Stack Overflow: Reading Resolutions for 2017

Reading Time: 12 minutes

We love books. We love talking about our favorite books. We love setting reading challenges for ourselves. Here are some of the reading resolutions we’ve made for 2017.


Sophie Brown’s Resolutions

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017 Prompts, Image: PopSugar
PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017 Prompts, Image: PopSugar

I am a prolific reader, and so I have two different, but overlapping Reading Resolutions for 2017.

The first is a simple GoodReads Challenge where I have chosen a set number of books to read this year. I have set my personal challenge at 60 which shouldn’t be too difficult given that I topped out at 62 in 2016. Still, the prospect of finishing a book every six days is a little daunting, knowing just how busy life gets at times.

My second Reading Resolution is to complete the 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge, something I have been participating in for the last two years. I came agonizingly close to finishing in 2015, and last year finished my final book halfway through December, managing to read one book for each of the 40 prompts. This year’s challenge consists of a whopping 52 prompts (40 for the standard challenge, plus 12 in the advanced section for hardcore readers) and includes prompts such as “a book of letters,” “a book by a person of color,” “a book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of,” and “a book with a cat on the cover.” I’ve already gotten started so my “book that’s published in 2017” prompt is complete (The X-Files: Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry) and I’m currently reading my “book about an interesting woman” for which I’ve chosen Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist. I can’t wait to share reviews of many of the books still to come this year!


Jonathan Liu’s Resolutions

Last year, I tried picking a few specific titles that I wanted to read during the year. I also participated in the Goodreads Challenge, setting a goal of 100 books for 2016—a high number because I do include comic trade paperbacks and kids’ books (but usually not picture books). I did well with my Goodreads Challenge but didn’t get through all of the specific titles.

Stack Overflow reading resolutions

For this year, I’m setting the same Goodreads goal, and I’m carrying over the books I didn’t finish: I’m not going to let my own attention-snatchers prevent me from finishing Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers, and I’m going to give Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension another go. I did, however, already finish In Other Worlds, a book of essays and short fiction by Margaret Atwood that I’d almost completed by the end of the year.

Fiction

I do want to finish out Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem trilogy with Death’s End, and while I’m at it I thought it would be interesting to read a little more fiction written by non-white authors. I’ve got a lot to choose from, like The Paper Menagerie by Ken LiuThe Voices of Martyrs by Maurice Broaddus (a collection of “Afrofuturism”), and The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez.

Time Travel

I’m planning to continue my exploration of time travel stories, probably beginning with Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays, which comes out in February. I also have The Tourist by Robert Dickinson and Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson. One thing I’m curious about: are white men more likely to write about time travel? Dexter Palmer’s Version Control (which I read last year) had some interesting things to say about why things would be particularly problematic for black time travelers.

Space books

And along with time travel, I’ve also been collecting some books about space and space travel—mostly non-fiction but also some fiction. Beyond Earth by Charles Wohlforth and Amanda Hendrix was released late last year, and I picked up a copy of Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean, who had written The Time It Takes to Fall, a novel set around the events of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. I’m also interested in Hidden Figures by Margo Lee Shetterly with the recent release of the film.

Given my track record with last year’s reading resolutions, I’m probably overreaching with my goals already, but I like to aim high—think of them as stretch goals. Whether I get to these books or others, I’m excited to share what I’m reading with you this year!


Samantha Fisher’s Resolutions

As life has become more and more busy with work and family I’ve found less and less time to read. So in 2016 I set a fairly aggressive goal for myself of 24 books for the year. I was very excited when I exceeded that goal. Sure, it was by ONE book but that goal was exceeded nonetheless. Let me have my moment, people! I enjoyed making time to read again so I decided to set a more aggressive goal for 2017. This year I’m going to read 36 books. A simple-sounding goal, right? Maybe. But I like to live dangerously so this year needs a twist.

Enter the added challenge of counting only books that have been chosen for me. This way I’m sure to step outside my comfort zone of fantasy and science fiction and the people who make recommendations can have the pleasure of convincing someone to read their favorite books. That sounds like a win-win situation to this gal. Tweet at me if you have a recommendation: my Twitter handle is @samanthafisher.

