Reading Goals for 2019

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It’s that time of year!

Resolutions are everywhere and the book community is no exception. Time to mark down our reading goals and hope for the best.

Last year I made a small list and managed to achieve half of them which I was fine with. Reading resolutions are just a list of things I’d like to do in the coming year but won’t be sorely disappointed if I don’t.

So, as before, here is my new list for the coming year:

1) Read 20 books

This is quite a low number compared to the actual amount I’ve read for the last few years but I know how ‘off’ I’ve been with my reading lately. In November, I read nothing. For the first three weeks of December, I also read nothing. My reading mojo has only just started to creep back so I want to set my yearly reading goal at something reasonable.

2) Half my TBR

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As of now, I have 59 books on my TBR (30 Kindle; 29 physical). By the end of December, I want that number down to at least 30. Honestly? I still think 30 would be too big of a number but I want to set achievable goals and not feel pressured to read every single book in my possession within a certain time limit.

3) Finish the Claudine series

I started the Claudine series last year and have been enjoying it so far. Right now I’m reading the third book in the series – Claudine Married – and there are still two more to go after that. I’d like to read those by the end of the year.

4) Finish the Bronte bibliography

I started reading the Bronte sisters’ books at the end of last year and I’d really like to finish everything in 2019. I have The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne to read, and the rest of Charlotte’s books (Shirley, Villette, and The Professor) to get through too.

5) Read at least one book from the following authors:

+ Stephen King
+ Maya Angelou
+ James Baldwin
+ Leslie Marmon Silko
+ Eric Gansworth
+ Sia Figiel
+ Franz Kafka

6) Write more posts on Indigenous Writers

This is more of a blogging goal but I read quite a lot of books by indigenous writers that I don’t see getting enough hype or praise in the book community. I’d like to change that and start posting more about these writers and books.

~*~

That’s it. That’s the list. Six goals that are reasonably easy to attain but, as I said, if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world.

Have you set your reading goals yet?

Books Read in 2018

Happy New Year!

Another year of amazing books has passed by and, while my reading number isn’t quite as high as it has been in previous years, it’s still up there.

In 2018, I managed to read 54 books and listen to 2. That’s right. 56 altogether.

I’m proud of that number.

I knew life was going to change a lot during the year and that I wouldn’t always have time or energy to focus on reading. That’s why I set my original Goodreads goal to 12 books. I kept it simple and wanted to ensure I was reading at least one book a month. And I did it.

Let’s have a quick look at the stats:

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No change here. I always seem to lean more towards female writers.

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I’m okay with this and I’m not. Books from the USA and England always seem to dominate a majority of what I read. I’m really glad that I managed to pick up a few books by Welsh authors and I also want to read more Samoan & Pacific Island literature this year but, overall, I’m wondering if there’s any way I can balance these numbers a bit more this year.

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This is the first time I feel as though I gravitated more towards fiction that I usually would. I also barely read any plays which is unusual but we’ll see if that changes in the new year.

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I’m actually really happy with this. I read a lot more ebooks than I thought I did which is brilliant because there are way too many on my Kindle and the pile never seems to go down. The paperback to hardback ratio isn’t a big surprise. I like my floppy books.

And now onto the list of books itself.

I actually DNF’d quite a lot this year but didn’t end up writing down what they were so here are my completed 56. Those in bold were my favourites.

1) Mexico City Noir edited by Paco Ignacio Taibo II

2) Dangerous Minds by LouAnne Johnson

3) Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

4) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

5) Anything Goes by John Barrowman

6) The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

7) Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

8) Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

9) Invisible Victims: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women by Katherine McCarthy

10) Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull by Eileen Pollack

11) Going Solo by Roald Dahl

12) Sitting Bull: His Life and Legacy by Ernie LaPointe

13) I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres

14) From the Deep Woods to Civilization by Charles Eastman

15) Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset

16) The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

17) Ohitika Woman by Mary Brave Bird

18) Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

19) Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel

20) Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte

21) Orlando by Virginia Woolf

22) My People by Caradoc Evans

23) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

24) Portrait of the Artist as Young Dog by Dylan Thomas

25) Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon by Julia Baird

26) War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence by Ronan Farrow (audiobook)

27) My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

28) The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

29) What Falls Away by Mia Farrow

30) The Break by Katherena Vermette

31) Angels in America by Tony Kushner (re-read)

32) Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

33) Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

34) Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott

35) Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

36) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

37) Claudine at School by Colette

38) Leaves of the Banyan Tree by Albert Wendt

39) Lost Without My Daughter by Sayed Mahmoody

40) There There by Tommy Orange

41) Light Switches are my Kryptonite by Crystal Jeans

42) Claudine in Paris by Colette

43) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

44) Sister to the Sioux by Elaine Goodale Eastman

45) The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi

46) Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

47) Cujo by Stephen King

48) The Running Man by Richard Bachman (audiobook)

49) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

50) Different Seasons by Stephen King

51) Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (re-read)

52) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (re-read)

53) Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith

54) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (re-read)

55) Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

56) Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

A Look Back on My 2018 Reading Goals

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Hi there!

