Following up on our year-end reflections, I asked the GeekDads and GeekMoms another reading question: What do you want to read this year? For the past several years, I’ve made some reading resolutions for myself, some of which have been successful, and some that have failed spectacularly. (For instance, am I ever actually going to read a lot of non-fiction books?) But it’s a practice that gets me to consider my reading diet at least a couple times a year, and even when I don’t meet my stated goals, I feel that it has an influence on how I approach books.
Here’s what our writers had to say.
Jonathan H. Liu
What do I want to read this year? Well, everything. That’s my problem, really.
I want to read all the books I’ve purchased for myself, plus all the books that I get sent for review, plus all those books that I see other GeekDads and GeekMoms writing about that sound so amazing. But I’m finally starting to accept that maybe that’s not actually a reasonable goal to set.
Books pile up quickly at my house: we have several boxes of picture books that have no homes on the shelves in the kids’ room, and despite buying a few extra bookshelves for the basement, the fiction section is also overflowing. I really need to pare down the number of books I expect to read, which also means weeding out books from our double-stacked shelves. We’ve recently done a big purge of our adult fiction books, so I’m hoping I can rearrange things so that books I intend to prioritize will actually be closer at hand—maybe physical proximity will lead to better habits?
I do have a few books in my queue that are sequels to books that I’d enjoyed in the past, or written by authors I enjoyed, and I’m hoping this year to get through a few of those (even though they’re not all new anymore). My collection of time travel books is up to two and a half boxes, and perhaps co-hosting the Recorded Tomorrow podcast will give me the kick in the pants I need to get back to reading those as well.
So, this year: I don’t have as many specific titles on my list, but just general categories: some of the adult fiction that I’ve been purchasing and meaning to read and just never got around to (so that we can continue to pare down that section of our bookshelves); time travel fiction; non-fiction books about space exploration and the space program. I also seem to have fallen behind in middle grade and young adult fiction, which used to be a much bigger percentage of my reading lists, so I’m going to try to pick up a bit in that category as well.
I think part of what has happened over the past few years is that I’m often rushing to put together a themed column for Stack Overflow, which means I go for the low-hanging fruit. I can read a stack of comics or picture books on a particular theme and get the column written, rather than spending time in some longer fiction that may not fit a specific theme just yet. This past year I skipped a few weeks here and there, and although I like the consistency of posting once a week, I think maybe giving myself permission to take a break from a themed column from time to time will help my reading diet a little more.
My resolution is to tackle modern feminist writing. Though I was a women’s studies minor a couple decades back, and I slurp up herstory books whenever I can, a lot of work has come out in the last few years that I’ve missed and want to read.
Or, for the short version: Work my way through a lot of this “master class in women’s rage.”
My 2019 reading resolutions are in four parts: read 50 books as part of the GoodReads Challenge, get through the non-fiction books sitting for years on my shelf, finally read the Avatar: Last Airbender comics, and only read fiction with AT LEAST 30% speaking female characters.
The GoodReads Challenge is always fun. I enjoy making lists, logging entries, rating books, seeing what other people enjoy, and adding to my “to-read” list knowing it does not take up space in my basement. A few of the 2018 Best-of winners looked good: Circe by Madeline Miller, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, Educated by Tara Westover, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King, and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas.
For 2019 I’ll put my goal up to 50. I’m still in two bookclubs, review books for GeekMom, and read for fun too, so I think I can! I think I can!
In my own pile, I still have Age of Myth: Book one of the Legends of the First Empire by Michael J. Sullivan. I put it as a list of possible choices for my fantasy book club, but it was never voted for by the rest of the group. I will have to read this one on my own, methinks. The non-fiction books just keep stacking. This year I really got to get them down. They range from general history to environmental studies. I like non-fiction, but it takes me longer to read so the going is slower.
I’ve been re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender with my nieces this past year and enjoying it just as much as when it aired with my children a decade ago. I know there are comics that continue the story so I will finally find out what happened to Zuko’s mom!
Finally, I want to only read fiction with AT LEAST 30% female speaking characters, and heartily review those that exceed. That’s a pathetic minimum, but also a reality of our current literary environment. In my post Gender Equality in Fiction: Does Your Character ‘Need’ a Penis?, I encourage authors to decrease the gap.
