Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - The Year in Reading

Well, I had another reasonably productive reading year. I managed to read a total of 81 books, which is not bad, but far less than I had planned. Here's a quick recap of the goals I set last year and how I did:

  • Read more in general. This didn't work as well as I might have hoped. I read about half the books I managed in 2011, but at least I did read. 
  • Read more classic books. I think I did OK with this, but of course didn't read as many as I would have liked. 
  • Clear the TBR pile once and for all. I can't even type this with a straight face - Mount TBR still looms, but I'm still chipping away at it! 
  • Read 2 books in foreign languages. This is a big disappointment for me. I did start both the books I have on hand though - it's just very slow going for my rusty language skills. I'll keep this for next year. 
  • Explore some new series. I kind of did this but didn't read enough to really get into the other series I was hoping to check out. Maybe I can work on this for 2013. 
  • Read at least one book by each of the new authors I discovered and loved this year. No need to elaborate, this didn't happen. Luckily a whole new year is coming up to redeem this! 
  • Read more quality overall. I think I did OK with this.
  • Complete all my reading challenges. I definitely did this one - HOORAY! So I met one goal from 2011, ha ha. 

So here are some more modest goals for 2013:

  • Read more than 81 books. I think it's doable, I just need to do it!
  • Read more classic books. I made sure there were a few on the TBR Pile Challenge list to ensure this! 
  • Finish the 2 foreign language books. As I wrote above, they're both in progress, so this is doable.
  • Complete all my reading challenges. I did this 2 years in a row, so I know I can do it again in 2013. I'll do a separate post tomorrow listing the challenges and etc. 

Once again, I wish my readers all the best in 2013. I hope you have a wonderful year full of books! :-)

December - This Month in Reading

Another pathetic reading month. I had a busy work month, which ate up a lot of time, and then the holidays took over. I did, however, make last month's goal, which was to finish the TBR Pile Challenge - hooray!! So I finished all my challenges this year again, which is great. I'll do a quick yearly wrap-up post shortly. But for next month, I'd like to read at least one book for each challenge I've signed up for, keep track of my ongoing Planet Earth challenge, and otherwise reduce the TBR pile. I know that a good part of January is going to get messed up with work again, so I'm hoping I can work around that and still get in a lot of reading before that really hits.

Snow - Orhan Pamuk

I miss snow. I grew up with stereotypical snowy winters and it just doesn't snow much where I live now, and around this time of year I miss it. (OK, I don't miss shoveling.) There is nothing better than a winter night, when it gets dark by 5 pm and snow is falling in big flakes. Taking a walk and having the snow fall through the glow of streetlights is magical. So while reading this book I was able to picture the snow vividly, and the way it shuts down a town when it has been falling for a long time; the way it softens sounds and enhances the glow of artificial light. That did a lot to contribute to reading this book, as it provided a backdrop for imagining the events as they take place. I suspect that if I knew more about Turkish I would have picked up on the relationship between the main character's name, Ka, the Turkish word for snow (Kar) and the name of the town in which the book takes place, Kars, as I suspect there is some interesting wordplay there that is lost in translation - maybe I can Google it. All in all this felt like a slow book; it felt like watching snow fall. I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1001 Books You Must Read...

I have seen this list all over the Internet and decided to finally pay attention to it. I had read some of these books before starting this blog, and others I have read since 2011. I have seriously mixed feelings about this list - there's no Shakespeare, but I'm supposed to read everything ever written by Don DeLillo? It omits two of my favorite classic books - Anne Frank's diary and McTeague by Frank Norris, but lists everything ever written by Douglas Adams (and I adore Douglas Adams, so I have no problem with him being on this list, but - really?). I am too lazy to link the reviews from the past couple years, and there aren't that many, but starting in 2013 I'll add review links as I read. Some of these happen to be on hand so there is hope that I will read them in the next couple years. I do confess that there are books on this list I will most likely never read, but who knows. It's still interesting to keep track. I might add books too :-)

UPDATE, January 2014: I have removed the list and replaced it with multiple posts with these lists in January 2014. I won't link to them here, because if you're reading this post, you either already saw those posts, or I trust you can find them without much to-do. :-)

FURTHER UPDATE, later in January 2014: I removed the replacement lists because they took up a lot of space and the more I thought about the lists the stupider (that's a word, right?) they got. Lists like this are all over the Internet so if I feel the need I can find them and etc. etc., but cluttering up my blog with nonsense seemed like a big waste of time. I'd rather actually focus on real classic books and literature and other books I read just for fun, not some random, arbitrary list. Sorry for all this back and forth on this topic, and on with the reading!

