Category Archives: Reading Goals

Short Story Collections: Thoughts, Goals, and TBR

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I love short stories. I really do. I’m continuously impressed by how much plot and emotion can be packed into such a small number of pages, and to me it really speaks to the skill of an author. I’ve recently started to recognize my love of short story collections and have been attempting to pick up more of them (and buy A LOT more of them), but when I gathered all of the short story collections I’ve read together on a Goodreads shelf, I was really not impressed by the number. It inspired me to want to pick up short story collections more often, and to set a solid reading goal for myself (as I laugh at myself for thinking I can actually stick to a reading goal) (No, but for real this time, I actually want to stick to this one) : to read one short story collection per month in 2017.

I already missed January, but that’s OK. This month I’m currently reading Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue, which is a collection of feminist fairytale retellings (is there anything more in my wheelhouse than that phrase?), but I need to keep this going strong throughout the year. Short story collections are great because you don’t necessarily have to read straight through them; you can read one or two stories per day and get through one in a week or so that way. Because of that, I feel like one short story collection per month is actually a pretty attainable goal, and I’m going to hold myself accountable this time.

Here is the (embarassingly low) number of short story collections I’ve completed so far (it’s possible I’m missing a few? But I don’t think so): 10

Interpreter of MaladiesFragile Things: Short Fictions and WondersStranger Things HappenSmoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and IllusionsMagic for Beginners: StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesThe Girl Wakes: StoriesUnaccustomed EarthGutshot

As you can see, there are a lot of repeat authors here: the vast majority of short story collections I’ve read have been from Jhumpa Lahiri, Neil Gaiman, and Kelly Link. Because they are awesome. But this also does point to the fact that I really need to branch out to new authors in my short story reading. Amelia Gray’s Gutshot was one of my favorite books of 2016, and it was a total gamble on a new-to-me author who I ended up loving, going to see speak, and buying another book from. Carmen Lau’s The Girl Wakes was my absolute favorite read of 2016 and I found it at a local small press book fair. Branching out in reading always pays off.

My short story TBR list contains a lot of books that I already have on my physical TBR shelf, so this works well with the #readmyownbooks challenge. A lot of my picks are well-within my wheelhouse: female authors, magical realism, weird fiction.

Short story collections from authors I’ve already read and enjoyed:

Pretty Monsters: StoriesStone Mattress: Nine Wicked TalesWhat is Not Yours is Not YoursGet in Trouble: Stories

I have all four of these on my physical TBR shelf (yes, I have two unread Kelly Link short story collections on my TBR shelf. Oops.) and I keep meaning to pick all of them up and then not doing it. I actually did start Pretty Monsters at one point, but after the first story I never returned to it, and I felt like it was just sitting on my bedside table judging me, so I put it back on the shelf. As far as Stone Mattress goes, Margaret Atwood is one of my absolute favorite authors and I have no excuse whatsoever for not reading it yet. I’ve only read one book by Helen Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird, which I really enjoyed) and I have FOUR unread books of hers on my physical TBR shelf, one of which is a short story collection–What is Not Yours is Not Yours. I’m planning on saving White is for Witching for an October read, but I really have no excuse for not yet picking up the other ones.

Short story collections from new-to-me authors: The Other World, it Whispers by Stephanie Victoire, The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks, By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente, and A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel. I own physical copies of all of these except By Light We Knew Our Names.

The Other World, It WhispersThe Unfinished World: And Other StoriesBy Light We Knew Our NamesA Guide to Being Born: Stories

Apparently short story collections get the most beautiful covers in the world. I can’t even with these lovely rainbow situations.

And here are a bunch more! There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (what an amazing title, btw), Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill, Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis, North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, The Color Master by Aimee Bender, The Last Animal by Abby Geni, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting, and And Yet They Were Happy by Helen Phillips.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love StoriesBad BehaviorCan't and Won't: StoriesNorth American Lake Monsters: Stories

The Color MasterThe Last AnimalUnclean Jobs for Women and GirlsAnd Yet They Were Happy

 

I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this–what are some of your favorite short story collections? Have you read any of these? Do you ever set goals for yourself for reading short stories? Let me know!

2017 Reading Goals

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Here are my (belated) reading goals for 2017! I’ve been thinking a lot about the books I managed to read in 2016 and how I can adapt that in 2017 so that I can not only get more enjoyment out of my reading but hopefully also continue to learn more and more through books. Pictured above are the ten books at the top of my TBR list for this  year, and below are the goals that I’ll try to use to shape my reading in 2017.

Reading Goal #1: Read more than one classic, including one longer classic – I completely failed at my goal to read at least one classic in 2016 (I read zero) but this year I’m determined. My classics reading has really taken a nosedive in recent years, but I really do enjoy them–not to mention I hate feeling like I haven’t read certain books that pretty much everyone else has.

