When 2017 began, I set a goal of reading 80 books as part of the Goodreads Yearly Challenge. This is five more than my 2016 goal even though I bested that goal by ten. I don’t strive for particularly outlandish goals like 100, or even 500 books per year because I know I’ll be much to busy with other pursuits and hobbies. If I could get a full time job as a reader and tea drinker, I would be in heaven! But alas, I don’t have my dream job so I live vicariously through my Goodreads reading challenge.
I started 2017 with the last book in the Queen of the Tearling series, The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. It was a good book and I like her writing style. I was glad that she developed the main character over the course of the trilogy instead of leaving her to be a simpering, fragile girl as has so often been the case for female characters in fantasy.
Some of the books I read and counted towards my goal were academic books required for the courses I was enrolled in. Some books were helpful like Copywriter’s Handbook and The Leadership Challenge. Others were downright painful for me to read like the Project Management Book of Knowledge. 2017 was also the year that found me reading more Canadian literature than ever before. I have always loved Farley Mowat’s writing and it’s always in stock at the local second-hand bookstores. I read eight of his book this past year and I know 2018 will fairly similar. Other Canadian authors that I finally picked up this past year: Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. I read eight books between the two authors and I look forwards to picking up more of their works.
Often times when I go shopping for books from authors that I love, I forget which books I currently own and sometimes end up buying the same book two or three times. When that happens I usually lend the book to a friend and tell them they can keep it or pass it along. This was the case with Alice Munro’s short story collection, Away From Her. I read the same book but two different versions and I counted it towards my overall 2017 reading goal. I try to refrain from reading the same book twice in a year because I think that’s cheating for anyone doing the yearly challenges. But in the case of this book, it was republished with the movie poster for Away From Her and I only caught on to the change when I was half way through the book.
Not all the books I read, I love or even like. John Dies at the End was a horrible book and that’s four days of reading I will never get back. I can say for sure that I will not be continuing this series. There was just something so unbelievably absurd about this book that I can’t bring myself to look at the remaining three and a half books in the series.
I was also more open to suggestions from friends than ever before and because of that I finally read George Orwell and James Baldwin. Baldwin has been in my TBR pile for a long time, so I was happy when a friend lent me The Fire Next Time. I really wanted to start Leaf ∫ Pages with this book but I sped through the book so quickly that I hardly recall what I was thinking and tasting with the tea. I will revisit this book and recreate the setting in which I read it the first time, but it might not be in 2018. One day I will return to Washington, D.C., and read Baldwin while drinking a lavender tea in a quaint coffee shop in Chinatown.
I’ve also moved away from a reading list heavy with fantasy/sci-fi to more fiction and non-fiction: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Hidden Figures, Passchendaele, Still Alice, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Life After Life, Last Christmas in Paris, and The Little Paris Bookshop among others. Every book I’ve read has added something to my outlook on life, and has changed me in small ways. I continue to return to some books like those written by Brene Brown (Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness) because they have something important to say that I need to hear constantly. Out of all the books that I’ve read this past year, only eleven are by people of colour or of a non-Christian faith. I can do better than that in 2018 because I need to step outside of my comfort zone and hear what these authors have to say. This world is too big and wondrous to continue to read things within my comfort zone.
I have over 180 books in my TBR list on Goodreads, and many of the books are by authors outside of my comfort zone such as: Randa Abdel-Fattah, Mona Eltahawy, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Darrin Hagen, Audra Simpson, Haunani-Kay Trask, and Katherena Vermette. I look forwards to reading these books, opening my world to new ways of doing and see things, and experiencing some wonder and amazement. Along the way, I will pair favourite teas with new worlds (and words), and bring you along for the experience.
My goal for 2017 was 80 books and as of December 31, I finished 88 books. My reading goal for 2018 is 80 books again because I know that the last quarter of the year will be extremely busy with full time school. Saying that I am open to suggestions and I look forwards to discovering new favourites.
Happy New Year and may the coming year be filled with bookish adventures for all!