2017 Wrap Up

2017 was not a bad year for reading, but I started my English Lit degree in October, and since then I completely lost control of my reading time, and only caught up in the last 10 days of December, because I stayed home and didn’t go traveling like in the past years.

Apart from my degree, I restarted my Japanese study again. I passed JLPT N4 some years ago, but completely stopped soon after. Only in recent months I had a renewed energy to kickstart the study again and plan to build myself up to my prior level, and beyond. My focus has changed slightly (no writing), and there are new websites popping up that didn’t exist last time, so it’s been a joy. The only thing is that now I have two studies going on, and at times I wonder why I do this to myself..

So saying that, I’m starting 2018 with a very modest goal. I set up my Goodreads challenge to 10 books. No specific goal. Just kind of working in the direction of my perpetual goals (on the top bar).

For a bit of 2017 overview, I read 24 books.

14 authors were new to me, and of those, 9 were male and 5 female. Gender balance for my reading is again not quite there. It’s hard.

15 books are translated, 9 books are originally written in English. And 8 of the translation works are translated from Japanese. I’m hoping to actually read Japanese books in their original language in 2018. Granted they’d be either very simple books or manga, but hopefully substantial enough for me to count them. (I don’t generally count book that I read in less than an hour.)

My reading has been generally leaning heavily towards exploring new authors. But I think I will let myself going to favourite authors in 2018.

So not much fuss from me! How about you? :)

2016 Wrap Up

It’s that time of the year again!

Unfortunately I fell into a deep reading slump sometime around November, and I have not gotten out of it. I was quite on track for a lot of my goals for 2016 at the beginning of the year, but it just petered out badly at the end of the year.

So in 2016, I read 35 books. One of my main goals was to read at least 50% female authors. Sad to say that I badly failed on this. I thought I could count graphic novels separate to novels (as the majority of graphic novels authors are male) and have a more balanced number. But even after having graphic novels in separate group, the female author number stayed stagnant almost the whole year. I could blame other factors, like how my book groups tend to choose male authors over female. But hey, it is what it is. It may just be by setting goal I set myself to failure. Maybe a more natural approach works better for me. So I’m not setting this goal again for 2017, and I’ll see if I do better that way.

Of the 35 books:

20% by women, 54% by men, 26% by both genders

51% translated works (even though high percentage was not a goal)

I started Middlemarch as planned, and read halfway. I intend to continue, but accepted a couple of months ago that I wouldn’t be able to finish it this year.

Also cant’ read because my cat uses Middlemarch as paw-rest.

The following are 2016 reading goals that I kept on my personal notebook. Might as well share them:

Completed goals

3 books from 500 great books by women:

  1. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi
  2. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  3. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

6 African books (The World’s Literature GR group – African Festival Challenge):

  1. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka (Nigeria)
  2. The Meursault Investigation – Kamel Daoud (Algeria)
  3. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih (Sudan)
  4. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
  5. The Book of Chameleons (Angola)
  6. Aya of Yop City (Aya #2) by Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie (Ivory Coast)

3 new-to-me African Countries:

  1. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih (Sudan)
  2. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
  3. The Book of Chameleons (Angola)

2 countries I’ve visited and not yet read:

  1. The Summer Book – Tove Jansson (Finland)
  2. The Vegetarian – Han Kang (South Korea)

2 new-to-me Nobel winners: 

  1. Death and the King’s Horseman – Wole Soyinka
  2. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz
  3. No Man’s Land – Harold Pinter

5 books from 1001 books You must read before you die:

  1. A Room with a View – E. M. Forster
  2. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih
  3. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  4. The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  6. 1984 – George Orwell
  7. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Incomplete goals

1 New Zealand: 0

2 new-to-me Caribbean / South American countries: 0

3 books by Women of Colour 

  1. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi
  2. The Vegetarian – Han Kang

5 books from 100 best novels written in English

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  2. 1984 – George Orwell
  3. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

10 classics (pre-1966)

  1. The Waiting Years – Fumiko Enchi – 1957
  2. A Room with a View – E. M. Forster -1908
  3. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih – 1966
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde – 1890
  5. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz – 1958
  6. Orwell, George – 1984 (1949)
  7. The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura (1906)
  8. Hell Screen – Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1918)
  9. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (1963)

1 Persephone: 0

1 Peirene: 0

1 Pushkin: 0

Looking forward to 2017

I’m going to bring over the incomplete goals to the new year and see if I can finish them by the middle of this year. I already finished 1 Pushkin book, and review is coming soon.

