In 2016, I vow to read fewer books.
Before I tell you why, we need to talk about reading challenges, and resolutions, and manifestos, and such. My issues with them are many, and as follows. Oh, I don’t mean YOUR reading challenge, settle down. OR DO I?
- The assumption that people give a shit what you’re reading. Particularly with respect to TBR challenges. Why on earth do I care if, or for how long, you’ve owned a book? I do not. I give a shit if you have something to say about what you’ve read. (I am participating in a TBR challenge this year, so I guess I kind of care. I still find it odd.)
- Approval-seeking. Particularly with respect to diversity challenges. I actually saw someone tweet about how many days it’d been since they’d read a cis-het white male author. That’s wonderful, but talk to me once you’ve reviewed one of those books. You don’t get a cookie for #readingdiverse. (Yes, I unfollowed.)
- Strict rules. Insisting on strict definitions of what constitutes a classic? Nope. Kicking me out of the challenge if I don’t post an update by whatever date? Nope. Insert “Ain’t nobody got time” or “zero fucks” meme here.
- Quantity over quality. You read 52 books this year? 75? 100? 250? 300? That’s nice. Tracking is fine. But challenges that emphasize how many books you read are just weird. I mean, if you read one book this year, you’re ahead of the majority of the population, so calm down.
- Pigeonholing. Particularly with respect to “reading bingo” type challenges with a bunch of categories to fill in. Now, I know the categories aren’t meant to be mutually exclusive, but, it’s kind of implied. So when one of your sixteen categories is “female author,” I’m gonna give it a side eye. Surely, there are better ways to define a challenge category! Check out this great post from Feminist Texican Reads about a Feminist Read Harder Challenge to see what I mean.
The absolute worst example of all of these things, and the inspiration for this post, appears not on a book blog, but on LitHub, of all places. A Reader’s Manifesto for 2016 is about one guy’s reading resolutions, though the title implies it’s for all readers, and pardon me, these are not mere resolutions, this is a manifesto, which is much fancier. Okay then. We’ve got the “assuming people give a shit” angle covered. Continue reading
Insert “excuses for not writing wrap-up posts, that no one noticed I didn’t write, and the excuses are also humblebrags, and/or pleas for pity and/or compliments” here.
Let’s just call this 2015 so far.
4 and 5 star reads that’d I’d recommend to almost anybody:
- The Bear by Clare Cameron (review, sort of)
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
- NW by Zadie Smith (audio)
- When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
- Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (audio)
- Ablutions by Patrick deWitt
Some notable acquisitions. Follow me on Instagram if you care to see my book mail and also my children.
- The Secret Library by Haruki Murakami courtesy of Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf
- Mrs. Dalloway courtesy of Robert at 101 Books. I won a contest and could pick any of the 101 books, so of course I picked his most hated book.
- Humans 3.0, Knife Party at the Hotel Europa, and Where the Nights are Twice as Long courtesy of Goose Lane Editions: My mom saw these books at my house and told me several times how attractive they were. She was petting them. She likes shiny things.
- Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz courtesy of Hello Hemlock. Read along in May and get ready to discuss in June.
- Things You’ve Inherited From Your Mother by Hollie Adams courtesy of NeWest Press
Up to the Challenge
I am doing some reading challenges this year:
- The Forsyte Saga Chronicles with Ali of HeavenAli and others, because why challenge yourself to read just one Victorian novel when you can read nine that total like 2700 pages? I’m on book two and loving it.
- Book Riot Read Harder Challenge or at least one aspect of it. I find reading bingo challenges to be a bit… much. I will never keep track or remember to check things off. So I zero’d in on one square in Book Riot’s bingo card: read a book someone recommends to you. I’m taking that to mean someone in real life. So far, I’ve read The Japanese Lover by Rani Manicka (recommended by my mom,) Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer (my husband,) and next up, Let the Elephants Run by David Usher (my brother.) I wouldn’t have picked any of these books on my own.
- Back from the DNF is my own little challenge and I hope to knock off another book or two.
A little local non-fiction:
- Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything by Timothy Caufield which I wrote about here.
- How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting: Stores of Pregnancy, Parenthood and Loss edited by Jessica Hiemstra and Lisa Martin-Demoor. I’ve already passed this on to a friend. I didn’t notice the dedication till I was about to mail it. A really beautiful book.
Where I’ll be
You might find me at these places IRL and on the internet over the next few months:
- The 2015 Kreisel Lecture with Lynn Coady. Actually happened a few nights ago. Serious literature + Grover = awesome. More to come.
- WriteReads talking about Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. Yes, the other book won the vote. I changed my mind.
- Book Bloggers International talking about book blogging in Canada. I am really feeling Reading in Winter’s absence right now, as she has written about this topic so eloquently in the past!
- The Yeggies winning the Best in Arts and Culture Award (hopefully)
- Book Expo America in NYC with ebooksclassics and JFranz.
- The Group-Along: Yes, I’ve decided on my annual read-along and it shall by The Group by Mary McCarthy, inspired by this post on Uncovered Classics, by the fact that McCarthy is from Minnesota and now so is my sister, who always gamely joins my read-alongs, and by my years of devotion to Sex and the City (pre-movies,) which took inspiration from this book. Watch for a sign up post later in the summer.