It’s been a few months since I’ve had the energy/time/drive to update this blog (and visit any others) but as the year is coming to a close and I’m seeing everyone reflect on everything they’ve accomplished over the last 12 months, it’s making me want to do the same.

Back in January of this year, I set myself a few reading goals that I haven’t bothered to look back on so I have no idea whether I’ve completed these or not. This is going to be the first time I clap eyes on them in 12 months. I seem to remember making a point not to set myself any goals that were too crazy because I knew I’d be uprooting myself across the world in March and didn’t want to stress myself out any more than I was already going to. In theory, that means these goals should have been achievable.

Let’s see.

1) Read 12 books

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Done. I wanted to challenge myself to read at least a book a month and I knocked this one out of the park. I ended up reading 56 books this year. Woop!

2) Read all of my physical TBR

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Now, at the time, my physical TBR consisted of 14 books that I knew I didn’t want to drag across the world with me so I wanted to make sure I read them all before the end of March.

Did I do it? Let’s take a look at the list:

    • The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King 
    • Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset 
    • I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres 
    • Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo 
    • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett 
    • Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov
    • Anything Goes by John Barrowman 
    • Ohitika Woman by Mary Brave Bird 
    • The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion 
    • Democracy by Joan Didion
    • Going Solo by Roald Dahl 
    • Woman Walking Ahead by Eileen Pollack 
    • Poet in New York: A Bilingual Edition by Federico Garcia Lorca
    • Short Stories in Spanish edited by John R. King

So, I didn’t technically read the entire TBR but I still count this as a win. I DNF’d Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark because I really couldn’t get into it. I wasn’t in the mood for any more of Joan Didion’s fiction – I’ve spent the last 2 years reading her fiction and I’ve gone from counting her as one of my favourite authors to wondering if I even like her writing after all (but that’s a story for another day). The last two books on the list were written in Spanish and I bought them as a way to practice my language skills. In the end I didn’t have the concentration for it so ended up dumping them somewhere.

I think those are pretty valid reasons for not having read them and I managed to get to everything else on the list. I’m giving myself a tick for this goal.

3) Read at least five of the Star Wars Canon books

I read one.

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Yup. Just one – Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno. I enjoyed it and had every intention of reading more but it just didn’t happen. Maybe I’ll get to more in 2019.

4) Read three Stephen King books

Yes! I absolutely did this! I read Cujo, The Running Man, and Different Seasons this year and loved each one of them.

5) Read one James Baldwin book

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I didn’t do this and I’m so sad. Discovering Baldwin’s writing was a huge thing for me in 2017. I can’t believe I went an entire year without reading more. This will definitely be a new goal for 2019.

6) Read one Maya Angelou book

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Again, another fail. My all-time favourite writer. How could I neglect her? I actually want to buy all her books in 2019. And her entire poetry collection. I need her writing on my shelves.

~*~

And that’s it. I only set myself 6 goals and I managed to achieve half of them. (Kind of.)

I’m actually really proud of myself. I made some enormous life changes this year and still managed to keep reading and blogging (the last two months being the exception).

I think the key here was to set myself reasonable goals and not push myself too far out of my comfort zone. This has definitely got me thinking about what kind of goals I want to set for 2019. Have you written yours yet? Let me know them down in the comments.

R.I.P. Challenge Update: I stan Stephen & Shirley but Shelley can stay home

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We are more than halfway through the R.I.P. XIII Challenge so it’s about time I kicked myself into gear and took a look at what I’ve read so far.

Novels I loved

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I started this challenge with a book by one of my favourite writers, Stephen King. As I’m working my way through King’s books in chronological order, by the time September came around, Cujo was next on my TBR and I couldn’t wait to dive into it.

I knew the gist of the story as I’d seen the (very dated) film adaptation a while ago: Big dog catches rabies; Mother & son are locked in a broken down car in the blistering heat while the rabid dog lurks outside. It’s a scary concept and I had faith that King would know how to pull it off.

