Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Reading Goals

I spent some time in December thinking about my 2019 Reading Goals when I probably ought to have been working on a Year in Review report. Ah, well. I like thinking ahead.

Reading Goals for 2019:

1.  Recently Dead Guys Personal Challenge - I bought 3 books by authors who then promptly died in 2018. I can't find one of them but I just bought another and 3 seems like a nice challenge number, so I'll stick with the 3 unless I find the 4th and decide I'm in a hurry to read it. The challenge books:

  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • Cruising Paradise by Sam Shepard
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz

2. Perfect Little Gems Personal Challenge - After reading News of the World by Paulette Jiles a second time, last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about books that are short but perfect little gems -- which News of the World definitely is, in my humble opinion. When I took a writing workshop taught by Simon Van Booy, he mentioned the fact that it's not necessary to write a 300-page book when you're starting out (and I've been away from fiction writing long enough to feel like I'm starting all over again, although I've written several novels). Instead, he said, focus on reading really well-written short books and trying to write a shorter work.

I've been literally pondering that advice for years without doing a thing but the longer I think about it, the more I miss writing fiction and want to return to it. So, I want to spend some time looking for and reading shorter works of excellence in 2019. I have a few titles that were recommended to me and a list that contains a few more I'll eventually buy. The challenge books, so far:

  • Articles of War by Nick Arvin
  • The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih
  • The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (I've misplaced this one but will be searching for it)

I've got quite a few shorter novels shelved around my house and some have come highly recommended (pretty much everything by Italo Calvino, for example) so I will probably add one of Calvino's shorter works like Under the Jaguar Sun to that list and see what other books I've got that get high ratings and happen to be short.

3. Books I bought in hardback because I was sooo anxious to read them and then didn't get around to reading them -- another Personal Challenge:

  • Transcription by Kate Atkins
  • Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
  • In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
  • Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
  • Savage Country by Robert Olmstead
  • What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (admittedly purchased mostly because so many men were telling her she should sit down and shut up)

I'm still equally excited about these titles. The thrill of having them ahead of me on the TBR piles has not worn off. 

4. Personal Classics Challenge - I plan to return to the usual 1 per month challenge that I've kept to in recent years except while reading one particular title. In 2018, I set a goal to read two really long books: Don Quixote and Gone With the Wind. Don Quixote was so memorable that I often set it aside for weeks before returning to it for a while (with no trouble recalling where I was in the story), then I'd set it aside again. The result was a full 6 months of reading the same classic. When I finished, I was both elated and drained. I thought I'd wait a month or two and then start Gone With the Wind. I never got to it, so I'm folding Gone With the Wind into my 2019 Classics Challenge and it's the one title I'll let drag on a couple months, if necessary. I'd like to read no fewer than 9 classics in 2019.

5. Fewer ARCs/upcoming releases in 2019 (exception: children's books) - I'm going to try my darndest to read more off my shelves and request fewer ARCs, although I already have a substantial number of ARCs for January alone. Wish me luck. This one is hard. I've been blogging a long time and I receive a lot of requests to review. I have no problem fitting in the children's books because so many of those that I review are middle grade or picture books -- very quick reads. Plus, I'm crazy about children's books and would be happy to review even more. But, I'm not going to go out looking for them. I'll just stick with the publishers with whom I already have a relationship.

6. Spend less time on social media and more time reading - If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you've probably seen the article that says you can likely bump the number of books you read in a year up significantly (they say 200 books but I don't know if that's possible for me) if you give up social media. I've been trying to work on that, already, in spite of the fact that I actually started up an Instagram account, a couple months ago (I'm @Bookfoolery on Instagram, if you're interested in following me there). I like the fact that Instagram is something I don't want to spend a lot of time on and adds a little fun because it makes me think about visuals -- posing books instead of just posting cover images.

