Reading

At Year’s End

LED Dragon - reflected in pond

Happy New Year! As I type this, it’s still quite a few hours away where I am, but New Zealand had already seen in the New Year as I was making my way in to work this morning (a half-day only–and I’m off the rest of the week, yay!), so I’m just managing to sneak in one last post for 2014.

The Santa-hatted dragon/sea serpent above does seem a bit out of place for a New Year’s post, but I like the reflection it makes onto the pond below. And that’s what the end of the year always is: a time of reflection, of looking back, even while looking forward. So, before I state my 2015 plans, a look back at 2014.

I hoped 2014 to be a relatively low-stress year, or as I stated a year ago, “I’m over self-created non-necessary deadlines.” I have never done so well at a “resolution” of sorts as that one. Somehow my deliberate removal of artificial stresses (e.g., not worrying if I didn’t finish a book in my originally desired time frame) slid over into my work life and other than a few moments of panic (the deadline is WHEN?!), I managed to stay low-key at work as well. Given the madness that is about to descend at work next week (shoot–right in the middle of my January event), hopefully I can maintain this into the new year.

Besides that, my goals last year:

  • To participate in The Classics Club’s Jan. 4th readathon. Done & easy.
  • To have fun reading as many children’s classics as possible in January. And in February and August and December and…
  • Once February rolls around, it will be all mostly Ohio-based reads for a good stretch of time. I tapered off after June, but I made it through 6 novels/collections.
  • Actually manage a book in translation by reading something for o’s Russian Literature 2014. Oops…nothing that qualified as a Russian classic. But…I read 6 novels/plays/poetry collections in translation (1 from Swedish, 2 from Russian, 3 from Spanish) AND read a play and poetry collection IN Spanish.
  • Join Richard in reading Don Quixote at the end of the year. Postponed by Richard until early 2015, much to my relief. (Umm…and I still need to start this.)
  • Some sort of return to the Cinematic Treasures project. Nope. One of these days…
  • A Year of Masterworks (classical music listening project). Stalled out on Bach. I’m just not that big of a fan of (most) Baroque music. It’s now been redesignated as a long-term project.

All in all, not too bad.

Reviewing my books read list, it looks like 2014 was my most diverse reading year since I started the blog. It was about a 2:1 male to female ratio (last year was closer to 1:1), but some of the poems (the ones by Ohio-authors) and both short story collections were by African-Americans (Ohioans), and one novella was by a Latin American. As referenced above, I went from 0 translations in 2013 to 6 in 2014–and, given my plans for the Ohio project, I had only expected to read 1 translation at most. I also read more than just novels (my typical preference), including short stories, poetry, a play, and non-fiction. My various reads also hit 8 of my project lists (2 for Classics Club, 5 for Children’s Classics, 2 for Siglo de Oro, 1 from Realists and Romantics, 2 from Libros españoles, 1 from Senstaion! and 2 from Mysteries & Detective Fiction). Either I have too many project lists (probable) or I’m doing pretty good at staying disciplined (ha!). And I have 29 titles/collections listed in my books read list. I don’t think I could have done better had I planned it… (Actually, the Ohio project was, perhaps surprisingly, largely responsible for the amount of variety in my reading this year, translations excepted.)

So I feel like I should say I had a good reading year. My only regret (besides a mostly lousy reading December) is that nothing stands out to me as fantastic in the same way As I Lay Dying did a year ago. Charming, enjoyable, enchanting, lovely, yes, though, so I probably shouldn’t complain. My favorites for the year, by date read:

  • Finn Family MoomintrollSo charming!
  • The 13 Clocks – The wordplay!
  • The Golden Age: Poems of the Spanish Renaissance – I still can’t believe that I enjoyed these so much, given my reluctance to read poetry. Wonderful.
  • The Conjure Stories – I can’t say I enjoyed these so much as they seem important as a view at our past, and also as an example of how a talented author can subvert the expectations of the day.
  • Chronicle of a Death ForetoldEither this or The Golden Age is the best book I read this year.
  • The Shadow of the Wind – I never blogged this one, but it was pure enjoyment–immersing myself into the world of the novel.
  • Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste – I WILL post on this one, eventually. A very thought-provoking read about our musical (and other) tastes, and the role culture and society plays in forming them.
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue – I never blogged this one either, but same sentiment as The Shadow of the Wind.