Expanse
The Expanse Box Set Recommended by GeekMom’s Shiri Sondheimer

I’m already off to a good start. In January I have already completed Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day, and have made progress on Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey which is part of The Expanse series that you may be enjoying on television these days. I bought the boxed set of the first three books so I’ll be reading these for a while. I also listen to audiobooks since I drive about 3 hours each day just for my commute. After finishing You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) I moved to Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman.  I can’t stress enough that for these two books you really need to get the audio versions. Both Felicia Day’s and Nick Offerman’s books are read by the authors and they add so much to the reading with their big personalities. And Nick’s voice is like running your hand over aged leather. It’ll make you shiver, ladies. Promise.

Three great audiobooks, Felicia Day’s recommended by GeekDad’s Will James.

Wish me luck on my reading adventures this year. If you’d like to share your challenge with me find me on Twitter, email me, or better yet post in the comments here on the website and let’s chat about books.


Robin Brooks’ Resolutions

2016 was a funny year for me and books. As I said in my GeekDad “Books of 2016” contribution, it was 12 months with a low number of books read, of which I enjoyed only a small subset. Towards the end of the year, I even began to wonder if I’d fallen out of love with the written word.

So why was this? I think the main reason was that reading dropped away from being an important focus of my day. My children are growing older, and as they do it changes what I can accomplish in a day.

I’m very fortunate to be a stay-at-home parent. It’s been a privilege, if often an exasperating one, to be at home, and take part in the day-to-day running of my children’s lives. Because the arrival of my children was fairly spaced out (there are roughly three and a half years between each of them,) I’ve been at home with a preschooler for nearly 11 years. That was until September this year when my youngest son started school.

This created a seismic change in my day to day life – six hours a day to myself. Imagine all the amazing things I would get done! Imagine all the books I could read. Yet, reading fell off the table almost completely.

to be read pile
The tip of the “to be read” iceberg.

During the preschool years, people would always ask me, “How do you read so much?” To which the answer was simple, “It’s what I do with any spare moment.” Life with small children was full of little gaps and breaks, at which point I’d pick up my book and read. If I got a moment at soft play or at our local toy-laden cafe, and my offspring’s attention was diverted, out came my current tome. The boys were socializing; I was getting some downtime. It was win-win.

Then there were the 5.30am starts that my boys loved to give me when they were small. This gave opportunities, during those quiet hours, before the non-parent world woke up, for a cup of tea and some reading. Now that has gone. I love not being woken until after 7am, but it’s stolen my reading time. The six hours in the school day is soon eaten by chores and my half-hearted attempts at earning some extra money by painting a few miniatures. Reading time was time not spent doing something constructive, like tidying the house or sorting out some banking stuff, doing some shopping. There was no longer an excuse to just sit and read. It has become a conscious decision to do something selfish. So I stopped.

Analyzing this, sometime during December, I realized that I wasn’t falling out of love with words, I was feeling frustrated that I wasn’t reading enough. It was no longer a constant. Stories became fragmented as days passed before I returned to them. Worse, this expanse of six hours meant that it was easy to fritter away time on the internet. Social media and clickbait articles are very tempting things to the stay-at-home parent. My reading time was being wasted on stuff I’d forgotten about before I’d even clicked on the next link.

These two things form the backbone of my resolution. First, stop faffing about on the internet. It might mean missing out on some interesting stuff, but it will also mean not feeling empty, depressed, nor buying quite so many games. “Faffing about,” I admit, doesn’t have much of a qualitative aspect to it, but my aim is to be mindful of just how much time I spend reading about Episode VIII projections or Games Workshop paint-jobs.

Using the time freed up from this non-faffing, I will spend 30 minutes each day sitting and reading a book. Immersing myself in a new world painstakingly and lovingly created for me to lose myself in. I owe it to all the toiling authors out there to take their fruits of their labor seriously. I appreciate the irony of taking 700 internet words to say “I’m going to read less stuff on the internet,” but there you have it. That’s my resolution: 30 minutes quality reading time a day.

As to what I’m going to do with that time, well, unlike last year, I won’t make too solid a prediction of what I’m going to read. I have a hefty pile of books to being going on with, and I’m going to work through that. My aim is to write a review column of each month’s reading, much like Sophie does.

Alan Moore’s Jerusalem. Slipcase and three volumes.

The only specific goal I have set myself is to tackle Alan Moore’s huge Jerusalem. 3 volumes, 1,266 pages, and  600,000+ words may seem like an odd choice for somebody who’d like to read more books than he did last year, but it’s good to have a challenge! Hopefully, in due course, I’ll let you know how I’m getting on. Until then, happy reading!


Mar Ruiz’ Resolutions

I regard my reading as a nurturing diet: I cannot live without reading, and I always have a book handy, for the bank queue or the bus ride or any spare time I may find myself in.

