Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - The Year in Reading

This will be a long post, sorry!

When I started this blog in January 2011, I never imagined that I'd be able to keep doing it for a full year - I often lose interest in things. I had no specific goals beyond using the blog as a place to keep track of the books I had read. Then I discovered reading challenges, and other book blogs/book bloggers, and somehow this blog became very important to me. I really enjoy tracking the books I read, and exploring new and different books because they are for reading challenges. It really became fun to find a book specifically for a challenge, or to try to fit a book into a challenge. The blog also made me conscious of how much I was reading, which was a good thing.

Speaking of which, here are some year-end statistics and random thoughts on my 2011 reading:

  • I read a whopping 166 books this year
  • The books I read ranged from classic literature (Sense and Sensibility, The Woman in White, The Power and The Glory, My Antonia) to mass-market "best sellers" (The Nanny Diaries, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Notebook) - and I found I enjoyed the classics much, much more
  • I read War and Peace! War and Peace!! It has 365 chapters for Pete's sake!!!
  • I read books by some of my favorite writers (Kazuo Ishiguro, Haruki Murakami, Bill Bryson, J.K. Rowling, Jasper Fforde, Banana Yoshimoto) and discovered some great new (or new to me, anyway) favorites (Christopher Buehlman, M.T. Anderson, Graham Greene, Alison Weir, Frederick Ramsay, Marc Acito)
  • I found some authors who wrote books I really enjoyed, from whom I look forward to reading more of in 2012 (Nicola Griffith, David Ebershoff, Jane Austen, Kurt Vonnegut, Eva Ibbotson, Wilkie Collins, Willa Cather, Edward Rutherfurd, Naguib Mahfouz)
  • I had 3 significant geek-out-over-an-author moments: I emailed Christopher Buehlman and got an email back (ZOMG!!!!), I got a comment from Nicola Griffith on my review of her book Stay (ZOMG!!!!), and I got my first request for a review, from John Michael Cummings (ZOMG!!!!) (look for that review in early 2012)

Here are my reading challenge wrapups, in the order in which I joined the challenge:

The TBR Pile Challenge. I loved this challenge, it made me commit to reading 12 specific books from the ever-growing TBR Pile, and I did it! It also helped me stay conscious of the books that have been sitting around for years, and I read some of those even though they weren't on the official list. I'm really looking forward to doing this one again in 2012.
The 100+ Book Challenge. This was a great challenge too. I made the goal of 100 in July, at which point I was hoping to hit 200, but 166 is still good. I do hope to outdo myself next year though!
The Forgotten Treasures Challenge. I think some of the books on my list for this challenge aren't exactly forgotten, but some of them definitely are and I enjoyed reading them and making sure they are not entirely forgotten.
The Buck Stops Here Challenge. Another great challenge, even if it did give me a license to keep buying books from the Library Sale shelves, ha ha. I think I will track my books this year as if I were doing this challenge again, as I enjoyed keeping my spending on books as low as possible.
War and Peace: 1 Chapter a Day. It worked! I read this book at long last. This was a great way to break an intimidating book into manageable portions. I might do something similar with other intimidating classic books.
The Hogwarts Reading Challenge. As I reported back in July, I won this challenge (more ZOMG!), even though my house, Hufflepuff, didn't take the overall prize. This one was a lot of fun, and after participating for 6 months it was hard not to want to put every subsequent book I read into one of the challenge categories. I believe Bunnita is doing this challenge again, but with some changes, which should be fun.
The Read Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge. I didn't do as well with this challenge as I did with all the others, which is too bad - I thought this would be a lot easier! I still read 11 books and I feel like I have become more willing to read books I otherwise would shy away from, so overall this was a success, even if I fell short of my reading goal.
The Color-Coded Reading Challenge. It was more challenging than I would have thought to find books for all the colors listed, while some colors (blue, for one) seem to be well represented in book titles. I hope to do this one again, I liked it.
GLBT Reading Challenge. I tried to make sure I had a reasonably diverse set of books and authors for this one, and it seemed to have worked. I would definitely do this challenge again, I found some great books for this, and stumbled on some that fit the challenge just by chance.
Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge. Found this challenge rather late in the game, but made my modest 3 book goal, which included 2 books that were new to me. I will definitely be reading at least 1 Murakami book in 2012, and preferably more, although at this point I have read most of them (I think!).

I have some overall goals for 2012 too:

Read more in general. I did well making time to read this year, and I'd like to keep doing that. I can't predict when work will get busy, but when it's not exceeding the normal level of busy-ness I need to create more reading time and not fall prey to the lure of the TV. 
Read more classic books. I really do like all kinds of books, and sometimes a person does want to read a quick, simple book that will entertain (and there's nothing wrong with that at all), but I need to round out my reading and fill some gaps in my reading of the classics that simply should not be there. I find it embarrassing that I have not read as many classic books as I should have read, and there's no reason I can't do so in 2012. I even have a reasonable amount of classic books on hand, so there's no excuse.
Clear the TBR pile once and for all. On top of the preexisting TBR books I have had for who-knows-how-long, my little escapade at Borders when I could not resist the temptation of $1 books created a mountain of books that need to be read. This is ridiculous and all of these TBR books need to be read and moved out of the house.
Read 2 books in foreign languages. I am always moaning about how I have no chance to practice my foreign languages (and I don't) but one way to get around that would be to read books in these languages. I have 2 books on hand, one in French and one in Russian, and I will read them both this year with the aid of a dictionary.
Explore some new series. I have some in mind but will not commit to them just yet, as they mainly involve trips to the library that I won't be taking until I do some TBR pile clearing, but this is a goal for me.
Read at least one book by each of the new authors I discovered and loved this year. I have a feeling I will be reading more than one book by most of these authors, but I want to do at least one each as a goal. Which goes along with my next goal....
Read more quality overall. I don't think I read too much junk at all this year, but I want to concentrate on good authors and quality writing as much as possible in 2012.
Complete all my reading challenges. This post is so ridiculously long already that I will create a separate challenge post tomorrow, but this includes my personal challenge: The Around the World Challenge, so please join me!

I want to wish all of my blog readers and visitors a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012. I hope the year is filled with lots of good things, particularly books. See you in 2012!

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