I don’t have many goals for 2015. I’ve decided, in general, to stay away from grand plans for my reading–no big projects for 2015, no limitations. I like the freedom of joining in a spontaneous readalong if I want or of following a thread of thought from one book the next; there were so many threads I wanted to follow in 2014, but put aside in favor of following previously established plans. There is the January Classic Children’s Literature, of course. And I have in the back of my mind some books I’m hoping to get to–but no pressure if I don’t.

One challenge I find I can’t resist, however: O’s Reading England.

The Goal: To travel England by reading, and read at least one book per however many counties of England you decide to read.

Button: Reading England 2015

Since I don’t want to pressure myself with long plans, I’m just aiming for level 1 (1-3 counties). What’s delightful about Reading England is that there are so many options already on my shelves. I’m sure to read something appropriate this year, especially as every time I think of the idea of this challenge I want to go pick something up to read. Maybe I will finally read one of the Annotated Austens I’ve been collecting.

And with that, I wish you a Happy New Year! Welcome 2015!

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11 thoughts on “At Year’s End

    1. Thanks! I think Reading England will be very fun–if I had any children’s classics on hand that were set in England I’d be starting now!

  1. So glad to see that you’re joining the Reading England challenge. Yay!

    You didn’t know this, but I actually bought The Golden Age based on your recommendation. I haven’t read it yet though but I’m planning on reading some of the poems for 2015.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Reading England just seems like something I want to do right now. So hopefully I’ll meet my (meager) goal. I hope that The Golden Age lives up to your expectations!

  2. What a lovely reading year, Amanda! I think the best thing about it is that you got to just go with the flow.

    I didn’t join any reading challenges last year either. But, it was a very slow reading year for me. I did gain a favourite book, though – Ben-Hur. It was beautiful. I loved it! And I hope I get to re-read it again this year.

    I’ve joined the TBR Pile and Back to the Classics for 2015. I’ve listed all books that I own….and so I’m going to try and complete these challenges. However, I’m not planning on trying hard at all. I don’t want to be dictated by lists. But I think I might do well. 😀

    Reading England sounds like fun, through, right? I couldn’t resist either. I’ve chosen the 1st level as well.

    All the best with your take-it-where-you-may reading and with this month’s event!! 🙂

    Ah, and Happy New Year!^^

    1. I do so like being able to just pick my reading at whim. I like the idea of reading challenges, but I’ve actually found that individual readalongs are more effective at getting me to read something in a time frame.

      The TBR Pile was tempting because I’m hoping to read mostly my own books this year (or at least in the next few months), but in the end I didn’t really want to create a list to “force” myself to read from.

      Good luck to you with your challenges this year–I hope you have fun!

      1. I’ve realised that I don’t do well with readalongs. I might be encouraged to pick up a book I’ve been putting off reading for awhile, but after that I have to read it right through before I pick up the next one. I can’t read a book in instalments. So, I’ve kind of given up joining readalongs…though I might take part in discussions.

        And thank you! I’m hoping I’ll have fun with them this year too. 😀

        1. And I just realized I replied to your first comment, again! (Clearly my mind is still on “holiday” mode.) I suppose readalongs are like anything–they work for some and not for others. I like the type best, though, that have you read an entire book by a specific date rather than in chunks.

    2. Going with the flow with my reading can be a really nice thing, although I think that challenges can have their place.

      I’ve never read Ben-Hur, although your comments intrigue mee. Perhaps one to add to my list. The TBR Pile challenge might perhaps be a good one for me to join, but I feel fairly confident that if I were to do so, I would read a completely different 12 books from my shelves than the ones on my list!

      Thanks, and Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, Carl. I’m hoping 2015 is even better than 2015!

      Isn’t 13 Clocks a delight? I don’t think I’ve ever read anything else quite like it.

      I hope you have a wonderful 2015!

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