Potential reads: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Reading Goal #2: Read more diversely – I didn’t do as well at reading diversely in 2016 as I’d wanted to. This year, I’d like to significantly increase the percentage of books I read by diverse authors.

Potential reads: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Mothers by Brit Bennett, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, The Devourers by Indra Das, and about a million other books

Reading Goal #3: #readmyowndamnbooks – 2016 was a huge year for book buying for me, and my physical TBR shelves have exploded. This year, I’d ideally like to focus on reading the books I own for the majority of my reading so that things don’t get too out of control.

Reading Goal #4: Read more big books – I’ve always been a huge fan of immersing myself in giant reads, but it’s something that I think being involved in bookish social media has somewhat dampened for me in the past few years. I think that I’ve been putting pressure on myself, intended or not, to read a certain number of books per month, and the fact that it takes me longer to read a 500+ page book has played into my decision on whether or not to pick up those longer reads. I’d like to try to ignore that “pressure” and instead just focus on what I really want to read, whether it’s 100 pages long or 1,000.

Potential reads: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Arcadia by Iain Pears, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Reading Goal #5: Read more lesser-known and/or independently published books – Again, this goal goes back to being more active on Bookstagram and Litsy, as well as the blogging community. There are some books that we tend to see more than others on bookish social media, and they do tend to be new releases and YA books. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I do like to read both new releases and YA some of the time, but I also think that I need to do a better job at picking up books that aren’t as well-known and to discover hidden gems that aren’t always hyped up online.

Reading Goal #6: Discover new favorite authors

Potential reads: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Reading Goal #7: Read more books from authors I love

Potential reads: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, Kindred by Octavia Butler, Hunger by Roxane Gay

Reading Goal #8: Relax, and enjoy what you read – Sometimes I can get too caught up in TBR lists and reading goals, and the resulting pressure can nudge me into a reading slump. So in 2017, I need to let myself realize that reading is fun and amazing no matter what I’m reading, and I don’t always need to overthink things. Reading is what I love, and it should be something that relieves stress, not adds to it!

 

What are your reading goals for 2017? Let me know!

 

 

2016 Reading Goals: How Did I Do?

I’m currently working on my reading goals for 2017 and debating with myself on how I want to focus my reading in the coming year. I’m almost overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books on my TBR and I feel like I want to read everything at once and dive into a million different directions. But before the 2017 reading extravaganza can begin, and before I post my full-on 2016 wrap-up post (because 2016 isn’t over yet!) I wanted to look back and see how I did on the reading goals I set for myself for 2016. So, here they are: my 2016 reading goals, and whether I succeeded or failed on these eight different challenges.

Reading Goal #1: Read more long books.

I definitely didn’t pick up every long book on my TBR shelf in 2016 (not even close, actually), but overall I didn’t do too badly on this goal. I did read a bunch of longer books, although those did tend to be fantasy and/or YA, which are faster reads for me, and I didn’t challenge myself by reading any long classics or anything like that. The longest books I read in 2016 included The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (1107 pages), A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (624 pages), Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (659 pages), and Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (647 pages).

Reading Goal #2: Read some older books, including at least 2 classics

Complete failure on this goal. I read zero classics in 2016 (I mean, I read Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” published in 1892, but I wouldn’t count that as a full book) and I’d say I read very few “older” books. The oldest books that I did read in 2016 were Love Poems by Pablo Neruda (pub 1952) and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (pub 1966).

Reading Goal #3: Make a dent in my TBR shelf

Um. Well. I did read a pretty decent number of books on my physical TBR shelf, but I also bought a LOT of books this year, so a dent was definitely not made.

Reading Goal #4: Read more books I think I will love, and fewer books I think I will like

This goal was a tricky one; basically I wanted myself to not hold back from picking books that would be challenging yet rewarding, and not default to picking up silly books that I already sort of assumed in advance would turn into lackluster 2-star reads. I think overall I did better at this in 2016 than I did in 2015, but I think that in terms of those challenging-yet-rewarding books I hope to do even better in 2017.

Reading Goal #5: Discover new favorite authors

I’d say that this goal was a success! New favorite authors I discovered in 2016 include Amelia Gray, Jeanette Winterson, Becky Chambers, Jenny Lawson, Carmen Lau, Elena Ferrante, Samantha Hunt, and Cheryl Strayed.

Reading Goal #6: Read books I haven’t read by authors I know I love

I think I did pretty well at this goal; in 2016, I picked up books by previously-loved authors Kazuo Ishiguro, Octavia Butler, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, N.K. Jemisin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Seanan McGuire, Patrick Rothfuss, and Neil Gaiman.

Reading Goal #7: Participate in at least one Dewey’s Readathon

Success! I participated in both rounds of Dewey’s this year, and they were both wonderful.

