2016: Reading Year in Review

new year times square photo
Photo by Anthony Quintano

As I do each year, I like to reflect on my reading year in a blog post on December 31. For the second year in a row, Goodreads has compiled a handy infographic with reading statistics, but they haven’t yet created a way to embed the infographic on a blog. It’s not exactly a true image file, so it’s not as simple as saving a picture. It’s a whole webpage. While it is possible to embed HTML on a blog, in order to make it look good, it’s a bit of work. Here is a rundown of some of the interesting facts (if you don’t feel like clicking over to Goodreads):

  • I read 11,997 pages, according to Goodreads.
  • I read 38 books. One book is not counted in this total, so I suppose my actual page count is about 200 pages more than the figure above.
  • If I count just the Goodreads total, that’s an average of 324 pages per book.
  • It works out to about 33 pages per day. Not too bad.
  • My shortest book was The Importance of Being Earnest at 54 pages, and the longest was an audio book re-read of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at 734 pages.

Of the 38 books I read, the stats further break down like so:

  • 28 works of fiction
  • 10 works of nonfiction
  • 3 dramas
  • 1 collection of poetry
  • 5 audio books
  • 6 re-reads
  • 1 graphic novel/memoir
  • 11 YA/children’s books

My favorites from some of these categories with linked reviews (re-reads not counted):

YA/Children’s

Fiction

Nonfiction

I’m not going to pick audio book favorites this year because all but one of them were re-reads, and the one that wasn’t was not one of my favorite books. I had a better nonfiction year this year than I typically do, and my fiction year was not as good as usual, though I did read some outstanding fiction.

My least favorite reads of the year:

Reading Challenges

I did not meet my Goodreads goal of reading 55 books. I had every reason to think I could do it, having read 62 books last year, but this year was much more trying. My grandmother passed away, and it made it very hard for me to read. I was already behind at that point. I stopped worrying about trying to make the goal really early on, so I’m not upset about it or anything. It is what it is. I didn’t have the worst reading year, but it wasn’t the best either. I stuck with some books I wasn’t liking for too long.

I didn’t complete any of my other reading challenges either, sadly. I enjoy reading challenges tremendously, but I don’t have the best track record in the world when it comes to completing them, let alone participating any more than simply reading certain books.

Here is my reading map for the year. I did manage to read some more far-flung locales than I typically do. I am hoping to do even better next year.

Related posts:

Birthday Weekend

Birthday petit-fours from my husband
Birthday petit-fours from my husband

It was my birthday this weekend. I have moved into a new demographic!

I decided I wanted to go to Northampton and Amherst for my birthday. There was a Poetry Festival in Amherst, but unfortunately, most of the events I wanted to go to were on Thursday or Friday before I could get there. Bummer. On Saturday, the Emily Dickinson House was sponsoring a marathon reading of all 1789 of her poems, but I really didn’t want to just dip in and out of that, so I wound up deciding to spend Saturday afternoon in Northampton.

Northampton and Amherst are college towns. Between the two of them, I count U Mass Amherst, Amherst College, Smith College, Mouth Holyoke College, and Hampshire College. I may be forgetting some. At any rate, they are close together, and with all those colleges, you can imagine the college-town vibe is strong. Northampton is definitely fairly funky, at least the downtown area.

We found a wonderful used bookstore. I loved it because the books were mostly in pristine condition. So many used bookstores don’t have really nice books, and most of them certainly don’t have the kind of selection Raven Used Books has. Here is my haul from Saturday.

photo-sep-17-5-31-39-pm

We went back today before leaving for home, and I scored two more books: Mary Sharratt’s Illuminations and Elena Mauli Shapiro’s 13 Rue Thérèse. The Club Dumas looks like it might be perfect for the R. I. P. Challenge, and who knew that there was a historical fiction novel about Hildegard von Bingen (Illuminations)? Byatt’s novel doesn’t have great reviews on Amazon, but I’ll give it a go. I loved Possession so much.

For my birthday lunch, we went to a burger place called Local Burger. Back when I was in college, I could get an excellent hamburger for about a buck at the cafeteria on campus. It had a nice charbroiled flavor, and it was juicy without being pink (pink ground beef skeeves me out). I hadn’t had a burger as good as those old cheap cafeteria burgers since. Until this one. And the fries were amazing.

