Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Books Read in 2018 Review

Christmas was about as perfect as Christmas gets. Angus was home for a nice long break. my sister came with her family, we got some snow, everyone was reasonably healthy (Eve had a cold but weathered it well), there was lots of cousin bonding time, there was much viewing of holiday movies of questionable taste, I got the kids everything they wanted on their Christmas lists and scored a few well-received cool surprises, and every single box of Christmas oranges was perfect. I was also beyond exhausted by the time we sat down for Christmas dinner, so even with my mantra of "do what you can and let the rest go" I think it's still a slightly insane season that pushes us to do nutty things against our self-interest, but it's a tangled thorny issue, people, we're all just doing the best we can.

I'm sure this will come as a surprise to everyone because it's NOT like I've been whinging about it at length on social media, but this year for the first time since I started tracking my reading back in 2009, I didn't hit my reading goal. Actually that's not even true, I only started setting a reading goal of exceeding my previous year's total a couple of years ago, so it's extra dumb that it's bugging me. There are a couple of factors in play, I think - I got a couple of jobs, I have a whack of perimenopausal chemicals sapping my focus, I spent too much time scrolling on my phone, and for a good few weeks I was just too exhausted to read more than few pages every night before falling asleep, just like a normal person (usually I'm an abnormal person who will fall asleep reading at 3 in the afternoon but if I start a book at ten I can go right through until 4 a.m.)

I'm still deciding what to do about a reading goal for this year. I'm in a Book Bingo group on Facebook that I enjoy because it makes me seek out books I wouldn't read otherwise. I generally try to balance pleasure reading with reading that is - I don't even know, more substantial, or teaches me something, or challenges my mind a little more - but at this point in life sometimes I just give up and stick to comfort reading for a while, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and I don't consider pleasure reading a waste of time in any way. So my goals should probably be more about reading more and scrolling social media less (taking a page from Nicole HI NICOLE and her weekly social-media fasting), and trying for variety in reading material which I do anyway. If anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to chime in.

So, 109 is this year's grand total (I did stay up most of the night finishing The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle the night before our New Year's party - it was worth it). Two unrated/DNFs, ten two-stars, thirty-seven three-stars, forty-five four-stars and twelve five-stars (don't check my math). I tried to log Salty Tooth, an excellent New York Times essay about Scandinavian salty licorice that a book club friend sent around and I found delightful, but Goodreads didn't recognize it, so HMPH.

I will henceforth commence with the reviewing. How was your reading year? Any favourites? Any massive turkeys? Any reading goals for next year? And how was your Christmas? Is that too many questions?


Nicole MacPherson said...


I love your book reviews and they always give me some great reading ideas. I always put a bunch of books on hold after you do your reviews. Always! Also, what is this Book Bingo? The great thing for me about my library app is that I have been reading books outside of my usual genres and trying new things. The downside is pretty limited in this way, and sometimes I've really enjoyed things I never thought I would.

Also - how did you manage to get all perfect boxes of oranges? Maybe buy a lottery ticket now?

I also do what I can, etc., but the festive season is still pretty tiring.

Mary Lynn said...

Happy New Year Allison! I tried commenting last night and my comment disappeared in a proverbial puff of smoke, but I am not deterred! I am trying again!

I had a good Christmas, though I’m back at work today and feeling a bit cranky about that. I like my job, but I would like it more with just a few more days off.

I managed to get through 40 books last year, which was more than I’d read in a long time. And considering I’d only pledged to read 30, I’m feeling quite pleased. This year I’m pledging 45. We shall see how that goes. I confess I did do a few of the books in audio format...mostly non-fiction. I find I like reading fiction, but listening to non-fiction (while driving, cooking, folding laundry). I also listened to The Goldfinch because there was no bloody way I was going to get through that book otherwise. Gah, it should have been edited down to a fraction of its length.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

Book Bingo?? I've never heard of that. It sounds intriguing! I think you can be happy with your number of 108 books for 2018 - that's much more than most people.

Christmas was good - busy as usual but I like that I work for a school so at least I have these couple of weeks off to deal with it all. I work for a private school as the public schools here really don't have any librarians or library techs. It's a fairly depressing and maddening trend - is your school job public or private?

Shannon said...

I totally just fell off the wagon with reading. I am way short of my goal and I don't really know why it happened. It's weird. Usually reading is something I use to keep my anxiety in check and definitely to turn off my brain before bed, but I guess I haven't really needed it that way, which is good, but also not so good because I miss it.

Common Household Mom said...

Holy cannoli, 109 books! I am awarding you the Reading Merit Badge!

I finished 40 books this year. I don't set a goal of a certain number of books, because that would just drive me insane to have yet one more mark I miss. I am doing a LOT more reading of news than in years past. But I too would like to push myself to take at least one day a week off of social media. So far that goal is not going well.

I am in two book clubs (how did I get so lucky?!) which pushes me to read some things I otherwise wouldn't. For the one club, our next book is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (haven't started it yet) and for the other club we are going to discuss Shakespeare's The Tempest, in January and then go see the play in February.

Comfort / pleasure reading is never a waste.

Our Christmas holiday was good - in some ways more relaxed than previous years, but with a level of anxiety added by the elderly relatives and their discontent with their situation.

Steph Lovelady said...

I'm glad you had a nice Christmas. How long is Angus home?

My final total this year was 64. I set 52 as a goal for this year because it's a little higher than 64 minus the books I read because of Noah in the last four months. Plus I liked the one-a-week simplicity of that number. We'll see how it goes.

Clara said...

108 is a totally laudable (NOT LAUGHABLE, READ IT AGAIN) number of books and I support you sleeping more. I get the disappointment though. I only read 64 when my goal was 75 and even though it's all completely arbitrary I still felt a twinge.

The last two books I read in 2018 were great: Sally Field's memoir "In Pieces" and a book called The Quiet Hour by Nina Riggs (also a memoir, quite devastating). Both left me feeling quite pensive and low/maudlin so I chased them with If Life Gives you Lululemons and now I'm chasing THAT with The Marrow Thieves.

Happy 2019 and may the perimenopausal gods give you a damn break (and all the rest of us too) Perimenopausal blogging is the new mommyblogging (snort)

clara said...

UGH the Nina Riggs book is called The Bright Hour not The Quiet Hour. UGH. Sorry.