How many books could you read in a year, and still keep your life in balance? What alchemy of books would you choose, to both challenge and comfort your mind and nourish your spirit as well as season your own writing? These are good questions to ask at the end of December, knowing that several weeks of cold weather and indoor cuddling lie ahead.
The owner of local book store Full Circle Books is known to read at least four brand new titles each week, while still running a successful business. My friend Melissa holds down a full time job, takes care of her parents and dogs, stays active socially, and last year read 85 books. Wow! I don’t know what the average is, but that sounds high.
This coming year I will pull away from Dinner Club With a Reading Problem and instead spend time reading my own lists of titles at my pwn pace. I am looking again at my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads to see what has slipped my memory. Plenty, to answer that question in a word. 289 books teasing my imagination, and that list is nowhere near complete.
So how to strategize? Here is my plan for the New Year:
Twelve months, 36 books. That should be totally achievable and leave space for spontaneous finds along the way.
Four Difficult Books:
I am thinking along the lines of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. One of these every quarter is fair, right? Maybe Don Quixote will happen after all. Not that the material of either of these is difficult; but the reading is awfully tedious. Also in the “difficult” category, though, would be The Shack by William Young. I read about 80% of it several years ago and stopped because of what was happening in my life at that time. Maybe now I can read it with wiser eyes, a stronger heart.
One Fiction Per Month: Easy-peasy. Talented authors abound. Fiction is what I want to write myself soon, so overdosing on a variety of styles is good. Plus so much fun.
One Non-Fiction Per Month: Lots of great choices out there. I love my friend Jennifer’s idea of going on a memoir safari and might diverge a bit on this theme. There are also, of course, so many great books out there on the creative process, lots of history, inspirational stuff, and on and on. Twelve non-fiction pieces should be almost automatic.
Something Translated to English: I recently listened to a Ted talk by Ann Morgan, who decided to expand her literary repertoire by spending a full year reading books from all around the globe, nothing written by British or North American authors. Totally inspirational. Check out her related blog A Year of Reading the World. With the exception of the first part of Don Quixote and a smattering of Greek mythology, I am pretty sure I have only read English literature, always. This shows great room for improvement.
Best Seller: I just want to hip and stylish, is that so wrong?
Rare Bird Lit: This is the publishing house in California where my friend Julia works. She has generously sent me a stack of books by several of her authors, and I have enjoyed every single one I have read so far, some more than others. This year I will dig into that stack again.
New to Me Classic: It’s embarrassing how many widely accepted classics are foreign to me. Need to fix this.
Classic Re-Read: I can’t stop thinking of Nathaniel Hawthorne for some reason. Maybe because our perspective changes so much over time, and my tenth grade prejudices while reading The Scarlet Letter must surely have evolved by now. Gotta find out. No promises, though; another classic encore may suddenly seem way more important.
Summertime Guilty Pleasures: Three months of deck living calls for at least three guilty pleasure reads. Not sad about this plan.
Okay, this is where my literary appetite is as of late December. I love the look and feel of a fresh, clean calendar, and knowing I have a year to explore this many different kinds of books is very exciting. What are your literary goals for 2016? Are you on Goodreads? I’d love to stalk you there.
“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”