2014 has been a good reading year for me: I’ve read books I’ve loved and discovered new favourite authors, I’ve had free reign over what I’ve been reading, and I’ve read great books I might never have known of thanks to lots of different book blogs.
I started 2014 with 2 Reading Resolutions:
- Read well.
- Move out of my reading comfort zone.
You can read my original post for more detail about each resolution and why I chose it.
This year I wanted to concentrate on how well I read books, rather than how many I read or trying to read a book by a certain time. I wanted to appreciate every word that an author writes because they’ve been chosen for a reason. I wanted to consider the books I read more, instead of finishing one and quickly moving onto another book.
I think I’ve done well with this resolution and it’s one that I want to keep in 2015 too. This blog has definitely helped me to read better: I write notes as I read, I consider the book while I write about it, I write my reviews, and even after the post has been published, I’m often still discussing it with everyone in the comments section. I feel that I’m more analytical with my reading in a way I wasn’t before – I might know I like a book, but now I question why? What is the author doing and how? Why exactly doesn’t that part of the book work for me?
Because I’m thinking about the book more and trying to articulate my thoughts on it, I’ve also found that I now tend to leave at least a day between one book and the next. I feel like this gives me the space and time to truly consider a book and for me to leave the characters and plot behind before moving onto something else. It almost feels that I begin a new book with ‘fresh eyes’.
Move Out of my Reading Comfort Zone
I haven’t done as well with this resolution as I’d hoped. I’ve only read two non-fiction books this year, and got part-way through a third; I didn’t manage to read any plays. While I’m disappointed, I’m also not surprised. As I’ve talked about before, 2014 is the first year that I’ve not had a reading list and so I’ve been really enjoying having more of a choice over what I read. And so if I didn’t feel like reading a particular book, I wouldn’t. And this could be why I didn’t necessarily branch out and read as diversely as I hoped I would.
But, that being said, this year I have pushed myself with my reading and I haven’t shied away from more challenging books. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed it. Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, for example, was a book unlike anything I’d read before; Ali Smith’s How to be both made me think about the form of a novel; I read a book I’d previously been apprehensive about reading (Nabokov’s Lolita); I read more translated fiction (Gerbrand Bakker’s The Detour and The Twin, Laurent Binet’s HHhH); I read a book whose size intimidated me but I ended up absolutely loving (The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton). I think I’ve done well with this resolution, but I could have done better. Perhaps next year I’ll specify exactly what type of books I’d like to read so there’s more of a structure.
An Extra Resolution
An unofficial resolution, more like a goal, for myself this year was to review every book I read this year because that is what this blog is for – a place for me to record my thoughts on the books I read. I’ve done really well with this goal this year – there were only 3 books I read that I didn’t talk about on the blog. One was Jane Austen’s Persuasion simply because I didn’t feel I had much to say or add to the conversation; the others were Harry Leslie Smith’s Harry’s Last Stand and Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson because I ran out of time to write my reviews before I went travelling, and now I feel too much time has passed for me to be able to write good pieces about them.
That being said, I’ll say here that I would recommend reading Harry’s Last Stand – a mixture of manifesto and memoir, it is an important, passionate book confronting some of the aspects Harry believes need to change in today’s politics. He puts forward his points articulately and coherently and, while I didn’t necessarily agree with all of his ideas and thought more solutions could perhaps have been offered, it’s a thought provoking and educational book which we all should read, even if just to start an important conversation about the future of politics.
Astrid and Veronika is a sad and touching story about two women’s friendship and grief. Both women have pasts they are hiding from and their friendship brings this out into the open, their conversations giving them permission to confront their pasts and move forward. It was a good read, but unfortunately I didn’t feel much attachment to the characters.
Back to my resolutions – all in all, I haven’t done too badly and I’m pleased with how they’ve gone this year. Both resolutions are ones I want to continue with in 2015 – look out for a post on next year’s Reading Resolutions which will be coming soon!
Did you have resolutions for your reading this year? How did you get on?