A year in books

Twenty Eighteen is well under way and I’m having a think about how I’m going to go about my reading. Well, of course there are several ways to go:

  1. Pick a book at random from the pile on my bedside table
  2. Pick a book at random from the books on my shelves
  3. Pick a book at random from my local bookshop or library

Well, you get the picture. Or I could go with what I’m feeling in the mood for, a strategy that has generally served me well up to now. But I also feel the need for a bit of structure.

In the past I’ve tried a couple or so of reading challenges. These were partly successful, in that I made an effort to fulfil all the categories listed, but when I didn’t quite complete them I felt a bit of a poseur in my own eyes.

Last year’s solution was to (a) turn Challenges into Worthy Goals, thus ensuring no failure was imminent; and (b) set impossibly low expectations, such as only being required to finish 36 books over the year (I actually achieved forty-one and several fractions). Now I’m wondering what plans to go for this year.

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The annual review

For all you eager readers here’s the much anticipated (not!) round-up of my reading and posting for 2017. My habitual advice to you is to pretend you were too busy over the Christmas period to attend to this tedious stats fest, and this way all consciences will duly be assuaged.


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In a spin

The City of Books, Aix-en-Provence (September 2017)

In yet another attempt to tackle my to-be-read pile I’ve decided to take a leaf out of the book put together by The Classics Club blog.

They have a concept called the ‘Classics Spin’, as detailed at https://theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com/:

What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Friday, November 17th, create a post to list your choice of any twenty books that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the year (details to follow). Try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, re-reads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

On Friday, November 17th, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by December 31, 2017. We’ll check in here in January to see who made it the whole way and finished their spin book!

This looks like a (just about) manageable challenge — this from one who never quite completes a challenge (looks like achieving Mount TBR for 2017 is going to be very tight). At least I know I’ve got twenty titles on my shelves that bit the bill! Here they are, in a sort of alphabetical order.

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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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