Here’s to a 2019 filled with books!
Like many people, I have far too many unread books to list in a single resolution article. This year, though, I am going to focus on reading some things that I’ve started but never finished, or bought on a recommendation but haven’t even gotten to. I’ll wrap up my list with a book I borrowed years ago and have never opened.
When my sister told me about her college D&D gaming buddy winning a Hugo, my eyebrow spocked and I realized that I had missed an entire series that looked amazing. I started the first chapter of The Fifth Season almost immediately, but then life happened and I didn’t have time to read for a while. And then I forgot what I was reading. I’ll be getting back into The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin this year. This time, I’ll finish it.
Around the same time, I was talking fantasy books with an intern, and he recommended The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. I happened upon the boxed set last year and purchased it, and it’s gathered dust since then. I am truly interested in the series, though, so that’s a for-sure read too.
During a recent trip to my favorite book store, I also picked up a few tomes for my youngest, Squirrel. He’s interested in comparative religion right now, and so we now have The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions, a few books on mythology of different cultures, and my old college textbook by Edith Hamilton, Mythology. We’re going to book club those a bit.
Finally, I’m going to get to the Adeptus Mechanicus Omnibus. A friend loaned me this pair of novels almost three years ago when I first started playing Warhammer 40K, and I’ve never gotten to it. I figure someday he might like it back, so I have promised to read it this year.
I hope that you can get to a book or two you’ve been meaning to read this year, and that it’s better for the wait.
My main drive in 2019 is to keep doing the same as 2018, only more so. My Word Wednesday column has been a great addition to my reading life and I will definitely be continuing that. Much like Jonathan, it will be impossible to read all the books I want to read in 2019, but I will continue to climb the north face of the paper mountain in the vain hope of one day reaching the top.
In 2019, I’d like to review more children’s fiction. I read some great books to my kids in 2018 but reviewed very few of them. I’m a governor at my children’s school, with special responsibility for the library, so I’d love to help make informed choices about some brilliant books to engage young readers. To this end, I’m going to be heading into school a couple of times a week to read to children across the school in a hope of engendering a love of reading and stories. I’ve been doing this, for a while, to the youngest children (4&5-year-olds) but in January, I’ll start reading to all age groups (up to 11). I’m super excited to do this, and whilst it won’t make for many review posts, I imagine it will be my reading highlight of 2019.
For my personal reading, I don’t really have any specific goals in mind. I’d love to read some more N.K. Jemisin, Neal Shusterman, and the next book in Legends of the Condor Heroes series. This will take on a greater significance after the sad passing of author Jin Yong in October. I also want to read the next two books in Andrew Caldecott’s amazing Rotherwild series. I haven’t managed to review the first book in this series yet but it’s something special; a book that very much put in mind of the brilliance of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle.
A more general goal is to read more fantasy. I have two books by Jen Williams sitting on my bedside table, alongside another by one of my favorite overlooked fantasy authors Chris Wooding. I must get to these soon! Later in the year, I’ll be looking forward to the follow up to Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside and Peter Mclean’s Priest of Bones. I’m also going to making a rare digital foray, in the Spring, with Serial Box and their space opera, Vela. A project that involves the not inconsiderable talents of Becky Chambers. Which reminds me, I have a signed copy of the third Wayfarers book sitting in that pile with Jen Williams and Chris Wooding. I really must read that too…
I’ve done reading challenges in the past (I really like Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge (and the NYPL has a post with books that fit each 2019 category if you’re interested)). I’ve found a lot of new authors this way, but after a few years I found myself approaching books, which have always been my happy place, with more of a Yet One More Thing to Check Off My (Neverending) List attitude, which, uh, kind of kills the happy place. I had a year or two where I listed a book goal on Goodreads (mostly because one year I got to 50 books read and it annoyed me that I was so close to being able to say I’d read a book per week) but that didn’t really do anything but make me push longer books to the next year so I could crank out a bunch of easier reads at the end of the year to make the goal. (Yes, my brain has Issues.)