I haven't gone beyond a paragraph when I posted about a finished book on Instagram, so far, and I like that. I've even considered eventually giving up the blog and just posting at Instagram someday. But, I'm not there, yet. It's an option for the future if I seriously get back to regular fiction writing, but until then . . . I need to write so I'll keep the blog going until and unless I am doing some other kind of writing that satisfies that particular primal need.

7. I've set my annual Goodreads reading goal at 100, again, although I read 131 books in 2018 and my unstated goal is shifting constantly. At this point, I'm really hoping to reach 150. But, I like keeping the Goodreads goal lower because I don't want it to be something that stresses me out.

8. A late addition: Books my kids insist I must read. There are only two, at the moment:

The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
Casey: The Lives and Secrets of William J. Casey: from the OSS to the CIA by Joseph E. Persico

One recommended by each son.

That's it! I've given myself a lot more reading goals than I did in 2018 and I'm not going to kick myself around the block if I decide I need to ease up on some of them. But, for now, it's January and I'm jazzed and looking forward to a fresh, new reading year!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. The title of that first challenge. I almost spit my water out.

    1. Haha, I'm glad you didn't! Water-spitting can be messy. I actually thought I maybe should soften it and then I thought no, that's what it's about, reading books by people who died recently and whose books I just happened to buy right before they passed away. So, I left it alone. I also thought about looking to see if there are any recently-dead female authors I should get to but I decided I don't need to go overboard. I just happened to buy the first three; I wasn't looking to read books by dead people in the first place!!!

  2. Years ago, I read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, which was published in 1988. It's a fascinating book and got me interested in quantum physics. After he died last year, I bought this book to read again, this time on my Kindle. I've written about Hawking several times on my blog:

    1. I've wanted to read A Brief History of Time for ages but just hadn't gotten around to buying a copy (I'm a little afraid I need to own it in case I don't get it and it's a slow read). Funny that you bought it just after his death. I got it just before he died. I don't know what finally gave me the nudge I needed but I'm really looking forward to it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    2. No, not "funny" at all. I was thinking about Hawking after his death and thinking about how much I got out of A Brief History of Time the first time I read it. So I bought it for my Kindle. Just so you know, it isn't hard to "get it" when reading this book, and it is definitely not a slow read. If you have a question, ask me about it. I had a double major in Philosophy & Religion as an undergraduate and added English Language & Literature to make that a double major. Notice they are both in the humanities, not science or physics or mathematics, though I've taken lots of those classes by choice. No, I mostly focused on subjects far removed from quantum physics, and I **LOVED** this book.

    3. I'm happy to hear that it's not a hard read! I'm not a scientist but I can often read between the lines. I think I'm just intimidated by his brilliance.

  3. I read Warlight, and I thought it was overly praised. It was good, but I didn't think it deserved a place on the Man Booker long list. I, too, have great interest in Don Quixote, but haven't finished it though I started it about three times. I remember when you hosted the Chunkster Challenge in the early days, for which I read The Count of Monte Cristo, still highly memorable for me. xo

    1. I'm a Michael Ondaatje fan, so that was the main reason I bought Warlight, not the Booker nomination. So far, there's only been one book by Ondaatje that I couldn't get through. Hopefully, Warlight won't be like that. But, I'm happy to hear your thoughts. I'll go into it with slightly lower expectations and we'll see how it goes!

      It took me a few days but I remembered that was my 4th attempt to read Don Quixote (oddly, once I succeeded, I apparently no longer felt it important to remember how many attempts I'd made). It's a challenging read because of its length and wordiness, plus the occasional story within the story that's totally unrelated, but it's a good one once you really get into it. Mentioning it made me think about the Chunkster Challenge, so it's funny that you mentioned that. I noticed there's a similar challenge with a totally different name, out there -- Tome Challenge or something like that. The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my all-time favorite books. I'm so glad the Chunkster Challenge introduced you to it! Such a wonderful book. I forgot to mention that I'm hoping to reread it in 2019. :)

  4. Fabulous reading goals!


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