03 January 2016

Goodreads Challenge Update

The surprise of the weekend is that I've completed my 2015 reading challenge with three weeks until the end of the year!

I started this post almost a month ago and well, you can all see what a great job I've done of finishing it. I meant to use the last three weeks to tell you about the books I've been reading and to mention some highlights of the year. 

For all of my anti-series posturing, I've broken that rule so many times in 2015 that I don't think it should be a rule any more. I stumbled upon an Irish miniseries called Jack Taylor. When the series was over (far too quickly, for my taste) I pulled the name from the credits and found out that there were books. Lots of books. I've read eight so far and they still aren't over. They are terribly depressing and the writing is so different from anything I've read before. And I just can't seem to put them down. 

I caught up with the rest of Liane Moriarty's work this year. I can't tell you what to read, but I would stick with her more recent stuff. She has grown as a writer and the world is a better place for it. 

Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda was an excellent surprise. I got it by recommendation of Rachel, so of course it had to be good. But truly. It was one of those books I was happy to be surprised by. 

I had four re-reads this year (Fangirl, Love Virtually, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets & Prisoner of Azkaban) so I count that as improvement. 

I had high expectation for Audrey and Bill, the story of how Audrey Hepburn and William Holden fell in love. They were, however, dashed in the depression of the entire affair. The golden age of Hollywood had some terribly dark corners to it. I also learned that sometimes I expect a lot from biographical/autobiographical books. Part of me expects to learn every twist and turn about the subject/author, so deep that I could say I know them. However, they write only what they want you to know and what they are comfortable sharing. And even though it makes me kinda cranky, isn't that their right? Don't they deserve some privacy? Maybe they shouldn't have decided to become famous, you say. Okay maybe. But since when did being famous divorce you from your right to privacy? I think we've let celebrity become too high an altar. 


I read more than my goal this year and my total read count grew closer to sixty, I started to get nervous. I never though I could read 60 books in a year; how am I going to top this for 2016? What if I fail? 
I started setting goals for book reading because it gives me something to do. If I don't set a goal, I won't read. That's not quite right, no. I will read, but I will read aimlessly. I will read like a hobby. I will read like I knit (or sadly, write): during a certain season and only during that season. I love books and I love reading.

 Matt Chandler said something like when love runs into the soul, it creates discipline. He meant it for more than books and reading, but for many years I have been trying to figure out what that meant. As I'm typing this, furiously before midnight and before my laptop dies, I think I maybe finally understand what he means. It's not "Ugh, I HAVE to read so let me set a stupid number." It is so much more than that. It's more like, "I love this thing, reading, and I want to do more of it. I want to learn more, love more, meet more characters, understand what makes a story great and what makes a story okay. I want to get lost in language and understand enough to know when the spark of story and brilliance is there and when it isn't."

So yes, I set my goal. I set it for 61 books in 2016. Thanks to my inability to actually and seriously stop reading, I've already got one book down. Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton" is sitting on my bedside table, mocking me as I fall asleep each night. It will be a miracle if I can finish all 800 pages of it this year. Thank heavens I have a 40 page head start.

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