Reading Goals for 2016

I may be a little early with this post, but as 2015 winds down and I begin to analyze my reading over the past year, I can’t help but look ahead to what I’d like to do differently once we hit January 1st. I’ve never been big on the idea of resolutions, because it seems too arbitrary, but I like the idea instead of setting goals. Resolutions are mandates, lines in the sand that make you a disappointment if you don’t stick to them (not that anyone ever does past the third week of January), but goals are inspirational and motivational. They’re encouraging rather than mocking. So, in the spirit of finding new areas of reading inspiration, here are my reading goals for 2016.

1.) Read more long books.

I love long books. I have the “I like big books and I cannot lie” mug to prove it. There is no better feeling than the arm strain associated with complete immersion in a giant book that you never want to end. But sometimes it’s hard to start a long book, because it means committing yourself to something for an extended period of time–there’s always the fear that it’ll be a lot of your precious reading time devoted to a book that wasn’t worth your while. This year, I’ll ditch the fear and dive into as many doorstopper books as I can. Particular book I have in mind: Little, Big by John Crowley.

2.) Read some older books, including at least two classics.

Goodreads has really helped how I analyze my reading. There’s a fun little tool that lets you analyze your reading year to year by number of books, number of pages…and the year books are published. When I took a look at mine, I was extremely embarassed–prior to reading Northanger Abbey last month for a reading challenge, the oldest book I’d read since 2009 was We Have Always Lived in the Castle, published in 1962. Even worse, the vast majority of my reading had been of books published during the 2000s. I like reading new books, and I’ve had some amazing reads, but I think in 2016 I need to think more about reading backwards in time as well. At least for a few of my picks. I also am a bit behind on my classics reading; I read a ton of classics in high school, but I haven’t returned much to the genre since then. Particular book I have in mind: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.

3.) Make a dent in my TBR shelf.

My TBR shelf is out of control. It’s been out of control for awhile, but now it has morphed from one single shelf to a jam-packed shelf plus a breakfast bar covered in books, plus several stacks of unread books in my closet. There are a lot of factors at work here: my love for library used book sales; my love of libraries in general that causes me to check out new books rather than reading what I already have; and my love of buying books that I either think I’ll love or that I’ve already read and are meaningful to me. But in 2016, I need to get down to business and read the books I have. I won’t ban myself from buying new books, because I physically cannot do that, but I’ll at least try to reduce the unread pile substantially.

4.) Read more books I think I will love, and fewer books I think I will like.

Sometimes I don’t pick up a book looking to find my next favorite. Sometimes I pick up a book because it seems like it will be a decent, fast read. And this is okay once in awhile, but I feel I did this a few times too many in 2015 and ended up with too high a percentage of two-star books that come out of me picking up a book and thinking, hey, this could be an okay guilty pleasure read. (examples? I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this year I read both I’m Not Here to Make Friends by Courtney Robertson, a memoir detailing her time on The Bachelor, and Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison, about her life before, during, and after The Girls Next Door. Yeah. I’m not super proud about this.) In 2016, I want to avoid the lazy reading feeling that leads to two-star books, and focus more on books that I’ve been excited to read for a very long time because I have a strong feeling they could enter the favorites list. Particular book I have in mind: The Just City by Jo Walton.

5.) Discover new favorite authors.

I, like everyone, have several authors that I consider my favorites (Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Jose Saramago, Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, Ilona Andrews, Lev Grossman, etc) and while I will happily devour new books by these authors as quickly as I can buy them, this year I’d like to add some new names to the list. This year I discovered Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie after reading and loving Americanah, and I plan to hit Half of a Yellow Sun hard in 2016, but I’d like to add at least one new name to the “favorites” list in 2016, or at least strive towards then. In addition, it seems criminal that I have never read a book by Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Jo Walton, or Jonathan Franzen, and books by each of these authors are currently sitting on my TBR shelf, mocking me. Particular book I have in mind: White Teeth.

6.) Read books I haven’t read by authors I know I love.

There are a lot of authors whose books I’ve completely loved, but I haven’t yet gotten around to checking out any additional books by them yet. (See Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, above). 2016 is when I fix this! I’m thinking in particular about picking up The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (I loved Never Let Me Go), 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (I enjoyed the strangeness of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), Fledgling by Octavia Butler (Dawn and Parable of the Sower are two of my absolute favorite books), and The Passion by A.S. Byatt (this year I read Ragnarok, one of the Canongate myths series, which was so beautiful and thought-provoking that I went crazy and bought two more books by Byatt).

7.) Participate in at least one Dewey’s Readathon.

This year was my first time doing a Readathon, and I absolutely loved it. It was a fantastic excuse to escape into books for the day and abandon outside stress. The thing is, I didn’t plan for it very far in advance–I read about it online about a week before the event and it was pure luck that I didn’t have to work that day. So in 2016, I want to schedule my Readathons early and block off those Saturdays so that I can be sure to participate in them again. And try to blog more during the Readathon next time, as well!

8.) Continue with my favorite book series.

Some people like to wait until an entire series is published before starting it. I am not one of these people. I am not nearly patient enough for that. I rely on new books to distract me in between series installments. That also means that every year there are plenty of great new releases to look forward to. In 2016 I’m beyond excited for Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews, the ninth Kate Daniels book; N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, the sequel to The Fifth Season and the second book in her Broken Earth series; Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the follow-up to the stellar Six of Crows; and A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Maas’s sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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