So, last year, I didn’t plan out anything. Only one book club, no goals, no challenges. It went pretty well, I think. I read/re-read/listened to 46 books (only counting TPBs for my comics reading) in 2018 and found a lot of fun, interesting stuff. This year, I want to plan a tiny bit more, but that’s more because my books are taking over my house and I’d like to at least be able to say that I’ve read most of the overflowing shelves and random piles.
I know why I have all these things; I understand my almost-mindless motivation to just grab the book when it’s on sale, but it’s gotten kind of ridiculous, especially since my mom passed away and I took too many boxes of books from her house. I have no need at all for more. None. So….
- I have a stack of trade paperback comic books that is literally the size of a small toddler. I will at least get it down to a newborn before I put anything else on a pull list.
- I have a shelf in GoodReads titled Books I Own That I Haven’t Read. The number next to it is mumble*hundred*mumble. It’s a tiny bit mortifying. I’d really like to get it down to double digits this year. I’d say I won’t read anything that’s not already on that list, but I already know that isn’t going to happen, so let’s just say I will only read from this list or from the library.
- I’m also resolving to manage my library Hold list so I don’t get 10 books in 3 days and end up paying overdue fines on 8 of them (true story, sigh).
- I resolve to consciously stop reading once I realize I haven’t picked up the book I started for 3 or 4 days. That’s a sure sign it’s not really for me and I am An Adult and can accept this and let it go.
- I’m also putting my Audible membership on hold and going through the backlog there. (I’m afraid to add up the un-listened-to hours, but I’m sure you’ll take it on faith that it’s A Lot.)
Realistically speaking, this won’t actually solve the piles of books dilemma but it’ll at least be a start!
My life is busy. I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like. Sometimes, on a vacation week, I can blow through nearly an entire book if I get enough downtime, but generally, I read only at lunchtime at work a few days each week. On GoodReads, I set a 2018 goal of twelve books. One book per month, same as last year. I may actually hit the goal this year as I’m reading book number twelve.
Whereas in the past, I’ve often had a giant book backlog at home to read, I’ve been mostly successful this year at reading more and buying less, and I’ve got the backlog down to just a few books, mostly Christmas gifts. At present, that’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, The Dark Forest, Brief Cases, and Children of Time.
My only resolution for 2019 is to find some new books that I’ll really enjoy. Although I enjoyed most of what I read in 2018, there was nothing I loved nearly as much as The Dresden Files, Spin, or The Martian. I’m planning on checking out American War by Omar El Akkad, and I’d like to pick up Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel, but other than that I’ll be hunting for gems until Jim Butcher finally releases Peace Talks.
Back in 2008 when I was a freshman in college, I had the brilliant idea to create a book review blog as a way to get publishers to send me free books. And it worked. Poor college student me just found a way to game the system, until suddenly my book review site began taking over my life. The pace at which I put out content grew and grew, until I was reading three or four books a week just to keep up. I became obsessed with completion as reading became a task rather than a pleasure.
I jump back in time ten years because in a lot of ways I think I still have that mentality. I seek out shorter books so that I can finish them quicker, and I’m afraid to commit to a long novel. I have genuine anxiety around selecting a long book because of some compulsion to complete enough books or reading to feel accomplished when I create an end-of-the-year list. I’ve been dealing with this for a decade, and I figure putting it out there on screens around the world might be a good way to keep me accountable and help break the pattern.
In 2019, I want to re-learn the pleasure of reading without striving for accomplishment. I see this as a three-fold task. First, read more comics and graphic novels. I love the medium, and I know it will take me back to my place of joy in reading. I hope to facilitate that with my contributions to Comic Book Corner and Luke’s Graphic Novel Picks of the Month (check them out!).
Second, read more poetry. I love poetry, and it requires slower reading for full appreciation. I hope to take the time to slow down and enjoy poetry more this year. I’ve started writing the occasional poetry collection review for Star*Line, and I hope that continues to feed this desire. Finally, read more long books. For me, this doesn’t mean reading a book simply because it is long (don’t you encroach on my space, War and Peace!), but not being afraid to start a long book that I know I would enjoy if I just started it.
So if you have any suggestions for any of these three paths, please send them my way!
I hope you all have a wonderful year of reading in 2019!
Stay tuned next week, when we share some of our favorite books of 2018!