Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 in Review

I was a voracious reader as a kid, never leaving the house without a book, coming home from the library with an immovable stack of books, dominating the Accelerated Reader game in elementary classes. When I hit middle school, my reading habits dwindled to non-existence as I got sucked into pop culture and the general interests of a 13-year-old. When I was in the 8th grade, though, my mom eventually banned me from watching any TV until I read a book, convinced this would somehow get me in the reading habit again. I still find major fault with this logic; it's never that easy!

Somehow, though, it totally worked, and I've been a consistent reader again ever since. At the start of this re-found reading craze, I began writing in a notebook a list of all the books I had read, noting the dates of completion and thus creating an easy source of data to compare my reading from one year to another. You can see through my past 16 years as handwriting evolved, pen colors went from adolescent-bright to adulthood-boring. Once I began using Goodreads around 2009, I've kept a digital record of this list, but something about the history and consistency of this same notebook endures and I keep writing it down anyway.

According to my records, my most ambitious year to date was 2012 when I read 75 books. During that year, I was in grad school, taking Children's and YA lit classes, breezing through a zillion book because I could devour them so quickly. Well, considering that's a norm of my life now, I aimed to conquer that reading record in 2016 by surpassing 75 books.

I only half failed. I met my record at 75 but didn't go any further. December always ends more hectic than anticipated, and my final book selection of the year (on my Kindle) ended up being a 570-page one, taking more time than expected.

The thing about reading so many books this year, though, is that I'm not sure I actually enjoyed it so much. I constantly feel desperate for more time to consume more pages, saddened that there's so much I want to read and so little, as they say. But for my final book of the 2015 Read Harder Challenge, I chose David Copperfield and spent the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas reading it. I hadn't close-read a book like that in a long time, and I was reminded of how rewarding it is to soak into a story and commit ample time and brainpower to one piece of work. Though I'd never thought it possible, I think maybe I feel a bit of book overload?? Too much, too quickly??

So for 2017, I have a couple new reading goals that have nothing to do with numbers. One, I want to invest more time in reading. I want to read classics that require a mental shift to ride the flow of language; I want to spend 800 pages with a story to feel accomplished at the end. And two, I want to read more diversely - authors, characters, places of color. I want to read stories by voices and experiences vastly different from my own. I know what it's like to be white in America; and while it certainly holds a place in my reading oeuvre, I want to work hard at reading beyond that experience. I toyed with the idea of following Book Riot's 2017 Reading Challenge since I finally finished the 2015, but I think I found a different kind of challenge in Read Diverse 2017 - a challenge with less structure but more community accountability. I'm excited to broaden my reading in a new way.


  • 75 total books
  • 41 children's/YA titles
  • 12 nonfiction
  • 5 graphic novels
  • 3 re-reads (all children's)
  • 26 published in the past two years (2015-2016)

Most engrossing: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (also most suprising)

Most boring: No Great Misery by Alistair McLeod

Most memorable: Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt

Most forgettable: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Most enjoyable: A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

Most gratifying: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Most disappointing: The Future of Us by Jay Asher

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