We drove into Amherst and stopped into Amherst Books where I found a remainder of Remembering Shakespeare by David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James and Living with Shakespeare edited by Susannah Carson with essays by so many people—F. Murray Abraham, Isabel Allende, Brian Cox, Ralph Fiennes, James Earl Jones, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jane Smiley, Joyce Carol Oates, and many others.

Last night for dinner, we had some excellent Italian food at Pasta e Basta. I was “that person” and took a picture of my pasta because it was so pretty.

photo-sep-17-7-37-47-pm

I wish I could have brought my leftovers home. There was at least another meal left on that plate. I didn’t think it would travel well, though.

After dinner we picked up some cookies at Insomnia Cookies. Had such a thing existed when I was in college, I have no idea how big I’d be by now. We got four kinds of cookies, and I can definitely recommend the Double Chocolate Mint. I also tried Peanut Butter Chip, but the Chocolate Chunk and M&M cookies were all gone too fast.

This morning, we went to Jake’s for breakfast, and I had some fantastic eggs, potatoes, and toast. We walked around and did some more shopping. I found myself this glorious Brontë sisters mug with quotes from the sisters’ works.

photo-sep-18-6-37-33-pm

Northampton and Amherst are nice places to visit, and they’re only a little over an hour away. They have a different feel from other places in Massachusetts—perhaps because they’re college towns, or perhaps because they’re in the western part of the state. We don’t really have indie bookstores in Worcester, either (that I know of)—just B&N, so it was nice to go book shopping in those places and score some deals on some great-looking new and used books. In addition, everything was pretty reasonably priced—another of the virtues of a college town, I suppose.

photo-sep-17-7-08-37-pm
Steve and Dylan at dinner
Maggie and Me
Maggie and Me

Once I was home, Steve presented with two more books: A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century by Jerome Charyn and The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight. He had already given me Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them. My parents sent me a gift card for more goodies from Amazon, too. I really need to do some reading!

P. S. I have no idea why the last image is upside-down on some devices. I can’t figure out how to fix it without deleting and starting over, though, so I just left it.

Related posts:

#ShelfLove Challenge: My Literary Road Trip Bucket List

Shelf Love Challenge 2016Each month, the #ShelfLove Challenge has a different topic. This month’s topic:

So what’s on your literary travel bucket list? What literary hot spots have you already hit and is it worth going back?

I have a couple of literary bucket lists, mainly because I love my adopted home of New England, which is the cradle of American literature, and also because I am an Anglophile who lives British literature and is desperate to visit the UK, where there are many places on my bucket list.

New England Bucket List

  • Feet on WaldenWalden Pond in Concord, MA. I have been there before in the dead of winter in February. The pond was frozen over. I took this obligatory picture of my feet standing on the frozen pond. I want to go back some time this summer. I don’t live far, and it’s sad that I haven’t had a chance to go because of an unreliable vehicle, but I have a new car now, and we are road tripping the hell out of this summer. I can’t wait to go to Walden.
  • Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, MA. The Dickinson home is now a museum, and I have already visited, but I want to go back during some special occasion or event. I just became a member of the museum, so it will even be free. Oh, I was just so happy here. I visited Emily’s grave. If there is one poet I really love, it’s her. Obviously I named my blog after one of my favorite of her poems.
  • The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT. I haven’t ever been here, but Hartford is not very far from where I live, and Twain is a favorite of mine. Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while living here. I teach that novel and absolutely love it (until the end, which Tom Sawyer ruins).
  • Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA. I want to pay my respects to the authors buried there, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. There is something kind of special about visiting the grave of an author you love.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house in Concord, MA. He wrote most of his work here and hosted meetings of the Transcendental Club here as well. I think it’s open to the public.
  • Robert Frost’s Stone House in Shaftsbury, VT. I wrote a research paper on Frost in high school, and that kind of thing makes you feel ownership over a writer. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was written here.
  • Boston by Foot has an interesting-looking tour of the literary haunts of writers like Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Alcott, James, Dickens, and Longfellow. I want to try that tour for sure.

