Sunday, 4 January 2015

In which I make a resolution for 2015 reading

Ugh.  Confession time.  I have been in a book reading shock since Dec 31.  I was looking at my totals for the year, proud that I had managed to read 81 despite what happened in October.  Though I barely read anything from then until Christmas,  suddenly I was able to complete 3 books in the past two weeks.  I was proud until I looked at what I read over last year, when to my dismay, I discovered that I had not read one single classic novel.  On top of which, I read 4 fantasy and 2 SF novels.  Shocking!  How on earth did I miss reading any classics?  And so few SF and fantasy books?  Shocked is an understatement for how I have felt.  How did this happen? 

2014 Reading Year

8 - Poetry
34 - Mystery
 7 - Fiction
4 - Fantasy
2 - SF
1 - Children's
3 - YA
4 - Biography
6 - non-fiction
5 - graphic novel
6 - horror

Then, I picked up one of my Christmas novels, The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller. I've read the first three chapters, and am enjoying this book immensely.  What I love so much is that he not only reads each book, he is reflecting on it.  Why is this book good?  Can he relate it to his life somehow?  What does he get out of reading it?  Which is what I feel the classics do, it is the reason why they are classics: they are art which reflects our lives, our world, back to us, to help show us who we are.  He is allowing the books into him, and this is what I want myself to do when I read a classic book.  Now Andy had realized before this book that he wasn't reading anything - one book in three years.  So this became his catalyst for this project.  He was going to pick 50 great books, books he had either said he had already read when he hadn't, or books that he had always said he would read one day, or books he really wanted to read before he died.  And he was going to read them over one year.

So with his beginning in mind, I reflected on what my last year of reading has shown me:  if I'm not careful, if I don't pay attention, a year will go by without me reading any of the classics that I do want to read.  And I have two shelves of them, plus more on my 'I want to get to read one day' list.

I do accept I have limitations in this.  Unlike Andy Miller, I don't want to read 50 literary *(edited to add this) classic novels in one year.  I don't read that many non-genre fiction books, ever, in one year. I have always read fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery.  No matter how low the totals are!  I have decided that I am going to make a list of 50 classic books to read over 2015, in different genres.  I'm breaking that 50 books list down into 10 and 20 book segments.  Or 5.

Because, there are classics in every area that I read in, that I haven't read. Or books that I have long wanted to read, but haven't got around to.  

So my 50 books in one year list looks something like this:

Classics: 10
Fiction (including almost classic status not there yet books): 10
Mystery: 10
Horror: 5
Poetry: 5
Journals, biographies (of writers and poets mostly) - 5
Science Fiction: 10
Fantasy: 10

I haven't made my lists so big that I don't have room for new books to add.  My goal is once again to try to get to 100 books read this year.  What I have learned over the years though, is that more important than the total, is to read so that I absorb the book.  There are books that I think I've read 20 or 30 years ago, that I no longer recall if I have read them.  Why is this?  Did I read too quickly?  Did they fade with time?  So I might not get all these read this year.  I will read as many good books as I can, classics in their field, this year.  This is a lovely resolution and I am delighted making it.  

Separate page for titles
If you want to know what books I am reading, I'm making a separate page for them,up under my blog header, and I will let you know here  which books are on my 50 books to read list, when I review them.

Another new year promise to myself is to review more books this year.  I'm a little ashamed of how little I did blog last year, and have made a promise that if I want to say something about a book, say it.  And try to post every day or every few days, this year.

Good site for finding books in genres:
For finding classic books in science fiction and fantasy, one of the best sites I have discovered over the past three years is Worlds Without End site.  Here you can find listings of award winners and nominees for all genre fields of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and even a few mysteries are creeping in.  For someone visual like me, it's so much fun to click on Nebula winners, and see the covers posted. It's a click to mark that I have read the book, or have it on my reading list.  Voilà!  Suddenly I can see what I've read over the years in each season, and where I have gaps.  Bram Stoker Award, Mythopoeic Award, World Fantasy, etc.  They are all listed here. 

So, that was my first 4 days of 2015.  Madly looking at sites and lists and shelves and books, discovering what books I really want to read this year, that I don't want to miss reading.

What resolutions for books and reading have you made this year? 


Belle Wong said...

I like the way you've created your list, with the number of books you want to read in each genre. When I think of classics, I always think of old English classics, so I'm really loving what you wrote about classics in SF and fantasy. I'm adding the Worlds Without End site to my Feedly - I really like the idea of reading winners and honourable mentions from previous awards.

Literary Feline said...

That's how I felt when I realized I read no nonfiction this past year. I definitely plan to change that this year.

Andy Miller's book sounds like something I can relate to, not just with classics, but with most books I read.

Good luck with your goals this year, Susan!

Cath said...

