I’m only a few books off completing my 2015 Reading Challenge, though I’m still a little behind with the reviews. As we rush headlong towards 2016 I think it’s only fitting to consider what I aim to read in the coming year after finishing the current challenge.
Actually, “challenge” is rather a pretentious term to use as I intend to make my goals a little more open-ended than this year’s rigid categories with their set number of books targeted. So for the time being I’m calling this a wishlist, a way of flagging up general areas which I hope to explore over the course of twelve months. I don’t expect to be alone in planning for next year — are you contemplating the same? — but do bear with me as I waft a wishing wand over my own vision for the New Year.
First off I want to embark on a number of re-reads, in particular re-reads of series that I’d like to polish off in some order, largely determined by internal chronology. Mostly fantasy or speculative fiction, these will hopefully include Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase sequence (roughly one a month should see that through); Robert Silverberg’s Majipoor science fantasy series about a large planet where future human colonists and indigenous peoples interact; Philip Reeves’ steampunk Mortal Engines sequence (with its prequels) and Philip Pullman’s Miltonic His Dark Materials trilogy (and its associated novellas); and Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea quartet and other titles, along with her Ekumen books. Frankly I don’t really expect to complete many of these but I would like to make a start.
Then here is another open-ended wishlist opportunity. Reading New England is a year-long challenge run by Lory on The Emerald City Book Review that encourages readers to explore books set in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Lory writes that the challenge is “intended to draw attention to the wonderful writers and books of the six New England states, along with publishers, booksellers, literary locations, and more. Each month will have a special focus, and readers will be encouraged to choose books from those twelve categories if they wish, but there are no requirements other than to read at least one title that falls within the general theme.”
Even though I don’t live in the United States (and have in fact only visited twice, both times just to the Emerald City itself, Seattle on the east coast) this seems to me like a worthwhile way to focus attention on the authors and books of New England, a place (as Lory says) “with a long and proud literary history”. On the ECBR site there are links for the official sign-up post and challenge categories. In addition there are link-up pages for posts on the individual states and on genres, plus a New England Book List.
Thirdly, I’d like to keep up with non-fiction, classics (including the two remaining major Austen titles I’ve yet to tackle) and no end of standalone fiction titles; I intend to pop these in as and when I want a change on my self-imposed tasks. Maybe I might even manage to fit in an attempt to read authors whose last names begin with each of the letters of the alphabet. A tall order? Probably, but then — as they say — nothing ventured, nothing gained. And nothing beats the pleasure of burying yourself in a good book — unless it’s a few more good books.