United Kingdom Bucket List

  • The Brontë Parsonage and Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Must see. I want especially to explore anything that may have influenced Wuthering Heights. I think some of the sites are scattered a bit, so it might be more accurate to say I want to visit Brontë Country.
  • Jane Austen’s House and Museum in Chawton, Hampshire. I don’t want to miss a chance to see where Dear Aunt Jane lived and wrote. I don’t think they let you touch anything. It’s probably like Emily Dickinson’s house that way. I would so want to touch her stuff, though.
  • Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, with trips to his birthplace, New Place, the church where he is buried, and perhaps a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The whole town, really. I mean there is Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and the home where Shakespeare’s mother lived, too.
  • Bath, Somerset. Austen wrote about this town and lived there for a time. Many films set in the Georgian era are filmed here because it still looks Georgian. Of course, Austen set Northanger Abbey and Persuasion here as well.
  • The Charles Dickens Museum in London. Dickens wrote Oliver Twist while living here.
  • Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, Wales. William Wordsworth wrote “A Few Lines Composed Above Tintern Abbey” here, and I feel pretty positive pictures don’t do it justice.
  • The Lake District. Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge both called it home, and there are places all over that I want to see, including Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere.
  • The New Shakespeare Globe Theatre in London. A reconstruction of the original Globe. I must see a Shakespeare play here.
  • The British Library in London. I don’t really even know where I’d start here, but I want to go.
  • The Sherlock Holmes Museum, London. Not exactly located at 221b Baker Street, but close. I do love Sherlock Holmes.
  • John Keats’s home near Hampstead Heath in London. Because Keats.
  • Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey in London. I want to pay my respects to Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Edmund Spenser, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Among others.
  • Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station in London. Because Harry Potter.
  • The Fitzroy Tavern in London. I heard that Dylan Thomas would give out poems written on beer mats to any woman who asked while he was drinking here. A girl can dream.
  • Bloomsbury in London. I want to walk in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster. Yeats lived nearby. I really just want to sit on a bench, maybe the same bench Virginia Woolf once sat on, and think.
  • Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire. Byron lived here. His beloved dog Boatswain is buried here. Byron was buried nearby.
  • Field Place in Broadbridge Heath, West Sussex. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was born here. I’m not sure it’s open to the public, but I could at least look at the exterior.

I’m sure if I thought about it, I could come up with quite a few more places to visit.

I haven’t made any progress on the #ShelfLove Challenge since last month because I’m in a reading slump. Just not really excited right now. I am sort of waiting for school to wrap up so I can spend more time reading. I have a bunch of books I “need to read” right now, too, for various reasons, and I am not excited about it. I don’t know why it is that when I “need” to read it, even if I wanted to read it before, I can’t get into it as much.

Related posts:

2015: Reading Year in Review

New Year Magic
New Year Magic, Zlatko Vickovic

On the last day of the year, I always like to reflect on my reading year. This year, Goodreads has created a really handy infographic with some interesting statistics from the reading year. I wish they allowed for downloading and embedding. I was fascinated to learn that I had read 20,722 pages this year. That particular statistic is not one I’d ever thought about before. I read 62 books, which is more than I’ve ever read in a single year before. That works out to an average book length of 332 pages. It’s also an average of almost 57 pages each day. I suppose Goodreads calculates the number of pages in each book I marked “read” to determine the total for the year, but I should mention that some of the books are audio books. Still, those should count as pages read, I suppose, because it works out to be the same thing. Sometimes when you are listening, it’s not so obvious how long books are. I mean, yes, it took me forever to listen to The Fiery Cross, but I didn’t realize it was over 1,400 pages long. No wonder! It took me so long to finish listening to that book that I have been somewhat reluctant to commit to the next book in the series! The Fiery Cross book is over 55 hours long to listen to, but the next one is 57 hours long!

Some reading statistics:

  • Total books: 62
  • Total fiction books: 44
  • Total nonfiction books: 10
  • Total drama books: 4
  • Total poetry books: 4
  • Total audio books: 16
  • Total re-reads: 15
  • Graphic novels/memoirs: 5

My favorite books of the year broken down into some random categories (re-reads not considered—I already knew I loved them or I wouldn’t have read them again):

Children’s

 

Reviews:

Young Adult (YA)

   

Reviews:

Adult Fiction

         

Nonfiction

   

Reviews:

Audio Books (re-reads considered if I have never listened to them before)

 

Reviews:

My least favorite reads of the year:

I know it’s bad form to lump a couple of classics in with that group, but aside from a few nuggets of wisdom, I didn’t enjoy reading either Candide or Walden. I usually like Neil Gaiman quite a lot, but Trigger Warning didn’t do it for me. I should mention that I didn’t rate any of the books I finished this year less than three stars, which for me means it was okay—not bad, just okay. I am no longer patient with books that I don’t like. I am much more likely to stop reading books that are sitting on two stars at about 50 pages in. My point is even my least favorite reads of the year weren’t bad.