What surprised me from the get-go though was that this isn’t just a simple tale of one big scary monster. An added element of the supernatural – the literal boogeyman in the closet – was also there to grip you from the first page. It isn’t enough to put 4-year old Tad through the trauma of being trapped inside a burning hot car while a beast outside terrorises him; What does he have to go home to? Another monster – the ghost of a serial killer – in his closet. And his mother? What does she have to go home to? The breakdown of her marriage. There is no safe space for these characters and that is one of the scariest elements of this book.

The rapid storytelling is unusual for King (who normally takes his time crafting backstories of characters before putting them through hell) but it works really well in this book and still manages to host a group of characters that all feel well-rounded and fully-formed.

Did this book scare me? Yes and no. The concept of a rabid dog coming for you is scary but those parts of the book didn’t fill me with fear – Just created a sense of excitement & a lot of tension. On the other hand, the parts with Frank Dodd, our ‘boogeyman’ in the closet, did scare me. Parents out there – If your child is telling you there’s a monster in his closet and even you start to notice some weird stuff going on back there, put your house up for sale & get the fuck out of there. I would not be hanging around long for that shit.

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5 Books to Read for Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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Tomorrow is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the USA.

Unfortunately, the national holiday is still named Columbus Day in most of the country but, in recent years, more and more cities & states have been waking up to the absurdity of celebrating a mass killer & father of the slave trade.

I’m not American so why should I care? Well, I’m European. As was Columbus and every other coloniser who forced their way onto American soil. So there is a responsibility there. Great-great uncles of mine moved from Wales to Australia, Zimbabwe, and the US at the beginning of the 20th century. And who’s to say more didn’t emigrate and help to colonise countries hundreds of years before that?

There’s a responsibility to make sure history isn’t whitewashed so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

I have no idea why Columbus is celebrated in the USA. The man never stepped foot on the North American continent.

And then there’s the greatest myth at all: That he ‘discovered’ America.

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Fortunately a lot of people these days seem to be waking up to this lie. Unfortunately, disregarding Columbus doesn’t automatically bring about respect for the people who were already there.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day can be a great day to celebrate and honour those who have historically been mistreated and had their land snatched away.

The first way to do that is to discard everything you were taught in school and start learning some real history. So here are five books I recommend to help you do that:

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My Physical TBR

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Following on from my epic list of 35 unread books I have on my Kindle, it’s time to take a look at the physical books (hardbacks/paperbacks) on my shelves that I haven’t read yet.

All of these books are purchases from the last 6 months so I don’t feel too bad about not having read them yet. I just need to put my purchasing on hold until I get through a big chunk of what’s here.

1) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
3) Halfbreed by Maria Campbell

4) The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
5) Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff
6) Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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September Reading Wrap-Up

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September was an okay month for my reading. It wasn’t the best but it also wasn’t the worst. I started work at the start of the month and, as I predicted, I didn’t have as much time or energy to dedicate to books as I’d had over the summer. Add some sort of cold/fluey thing on top of that and you have my September in a nutshell.

Books Read in September: 4
Books Listened to in September: 1

5 Star: 2
4 Star: 2
3 Star: 1
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0

Fiction: 5
Non-Fiction: 0
Total Pages: 1029
Total Hours: 7 hours, 41 minutes

Male authors: 2
Female authors: 2

Countries:
North Korea – 1
USA – 4

This month could have been much worse. I might not have read anything. The fact that I managed to read one book a week is a big plus. And look at those ratings. No 1 or 2 star reads this month.

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I did end up DNFing Clive Barker’s In the Flesh but not because it was bad. I just realised I only picked it up to read one of the short stories inside and didn’t really have much of an interest to read the rest.

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I also had a goal to read Jane Eyre during the month of September so that I could read Wuthering Heights in October. That didn’t happen and I’m still working my way through Jane Eyre at a slow and steady pace. My Reading the Brontes schedule is going to be a little behind but that’s okay. There’s no need to rush anything.

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In other reading challenge news, I did manage to complete half of my Peril the First challenge for the RIP XIII challenge. Yay!

1) Cujo by Stephen King
2) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
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I’ve also completed my Peril of the Short Story challenge.

1) The Forbidden by Clive Barker
2) The Madonna by Clive Barker

I still have to write up some reviews for these books and stories but, overall, I’m so happy with my progress. If I can read two more scary/creepy books in October, I’ll have nailed this challenge.

And that’s everything. I had originally thought about joining Victober for the coming month but, as I’m trying to lessen the pressure and not making reading such a chore, I think I’ll skip it for now and maybe try it next year.

Let me know how your reading went in September. Happy autumn everyone!