Super post, Susan. 81 books, considering your difficult year, is an amazing achievement!

Like Belle I tend to think of classics in the old English vein, so I was pleased to hear you meant other genres as well. Look forward to seeing what you read.

Don't beat yourself up over your lack of blogging. You have a busy life - family to look after, work, your health issues. It's just lovely to see you here when you're able and we miss you when you're not. But don't stress over it. *Hugs*

I think my NY's book resolution is to have a more thoughtful reading year. Exactly what you've been saying I think. It bothers me too that I can't always remember what I've read.

Happy New Year to the Flynn household. :-)

Kay said...

Susan, I totally relate to your thought processes about reading more thoughtfully maybe...not sure the wording - reading so that you can recall what you read. And classics have always been sort of scary for me. Think it was left from high school when I bogged down in books like MOBY DICK. In any case, I was on another blog recently where someone was wanting to read more classics and she had two on the list that made me rethink my definition of classic. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was listed and also NINE COACHES WAITING by Mary Stewart. Both books I have loved. I think I just thought of them as old books I read when I was younger. Maybe I need to see what I can find in the classic mode that appeals to me. I mean, I love Jane Austen books and those are classics.

Take of yourself. I know this last year has been tough. 2015 will be a better year for all of us hopefully. Hugs to you!

JaneGS said...

Year of Reading Dangerously sounds like my kind of book. I like to read books that end up meaning something to me, and I think you are wise to spread out the genres among the 50 selections. If you just plow through "classics" to meet a goal you don't allow them to work their magic.

Good luck with your reading project--sounds like a great to get back in the groove you want to be in.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I did a terrible job reading classics last year. I think the "oldest" book I read in 2014 was from 1995 -- that's ridiculous! While my goal this year really is focused on reading more diversely, I think I will also think hard about how to bring some older books into my reading life too. Year of Reading Dangerously sounds great!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I did a terrible job reading classics last year. I think the "oldest" book I read in 2014 was from 1995 -- that's ridiculous! While my goal this year really is focused on reading more diversely, I think I will also think hard about how to bring some older books into my reading life too. Year of Reading Dangerously sounds great!

Susan said...

Belle: thank you. I had fun thinking up what I enjoy reading, and going with what I'd like to increase reading in also. I hope you enjoy Worlds Without End site, it really is fun to go to.

Literary Feline: We had interesting (ie challenging) years last year, didn't we? Interesting in what we didn't read, too, and did read to bring us comfort. I wish us both luck in reading more of what we want to, this year!

Cath: Thanks so much, Cath. I was disappointed because I was on target for getting to 100, too!

I'd really like to blog more regularly. I enjoy blogging and talking about books. I think sometimes I have posts that are too long, or are a bit muddled, so I'm working on being clearer when I post.

A more thoughtful reading year for both you and me, then :-) I like the sound of that. Happy New Year to you and Peter too, Cath!

Kay: I think we have been taught that classics are those old boring (to teens anyway) high school English books we were forced to read. I'm discovering that every genre of writing has its must reads, its base that writers work from. Though I don't want to get bogged down in that either. I want to read good books in all the areas I love, including ones I've been meaning to read for some time. So maybe look in mysteries, which you love, and find some books that you've heard about and always meant to read but never have....that would count, in my view anyway, for reading books that are 'classic' to you :-)

Hugs back and yes, lets hope 2015 is good to all of us here.

Jane: I'm certainly having fun at looking at classics from all the areas I like to read in. And reading 50 English literary classics in one year is daunting! Even at university it's daunting! lol so I want it to be as much fun as possible, so I'm picking books I am genuinely interested in reading, not just 'these are classics so should be read' books.

Kim: Year of Reading Dangerously is good! I think everyone here would enjoy reading it. I know, even he found it hard to read books he wanted to, if he wasn't paying attention he didn't read much at all. So I think no matter how new the books are that we read, so long as we are reading books, that's what really matters. Books that we enjoy :-) I am hoping that some of the classics I do read will end up becoming favourites, like Middlemarch did when I read it 5 years ago.

Stefanie said...

Very fine goals you have! 8 poetry books in 2014 is pretty impressive. Happy New Year and happy reading!

Susan said...

Stefanie: Thanks so much. I was delighted to read that many poetry books, it's something I've been working on. I'm planning a post on the books I read, and on a new (to me) poet I discovered last year. I think you are the one of the few other people in our blog community who reads poetry too! lol

Ana S. said...

I didn't do so well when it comes to reading classics either. I actually did make a list for myself at the start of the year, but then I only read two or three books from it (on the bright side, some of those were the Emily books, so total success there). I can always keep trying to read from it informally this year, though. Lists are a good way to stay focused, as long as they don't become a form of self-pressure. Good luck to you, Susan!

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