I started this year with a number of reading-related goals, among them to read more published books (as opposed to manuscripts) than I have been managing recently, to read more diversely, and to try my hand at a number of reading challenges I’d found around the internet, one of which in particular focused on reading books you’ve had sitting on your bookshelves for a year or more instead of endlessly buying new ones. As it’s the last day of the year, it’s time to see how I’ve done.
In terms of reading more, I certainly managed that one. I’m one book shy of hitting my goal for the Goodreads Challenge, and I’m nearly finished with my current read, so I can safely say that’s one goal met. In terms of diversity, 63% of the books I read were by women, with the remaining 37% by men, and that’s about on par for me in terms of gender split, falling a little more heavily on the women-writers side than last year, but then I tend to read more women than men by default. As for writers of color, they accounted for 30% of this year’s reading, up slightly from last year’s 25%. It’s not a bad number, but I’d still like to raise it, so that’s a goal that will carry on into 2016.
As for the other challenges I took on, I failed pretty abysmally, indicating that perhaps given the small amount of time I have for personal reading, I should focus on fewer goals rather than spreading myself thin trying to find ways to read things that count for more than one challenge. So I’m sticking to my basic reading goals for the coming year: Read more books, read more diversely, and try not to buy quite so many new books when I have so many waiting for me at home already. I’d also like to read more books in translation, but I feel that dovetails nicely with my goal to diversify.
I’m happy to say I read some really wonderful books this year. I could probably go on for ages extolling the virtues of a few of the titles in particular, but instead I’m just going to list a few favorites, in no particular order. Please note that these books are all personal reads; none of the authors are clients.
I’d love to hear what books have made an impression on you this year. New favorites? Recommendations? Or were there any books that were a true disappointment? Feel free to share your bookish thoughts in comments. I look forward to hearing what had you excited in 2015, and wish you all the best for a wonderful new year of reading and writing!
7 thoughts on “Reading Wrap Up for 2015”
Oh, oh, asking me to talk about favorite reads of the year. What a delight. Unfortunately for publishing, many of them are from least year or earlier, but oh, do they smoke!
Some books are comedies, like your choice of “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.” I think of these as the perfect books to read when you’re going through a divorce, or have a child in the hospital–enough meat and insight to give meaning, but you always know it will end happily. And though, like you, I skew female in authors I read, I’d put the Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett “Good Omens” in this category. It is without a doubt one of the funniest books I have ever read. I would also include Toby Barlow’s “Babayaga,” (another guy) and Christopher Moore’s “Sacre Bleu.” (Three guys, oy.)
I enjoyed the book “Hild” by Nicola Griffith, an exploration of Saint Hilda and got jealous of Saint Hilda’s 7th Century, a world where, believably, women were expected to work, weave, bake, brew, plot and wield power side by side with the men we more often hear about.
Two books older books changed the way I look at the world. Both deal with the overwhelming horrors of the Holocaust–and you have to figure that any . One is called “Conscience and Courage” by Eva Hoffman; the other is “Shielding the Flame,” an interview with Warsaw Ghetto uprising leader Marek Edelman, written by Hanna Krall. Hoffman, who participated in the research into bystander behavior, (those infamous–“would you torture someone if you were ordered to” experiments) became fascinated by those few who refused to follow orders, which lead to interviews and analysis of those who saved Jews during the war. Her insights are astounding. Edelman, who survived the Warsaw ghetto and was one of the young leaders of the uprising there–they held out for longer than almost every country in Europe–later became a noted cardiologist. I found his view of God and life to be earthshaking.
Right now, I’m immersed in research on Anna Leonowens and her King of Siam. “You just got another book about Thailand?” my husband asks, while I skip for joy–another book! Both people, historically, are vastly different from the way they have been presented in American culture via missionary Margaret Landon’s “Anna and the King of Siam,” and of course, “The King and I.” Both straddle multiple cultures in ways we have not historically understood before.
And now, of course, there are the books on your list. Yahoo!
Sakki Selznick, blogging at SakkiSelznick123@blogspot.com
Thank you so much for the great comment and for sharing so many great titles! I look forward to checking them out. Happy reading in 2016!
Talking to a book lover. What a varied list you put up. I look forward to reading almost all of them.
What about your favorite books that you yourself have agented? I’d love to see that.
If a writer’s books are their children, they are their agent’s god children. I love all the books I have helped put out into the world; can’t pick favorites.
🙂 “But of course,” she said with a french accent. Or translated to American–“Duh,” with a slap upside the head.
Oh, heavens. Conscience and Courage is by Eva Fogelman, not Eva Hoffman. What an error.
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