As in eating, I feel guilty about some of my reading habits: I eat too much fantasy and science fiction, children’s lit is my main course, and I really don’t get enough science and learning reading done.

So here are five books I want to read this year that will, hopefully, nurture my brain as much as I will find them pleasing:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is a new take on history: what new technologies are essential for civilization? Are we the last link on the evolution chain, or will there be other kinds of Sapiens in our future? I find these intriguing questions and I will love to find out more. I feel we think too highly of ourselves and that there are lots of possibilities within us, undiscovered and unexploited.

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom is a serious take on AI and what it might mean for humanity. I’ve just read Michael Crichton’s Prey and I feel that he might be right in many aspects with that novel, especially when it comes to nanobots. We shall see.

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Seal Carrol. I love when they quote my classics, and I do hope that the answer is not a giant 42 made of stars. It goes well with Sapiens: why this planet has evolved beings that are capable to perceive the Universe? What is our destiny? Philosophy and physics have come increasingly close, and this might be the right book to start thinking about this.

The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin. I wonder if what this guy says is true: that soon AI and robots will replace all human activity. I find it hard to believe, but what if he is right? What are we meant to do? I might sound New Age, but maybe then we will be free to worry about the important stuff: about relationships, and families, and our own destiny… probably Rifkin sees only the doom of capitalism, but I like to see the possibilities behind that.

Well, this is sci-fi but it approaches an interesting subject (I’m lying to myself here), I really want to read Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. Robin piqued my curiosity with his review; you can read it over here.

These books come recommended by Hector García, the guy behind A Geek in Japan. I also want to check out his book: Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life. He is Spanish and has lived in Japan for more than ten years now. His first book, A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen and the Tea Ceremony is one of the best books for visiting the country in a geeky fashion. For Ikigai, he personally traveled to Okinawa, known as a place for longevity and happiness, and interviewed lots of ninety-year-old people: they all shared a secret with him: they keep themselves busy and happy, and that’s why they live longer. Hopefully I’ll review it soon.

 


Rory Bristol’s Resolutions

Photo: Rory Bristol

This year, I’m taking a few pieces of life advice to heart. Shannon Kaiser wrote an article last spring titled: The 5 Weird Questions That Could Help You Uncover Your True Purpose. The question the struck me most profoundly was “When did your younger self lose track of time?” The simplest and purest answer? Reading. So 2017 will be the year in which I lose myself in something so pleasant that I lose track of time. I have three picks for the job.

Bleach

This wonderful creation from Tite Kubo has long been a favorite of mine. When I couldn’t afford to keep buying books, I turned to the show to fill the desire for more. Now that I’m a respectable adult, I’m going to actually acquire more of them. This time, I’m getting them in German. This serves two purposes, because I like to be efficient in my fun. I’m studying German with my family, and I know the plot of Bleach, so it’s a convenient way to practice reading, comprehension, and grammatical structure while I sink into a journey I love.

The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien’s most popular work, originally published in six parts, is probably my favorite story ever. I’ve read the collection about six times, but it has been ten years or so since I last read it from beginning to end. Once upon a time, I could read these novels for 10–12 hours at a time, losing days, weekends, and holidays in the world of elves and kings, magic and unlikely heroes. I’m going to read it again, knowing I can’t recapture the sheer escapist joy it once brought me, but also knowing that it will bring me the joy of an epic journey to save the world.

The Concise Dictionary of Classical Mythology

Many of us studied mythology of some fashion in school. I learned dozens of stories, tales of gods and nature, parables teaching life skills, and the countless treasures of a (slightly) more primitive world. But I stopped, for some reason. I don’t know why, but once I didn’t need to study it for school, I never picked it back up. It’s strange for me, because I loved it so much, and I remember most of it quite keenly. So, 2017 is going to be the year I take in more. I get to lose myself in a forgotten world, a culture that existed before science, even before most of recorded history. The magic of connecting with the authors, dead for millennia, through the wonder of printed text, is one way for me to invoke joy and wonder in the world.

My goal is to read all of them this year. Since the Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, it’s five books, total. It’s totally reasonable, in my opinion, and will be one way I can improve my knowledge of German and mythology, while recapturing something that brings me great joy. Wish me luck, nostalgia, and joy. Happy 2017.


So, those are a few of our reading resolutions for 2017. What’s on your list? What plans or hopes do you have for your reading life this year?

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