I decided that I would try not to buy too many books for the challenge, instead giving priority to books that I already owned but hadn't read and free classics available on the Kindle or through Project Gutenberg. There are an awful lot of classics which I've never actually read and it was something I wanted to remedy.
The Goodreads group intended to read through the list from begin to end, one week for each book, in the order that they appeared on the list. And I do love a good challenge.
So the first book I tackled was Emma by Jane Austen, which ticked pretty much all of my requirements; a free Kindle copy which was also available on Project Gutenberg, a classic, and one which I'd never read before. And it met the requirement for the reading challenge; it had more than five hundred pages.
Emma is the titular heroine who makes it her mission to set up pretty much all the single women she knows, whilst not having much interest in hooking up with anyone herself. It all goes horribly wrong when she tries to set up her friend Harriet and then ends up finding herself in quite the romantic tangle.
This is only the second Jane Austen book that I'd ever read (the first being Northanger Abbey which was also for a challenge) and I really enjoyed it. I got totally drawn in and kept on wanting to read more. The reading challenge gave me the motivation to keep going at it so after starting it on January the first, I finished it on the fourth. This was definitely helped by the fact that I was able to load it up on my phone on Project Gutenberg so I was able to read when I was out and about, on my breaks at work and even while I was in the car; times that weren't really practical for reading on my Kindle.
By about halfway through the book I figured out the direction that things were heading in for Emma and Mr Knightley. It didn't take anything away from the story though, because even though I could see it was coming, it was interesting seeing how they were going to get there.
I was also pretty surprised by how funny it was in places. I always find myself being surprised when older books make me laugh, which I guess is kind of silly because while humour has changed over time, it's not changed all that much. It was also funny that Emma thought she was a great matchmaker but she really wasn't that good at it after all.
I know that Clueless is based on Emma but it's been years since I last saw it (though I watched it so much in my early teens that you'd think I'd have it memorised now). It left me really wanting to see the film adaptation of it as well as feeling really determined to read more Jane Austen this year, something which so far I'm managing to do quite well.