Reading Challenges

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Dana has
completed her goal of reading 52 books in 2015!
hide

I was able to meet the challenge of reading a book a week for the first time ever this year. I’m really excited about that because it’s been an unreachable goal of mine for some time. In fact, as you can see, I surpassed this goal by reading 62 books! Last year, I read about half that number.

I completed the R. I. P. Challenge by reading four R. I. P. books from September 1 to October 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

I completed the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge by reading 20 books from January 1 to December 31. I determined a book was historical fiction if it was set in a time that was reasonably outside the time in which it was written, either partially or totally. Thus, books like Song of Solomon and Revolution count because a substantial portion of both books is set in a time before the book was written. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

I did not complete the Reading England Challenge, having read 10 out of 12 books from January 1 to December 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

I did not complete the Literary Movement Reading Challenge, having read 5 out of 12 books from January 1 to December 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

Medieval—The Lais of Marie de France
Renaissance—As You Like It, William Shakespeare
Enlightenment—Candide, Voltaire
Romanticism—The Annotated Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Transcendentalism—Walden, Henry David Thoreau

I stalled out after Walden took me too long to finish, and I couldn’t keep up after that.

I completed the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge, having read 62 books from January 1 to December 31, thus outdoing my previous number of books read in a year.

I did not complete the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge, having read 7 out of 9 books from January 1 to December 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

In the coming year, I plan to have a Reading Challenges page so I can more easily keep track of what I’ve read. This post was very hard to write because I had to look all of this up. 😥

Finally, here is my map for the Where Are You Reading Challenge:

I wouldn’t have guessed this from the first six months, which was slow-going until I stopped worrying about a couple of challenges, but 2015 turned out to be my best reading year yet. I read some truly great books and returned to some favorites, too.

Related posts:

2014: Reading Year in Review

reading photo

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Dana has
completed her goal of reading 30 books in 2014!
hide

I was able to complete my reading challenge of reading 30 books this year, but I did lower the number, as the last two years in a row, I had tried and failed to read 52 books. I am giving it another go this coming year. Is 2015 going to be the year I can finally read 52 books? We shall see…

Stats breakdown:

  • Total number of books read: 33
  • Fiction books: 31
  • Nonfiction books: 2
  • YA books: 5
  • Audio books: 10
  • E-books: 3
  • Re-reads: 14

I am most surprised about the large number of re-reads. Many of those were from the Chronicles of Narnia. The first time I read these books, I stalled out somewhere in the middle of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This time I finished them all, and they were also all audio books, which accounts for the unusually high number of audio books as well. I didn’t realize, however, that I was re-reading so many books that I had read before. Only two re-reads happened because I was teaching the books (The God of Small Things and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).

Favorite reads of the year (reviews linked):

Least favorite reads of the year:

Reading Challenge Stats:

  • R. I. P. Challenge: I read one of the four books I challenged myself to read. I am chalking that up to having a new position and becoming accustomed to the resulting increased workload in September and October, which coincide with the challenge months.
  • 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: Completed with two books extra. I read seven books and challenged myself to read five. I still haven’t seen any word about the 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Hmm.
  • Foodies Reading Challenge: I didn’t even start this one. I had good intentions of reading some of the foodie nonfiction I have been meaning to get to for some time, but I didn’t do it.
  • Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge: I read four of the five books I challenged myself to read.
  • Postal Reading Challenge: A very cool challenge that I never even started.
  • Book Bingo Reading Challenge: I scored BINGO twice, so I am calling that one met. I challenged myself to score BINGO once, which was five books, and I was able to count ten books for this challenge.
  • Where Are You Reading? Challenge: No set number of books, but I mapped each book I read.

Related posts:

Renoir

Year in Review 2013

RenoirAs I said in my previous post, I didn’t have such a good year this year in terms of meeting goals and challenges. I had planned to read 52 books, and I wound up reading 26, or about half of what I wanted to read.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Dana has
read 26 books toward her goal of 52 books.
hide

Boo!