I have the usual few perpetual goals (on my top and side bars) to keep me busy. Apart from that, I just want to keep reading, and reading diversely. I also want to pick up writing again, and realise that once I do, it will eat my reading time, and I’m okay with that. I’ve been picking up games again, games with good, immersive stories, and I love it. I’ve also been catching up on TV series I’ve been meaning to watch.

I think my goal for 2017 is to keep the pressure off and let myself be immersed in whatever form of storytelling I feel like being in that time, and it’s okay if it may not always be books.

Year 2015 Wrap Up and 2016 Plans

Happy new year good readers!

Oxford St, London
A picture I took on Christmas Eve at Oxford St, London

I haven’t done stats for a long time on this blog, but with all the diversity talks that seem to happen recently *cough* #diversedecember #ReadDiverse2016, I feel inclined to do so.

So in 2015 I read 26 books + 1 Happy Reader (the latter I don’t count for the purpose of below stats, because even though it has an ISBN and a Goodreads page it’s contributed by various people).

And of those 26 books:

10 by women (38%)

and 16 by men (62%)

of those, 11 were white men (42%)

7 PoC / BAME authors (27%)

9 translated (35%)

22 new-to-me authors (85%)

So far in my reading quests I never aimed to have gender balance (meaning I just read what I need to read) because I was catching up with the so-called “English canon” and well aware a lot of them are dead white male authors. Considering that, my gender stats in 2015 isn’t bad I think, but in 2016 for the first time I’m going to make a conscious decision to read at least 50% of female authors and I’m going to keep track of it to make sure this happens.

I was always a bit unsure about the whole PoC/BAME concept. I support diversity of course, but I didn’t see much point when one of my most important reading project is Reading the World. My aim is always to learn culture that is different than mine, that is unfamiliar, so in that regards reading from different countries fills that need. A conversation with a fellow Goodreader enlightened me that the PoC (Person of Color) term is really US-centric (while BAME / Black Asian Minority Ethnic is UK-based term), and it may not fit very well outside of that context. I don’t know about you, but apparently someone needed to spell it out for me to make sense of it, finally! In any way, I’m pretty happy with my percentage 27% when combined with the overlapping 35% translated works, considering I didn’t even make an effort.

The 85% new-to-me authors was expected, and seems I will continue the trend for many years.

What I’m most surprised of is that 50% of these (13 books) are by Americans! WHAT. I always felt I read more British authors. I was definitely delusional. The other 50% are divided between English, Irish, Dutch, Japanese, German, French, Argentine, Chinese, Malaysian, Austrian.

Of the 26 books, the majority are novels, apart from:

4 non-fiction

2 plays

4 short stories collection

1 essays collection

2 graphic novels + 1 manga + 1 illustrated book

Happy with these. It’s the first year I started reading plays, and I will read more in 2016. Reading short stories collection is kinda new to me too, as in the past years I often just picked a story here and there from a collection. Having finished 4 collections, I’m now a complete convert. I think reading short stories as a collection is the way to go. Reading one random short story is rarely satisfying in my opinion, but by reading a collection you really get the style of the author and what they’re trying to say, which you wouldn’t get by reading just one story (and that’s if it’s the *right* story).

Reading projects stats

7 1001 books

1 new-to-me Nobel prize winner

4 new countries

A bit disappointed at the Nobel project. I had Orhan Pamuk book on my night stand in the last couple of months of 2015 but didn’t really start to read. I already line up a few Nobel authors for 2016 though so hope I can make amends. Will continue doing these projects, with my new 50 Classics in 5 Years project with the Classics Club – who’s by the way doing a Women’s Classics Literature event in 2016.

I’m not even going to make an attempt to collate favorite reads this year, as they were all good, and there was no dud. But I can say my new-to-me favorite authors are Edith Wharton, Yukio Mishima, and Stefan Zweig – all of whom I already plan to read again in 2016.

For 2016, I have bits and bobs of reading goals, nothing huge, just lots of varieties. One thing of note is I try to read one big classic per year (I might have skipped 2015, but the previous year I read Great Expectations), and this year I’m going to read Middlemarch. It seems to pop up a lot in the past few months, so I got myself the beautiful Penguin cloth-bound copy, and I’m all ready to start… in February. It’s over 800 pages, so I plan to spread it out in 8 months, and maybe write a post every 200 pages. Do let me know if you want to be my reading buddy for Middlemarch.

Wish you another great year of reading!

Can’t Let the New Year Go By Without A Set of Plans for 2011

QVB, MelbourneQVB, Melbourne
(Can never resist to take a jumping picture when met with big open field)

As much as goals are meant to be abandoned, I can’t help setting myself a few reading plans for this year and see how far I will drift away at the end of the year.

