Category Archives: Reading plans
I completely forgot to do this update in June. I shall have to make this a bumper episode about what I’m currently reading, what I recently read and what I plan to read next.
What I’m reading now
Like many of you I’m finding it hard to focus while the word around me is in such chaos. I keep picking out books from my “owned but unread” shelves, reading a chapter and then losing interest. So I have five partially read books dotted around the house. None of them are badly written, they are just not suiting my mood at the moment.
Three have so far managed to retain my interest.
On my Kindle is a crime novel by an author who has chosen to make her home in Wales. Rather To Be Pitied is the second in a series by Jan Newton which features Detective Sergeant Julie Kite. They are all set in mid Wales which makes a refreshing change; so many crime novels have a city setting. I’m enjoying discovering the locations through the eyes of this DS who has moved to Wales from Manchester. Given Jan Newton’s current home is in Wales, and her book is published by Honno Press (A Welsh independent company) this novel more than fits the criteria for the “Wales” category in my 20BooksOfSummer reading project.
My project to read all of Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire series, moved a little closer to the finishing line last month when I read Framley Parsonage. I’ve now moved on to book number five which is The Small House At Allington. It’s a lot more domestic in its focus than the previous books have been. While the previous books revolved around the political and religious worlds, this one concerns young woman of independent spirit who nonetheless longs to be loved.
Finally, a book I started reading in May but have only just reached the half way mark. I absolutely love The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel but find it takes a lot of concentration to fully appreciate and I don’t have that right now. So I’m reading it in small sections….
What I just finished reading
Back in 2019 I took out a monthly subscription with the Asympote Book Club, the only club I’ve found which is dedicated to world literature in translation. It’s introduced me to some fantastic new authors and books that I would never have discovered myself.
Love by the Norwegian author Hanne Ørstavik is a slim volume but for tension and intensity it knocks socks off novels that are double its size. It recounts the story of one icy night in the lives of a mother and her son. Though the book is called Love, it actually deals with emotional distance or the absence of love. Mind-blowingly brilliant in the way it weaves narratives from mother and child as they both venture out from the safety of their home onto the perilous darkened roads of a village.
What I’ll read next
I might return to one of those partially-read books I mentioned earlier. But I’m more likely to choose one of the novels that will be coming out in the next few months like Kate Grenville’s A Room Full Of Leaves and The Mission House by Carys West.
Also tempting me is They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell which was published in 1937 but is being reissued as a Random House Vintage edition. It’s a portrait of an ordinary American family struck by the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and having read a review of it just this weekend, I know it’s going to be one I enjoy.
On top of that I have The Dutch House by Ann Patchett to read for the book club meeting in August. So, as always, I am not exactly lost for options.
Those are my plans. Now what’s on YOUR reading horizon for the next few weeks? Let me know what you’re currently reading or planning to read next.
This post is for WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.
I plead guilty to the charges of inconsistency, fickleness and caprice.
But before you pass sentence, I hope you’ll allow me to explain the mitigating circumstances that have led me, against my better judgement, to join this year’s #20booksofsummer.
At the start of the year I made a rule: 2020 would be a year free of reading challenges that involved reading from a list of books. I went on the record to explain that while I love making lists, I’m a lost cause when it comes to actually reading from those lists. The minute the list is done, my interest wanes. And then those books become almost the very last books on earth I want to read….
For five months I have not deviated from my rule. But (there’s always a but isn’t there?) then came the beginning of June and another round of #20booksofsummer.
Now this event, hosted every year by Cathy at 746books.com. is one of the reading highlights of the year. I love it so much I’ve taken part for several years even though I’ve never managed to actually complete the challenge. Last year was the closest I got with 13 books read from my list.
Imagine then the pain over the last few days of seeing the reading plans of many other bloggers, knowing that I wouldn’t be joining them. My resolution began to crumble to the extent I even began making a list. But I gave myself a good talking to and ditched the whole thing.
Yet here I am on day one of #20booksofsummer 2020. How come you wonder?
I blame Lizzy, the blogger behind lizzysiddal.com. When she posted her plans for #20booksofsummer. I saw that she had identified categories of books rather than specific titles, because, like me, she doesn’t do well reading from lists.
love the #20booksofsummer challenge
And that became the moment where I realised there was a way for me to join #20booksofsummer but still keep true to my 2020 ‘no lists’ rule. It means manipulating the rules somewhat. Some unkind people might call that cheating. I like to think of it as being creative!.
So here we have my non-list list for summer 2020. It’s based on categories which I think gives me plenty of freedom about what I choose to read.
I’m aiming to read 15 books within four categories:
- Review copies
- World of literature
- Non Fiction
At a rough count I have around 30 books written by authors either indigenous to Wales or who have made their home here. That gives me more than enough scope to read four or five books in this category. That could include West, a highly rated novella by Carys Davies,; two novels from the independent women’s press Honno (A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow, and Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin), or to vary the genre, The Innocent Wife , a debut thriller by Amy Lloyd.
