Back in September, I decided on some reading goals for the rest of the year. I was supposed to finish the Harry Potter series, finish reading all of Barbara Michaels’s books, read some Kindle books, and read the bookshop-themed books that I’d borrowed from the library. I did none of those things, but because I had started the year with no goals other than to read as I pleased, it seems perfectly fitting.
I also had, as always, a goal of reading 52 books for the year. I realized in November I wasn’t going to make it. At that time, I was at 39, and I doubted I’d get much past 40. Ultimately, I finished 43 books, and I feel good about that number.
I always think I ought to read books by a more diverse group of authors. I also vaguely aim to read more non-fiction. I didn’t do so well on diversity, but there are some good things I can say about my reading choices this year.
- 29/43 were written by women.
- 2/43 were translated from other languages (The Wild Book by Juan Villoro from Spanish, and Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson from German).
- 13/43 were non-fiction.
I gave A+ grades to only two books: Frogkisser by Garth Nix and The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, both of which were gifts from my best friend. Clearly she knows how to pick good books. The biggest surprise for the year was The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. I went into it with no expectations, and it turned out to be remarkably engaging.
I don’t know if I’ve ever bothered to ask myself this question before, but did I learn anything from my reading this year? The answer is that yes, I learned a lot. Much of it has been covered in previous blog posts. But I also learned…
- That finally someone has realized and written about the discomfort and impracticality of travel by magic carpet (Frogkisser by Garth Nix).
- That Life has given some of the same bits of half-formed wisdom to others as it has to me, only certain people have the audacity to turn it into half-formed self-help books, such as The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I am not an audacious person. I ought to work on that, because audacity pays.
- That, as A.J. Jacobs wrote in The Know-It-All, “the opposite of deja vu is called jamais vu (a false unfamiliarity with a situation, as when you walk into your apartment and feel like you’ve never been there before).” This book also taught me how much I adore books whose contents are arranged in alphabetical order, and it reminded me of how handy indexes are (because that quote about jamais vu was neither under D for “deja” nor J for “jamais,” but rather M for “memory”).
- That in the world of poetry there is such a thing as an “American Sentence,” which is a sentence of 17 syllables, basically haiku but without the line breaks (Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio, which is not on my list of books read in 2018, because I haven’t finished it yet).
- That Stephen Fry writes poetry (The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry).
- And many other things, but I can’t list them all, and you wouldn’t want me to anyway.
Aside from my usual annual reading goals, I have no expectations from the year ahead. I’ll be happy if I find a few new books to love and maybe learn a thing or two.
Wishing everyone a wonderful year of reading in 2019,