Here is the stats breakdown:

  • Total number of books read: 26.
  • Fiction books: 23.
  • Nonfiction books: 3.
  • YA books: 7.
  • Audio books: 6.
  • Digital books: 10.
  • DailyLit books: 0.
  • Books reread: 9.

Favorite reads of the year (in no particular order):

Least favorite books:

  • [amazon_link id=”1419704281″ target=”_blank” ]Splintered[/amazon_link] by A. G. Howard (review)
  • [amazon_link id=”0545477115″ target=”_blank” ]The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle[/amazon_link] by Avi (review)

Favorite book meme of the year: Not that I participated all that much, but Top Ten Tuesdays. Again.

Favorite Reading Challenge: The R.I.P. Challenge, though I made very little progress this year. I was really in the mood for creepy books come fall, though.

Favorite Blog Posts (again, in no particular order, and not that I posted much):

I had a lot of fun with Harry Potter this year, but I stalled out in [amazon_link id=”0439358078″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix[/amazon_link]. Here’s hoping I can pick that back up again, but perhaps dial it back a bit. The posts I wrote were loooooong.

Here is my Where Are Your Reading 2013 Challenge map:


View 2013 Where Are You Reading Challenge in a larger map

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A Young Girl Reading

Five Things I’ve Gained from Reading

A Young Girl Reading
A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Carol Jago, an English teacher I admire, published a paper several years ago about why we should teach literature. In reply, Traci Gardner suggested we share what we’ve gained from reading literature. I’m not sure if Traci’s familiar with memes, but I like the idea. That said, this blog post has been sitting waiting to be finished since April 2009. Time to post it.

Instructions: Copy the questions and instructions below, and paste them into a blog entry, a note on Facebook, or a discussion forum—anywhere that you can reach the people you want to. You can use the comments area on this blog entry if you’d like as well. Delete my answers to the questions, and add your own. Feel free to any extra instructions or invite specific people to answer the questions when you post them.

Questions: Think about the literature you’ve read—short stories, novels, plays, memoirs, and poetry. Any literature counts, from picture books to epic poems, and from romance novels to sci-fi fan-fiction. Answer each question, and explain your response in a few sentences. Just copy the questions, remove my answers, add your own, and then invite others to respond.

  1. What piece of literature has stayed with you, even though you haven’t read it recently?
    One piece of literature I find myself thinking about a lot is [amazon_link id=”0380730405″ target=”_blank” ]Rebecca[/amazon_link]. We just watched the movie the other night, for one thing, but for another, I have been searching and searching for a book with that same sort of feel. I love that book, and I’ve been looking for one like without much success.
  2. What character or story has influenced something you’ve done?
    You’re going to laugh, but I married my husband because of [amazon_link id=”0440212561″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link]. For a lot of reasons. He knows and thinks it’s funny.
  3. What character or piece of literature seemed to relate to a recent news story or personal experience?
    I don’t know that the story is all that recent, but when the Rod Blagojevich story blew up, I immediately thought of [amazon_link id=”0743477103″ target=”_blank” ]Macbeth[/amazon_link]. Then the comparisons started coming. Now I feel like I see Macbeth everywhere, which is really frightening. So many people seem willing to lose themselves entirely to their ambition. Politicians especially. And the way they play with human lives is disgusting. We might as well all be the Macduffs. In which case, the politicians better watch it if we decide we’ve had enough one day.
  4. What character has make you wonder why he or she did/said something?
    This is a tough one because there are a lot of characters who make me wonder this sort of thing. I hardly know which one to choose! But I always wondered if Boo Radley really did stab his father with the scissors, and if he really did, why? Actually I wonder a lot about Boo Radley (rather like Scout!).
  5. Name something from a work of literature (such as a character, setting, or quotation) that you find beautiful or vivid.
    [amazon_link id=”0743273567″ target=”_blank” ]The Great Gatsby[/amazon_link] has so many beautiful and vivid passages. Here are some of my favorite ones.