My list of unread books obtained via NetGalley is now at an embarrassing level so I’m going to use #20booksofsummer to make some inroads into the backlog. Options include (but are not limited to): The Vanishing Sky by an award winning German author, L. Annette Binder and a new Virago Classics edition of They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell which is a portrait of an ordinary American family struck by the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
World of Literature
I’m 10 books away from completing my World of Literature project. The idea behind that was to broaden my reading horizons by exploring authors from countries further afield than my usual fare of British/American literature. I have some titles remaining from the Asympote Book Club subscription that I hope to get around to plus some titles by authors from Somalia and Indonesia.
My final category gives me a chance to dig into the pile of non fiction books I’ve acquired over several years. There are some memoirs like In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park and Forty Autumns, a history of a German family separated by the Berlin Wall. Will this be the year I finally get around to reading one of the Roman history books by Mary Beard I bought on a whim?
Watch this space and you’ll find out if I have any more success reading categories than I do reading from lists…..
The year is barely a week old and I’m already feeling I’m in catch up mode. I meant to share my 2020 plans well before now but it’s taken me until today to work out what exactly I want to focus on this year.
I’ve spent the last few days soul searching as well as reflecting on my experience over the last few years when I set specific goals for reading and blogging. And I’ve come to a few conclusions which are going to influence what I do this year.
The End of Challenges
The biggest decision is to stop doing reading challenges that involve making lists of titles to read. I love the process of creating the list but as soon as that’s done, and it’s time to actually read those chosen books, my interest in them completely fades away. Having a list to work through takes away the element of freedom.
Instead of being able to choose a book at random from my ‘owned but unread’ shelves or delve into something that caught my eye in the library, I’m ‘having’ to read one of the titles on my list. Just so that I can make some inroads into that challenge.
It’s why I’ve never completed a #20booksofsummer project. Even reducing the number to 15 this year didn’t work (though I came close). It’s also why it’s taken me longer than the target 5 years to get through the Classics Challenge and why, unbelievably, my Booker Prize project is unfinished seven years after it began.
Away With Lists
Lists are clearly not my thing. Neither are challenges that require me to read specific categories of books or numbers of books within a specified time period. Some of those I’ve been undertaking in recent years, like the Booker Prize project have been entirely self imposed. So I have only myself to blame for that!
There’s nothing wrong with the challenges themselves. Plenty of other bloggers and readers find them enjoyable and rewarding and, amazingly, have the ability to cope with several at the same time. It’s not the challenge that’s the issue; it’s me.
2020 will therefore be a year without challenges. I’ll finish the ones I’ve already started – I’ve come so far with most of them that it would be silly to stop now – but I won’t go looking for anything new. I want a year of relaxed, stress-free reading.
I’ve Started So I’ll Finish
Booker Prize Project: One more title to go and then I’ll have read (or attempted to read) every winner from 1969 to 2015. That’s 50 winners in total. Once I’ve read How Late It Was How Late by James Kelman, I’ll be done. I don’t regret having spent time with the Booker Prize but my interest in it as a literary prize has seriously waned in the last few years so I won’t be committing myself to reading any of the post 2015 winners.
Classics Club challenge: I embarked on this in November 2012. According to the ‘rules’ I was supposed to have read 50 books from my list by November 2017. Well, it’s now more than 2 years later and I still have three titles yet to go. I’m using the latest Classics Club spin to give me a nudge towards the finishing line. I still have books on my original list that I haven’t read. I might get to them over time or I might not.
World of Literature Project: Another self-imposed challenge to read books by authors from 50 different countries within 5 years. I’m two years over the target date with 9 countries still to go. No reason why I shouldn’t find those remaining countries before the year is over. I’m not abandoning my interest in reading translated fiction and fiction from around the world – just taking away the pressure of specific goals.
The one aspect of challenges I do enjoy is the camaraderie and feeling of connection to other bloggers. I don’t want to lose that – the social element of blogging is by far the thing that keeps me going. Without it, blogging would be just a form of vanity publishing.
Instead of year long or multi year challenges I’m going to switch my focus to small events; the kind that last just for a week or a few months.. There are countless numbers of these around so I’m going to have to be selective otherwise I’ll end up in the same rabbit hole I’ve been in before via challenges.
I’ll be joining events if and only if they take my fancy and I can do them without a reading list in sight.
Reading Events On the Horizon
There are already a few events that are calling to me.
Japan Literature Challenge, hosted by dolcebellezza is now in its 13th incarnation. It involves just reading books by Japanese authors between January and end of March. It’s a good opportunity to revisit some of the authors whose books I already own.
Paula at Book Jotter will be hosting the Wales Readathon throughout March. This will be the second year for the event and of course I have to support anything which promotes literature from my home country.
Unfortunately that readathon coincides with Reading Ireland Month hosted by Cathy at 746books so I might have to limit myself to just one book from Ireland. I’ll at least feel that I’ll have joined in the buzz. That’s what is so great about these short events – you can just dip in like this without any obligations to do much more.
Finally, in April, Simon and Karen will be hosting the 1920 reading club; a week long celebration of fiction, non-fiction, poetry published 100 years ago.
And that’s more than enough for me to be getting on with. What happens after April I’ll decide further down the road.
Will You Be Joining Me? Have you made any plans yet for 2020? Do they include challenges or do you prefer more free-form reading? Do post a comment below to let me know.