January is almost halfway over with and since I haven’t written about my plans for 2013 now is the time to do it!
I do have plans for the year that don’t involve reading: finding a job, start running regularly, researching graduate schools, etc., but since I want to talk about my reading goals that’s what I’m going to talk about!
How many books I want to read in 2013: I read 54 books last year but during the first half of the year I only read 16 books! I was very busy at this time last year, writing my senior thesis, graduating college, moving, etc. so this is understandable. Last year my goal was to read 50 books, which I exceeded. But even though I read the vast majority of last year’s books in the last 6 months of the year I don’t really want to increase my goal for the total of this year dramatically. On Goodsreads I have put my goal as 55, with an ‘unofficial’ goal of 60. I think that this is doable and if I exceed both landmarks all the more cause for celebration!
What I want to read in 2013: Last year I read 45 non-fiction books and only 9 fiction. I love non-fiction, and I want to continue reading it, but I also want to my reading to be more balanced. I tend to be more picky in regards to what I read in terms of fiction which I thing accounts for some of the reason why I read less fiction. When I read fiction I tend to read historical-fiction with some contemporary and the occasional chick-lit thrown in. I very rarely read science-fiction, romance, young adult (other then Harry Potter!), fantasy, or mysteries. Lately I have been wanting to broaden my reading horizons and to become a more well-rounded reader. I have been particularly interested as of late in reading more ‘classic’ literature. So for 2013 what I want to do is to be more discerning about what non-fiction I read as opposed to fiction, and, when I read fiction, to make a conscious effort to read more broadly. I don’t really feel the need to limit myself and say ‘I am going to read this many classics, and this many mystery books this year.’ Of course, by the time 2014 comes around if I haven’t made much progress in regards to this I might reconsider.
Concerning book challenges: About two years ago I signed up for some book challenges for the first – and only – time and I failed miserably. I did not complete one challenge. This year I have decided to not officially sign up for any challenges but to try to complete two anyway, to ‘ease myself’ in to reading for challenges, so to speak. The two that I am interested in are both hosted by Books and Movies: The 2013 Ireland Reading Challenge and the 2013 “I’ve Always Meant to Read that Book” Challenge. The Ireland Challenge is one of the original challenges I signed up for two years ago and, if I remember correctly, I did not read even one book toward it. I am just going for the Shamrock level which is only four books somehow involving Ireland. I already have 2 books on my shelves that I have not yet read that can count towards this: A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle and Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. The challenge also allows for non-fiction books; I am thinking of maybe reading non-fiction for the other two books but I am not sure. I also own the book Modern Ireland 1600-1972 by R.F. Foster but the book is about 600 pages and I am not sure if I want to make that kind of commit at this point.
The “I’ve Always Meant to Read that Book” Challenge involves 12 books- one for each month of the year. The books were selected by a vote; voting was already done before I became aware of the challenge, but since the list of books includes many that I have been, as the challenge says ‘meaning to read,’ I decided to read along. You are supposed to read the book selected and then post a review by the end of the month; although I do plan on reviewing the books that I read, since I have not ‘officially’ joined the challenge, I am not going to be too hard on myself if for some reason I don’t review one of them, or if I post my review after the end of the month. I have actually already read two books on the list previously- March’s selection, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, and August’s The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. I enjoyed As I Lay Dying and I read it years ago so if I am not behind by March I might reread it, but as February’s pick is Bleak House by Charles Dickens (which, according to Goodreads, is 1, 017 pages- eek!) I might need the month of March to play catch up. Pillars of the Earth I am sad to say I was utterly underwhelmed by and, at almost 1,000 pages, I can’t say I plan on rereading it. January’s selection for this challenge was My Antonia by Willa Cather. I am pleased to say that I finished reading it a few days ago. Cather’s O Pioneers! was already on my radar but apparently My Antonia is considered her finest work, a book I was unaware of till this challenge. I enjoyed it and will be posting a review later in the week. The books I am most looking forward to reading for this challenge are Middlemarch by George Eliot (July) and Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (October).
January Read-Alongs: I also belong to several groups on Goodreads that do read-alongs. One of the groups will be reading The Last Days of the Ramonovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rapport this month and through February. I have wanted to read this for a while so I figured I would participate. Another group is reading Anna Karenina for January. I have the nice hardback 1931 version by Grosset & Dunlap. I don’t plan on finishing it this month though; it is a long book and I don’t want it to completely dominate my reading. The book is set up into 8 parts which, from what I can see, are about 150-200 pages each. So I’ve decided to read one part per month, so that I’ll be done with the book in August. Part 1 goes up to page 157; I’m on page 140 as of now so I am making good progress. I must confess that up to page 80 I was not that happy with it; I found it boring and slow going and I hated the way he kept repeating every character’s full name over and over again. Since then its picked up and I am enjoying it, although I am still struggling with the name repetition. And lastly, one of my other groups has decided to read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson; I’ve read Bryson before and have enjoyed him so I’ve decided to join along. Luckily they are breaking the book up into manageable chunks because its over 500 pages.
Whew! Well I think that’s it! I’ve already read two books this year: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and My Antonia by Willa Cather. I’m almost done with part one of Anna Karenina and the read-along for The Last Days of the Ramonovs begins tomorrow. What are you reading?