I have spent another week looking over the four reading challenges that I posted about last week and how I am going to carve them up. I can count books for different reasons on different lists to get as many of them checked off by the time 2017 is here.
But then I have two more personal reading goals:
One: At least five books longer than 500 pages each
In 2012, anxiously awaiting the birth of my son during what felt like the longest (non high-risk) pregnancy in the history of the world that did not involve bed rest, I devoured books. I may have read more in graduate school, but since I did not track it, my page record is from 2012 with 22,656. Last year I came close to matching it with 21,844. I got within a thousand pages of the prize.
I want this year to match or rival 2012. And, because I did a lot of short books last year, this year I am challenging myself to read at least five books over 500 pages long in 2016. I tackled a lot of intimidating (to me) and abandoned books last year and I want to keep going. There will be both books like The Fountainhead, Les Miserables, and Wolf Hall, that can be intimidating, but also books that I am looking forward to more, like A Winter’s Tale, The Cider House Rules, The Valley of Amazement, and Shirley. I am currently tackling The Luminaries, which I did not realize is a murder mystery, which adds to its coolness. (Note: I don’t have the hutzpah this year for War and Peace, Ulysses or Atlas Shrugged)
Audiobooks greatly assist in this endeavor because I can cram reading into the margins, especially in the morning when I can’t sit down with a book but my brain is sharpest.
Two: Read a short story a week
My lovely and late high school librarian told me that a short story is like a bubble in time, a moment all in itself. She told me this back when I actually wrote a few in high school that I did not think were half bad. I know that writing short stories will help my writing game, by adding practice and more publication and feedback opportunities.
I feel in writing short stories it is fundamental to read them. And I only read one collection last year, Anthony Doerr’s lyrical The Shell Collector. I have two Karen Russells, and Alice Munro, a 20 under 40, Roald Dahl’s short works, and countless anthologies ornamenting my shelves that collect dust and my lamentation that they do not get read. I even have some on my kindle, which I tend to avoid because I still like my poetry and short story collections in straight up paper.
I got some paper books for Christmas that recall for me the intoxication of a real paper book, of a hardcover with deckle edge paper.
As a final note of this, my blog gets the most views when I choose self published books and share the reviews with the chosen author. I need to get back to that.
And then for writing.
I really have to keep it small here. Last year I wanted to start a blog, and I did, and that has helped me to be accountable and consistent in my writing.
I would really love to do NaNoWriMo, which I would never do without a completed outline, which I don’t know if I will have, and I still have a full time job and a preschooler to contend with. So this year may not be the year. I also love the 52 short stories a year recommendation, but there is not time for that either.
Instead of a productivity resolution, I am starting off my writing year with learning more about characterization and I bought some books from Writer’s Digest to get started. I am going to work on the draft I already have. If that gets revamped as much as I would like it to, I will consider my writing goals met for the year. Maybe some plot bunnies in my head could grow.
So that is it. I promise that I am reading up to fuel some of my review posts. I love comments.