier this week, I learned that local libraries will once again be closing their doors to patrons. While they will be providing curb-side and drive-up services, they are unable to allow patrons to enter the library itself. Knowing that schools in the area are currently planning to reopen for in-person classes in mid-to-late August, I can’t help but be concerned.

I know that I say this pretty much every week, but I can’t help but beg you all to please be diligent about following social distancing protocols, washing your hands frequently, and wearing a mask. The only way we’re going to beat this virus is if everyone is willing to do their part to keep others safe.

As you know, my reading goal for the month of July is to complete four of my five remaining POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts. This week, I was able to complete the first of those prompts when I finished Dune.

A book recommended by your favorite blog, vlog, podcast, or online book club…

Dune is the first of six books in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. The novel takes place on the desert planet of Arrakis, where Duke Leto Atreides and his family have been sent by the Emperor to take control of “spice” mining operations. Shortly after their arrival on the desert planet, Duke Leto and his family are betrayed. The duke’s son, a young man named Paul Atreides, and his mother, Jessica, are forced to flee, hoping to hide from their enemies among the desert-dwelling Fremen. But Paul has a destiny which not only binds him to House Atreides, but to the Fremen as well, and his arrival on Arrakis has set him on the path toward becoming the man known as Maud-Dib.

I have a complicated history with Frank Herbert’s Dune. The first time I read the book was as a high school sophomore. My English teacher had assigned us a rather lengthy essay that required us to discuss the theme of a novel. She gave us a list of books to choose from, and I selected Dune. I remember really enjoying the book, but I had a terrible time when it came to the essay.

My dad, who is also a fan of science fiction, did his best to help me figure out the book’s main theme so I could write the paper. Not only did he take the time to watch the SciFi Channel miniseries with me so that he understood the plot, but he also sat with me for hours at the kitchen table while I attempted to organize my thoughts about the book into a coherent format. Unfortunately, my understanding of theme (as a literary term) was incomplete, and the paper ultimately suffered because of that.

In case you’re wondering, I got a D- on the essay.

After a truly excruciating student/parent/teacher conference where I learned why I had basically failed the assignment, my sophomore English teacher became forever known as “the teacher who taught me how not to write an essay.”

Looking back, I’m actually grateful for having gone through the experience, because I probably grew more as a writer (and as a student) from that D- than any other assignment I completed before it, or since. I did, however, eventually decide to get rid of my copy of Dune, assuming that I would never choose to read it again.

Given my history with this particular book, you’re probably wondering why I would choose to give it a second chance after nearly 20 years.

While I had considered re-reading the novel several years ago, what caused me to actually take the plunge was finding the Nerdist Book Club, which livestreams on Wednesday nights at 8 PM (EST) on YouTube. I enjoyed their conversations about the book so much that I decided to give the novel a second chance, and I’m so glad that I did.

I was about the same age as Paul when I read the book the first time, and returning to the world of Dune as an adult allowed me to understand the novel in a much more complete way than I did as a teenager. It also gave me the opportunity to really dive in to the book in a way that I couldn’t when I was reading Dune as an assignment.

Not having a “due date” gave me the chance to slow down my reading and really appreciate the artistry of Frank Herbert’s writing, which is why it took me most of the month to finish reading the book. He really does a marvelous job of blending adventure and politics in this novel. While I currently have a tremendous number of unread books on my shelves that are demanding my immediate attention, I’m seriously considering continuing to read the series at some point in the future.

If you’re a fan of science fiction and have not had the chance to read Dune, I highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you’re interested in reading it before the brand new movie adaptation is released in December. I was already interested in seeing the new movie prior to re-reading Dune, but I’m even more excited for it now. I am very interested to see how the director, Denis Villeneuve, has chosen to approach the story. His casting choices are phenomenal, so I’m sure that it will be an adaptation worth watching.

At this point, I would say that it is a fairly safe bet that I won’t be meeting my original July reading goal, but that’s perfectly fine. I’m really glad that I took my time with Dune. I am going to attempt to complete one more Reading Challenge prompt before the end of the month, however, and I will be sure to update you about my progress in my next POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update.

Speaking of which…

As some of you already know, next Saturday, August 1st, is The Unapologetic Bookworm‘s first anniversary! To celebrate, I will be publishing a special anniversary post next week, where I will talk about some of my plans for our second year of operation. I’m really excited! Because of the upcoming celebration, next week’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update will be coming to you one day early, on Friday, July 31st.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll drop by The Unapologetic Bookworm next week for reviews of some great books!

One thought on “POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update: Week Thirty

Leave a Reply