“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”

 

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

 

And here is another of my favorites, from [amazon_link id=”0684801469″ target=”_blank” ]A Farewell To Arms[/amazon_link]:

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

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Vincent Van Gogh

Reading Challenges and Goals for 2014

Vincent Van GoghAh, yet another year in which I failed to complete most of the reading challenges and goals I set for myself. That’s fine. There is next year! Hope springs eternal and all that. I’ll do a recap of this year shortly, but I’m blaming my failures on three things: 1) the Doctor, 2) soapmaking, and 3) work. Not precisely in that order, but you get the idea.

But I do have some goals in mind for next year, and I have some reading challenges in mind, too.

I have tried and failed to read 52 books the last couple of years. I think perhaps that one year I read 50 was a fluke, especially given my current schedule. I have zero commute, so I can’t read books on the way to work anymore. I didn’t realize how much extra reading time that gave me, I guess. My goal for 2014 is a more modest 30 books. I actually did come close to reading 30 books this year, so perhaps reading 30 books is a goal that is within my grasp. I am all for challenging myself, but I hate the feeling of frustration that comes with falling so short of my goals that I actually give up and don’t read. That really happened to me this year. Stupid, yes. I didn’t say it made sense.

2014 Historical Fiction ChallengeI love participating in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge each year. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I plan to shoot for the Victorian Reader level of five books. I hope I will read more, and if I do, that’s great, but seeing as one of my other goals is to try to get through some books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time and try to stay on top of new releases better, I don’t want to box myself in too much by taking on a large number in any one genre.

As I have the last couple of years, I also plan to create my reading map and participate in the Where Are You Reading Challenge. Google Maps is more difficult to use with their new interface. I am hoping I don’t have to fight it too much.

When they come along, I hope to participate in Carl‘s challenges the Once Upon a Time Challenge and the R.I.P. Challenge. Actually, the R.I.P. Challenge is a must for me every year, but it’s been a while since I did Once Upon a Time.

Foodies ChallengeI always like to do something a little different, so this year, I’ll be trying out the Foodies Challenge. I’m not sure what I’ll read yet, but I’ll participate at Short Order Cook level (1-3 books). It might be just what I need to finally read [amazon text=For All the Tea in China&asin=0143118749], [amazon_link id=”0500286965″ target=”_blank” ]The True History of Chocolate[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0393343618″ target=”_blank” ]Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0061288519″ target=”_blank” ]97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement[/amazon_link], or [amazon_link id=”0385340869″ target=”_blank” ]The Cookbook Collector[/amazon_link]. Or maybe I could finish [amazon_link id=”0142001619″ target=”_blank” ]Salt: A World History[/amazon_link]! Anyone participating in this challenge looking for a good novel might try [amazon_link id=”B0043RSJQS” target=”_blank” ]The Kitchen Daughter[/amazon_link], which is an excellent foodie read.

2014 Witches and Witchcraft ChallengeOne final challenge: the 2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge. I love reading about witches, and I have few books I’ve been meaning to read forever that would be perfect. Perhaps it will even prompt me to pick up [amazon_link id=”0143123629″ target=”_blank” ]Shadow of Night[/amazon_link] (All Souls Trilogy, Bk 2). I’ll go for Initiate level (1-5 Witchy books). We have a goal of visiting Salem again now that we’re so close. For the record, Salem is one the most awesome places to visit. You should try to get there if you can.

Update, 12/29: Thanks to Iliana, I have discovered the Postal Reading Challenge. I love the idea of focusing on epistolary novels. As I told Iliana, I used to collect stamps as a child, and I already have one book in mind for the challenge A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps. I’ll go for the Postcard Level of four books. I hope I can figure out three other books to read.

Also thanks to Iliana, by a circuitous route, I found out about the 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge. I couldn’t resist that one. Using your reads to play Bingo? I mean, how much fun is that? Sold!

So that’s it. I think these are much more reasonable goals. Of course, it must be said one should shoot for the stars and all that, but I’m hoping by setting obtainable goals, I’ll feel less discouraged about my reading this year.

Image Vincent Van Gogh

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Year in Review 2013

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As I have for the past few years, I have spent the last few days reflecting on my reading year. This year wasn’t great. I didn’t meet any of my reading goals.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Dana has read 27 books toward her goal of 52 books.
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  • Total number of books read: 27.
  • Fiction books: 19.
  • Nonfiction books: 6.
  • Memoirs: 2.
  • YA books: 7.
  • Audio books: 2.
  • Digital books: 10.
  • DailyLit books: 0.
  • Books reread: 5.

