The best-laid plans

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Each year recently I’ve resolved to either eschew reading challenges altogether or make them manageable by calling them goals or wishes. And each year I find myself sorely tempted by shiny new-to-me memes.

It will surprise none of you that 2021 seems to be the same old same old. In 2016 I succeeded in completing the quantity of books I’d aimed (in the Goodreads Reading Challenge) for by year’s end simply by underestimating the number I was certain to finish, and that’s continued to be the case for five years. But other goals have been more elusive: the fifty titles I listed to be ticked off for the Classics Club challenge ending 2020 remained unachieved, even though I changed some of my choices.

So, Twenty-Twenty-one, how goes it?

To encourage me to get on with the sixteen remaining classics on my Classics Club list I’ve enlisted (did you see what I did there?) the help of twelve categories on the Back to the Classics meme, hosted by Karen’s Books and Chocolates. I’ve published my list here.

In a bid to expand my reading further afield than Anglophone countries I’ve linked up to the European Reading Challenge 2021 hosted by Gilion Dumas at Rose City I might have more luck with this than I had with a Reading Round the World meme which I halfheartedly began a few months ago. Luckily I’ve already several European books in translation already on my shelves from amongst these countries:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

Month by month, season by season

In some shape or form I attempted to join in with the following monthly or seasonal reading events, and I shall push myself to do the same this year.

For January I’ve already lined up a couple of works for Vintage Science Fiction Month which I never got round to in 2020. This meme (hosted by Andrea at The Little Red Reviewer) is very user-friendly in proclaiming itself as not-a-challenge, though in theory I may be hard pushed to find titles dating from before I was born in — cough — 1948, so I shall interpret ‘vintage’ very loosely.

Much to my distress March is overloaded with events but I shall endeavour to prepare for and mark them all. Paula at Book Jotter hosts Dewithon, officially the Wales Readathon, throughout this month, and I shall hope to squeeze in a title or more over the thirty-one days.

Cathy at 746 Books hosts another event inspired by a Celtic saint — St Patrick instead of St David — every March for Reading Ireland Month (the Begorrathon) so I shall aim to do the same as I did for Dewithon.

Beginning as DWJ Month in honour of fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones and later morphing into March Magic when it included Terry Pratchett (who also died in March), this event has been hosted by Kristen at We Be Reading since 2012 and, I hope, will be marked again in 2021 with posts about these two much missed authors.

More fantasy will be celebrated in May with Wyrd & Wonder hosted by a trio of bloggers including Imyril who posts at There’s Always Room for One More. While it’s one of those events which is superbly organised for fantasy aficionados I’ve been joining in purely on an ad hoc basis as suits my modus operandi.

As well as Begorrathon, Cathy Brown runs 20 Books of Summer from June through to the end of August (which can also be fifteen or ten books, according to preference). It’s just an encouragement to read, with a self-set goal to aim for.

Several dates are chosen throughout the year to encourage reading, such as the notional birthday of Cervantes and Shakespeare, April 23rd, and Independent Bookshop / Bookstore Days. The UK also has a Book Lovers Day, which on August 9th seeks to

encourage reading on the traditional printed medium, the book. Reading books is easier on eyes than reading on electronic devices. Reading a book can stimulate your mind, reduce stress, and help you acquire knowledge. It can also improve your focus and concentration.

Once summer is over there is Readers Imbibing Peril to take one from the start of September to the tail-end of October with books appropriate for the autumn season, whether spooky or thrilling, and everything in between.

World Kid Lit Month invites readers to read children’s books from around the globe, and the organisers aim to

celebrate and promote world literature for children and teens. The month focuses particularly on fiction, poetry, and nonfiction translated to English from other languages.

Taking its cue from the title of a children’s fantasy by Diana Wynne Jones, Witch Week was inaugurated by Lory (now at Entering the Enchanted Castle) and is now run by Lizzie at Lizzie Ross, Writer and myself. Straddling the changeover from October to November it manifests as a series of posts from guest bloggers on a given fantasy theme, which this year is Treason and Plot and will be hosted here on Calmgrove. More details in due course!

November is likewise as busy as March. There’s NovNov, or Novellas in November, run by the indefatigable Cathy Brown, which is as described. Then we have SciFi Month, which covers the gamut of the genre and not just vintage titles.

To add to (rather than curbing) my enthusiasm I’ve started to commit to getting through my backlog of short story collections under the banner The Library of Brief Narratives, a meme which you may fully appropriate if you want.

So, will my best-laid plans for 2021 reading gang agley, or will I manage to juggle most of these balls in the air over the twelve months? Time will tell!

And you? How are you planning your literary journey for the year ahead?

40 thoughts on “The best-laid plans

    1. Hah! I see them as prompts, not really targets or goals which I will inevitably be tempted to beat myself up about if and when I fail to achieve them! But seeing them all displayed here is like a wonderful smorgasbord from which I can pick and choose what I want to taste and savour.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Most of them are pretty large chocolate bars consisting of small squares all next to one another (like Milka or Lindt)! 🙂 In other words, many more bites to take yet … and at least some — though not all — of them of the “what it says on the package“ kind.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. On an earlier post you mentioned A Cemetary in Prague, Umberto Eco. I thought, sounds good, so got a copy.
    It’s in the no longer read pile: the main character’s anti-Semiticism was so rampant – the main focus is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – and certainly not for me. Not even to wade through for the uplift (is there one?). Too much, too nasty, with drawings too.

    So, be careful (where you go) out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the warning, Michael. Luckily I’ve already got some other Eco titles to read / reread so I won’t be considering this for some while, if at all, but it does intrigue me, wondering how the author resolves those iniquitous threads in his tale.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck in your challenges and thanks as always for your support of mine! I don’t know how I missed Witch Week last year, but I’ve put it in the diary for this year so will hopefully take part!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been a pleasure to join in whenever I can with yours, Cathy, it’s good to have a focus for a period, especially when it involves engaging with other blogging readers! I hope this year’s Witch Week theme of Treason and Plot may include something that’ll be of interest to you as well.


  3. This did make me laugh! I’ve got 20 reads to go on my classics challenge and would like to get through them – I like the 10 books of summer though and have been over to look at the European Reading Challenge. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to see these challenges not primarily to explore new areas outside my comfort zone (though that comes into my calculations) but to deal with my own logjam of books waiting to be read or read. So the Twenty/Fifteen/Ten Books of Summer meme is a means to help reduce that backlog, and ditto many of the other challenges like the European one (which is now my personal pro-EU gesture). As for laughs, I’m happy to provide any excuse for them during these bleak times!

      By the way, I’ve finally followed you after long thinking that I had, so I’ll be popping up on your timeline now and again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a great post. I’ve been trying to expand my reading over the last few years so posts like this which are full of challenge ideas are great. The sci fi challenge sounds good. I’ve been meant to re read Ubik anyway 😁.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish you luck your reread of Ubik, Nicola: when I came to my second read it made marginally more sense but I can’t say I cracked its code (as my very meandering and at times incoherent review testifies: But yes, having a superfluity of “challenges” or prompts gives me options as well as a notional framework for imminent reading, and I hope it may do for you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m feeling faint just reading the list of these – and knowing they are but the tip of the iceberg Chris.

    I forgot about Reading Ireland month; Drat – I love it and have a lot of Irish authors to read but it’s a clash with Wales reading month.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. elmediat

    I was thinking of unofficially trying the classics challenge. Saw all the various reading challenges-goals listed – now I’m exhausted. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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