Books

On Reading | Looking Back and Looking Ahead.

Back in October, shortly after finishing book #75, I shared an update on my 2017 reading. I was still working on the 2017 Read Harder challenge and planned to finish the year on a high note with more diversity in author (gender, nationality, POC) and genre. I finished the year with 93 books, but I did not finish the Read Harder challenge, nor did I end on a “diversity high note”.

2017 books read shelved here

On a  positive note, two of my favorite books of the year were ones I finished in November – Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses and Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1.

2017 Favorites shelved here

Overall, these dozen books represent great reading … and I think they’re pretty diverse in terms of authors, topics and genres. I’m happy with that!

In terms of the goals I set for the year – 30% non-fiction and 50% borrowed – I didn’t do so well:

…and then there’s the Read Harder challenge. Short stories and comics are just not my thing. I finished Ms. Marvel (“comic with a female superhero”) on Monday (yep, already a day late for 2017) and I gave it one star. Here’s my review:

“I’m done with comics. I just don’t enjoy them. I love the illustrations in children’s books, but for anything else, I want my stories with words, not pictures.”

The 2018 Read Harder challenge has two more comics. On Monday, I decided not to participate. Yesterday, I finished What She Left Behind, the first selection for this year’s neighborhood bookclub. I gave it two stars. Gah, this is not a good start! Hopefully, the other books I’m currently reading will get me back on track

I’ve decided my only goal for 2018 is to buy fewer books. I have more than a year’s worth shelved already and my library is getting better about new releases. (thankfully, both Ms. Marvel and She Left Behind were borrowed.)

And because I’m curious, I’m also going to track book format (audio vs kindle vs real book).

We’ll still have Book Bingo this summer (with no squares for comics or short stores 😉). More on all of that come spring.

….whew another very long post. If you’re still reading, thank you for sticking with me! And do you have any recommendations on a book that would get me out of my early 2018 slump? please share!

10 Comments

  • Honoré

    Two of your titles are on my list: Sing, Unburied Sing and 4321! And I'm reading Soulful Simplicity…as you read this. I think tracking format will be interesting…I tend to prefer print, audio, ebook – in that order…I think the last is due to the fact that I prefer landscape orientation and it just occurred to me that print books are generally portrait…it's a brain thing, I think. Anyway, I'm rambling and I shall close by congratulating you on a very successful, diverse and interesting year of reading in 2018! Looking forward to your 2018 reads!
    Cheers~

  • Debbie

    I think you have had a very good year of reading, with plenty of diversity, and hope that more good books come your way in 2018! I was going to do the Read Harder challenge, but was put off by the three comic book categories and after some thought I came to realize that I already have a variety of good books on my "to read"list.

  • Carole Julius

    I think the Reader Harder challenge is great for people who have a hard time deciding what to read. Or people who read a lot of junk and are looking for ways to expand their horizons. You, my dear friend, read wonderful books. You already read harder and you don't need to follow their rules to diversify your palate. I don't think you've read Little Fires Everywhere yet and I think that would definitely turn things around and get you out of your slump!

  • margene

    You are a diverse and exploratory reader and have no need for apologies. I can certainly see not wanting to add to your own library. I don't buy many books, only for book group, usually, but audio books are very important to my reading life so I buy 24 credits at a time. I also track real book vs audio, etc. Congrats on 93 books last year! WOW! This year is young. I think we'll find many great books to read.

  • Juliann in WA

    It looks like you had a great reading year from where I am sitting. As I get older, I find I just want to read what I want to read. That is why I don’t belong to book clubs anymore. Reading is so personal and I’m with you on comics and short stories.
    I love the buy fewer books challenge. I’m going with that. Hope you find that book that grabs you soon.

  • Vera

    Looks to me like you had a very good year. I am definitely buying far fewer books, but some (poetry, knitting, cooking) I want as a book…not an ebook. Did you ever read Ahab's Wife? It's older, but a favorite. Out Stealing Horses, Angle of Repose are other favorites.

  • Bonny

    I think Carol raises some good points. I also think you Read Harder with plenty of diversity already, and while I admire the challenge, I don't think I'd manage it very well. I'm selfish enough that I read what I want, when I want. I guess the question I would ask is why are you reading short stories and comics if you already know you don't like them? I don't mean this in a snarky way at all; I'm just unclear about how reading genres you have already given a fair try but know you don't enjoy is diversifying your reading. Like Margene, I get my Audible credits 24 at a time which works out to ~$10 each. I often check Overdrive first, but if it's a book I really want in audio, I rarely feel guilty about the cost of a credit because audiobooks are so important to me. Audio versions are about the only books I buy; the rest are borrowed from the library and friends. Just my thoughts, so feel free to disregard.

    My two cents for getting out of your slump – Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere and her first book Everything I Never Told You, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is wonderful non-fiction (I'm only halfway through but I think it will be a 5 star for me), The Golden Compass, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Bambi (seriously! I was surprised by just how good this book was) and maybe The Power. I just couldn't resist Margene's (and Obama's) recommendations so I've listened to about 15 minutes. It's going to be a good one!

    Sorry this is so long: I really wish we all lived close enough for a book club and could talk about this in person!

  • Lydia

    I've been keeping up with audio vs book-book. I think you get something different if you listen vs reading. So far the books I've queued so far are books I'll probably have to buy, but I'm hoping the library will still be my main source for my reading this year. You still did pretty good with your reading this year!

  • AsKatKnits

    I love how you have looked at your reading. I am with you on the comic versions of the Read Harder Challenge, and frankly – how is that reading harder? I was so thrilled to see on PBSNewshour last night that they are joining up with the NYT's and starting "Now Read This" (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/features/now-read-this/) and their first book is Sing, Unburied, Sing! I am looking forward to the Q&A with Jesmyn Ward.