Following weeks of temperatures in the 90s and 80s, January’s cold seems distant as I contemplate the resolutions I made in that darker month. The resolutions in question, of course, are reading ones. With more than half the year gone, I reviewed the list of books I planned to read. Surprisingly, I discovered that I read exactly two books listed, with a third started (Beloved by Toni Morrison). A number I might find disappointing, had I not read (and wrote about) several other books since the list’s genesis.
The Power of Other Books
But why haven’t I finished several books I fully intended to read just yet?[*] Simply put, other books beckoned. I belong to online book groups that discuss a few novels every month. These books tend to inspire blog posts, so I place them a bit higher on my reading queue. I also visit my local library to encourage my child’s burgeoning reading habit.[†] Browsing the shelves allows me to find fascinating books I might not have otherwise encountered (The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami).[‡] There’s also my own evolving reading goals: books I want to read for an upcoming trip, books gifted to me, and other projects that pop up (the #readingwomenmonth, to name one).
In the interest of strict honesty, there are a few books I’ve delayed reading or finishing. Whether the book’s density or subject matter required more attention than I could provide, I returned these to the “to-read” stack. For now. Some books I forgot I wanted to read because I made the list so long ago. Other books I put aside because they didn’t suit my reading environment. When I want to read in a car or at the pool,[§] I like reading something that can be interrupted and readily resumed again. And finally, there’s a few books I wanted to see as a movie first, because I suspect I won’t enjoy the movie quite as much if I read the book beforehand (Sorry, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel).[**]
For all that I haven’t yet read, I’m so close enough to achieving the reading goal I set for myself on Goodreads that I will likely increase it. In the spirit of getting there eventually, I’m updating my list with the hope that I get to my unread books—along with several new additions to my list.[††] Included, too, are books I’ve read. Feel free to check links to books I’ve discussed in other posts. As always, happy reading!
2017 To-Read List
|The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (in progress)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (in progress)
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (in progress)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Human Acts by Han Kang (Translated by Deborah Smith)[‡‡]
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Howard’s End by E. M. Forster
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
2017 Read List[§§]
|The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Big Fish by Daniel Wallace
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
All the Living by C. E. Morgan (read about it here and here)
A Cold Day for Murder by Dane Stabenow
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (Translated by Ted Goossen)
[*] Ignoring the obvious difficulties involved with limited time and the need to sleep, eat, and be present for other people and activities.
[†] As I wrote here, I used to start reading my library books as soon as I sat in the car. It’s thrilling to hear my child turn pages as I drive home.
[‡] Library fines also motivate reading choices, it seems.
[§] Although I enjoyed reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin poolside, it seemed a bit inappropriate. And took longer than reading at home did.
[**] To borrow (misappropriate?) a chapter title from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, “Comparisons Are Odious”.
[††] I’ve got to January, right? And there’s always next year’s list!
[‡‡] For #womenintranslation month, which is in August.
[§§] Most books I didn’t include on this list were books I’ve read or re-read for my child, including books I’ve scouted out well in advance of his transitioning into YA books.
3 thoughts on “The Slipperiness of Resolve: the Mid-Year Reading Resolution Check-In”
I set a goal to read 50 books this year (this does not count literary magazines), and it’s going okay. I’m not sure how I’d do with being as specific as you’ve been in what books to read! There are a couple I’ve meant for this year, but the titles I give myself as Should-Reads are usually formidable classics (The Idiot, Paradise Lost) so I get wrapped up in other things. You’ve got some great ones on your to-read list that I will personally vouch for, though, so I hope you get to them!
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I’m rather hoping that being specific means I’ll actually read the pile of unread books (so many books, so little time), but I keep finding other really interesting books! I really hope I manage to get some of them.