My Year in Reading: 2015

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Well. It has been a year.

(….And with that factual statement, I’m out! You’re welcome!)

No, but really it has been a great year for me- especially in the way that I like to measure my year: through books. I’ve been looking back in detail on my reading for the past two years and looking at the major metrics of it for longer than that, and I find it as revealing or more as any list of general new years’ reflections would be.

Oh yeah, it makes for a nice little character arc: looking back I can see that I started 2015 like a cliche- very industrious January- several paid reviews happened and I was clearly working overtime with time I didn’t have because by February I was clearly in a mood,  rejecting a bunch of books as not good enough (and running into a few that were genuinely terrible, to be honest) and slipping into a good old fashioned book slump (and, I’m sure, showing a delightful personality in real life). In March, around my birthday, I made an effort to perk up and enjoy some Luke Skywalker nonsense and turn my grumpiness to good account after I read Hausfrau. By April, I was on vacation (or nearing it!) and had the time to be disappear for days, totally obsessed with Tana French- I wasn’t even writing reviews in this period I was so in need of restoration. Over the summer, productivity and focus goes up again and there’s tons of joy and energy and creativity sparking around everywhere -as you might expect of a teacher on vacation, but also because that’s when I discovered Ferrante and made some new moves in my writing career. School starts in September and I become a lurking sort of ghost, making only occasional appearances with my chains clanking to assure you I’m still about and alive and mad that I can’t read so much. November and December confirm it, in ever increasing doses of defiantly escapist literature and absorbing tales meant to revive me and restore me- a phase I’m still not out of and wish I could be in for weeks more.

You see? The proof is in the books.

Also, some big new things that happened for me in reading this year!:

  1. I started this blog! I’ve been loving searching through my shelves for old reads I’d never thought to bring down once I stuck them in there, for books on my virtual to-read list in my head that I kept meaning to get around to every time I saw them in the bookstore, and even re-visiting things I’d once tried in terrible moods or in the wrong mindset. I made a little pile towards the end of this year to see what books were left on my shelves that I still hadn’t touched. There are still about twenty more books on my shelf that qualify for this blog, and of course endless more on the virtual shelves, so I think I have more than enough reason to continue in 2016! Looking forward to another year of forgotten gems, surprising re-reads and unjustly overlooked talents.
  2. I began writing professionally. Well- I suppose technically that really happened in the last month of 2015 (I wrote about Jonathan Strange, of course)- but I’ll date it from the time I received my first paycheck for writing something, which felt awesome. I started writing for B&N and expanded out to include other sites over the course of the year as well, which was super exciting. I mean, I’ve been developing my writing in the wonderful bibliophile community of goodreads for years, and I plan to continue to do so because I’ve found nothing to beat the book-based friendships I’ve made there, and the leads on amazing books I never would have found otherwise. But it was wonderful to add this dynamic to my writing.
  3. I returned to my roots! I was a big sci-fi and fantasy reader in middle school and high school, and had taken a lot of time off from reading the genre regularly (with noticeable exceptions), but returned to it in a big way this year. This was partially due to writing for B&N’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, but also partially because, as nearly everyone has noted, 2015 was a wonderful year for SFF. My daytime life teaching has eaten up so much time that I’m just now catching up on a lot of it and I imagine I’ll be doing so for months to come.

But now is the real moment of truth!  Like the previous two years I did this, I made a list of book resolutions for 2015. I endeavored, (or so I thought) to make this year’s list more realistic. So let’s see if it was:

1. Read another 40 books.

DID this one for SURE. I read nearly sixty books this year, actually! So I could probably up my goal for next year, but I think I may not. I got helped this year by having a LOT more time for reading, being, you know, paid to review stuff, and not reading any book bricks. I may not have those crutches next year! Also, I see some real Classics looming in my future. It’s been too long since I broke my shoulder carrying around some glorious 1,000 page beast- I think I’m feeling phantom pains…

2. This will be the Year of Book Blogging. I will write in my own personal book blog at least once a week.

Sooo… I did book blog this year! (As you see. *bows, gestures about at magnificence*) But the once a week thing turned out to be wildly optimistic.
3. I REALLY WILL check out a book of poetry this year. I need to get started on that. Those with suggestions of something, let me know!

Did NOT do this. Total fail, guys! UGH. What can I do to change this? I need to read something that motivates me towards poetry this year.

4. I want to start reading books that I already have either on my shelves or on my virtual to-read (and there are hundreds) rather than buying/finding new ones at least 50% of the time.

YUP. Thanks, blog!! Not sure if it was 50% exactly but it was pretty close, so let’s hand-wave it and call it good!

5.  Trying to read a bunch of books written/released within the last decade and balance out my tendency to immediately reach for my 19th century/first-half-of-twentieth British and French friends.

I think that I did this! I read a lot of books written recently- I mean, they may be set several centuries ago, or on another planet or with magic involved, but they came out of modern minds, so I count it! Done. Point, me!

6. Stop apologizing for what I like and why, provided that after a judicious review my reasons still seem justified to me, myself, and I.

I did a better job about this this year. I think that I’m still not quite there. I still caught myself wondering about how my very well-read, never-step-outside-the-classics bookfriends would judge my latest posting of an Austen pastiche review, but I stayed my hand with posting it much less, particularly as the year went on. Let’s give me half credit on this one!

Hmm. So I guess we’ll call that 4 out of 6? …-ish? I got 5.5/10 last year, so I think we’ll call this progress! Number one: If this were a test, I would totally win “most improved” score. (Yeah, I’ll take a sticker if you’ve got it. And a cookie, preferably.) And number two: That I now know that ten resolutions is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy too many for my attention span.

(Let’s not talk about my “prioritized” reads list from last year at all, shall we? It turns out, actually, that “prioritized” means, “totally forget about and never speak of it again”, did you know that? Webster just changed it recently, I hear.)

So what goals seem realistic/exciting/(let’s face it) self-indulgent enough for me to live up to in 2016?

  1. Reading 40 books. As ever. I got this one. This resolution and I are old buddies, we get each other. I slightly underperform and have excuses that are believable, or I way overperform and feel pretty awesome about myself. Let’s keep a good thing going, Resolution #1. *fistbump*
  2. Write a review at least once a week, whether that be for this blog or professionally. I had periods of crazy productivity and periods of total silence. I’d like to break my roller-coaster ride a bit. I am bad at roller-coasters. I fall off them. Literally and metaphorically. The metaphor in this case being- oh never mind. I need to write regularly about books, okay?
  3. Read more sci-fi. I’ve gotten very comfortable in my high fantasy/quest narrative/swashbuckling adventure/mythological/updated fairy tale wheelhouse, and from what I can tell I’ve been missing out on some amazing books because of it. (Expanse! Planetfall! Baru Coromont! etc, etc, etc).
  4. Return to my classics homeland! In the opposite of what usually happens, I didn’t read very many older works this year (other than Sentimental Education, which did not turn out the way I wanted). I need to take a trip back to my mother ship. It feels weird being away this long.
  5. Read a couple authors in translation. This often happens by accident anyway, but ever since I fell hard for Ferrante this year (SWOON) I was reminded that I need to seek out foreign authors more.
  6. …. you know what? I’m gonna throw the poetry thing in there again. Maybe I just like to fail (it’s comfortable, if nothing else!). But maybe this’ll be the year. You could be a contender, 2016! I know you can do it.

Looking forward to another year of fabulous reading in 2016! Everyone have a wonderful and bookish New Year!