Last week I decided I wanted some more direction with what books I read. Remember I keep track of my reading with a really great spreadsheet? And a lot of years, I’ve set specific goals – sometimes the number of books I read or the total number of pages I read between January 1 and December 31. Once I read 26 books, each with an author whose last name started with a different letter of the alphabet. Last year it was just nice to be done with school (finally!) and have a chance to pick my own books, so I didn’t challenge myself.
I got carried away last week, though. I started by finding a few title challenges, where you have to read a book with a number in the title or something you’d see in the sky (airplane, sun, comet, parachute). I ended up with four or five of those challenges, at six requirements apiece, and dumped them all into a big list. Then I decided I’d combine that with an alphabetical title challenge – 26 books, with titles like Angela’s Ashes and The Broken Teaglass. I allowed overlap between these two lists: I could count The Broken Teaglass for both the alphabetical challenge (the letter B) and the keyword challenge (something you’d find in the kitchen).
But no, this wasn’t enough. On top of that, I added an alphabetical surname challenge like I did a few years ago, but made a rule that there couldn’t be any overlap between the two alphabetical lists. So I wouldn’t be able to count Emily Arsenault, author of The Broken Teaglass, for the letter A in my author list because I’d already counted the book for the letter B in my title list.
It gets better. I’ve now been keeping a spreadsheet of my yearly reading since 2004 and decided to set some milestone goals as well: 120,000 total pages read in the past 10 years, and 400 total new books read in the same time. My current numbers are 115,969 pages and 390 books, so this is doable.
Well . . . I should say, it would be doable if that were my only goal for the rest of the year. All of these challenges together, though – pretty overwhelming. I do still have to be a responsible parent and sleep and stuff like that.
My solution: make it a before-I-turn-30 goal. It gives me until next July, which is much more realistic, and it seems more monumental. Monumentaler, if you will. I’ve already picked out all the remaining books I need to complete these challenges, except one with a party or celebration in the title. Can you think of a good book that could fill this requirement? Let me know in the comments!
New books: 40 ( 15,328 pgs )
Longest book: The Wise Man’s Fear (994 pgs)
Shortest book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (160 pgs)
Oldest book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
Newest book: Ruins (October 2012)
Best book: tie – Mistborn / The Name of the Wind
Best children’s/YA book: Walk Two Moons
Worst book: Our Tragic Universe
Most disappointing book: The Flame Alphabet
Kira Salak, The White Mary
Neil Gaiman, Stardust
Sunshine O’Donnell, Open Me
Joshua Ferris, The Unnamed
Michael Scott, The Alchemyst
Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Veronica Roth, Divergent
Chris Van Allsburg, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Ann Aguirre, Enclave
Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, Willpower
Lisa McMann, The Unwanteds
Sheridan Hay, The Secret of Lost Things
Susan Beth Pfeffer, Life As We Knew It
Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn
Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension
Brandon Sanderson, The Hero of Ages
Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test
Amy Stewart, Wicked Plants
The Arbinger Institute, Leadership and Self-Deception
Tony Hillerman, Listening Woman
Tony Hillerman, The Dark Wind
Ally Condie, Matched
Tony Hillerman, The First Eagle
Douglas Richards, Wired
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
Brian Jacques, Taggerung
Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Pittacus Lore, I Am Number Four
Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet
Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe
Brandon Sanderson, Elantris
John Grisham, The Litigators
John Grisham, The Associate
John Grisham, The Appeal
Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
David Levithan, Every Day
Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons
Orson Scott Card, Ruins
Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reluctant to read more Brandon Sanderson books. But I enjoyed Elantris after finishing the Mistborn trilogy, so I thought I’d give this stand-alone book a go – especially since Jarom got it for me for Christmas! (Aren’t books the best presents?)
The Emperor’s Soul is definitely not as good as either Elantris or the Mistborn books, but it’s good. It was short, so it packed a lot into a small space. I liked it even more when I got to the end and found a note from the author that he got the idea from name stamps, which they use frequently in Asian countries like Korea, where he served his mission. Hey! Jarom did that too! And I have a name stamp!
This seems like a much less fantasy/magic-heavy book, although it did have elements of magic-ish-ness. With such a short read, I think you’d enjoy picking it up. It has a very different feel from the other Sanderson books I’ve read – which is good. I like when an author can capably write in several styles.