I had fun coming up with this year’s reading goals:
- Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
This year’s buddy read with a friend. We’ll be reading it from January to October, 112 pages per month. It’s a Japanese classic from the 11th century, one of the oldest novels of the world. I’ve got a gorgeous Penguin Classic Deluxe edition, translated by Royall Tyler, with illustrations and footnotes. I’m really looking forward to starting it.
- Louise Erdrich as my focus author for this year.
Last year I focused on Toni Morrison and Charles Dickens and read a novel by each author each month as a kind of challenge. I managed to keep to it, but it was a near thing. So, this year I’m only focusing on one author and won’t attempt to read all her novels. I commit to reading the Love Medicine series:
- Love Medicine (1984)
- The Beet Queen (1986)
- Tracks (1988)
- The Bingo Palace (1994)
- Tales of Burning Love (1997)
- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001)
- Four Souls (2004)
- The Painted Drum (2005)
- Read a poem a day.
I started this last year and loved it, so I’m continuing. It’s an easy goal, I read my daily poem each morning in bed.
- Read a short story a day.
Also started this last year and loved it, so here I go again. It’s also fairly easy, I usually read the short story at night in bed.
- Read six unread books from my shelves or my Kindle.
Self-explanatory. I failed at this goal last year, so hopefully it’ll go better this time round.
- Read six books in translation or from countries other than the US or the UK.
Most of the books I read last year were written by American or British authors (at least that’s my impression, I didn’t count them). I’m also interested in reading works from other cultures.
- Read six non-fiction books.
I read a lot more than six non-fiction books in 2020, but I’m keeping the goals low, so as not to turn reading into a chore.
As you can see, I kept some of the goals from last year, and modified others. Reading all the novels of Toni Morrison and Charles Dickens (except one) in one year started feeling like a straitjacket sometime around July. The Morrison novels not so much, but Dicken’s novels are mostly huge and took up a lot of reading time. Basically each month I considered dropping the goal. Except then I started the novel of the month and liked it, so I made the goal after all. But I felt constrained in my free selection of reading material and I don’t want to do that again. That’s why this year I’m only focusing on one author and I’m not aiming to read all her novels. I liked the experience of reading all of an author’s work, because it made me see patterns and recurring themes in their work which was interesting.
I also want to try to get an overview of all my unread books. I had quite a lot of years after I started working when I stopped reading a lot, but still bought books. There’s also a lot of books on my Kindle that I haven’t read yet. I hope to make a list of all my unread books this year and read some of them. I was a bookworm as a teenager, with limited pocket-money that I mostly spent on books and couldn’t imagine owning books that I hadn’t read. I bought books and read them. I borrowed books from the library and read them. Once I started work, I had more money to spend but less time or inclination to read, so books started accumulating (sometimes after work one is just knackered and can only manage to hang out in front of the TV). There are also a lot of series that I started and still want to finish. A few sci-fi and fantasy ones, but also some crime series. I used to read a lot of crime novels, but last year I only read two. This year, with less ambitious goals, I hope to have time for catching up.
I also got rid of reading graphic novels as a goal. I liked the graphic novels I read last year, but quite often I just don’t feel like graphic novels. I’m only going to read graphic novels this year if I’m so inclined. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m planning on choosing some of my books for goal 6 from the ones selected by the Goodreads group “Read Around the World Book Club” and I’m thinking of choosing some of my non-fiction from the “Booknaturalists” on Instagram. But I’m not committing to reading all these selections. That would start seeming like homework again.
I’m looking forward to the reading year.
Keep safe, world.