Reading Resolutions 2014: How Did I Do?

Reading Resolutions

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:

  1. Read well.
  2. Move out of my reading comfort zone.

You can read my original post for more detail about each resolution and why I chose it.

Read Well

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?

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17 thoughts on “Reading Resolutions 2014: How Did I Do?

  1. Great post. I set a goal to read 60 books this year and I reached my goal. But, I agree with you on not being stressed on reaching a target but rather taking time to read well.
    Next year, I may read less because I want to read more classics and books in French. It will take me more time since I tend to write a lot of notations. I don’t want to be stressed out about time or posting regularly. I am thinking to read and write many reviews prior to publishing them.
    Best wishes for 2015 reading goal.

  2. Congratulations on doing so well with your goals. I love your read well resolution, as it coincides with what I’ve been thinking about. I’ve decided to not track my reading in any way in 2015, or aim to read/review a certain number of books. I’m just going to immerse myself in the written word and love every minute 🙂

    • Thank you! Good luck with your own goal – I have to say that I’ve found not tracking how many books I’m reading etc. has been great and it’s lovely to concentrate on one book at a time without racing to start another one 🙂

  3. Well done for doing so well on your reading goals! I think these are both really great resolutions to make, and I may have to try to read books a bit closer and read outside of my comfort zone more often in the New Year!
    Reviewing all the books I read has definitely made me think more about why I do or don’t like books as well, but I do tend to read one book and then immediately start another, and sometimes I think I forget things I wanted to say in my review because it is no longer fresh in my mind. Taking a day or so break in between finishing a book and starting a new one sounds like a good idea! Great post!

  4. Congratulations! I too definitely find the process of reviewing makes me think more about what I’m reading, and also makes me remember books better. Hmm…I didn’t have any particular goals, but I intended to read more American classics, which I have done and thoroughly enjoyed, but not as many as I hoped. That’ll be ongoing this year. And I intended to do more re-reading, but got bogged down in new books for review and hardly re-read anything – must do better!

    • Thank you! It really helps, doesn’t it? Glad you enjoyed reading more American classics! I intend to do more rereading next year – I think I only reread 1 book this year!

  5. Well done on your achievements with your reading goals, Gemma. I really like what you say in your ‘read well’ section and it chimes with some of the things I’ve been thinking about this year. It’s a good idea to leave a little space between finishing one book and starting another – I tend to do the same and finding a helpful way to clear my mind.

  6. I love your resolution to read more thoughtfully. I hate when someone asks me about a book I’ve read and I don’t know what to tell them. Blogging forces me to figure out what I liked about a book, and why I’d recommend it or not. And to be a little more thoughtful. Great bookish resolutions. What are your reading goals for next year?

  7. Fab post. I think blogging alone (or the intention to blog) automatically makes you become a more analytical reader and I love it. Most of all, it’s just nice to share with people who are genuine book geeks! I really appreciate your points on taking your time with books and I’ve been thinking on that as a resolution for me in 2015. I’ve had so many books due for review this year that I’ve been on a strict ‘book a week’ rule which is fine and dandy, but reading David Copperfield isn’t working that way (obviously!). It’s slowed me right down and, although I had to fight the desire to move on at first, I’m now really enjoying it and appreciating the story so much more. I’m beginning to thing I should just break off from books for a short while if I have a deadline… though will I then break the spell? Agh! What to do….

    • Thank you! I know what you mean, and I’ve found that by not setting myself any targets of how many books to read or when to finish a book, I’m taking my time and appreciating the book more. Good luck with your resolutions for next year 🙂

  8. It sounds like you did pretty well with your reading goals for this year.

    I can relate to your first goal a little… I specifically didn’t create a book count for the year, something I had done in previous years, as I wanted to appreciate what I read a little more. I feel like I managed that. I read under 50 books, maybe even under 40, but what I did read I thoroughly enjoyed. Also, like you, I took a day or so between books – if I’m planning to post a review I like to get that written before moving on – and that made me think a lot more about what I was reading.

    I kept my reading resolutions for 2014 pretty light however I did fail a little on two of them (I had 5)… I didn’t step out of my comfort zone as much as I would have liked to and I didn’t do too well on curbing my spending on books. Both of these will be addressed in my reading resolution for the year though, so I do intend to rectify those in the new year.

    I look forward to hearing your goals for 2015!
    🙂

    • Thanks, Jade! I read under 50 books this year too but I’m happy with that – like you, I enjoyed what I did read and enjoyed thinking about the books a little more 🙂

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