But first thing first, how did I go in 2010? The bullet points in italic were what I said beginning of 2010:

* Read more non-fiction. I plan to spend half of my commute time reading non-fiction. I’ve been doing it since last week and it seems to work.

Did not achieve this. Non-fiction is still less than 5% of my read. But I’m optimistic given the fantastic two non-fictions I read at the end of last year. It might have triggered me to look out for more.

* Read more short stories. I plan on doing regular Short Saturday (not every week, but hopefully often enough) in which I share my journey to find the greatest short stories ever.

I actually managed to read one short story per week for a number of weeks, but it died down somewhere in the middle of the year perhaps? I feel there’s very little incentive for me to read short stories. Too short and nobody cares when I write about them.

* New-to-me authors that I plan to tackle this year: David Mitchell, Sarah Waters, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre specifically)

I managed to cross one of them as I read Pride and Prejudice last year, but that’s it. The rest will have to be brought over to 2011.

* Start on my personal project to read big readers’ all-time favorite books!

I had this twice (half of the quarterly thing I planned to do) so it’s not so bad. Will continue this project in 2011! I have one blogger in line, but I have yet to find the time and mood to read her book selections.

So what’s the plan for 2011?

I plan to tackle this year:
New-to-me authors: David Mitchell, Sarah Waters (both brought over from 2010), Yukio Mishima, John Steinbeck
Specific books: Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina (There are THREE War and Peace read-along that I know are going this year, but alas, my mind is set on Anna Karenina for 2011), Gone with the Wind, and His Dark Materials
Known authors: Truman Capote and T.C. Boyle (I’ve read both one of their short stories, which rocked my world, and I’ve been meaning to read their longer works)

On top of continuing my perpetual projects, I will try to read more authors specifically from South America as that’s one part of the world that I feel is really lacking from my reading life, and to add more new countries in general to my Reading the World project (in 2010 I only read 3 new countries). Just a personal musing: I find it funny when people say they want to read more “International fiction”. For me all fiction in English is International fiction, as English is not my first language and I don’t read books in my mother tongue (since they’re almost non-existent).

Now, challenges. I went back and forth in my mind about joining challenges this year. I want this year to allow whim reading as much as possible. But then challenges are good to meet people with overlapping book taste. Last year, having decided to not join some challenges though I had high interest in them, I ended up following the challenge site/page anyway, lurking and stalking. Seems a bit silly. Why not just join? That way I get to introduce myself to people “Hi, my name is Mee. I’m interested in these types of books and will try to read more of them this year…”, support the challenge host and spread some love. Even if I don’t complete them, who cares? There’s no challenge police (or is there?). So I created this challenge page for 2011 in which I gather all the challenges/non-challenge activities around the blogosphere that I’m interested to follow. Whether I’d be successful in completing them or not is beside the point. All in the name of fun. Guilt free!

So there you go, my set of plans. How about you?

Plan for 2010

More than half a month has passed into 2010, and I haven’t shared my reading plan for 2010 to you! Well, really it’s mostly for me, so I can look back on my plan at the end of the year and see how much has changed between now and then, and how far I have drifted from my initial course.

But for now, I do have plans:

  • Read more non-fiction. I plan to spend half of my commute time reading non-fiction. I’ve been doing it since last week and it seems to work.
  • Read more short stories. I plan on doing regular Short Saturday (not every week, but hopefully often enough) in which I share my journey to find the greatest short stories ever.
  • New-to-me authors that I plan to tackle this year: David Mitchell, Sarah Waters, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre specifically)
  • Start on my personal project to read big readers’ all-time favorite books! I even made a button below to make it official! :)

So the story is one day it struck me that I really have not read near as many English books as I would’ve liked, while some book bloggers may have read hundreds and hundreds, or even thousands in their lifetime. I’m really curious about what their top books of all time would be. Really, among hundreds or thousands, the books must be good! (or if I don’t really like them at the end, at least have some merits) Since I just started reading English novels in late 2003, I have a lot to catch up. This way, who knows, I may catch the best books in more efficient way ;)

The plan is, I’m going to approach some bloggers (my target would be the BIG readers), asking for their list of most favorite books of all time. It can be top 3, top 5, top 16, whatever they like. Then out of the list, I’ll pick one that piques my interest the most, and read it. I will then post my thoughts and if possible, feature a few Q and As with the blogger whom I get the list from.

I’m not sure yet how often I’d be able to do this, but I hope to be able to do it quarterly. What do you think? Sounds like a good plan? :)

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