#BetterWorldBooks Challenge: ‘Lust’ by Roald Dahl and ‘The Roots of the Olive Tree’ by Courtney Miller Santo

I’m not a huge fan of challenges, to be honest. Sure, I set a goal on goodreads like everyone else, but I don’t typically go for the others. This year, however I came across the BetterWorldBooks Challenge and thought I’d give it a shot.

On a side note, I want to be very clear: all the books I’m picking for any challenge that I choose to do has always been picked specifically for that challenge. It’s not me picking up a book and realising three weeks later that it conveniently fits a category. I want these challenges to push me to read things I might not have, and I don’t think that convenient way of thinking allows me to do that.

Anyway, enough with that. Here are the first two books that I read for the challenge!

The first challenge I picked was to read a collection of short stories. For this, I chose Lust by Roald Dahl. Penguin recently decided to release some of his short stories in four anthologies: Cruelty, Deception, Lust and Madness. I was pretty excited to read this, chiefly because I’ve only ever really read his work aimed at children.

There were a stories that I did really enjoy, but there were also a few that didn’t resonate with me. My absolutely favourite was The Great Switcheroo. It tells the story of two devious men of similar physical attributes who decide to see if they can get away with sleeping with the other’s wife. It’s a bizarre (and sort of disturbing, to be honest) premise, I know. But it was actually a great (…and, again, disturbing) read, and I got a real kick out of the final lines.

So there were some hits and there were some misses. In the end, it just wasn’t the best collection of short stories that I’ve come across. I much prefer Margaret Atwood’s collections, The Tent being one of my all time favourite books.

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The second challenge, I found slightly peculiar: to read a book with a colour in its title. For this one, I opted to browse my bookshelf to see if any of the books I hadn’t read that fit. I wasn’t actually expecting anything, so was pleasantly surprised to see The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.

The book follows a family that comprises of five generations of women. Set on the olive farm that they all grew up on, this story really hopes to expose the complexities of family life. I liked the idea of the multiple generations and I understand that it has a personal significance to the author. However, I also felt as though having so many central characters in a relatively short novel might not have been the best choice.

There isn’t a lot I can say without spoiling the novel, but it was essentially a nice look at five characters who have complicated relationships with each other. It also addressed people’s desire for immortality. Or, at the very least, a bloody long life. It was a nice read overall, but it didn’t really excite or capture my attention the way I’d hoped it would.


And there you have it! Let me know how your challenges are going. I hope you’re all finding some great reads.