New Year wishes

Shelfie

It’s at the tail end of the year that I look forward to what literary delights the coming year has in store for me, what my wishes are concerning books to be read and discussed.

I’ve already put up a retrospective post here detailing how I got on with the challenges and goals I’d set myself for 2019; now it’s time to see if, knowing what I’ve actually achieved this year, I intend to be as ambitious for 2020.

The answer turns out to be both “yes” and “no”.

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The story so far

Books read and reviewed in Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge, as of December 15th: https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/10308469

A little over halfway through the last month of the year, and it’s time to see how my bookish year has gone so far. I set myself an easy Goodreads challenge to read forty books in 2018 but soon upped it to fifty-two as I passed the first benchmark well within forty weeks. I’ve reviewed 53 books for the Goodreads challenge, but I’ve actually read two more, with two reviews in preparation (titles by Kate Atkinson and Natalie Babbitt). I may well hit fifty-six or more by year’s end as I’m reading two more at the moment.

Of course, I know I’m a lightweight compared to many of you so these are just observations (obvs!) and not a boast.

Another goal I’d set myself for this year was to even up the gender balance in terms of authors read. How did I do?

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Milestones or millstones?

Milestone opposite Myrtle Villa, Llanteg, Pembrokeshire © Copyright welshbabe and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence

Two-thirds of the way through the year and it’s a good moment to take stock. Which authors read, what books completed, what goals reached, what satisfaction achieved. That’ll be the who, what, when, where dealt with, and maybe the how, but as to why — that’ll require some introspection and I’m always a bit wary of that.

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This is not a challenge

The City of Books, Aix-en-Provence

This isn’t a challenge.

It really isn’t.

We’re now a third of the way through the year and I thought I would take stock of where I’ve travelled in the world of books. Turns out it’s not been too bad: fifteen books in around thirteen weeks, and all reviewed.

But it’s not a competition, so it turns out I’m in a win-win situation. As it’s not a contest of quantity it’s good to look at quality; and that quality will be gauged in terms of the range of authors and genres I’ve covered so far.

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“A strong female lead”

The featured challenge for March 2018 in the window of Book·ish, Crickhowell

Not long after the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, three quarters of the way into March — a month in fact featuring two patron saints of Celtic countries — and I’ve missed marking this period in any special way. But anyway, what’s a date but an arbitrary point in the calendar? Measure time in any way other than by the solar year and all our anniversaries, birthdays and feast days count for little.

Still I feel a little bit put out because I failed to celebrate one of my favourite authors. Maybe it’s because I’ve read almost all her books. Maybe it’s because I’ve been too busy celebrating the bicentenary of another author — Mary Shelley, ‘onlie begetter’ of Frankenstein — or was still stupefied after a revisit of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea that I forgot to check in on Kristen’s We Be Reading blog where she hosts March Magics, a celebration of the worlds and works of Terry Pratchett and … Diana Wynne Jones.

Better late than never.

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Slow progress

A kind of holy grail moment: secondhand bookshop interior in Brecon, Powys

Remember Mount TBR? I’d aimed to read twenty-four of my tsundoku titles — books that I’d bought or otherwise acquired before 2017, not including library books and rereads — to achieve a notional Mont Blanc target.

By the end of June I’d managed twelve — just at my halfway point, so theoretically by September’s end I should have achieved another six to reach eighteen books. So how have I done?

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Threads

http://thegraphicsfairy.com/vintage-clip-art-phrenology-head-in-color/

I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space…

I’m not great with self-imposed challenges, as you may have noticed: I didn’t complete an author alphabet challenge a couple of years ago, barely started on an attempt to read more authors not from an Anglo-American milieu, stalling on my task of reducing my to-be-read pile of books. In fact by instinct I’m a bit of a flibbertigibbet, strolling from one random title to another, as the mood takes me.

Only, my randonneur leanings may not be as random as I thought.