Favorite Reads of the Year (in no particular order):

  1. Moloka’i, Alan Brennert
  2. Divergent, Veronica Roth
  3. The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey
  4. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  5. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  6. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce
  7. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  8. Smart Soapmaking and Milk Soapmaking, Anne L. Watson

Least Favorite Books (although this is relative because I didn’t have any less than 3-star books):

  1. Making Soaps & Scents, Catherine Bardey
  2. Delirium, Lauren Oliver

Favorite Book Meme of the Year: Top Ten Tuesdays.

Favorite Reading Challenge: The Mixing it Up Challenge (for at least making me thinking about going outside my usual reading comfort zones).

Favorite Blog Posts (again, in no particular order):

Here is my Where Are Your Reading 2012 Challenge map:


View 2012 Where Are You Reading Challenge in a larger map

I finished a re-read of Wuthering Heights recently, bringing my total to 27 books for the year. I don’t think I’ll finish anything else before the end of the year, so I’m calling it at 27. I have some hopes that if I buckle down, I can finish A Great and Terrible Beauty, but not high hopes.

In addition to not meeting my goal of reading 52 books, I also did not complete any of the challenges I set for myself. I think I over-committed myself on the challenges for sure, but I really did think I could meet the challenges. They didn’t seem onerous. I have decided to limit myself a bit more this year and just try to read things that look interesting.

I am also not going to host any challenges this year, as I find I am a terrible challenge host. I don’t think I peeked in after January, mainly because folks didn’t seem too interested in the challenge. I think I’d rather just participate in other challenges than host them.

There are good reasons for my failure to meet my reading goals. This year I moved and started a new job. I am not being too hard on myself because it was a huge adjustment. I moved 1000 miles from Roswell, GA (suburb of Atlanta) to Worcester, MA in central Massachusetts. We are all very happy in our new digs, and I love my new job.

In my previous job, I rode the bus to work, and my commute was typically 30 minutes each morning on the bus. I was able to get in a lot of reading that way, and I think my lack of commute now is a considerable factor in the number of books I was able to read. We moved here in June, and from that time onward, my commute was typically five minutes. The only way I could stretch it would be to walk, which I have done when the weather is nice, but it’s not conducive to reading. I actually can read and walk at the same time, but it’s better to have your wits about you. Even riding the bus, I only took about five minutes to get to work, but now that I’m carpooling with a coworker, it’s downright rude to think about. Essentially, one hour of reading time I used to have has been taken away. What I need to do is dedicate that reading time each day at home, even if I have to set a timer. I have often said that if something is important to you, you will make time for it. Well, reading is obviously important to me, but I have not been making as much time for it as I previously have done.

I’m looking forward to trying again to read a book a week this coming year.

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2011: A Reading Year in Review


Catalyst
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Looking for Alaska
Misery
Twisted
Sense and Sensibility
On Writing
Bridget Jones's Diary
The Night Circus
The Man with Two Left Feet: And Other Stories
Those Across the River
The Ballad of Tom Dooley: A Novel
The Secret History
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The Ballad of Frankie Silver
The Songcatcher
Adam & Eve: A Novel
A Room With a View
The Winter Sea

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This was my best reading year yet in terms of meeting my reading goals. Actually, it might have been the first year I actively set reading goals.

  • Total number of books read: 50.
  • Fiction books: 46.
  • Nonfiction books: 4.
  • YA books: 8.
  • Audio books: 3.
  • Kindle books: 14.
  • DailyLit books: 2.
  • Books reread: 2.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

Dana has completed her goal of reading 50 books in 2011!

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I recently posted my list of favorite books, but here is a quick list:

  1. Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly
  2. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
  3. On Writing, Stephen King
  4. The Songcatcher, Sharyn McCrumb
  5. The Paris Wife, Paula McLain
  6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  7. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  9. Passion, Jude Morgan
  10. The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry

Least favorite books of 2011 (no one-star books this year!):

Favorite book meme of the year: Top Ten Tuesdays.

Favorite reading challenge: The R.I.P. Challenge. Again.

Just a couple of days ago, I posted a list of my favorite blog posts for this year.

My Where Are You Reading 2011 reading challenge map (you can open it up and look all over):


View 2011 Where Are You Reading Challenge in a larger map

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