Color-Coded Reading Challenge 2013

Another fun challenge that will be reprised in 2013 - double hooray!!! I really enjoy this challenge, which is hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block. The rules have been changed slightly this year, allowing shades of colors - that should make things interesting! I know I have a couple books on hand for this, it will be interesting to see which others I might be able to snag off Mount TBR and use as well.

Here are the rules:

*Read nine books in the following categories.

1. A book with "Blue" or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc.) in the title. - The Bobbsey Twins on the Deep Blue Sea - Laura Lee Hope

2. A book with "Red" or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgundy, etc.) in the title. - Years of Red Dust - Qiu Xiaolong

3. A book with "Yellow" or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.) in the title. Goldengrove - Francine Prose

4. A book with "Green" or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc.) in the title. Green Hills of Africa - Ernest Hemingway

5. A book with "Brown" or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc.) in the title. Brown Girl, Brownstones - Paule Marshall

6. A book with "Black" or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc.) in the title. Black and Ugly - T. Styles

7. A book with "White" or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc.) in the title. - The White Hound of the Mountain and Other Irish Folk Tales - Thomas J. Kiernan

8. A book with any other color in the title (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.). - The Secret of the Silver Dolphin - Carolyn Keene

9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.). - Rainbow Soup - Brian P. Cleary/Neal Layton

I'll be posting books as I read them during 2013. Can't wait! 

TBR Pile Challenge 2013

I know it's a bit early, but Roof Beam Reader is hosting the wonderful TBR Pile Challenge again for 2013 - hooray!! I love this challenge, it has really helped me clear some TBR pile books. My pile seems to just grow and grow and grow, so this is great motivation to keep it from getting completely insane. I read all of the books on my list in 2011, and I'm on track to do the same for 2012, so I'll be happy to do this again in 2013.

I have some books in mind but I'll post the official list later this month once I get some breathing room from work insanity.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are the books I'm going to read for this challenge in 2013:

1. Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson (1994) - read December 2013
2. A Crack in the Edge of the World - Simon Winchester (2005) - read December 2013
3. 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami. (2011) This is a totally embarrassing entry on this list. I got this as a Yuletide gift in 2011 and I didn't immediately start it as I was hoping to use it as a reward for reducing the TBR pile but time got away from me this year and I didn't read as much as I wanted. I need to read this book ASAP as it's been staring at me from the TBR pile for a year now.
4. The History of Danish Dreams - Peter H√łeg (1995/1996) - read December 2013
5. Neanderthal - John Darnton (1996) - read April 2013
6. The Toughest Indian in the World - Sherman Alexie (2000) - read April 2013
7. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866) - read December 2013
8. Inferno - Dante Alighieri (14th Century) - read December 2013
9. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (1980) - read December 2013
10. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe (2009) - read April 2013
11. Emma - Jane Austen (1815) - read May 2013
12. Exit into History: A Journey Through the New Eastern Europe - Eva Hoffman (1993) - read December 2013

1. My Endless War . . . And My Shattered Dreams - Sonia Kaplan (2004) - read December 2013
2. The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver (2009)

Moby-Dick - Herman Melville

I know I was supposed to be reading this a chapter a day, with the goal to be to finish the book on December 31, but work has been insanely busy and it's only going to get worse in the next 2 weeks, so I decided to rally and finish early. It turns out that I somehow miscalculated the number of chapters, so I would have finished a few days sooner than I had planned anyway.

But I ramble. (I think Melville wore off on me!) I have no idea what to say about this book. I know it's considered a classic of Western literature, and as an English major it should be intensely embarrassing that I haven't read it before now (and it is, believe me), but .... Melville's rambling style was not completely annoying - I actually enjoyed it when he employed things that seemed like stage directions, but the overwrought passages were a bit too much for me. I suspect that I should have paid more attention to this back in college (coughcough), as discussions of the allusions and symbols might have been more up my street in those days - I have gotten much more practical in my "advanced" years, ha ha. So I didn't hate this book, but neither did I love it. Once again I am forced to say that I would have preferred to read this in a college level class (OK, I confess, I was supposed to when I was actually in college and couldn't get past the first few chapters, and luckily was able to skate by... I'm not proud of this at all, and don't recommend it, but neither can I take it back) for the discussion it might have provoked. All that said, I would rather discuss it as an adult than the complete idiot (who thought she knew it all, ha ha) I was back in college. So I appreciated it for what it was, and I am glad I can now say I have finally read this book.

If you're a Melville fan please feel free to set me straight in the comments! :)