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A reader’s dozen

books cardiff

It’s been a busy week or so for me, what with rehearsals for concerts and music examinations, homework for writing class, and the usual everyday stuff that throws up extras that you weren’t quite expecting. As a result, a couple of reviews in preparation have had to stay in that state as Life takes charge. So, I offer instead a return to a Goodwill Librarian‘s 2016 Reading Challenge I encountered earlier in the year on Facebook, a challenge that I’m happy to say I’ve virtually completed. Twelve specific categories were listed — a far cry from the 50-plus I attempted in 2015 — and I think I’ve covered them all bar one …

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Snail’s creep

book collection

We’re nearly halfway through November, and the end of the year is within touching distance. It’s nearly time to start taking stock of how my 2016 goals are progressing (as I’ve already done, back in July). Taking my author alphabet challenge I find I’m just five short of completion, with O, Q, U, X and Y yet to come. The good news is that I’ve lined up some books to cover three of these — Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Xenophon’s The Persian Expedition and some short stories edited by Jessica Yates — though I’ve yet to decide on who to choose for U or Q.

Authors read in 2016 (L: library copy and indicates recycled)

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Perusing progress

2016 reading challenge
2016 Reading Challenge posted by Goodwill Librarian on Facebook

Well, we’re way past the halfway mark of 2016, a year that so far has appeared more an annus horribilis than an annus mirabilis. But thank goodness we have the benefit of books and the leisure to peruse them: the consolation of reading helps mitigate some of the universal depression over world events that hangs over many of us like a pall of smoke.

This is a good point at which to pause and see how I’m getting on with my various Reading Wishlists. Hmm, not brilliantly. So far with re-reads I’ve only begun Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles, though I’ve managed the odd other reread (three in fact, listed below). With my Reading New England challenge I’ve managed … one book. Where non-fiction and classics and standalone fiction are concerned I’m making a little more progress. And I’m steadily filling up my alphabetical list of authors whose last names begin with each of the letters of the alphabet.

I’ve only just come across Goodwill Librarian‘s 2016 Reading Challenge on Facebook. It’s nowhere near as long as the 50-odd challenges from last year that I attempted, but I reckon I’ve a good chance to cover this with what I’ve already read and what I hope to read in the coming months without making any extra effort. So I’m not, as far as I can see, making myself a rod for my own back; though looking at the actual options I suspect that they may be angled towards less voracious and less omnivorous readers.

Here, for what it’s worth, is my current 2016 tally (feel free to skip this list):
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Tsundoku antidote

wpid-img_20150802_225813.jpg

I’ve posted before about tsundoku, the ‘affliction’ that I have apparently been suffering from and that it has taken a change of house to start to address. Don’t worry, it’s not catching, and it’s not apparently pathological. It may perhaps come close to OCD, but it does seem that I don’t need medication or counselling for it, just a good talking to. From myself.

OK. If you don’t want to follow the tsundoku link, this is what it is.
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Literally challenged: the sequel

Bookshelves still awaiting sorting
Bookshelves still awaiting sorting … and reading

Just before Christmas I reposted a Reading Challenge which had appeared in Goodwill Librarian’s Facebook feed. This listed ‘cues’ (as I called them) to help the reader focus on what to read for 2015. Though there were fifty-two of these cues I’d chosen not to interpret them as challenges for each week of the year but as a checklist to see, as I go through the year, if I could roam a little wider than the genres I tend to made a beeline for. We’re now halfway through the first month, so how have I done so far?

Continue reading “Literally challenged: the sequel”

Literally challenged

Via Goodwill Librarian on FacebookPost by Goodwill Librarian.

I’m not an organised sort of person. I like to think I’m spontaneous, but I’m told that this my euphemism for lazy. I’m allergic to lists, whether written by someone else or, especially, by me. And lists of New Year’s resolutions? Forget it.

What, however, if the list was about something close to my heart, something I blog about? This Reading Challenge from Goodwill Librarian on Facebook lists fifty-two cues to help the floundering reader lost at sea with no lifelines. The idea, I suppose, is to research the cue, then spend a week reading the title you’ve chosen, all to take a year. And there are a lot of options, aren’t there?

Too much to take in? Looking at the list, many of the choices can be combined. A book with more than 500 pages can also be one by an author you’ve never read before. A book based entirely on its cover could easily be a graphic novel as well. A book by a female author (hmm, I wonder if the list was written by a man?) might also be authored by a writer with one’s own initials. And so on. This is starting to become more manageable.

Here’s how I might  proceed. First I’ll look at my shelves and decide which book or books I want to read or re-read. Then I’ll see which box or boxes it ticks. Then on to the next one. As the year goes on, with many boxes ticked, I can see where the gaps are and make more of a conscious effort to search for a book that’s won a Pulitzer (or any other) prize, includes a colour in its title, counts as a memoir or has garnered bad reviews. Or indeed, fits two or more of these categories.

Or, remembering that allergy, I might not.