Even though I know logically it’s just a calendar date, there’s something refreshing about changing from an old year to a new, a great time for new beginnings. And when it comes to my reading, I could use that “New Year” boost. If my record keeping from last year is correct, I only finished 19 books in 2015! (Plus the five I’m currently in the middle of.) Two thousand fifteen just seemed to be the year when time ran away from me. So if I have any resolution for 2016–and I don’t really do resolutions–it is to read more and keep better track of my time.
When I ended 2014, I had decided not to make any grand plans for 2015. Only one challenge, o’s Reading England (which, I DID successfully participate in), and one event planned, my Classic Children’s Literature Event. This was, in theory, to allow me to follow where whim might lead, rather than be constrained by plans. Ha! Not only did whim apparently not lead to much reading, some of the one-month events I signed up for–Spanish Lit Month and a December Emma readalong spring to mind–were complete failures on my part.
But all was not lost. I don’t think I really read a bad book (or at least didn’t finish any I didn’t enjoy) in 2015. Of a good, albeit small, crop, there are some that stood out:
- The Adventures of Pinocchio – as I posted in January, “such a collection of the fantastic and bizarre and wild and religious and didactic and satiric (I think) and the cruel and dark and comic and heartwarming!” I don’t know when I will reread this one, but it is a must.
- The Scorpio Races – I picked this up on a whim, and was completely transported by the magic of the story. I’ve been seeing capall uisce ever since.
- Beowulf – I always forget how readable epic poetry really is. Someday when I’m ready to make the time, this is going to send me down a path of ancient northern sagas.
- “The Encantadas” (from The Piazza Tales) – had you asked me beforehand, I would have expected to like these sketches least out of all the stories from Melville’s collection, but these are the ones that stick with me
- The Martian – I still owe a post on this novel, but it was as good as advertised. Sometimes I forgot it was fiction!
Also, although a slight reading year, I’m interested by some of the stats:
- I read books by 8 different men (assuming “anonymous” is a man) and 6 different women. Interesting, when I wasn’t even trying. The translators I read were all men.
- Two were translations
- Seven were children’s/YA novels. A bit higher percentage than I’d like, but that’s more to do with the lack of other books.
- Eight rereads. Again, a bit higher percentage than I’d like.
- The genre range is more than I’d realized: fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, non-fiction (including one memoir), mystery/suspense, general fiction. And some of the sci-fi was in the form of comics.
Huh. I should look at my stats more often – I’m feeling slightly better about 2015 now! 🙂 (Also, of the five books I haven’t finished yet, two are translations, three additional male authors, and two additional female authors.)
For 2016, I decided it was time to return to plans and challenges. Nothing too overwhelming, I don’t think. And the challenges I’m signing up for will just serve to reinforce the reading paths I would like to wander down this year.
- First I would really like to read at least 25 books this year. To this end, I’m aiming to read at least 5 hours per week. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s more than I did many weeks in 2015.
- It’s time to return to one of my past projects, Reading Ohio. I’ve been wanting to do so for a while, but was trying to finish other books first.
- I also need to focus more on my Classics Club list. I’ve only marked off eight of the listings (I’ve read more books, but some are bunched together in one number, e.g, all the Sherlock Holmes stores), and I really need to make some progress on that.
- I’d also really like to start adding in some contemporary translated fiction. I have an idea of a fun way to do this; I just need to get started.
- And of course–plenty of Children’s Classics! I’m planning, tentatively, on April for the next event. Time to start thinking about a RAL title–I’m open to suggestions!
As for the challenges, I’ve only picked options that will help, I think, the above projects. (Especially Classics Club, but also Reading Ohio.) I’m not going to post my reading lists here, although I have some ideas. (See linked posts for full rules.)
I’ve already signed up for o’s Reading England 2016. How many Classics Club lists would fit that challenge! (My goal is level 1.)
The Classics Club’s Women’s Classic Literature Event will happen by default, I think. Even if I don’t reread any Austen this year (tentatively planning to), I would definitely like to read at least one Toni Morrison, and the next challenge asks for at least one book by a woman (pre-1966).
I’ve decided for the first time to participate in Karen at Books and Chocolate’s Back to the Classics Challenge. Hopefully this will be a fun way to get more Classics Club titles in! It will definitely be the most difficult of the challenges, although we’re allowed to include up to three children’s classics, so I may be able to do double-duty with the Children’s Classics Lit Event. (All books must be at least 50 years old.)
- A 19th Century Classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.
- A 20th Century Classic – any book published between 1900 and 1966.
- A classic by a woman author.
- A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.
- A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.
- An adventure classic – can be fiction or non-fiction. Children’s classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category.
- A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984, and children’s classics like The Hobbit are acceptable in this category also.
- A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional.
- A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.
- A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.
- Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). If it’s a book you loved, does it stand the test of time? If it’s a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?
- A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children’s stories are acceptable in this category also.
Thanks to Cleo at Classical Carousel, I learned about Keely at We Walked Outside and Saw The Stars’ Ancient Greek Reading Challenge. This fits very well with my plans for the year, and although I’m only going to aim for level one (1-4 texts), I’m hoping to read several books/plays/etc. Which, exactly, TBD. Once I’ve finished some of my left-overs from 2015, I think I’ll be starting in on this one.
Phew, I think that’s plenty to be starting on! What reading have you challenged for yourself this year?