Reading Goal #8: Continue with my favorite book series

Again, success! I read subsequent books in these series in 2016: the Kingkiller Chronicles, the Broken Earth trilogy, the Court of Thorns and Roses series, and the Six of Crows duology.

 

Do you set reading goals for yourself? How did you do on your 2016 goals? Let me know!

 

Dewey’s Readathon Goals and Game Plan

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So I already posted my TBR post for Dewey’s Readathon this Saturday (here: https://beachesandbooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/deweys-24-hour-readathon-tbr/), but I also wanted a space to lay out my Readathon game plan. Much like my TBR lists, my bookish game plans tend to fall apart, but it doesn’t mean it’s not fun to make them!

This is only my second Dewey’s Readathon, but I had so much fun with the first one I joined in October. It’s when I really got into the zone with Bookstagram and my book blog, and helped me dive into the bookish community and see what a friendly and wonderful place it is. It also made me immediately resolve to make the Readathon a bookish tradition for myself!

DEWEYs

Game Plan:

My Readathon start time is 8 a.m., which would normally work out quite well, but I actually have to work from about 8:30 until around 2 (I hope! There’s a chance I might need to stay later) so I have to postpone the start of my physical book-reading until the afternoon. I’m planning on audiobooking during my commute to and from work, which should give me around an hour of audiobook time before I can tackle the rest of my TBR. I’m bummed that I have to work–I did try to switch shifts, but unfortunately I got stuck. So I’m trying to make the most of it! It’s a good thing I’m super into my audiobook, because it’s been making my commute better all week. I’m about 1/3 of the way through Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson, and I highly recommend it so far!

Yes, Chef

 

The second I get home, I’m planning on diving into full-on Readathon mode and not surrendering until I get into the Sunday a.m. hours. (Although I am also on call for work, so there is a chance I may have to go back for a bit, in which case more audiobook time!) I don’t plan on staying awake the entire 24 hours, because I am already an insomniac and can’t afford to have my sleep schedule thrown off anymore than it already is, but I think I’ll try to make it until 2 or 3 a.m. I know, it’s not hardcore, but it’s ambitious enough for me!

I feel like varying reading locations will be key to help prevent me from napping and missing reading time, so I’m going to be switching it up between my couch, my floor, and my roof–it’s supposed to be fairly nice out on Saturday, so some outside reading time might be nice!

Food-wise, I’m excited about the green tea chai latte mix I picked up at Trader Joe’s, because there’s nothing like reading with a delicious hot drink (even if it’s nice outside, it lets you pretend you’re snowed in with a book). I’m also thinking about ordering Thai food so I don’t have to cook anything, and also because I’m obsessed with Thai food.

Goals:

Finish 3 books. This is totally doable, considering the shortness of the books I picked out!

Don’t nap. I’m afraid I’m going to fall asleep accidentally, and that is not allowed to happen! I can sleep when I’m done Readathoning but not before.

And that’s pretty much it! I’m planning on Instagramming a lot (@beachesnbooks, if you’re on Instagram!), blogging a lot, reading a lot of other blog posts, and just enjoying the fact that some amazing people worked hard to create and promote such an awesome event.

Happy Readathon to everyone participating tomorrow!

 

 

Reading the Weird in March

Earlier this week, I was in the middle of five different books and realized I wasn’t completely happy with any of them. I was enjoying them, but nothing was consuming my interest and inspiring me to reach for it obsessively. And then I figured out why: for the first time in probably years, not one of the books I was reading had any kind of fantastical or science fiction-related element.

I like to mix up my reading and read a mixture of genres, but science fiction and fantasy (along with their offshoots, magical realism, speculative fiction, etc) have always been my favorites. I love the feeling of reading something that is completely unlike anything else I’ve ever read, encountering new ideas and creative ways to tell a story. And by accidentally finding myself in a place without any of those books, I had strayed away from that. And I hated it!

That’s why the Month-Long #Weirdathon, held by Outlandish Lit (http://outlandishlit.blogspot.com/2016/02/month-long-weirdathon-sign-up.html) is coming at the perfect time for me. I’ve already realized that in order to get back into the reading zone, I need to immediately jump into some scifi/fantasy reads, and making those books as weird as possible sounds like the perfect antidote to too much realistic fiction.

Are  you reading anything weird in March? My TBR post will be up soon!

2015: My Reading Year in Review

2015 was a great reading year for me. I branched out into different genres while digging deeper into genres and authors I know I love. My top ten list for the year contains books that will become some of my all-time favorites (see my earlier post!). And, here, I’ll attempt to organize some stats about my reading year for the first time ever!

Total number of books read: 73

Total number of pages read: 23,167

Longest book read:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (722 pgs)

Shortest book read: (technically a short story)

Forbid the Sea by Seanan McGuire (20 pgs)

Average book length: 317 pgs

Most popular book I read this year (according to Goodreads): The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, with 481,331 other readers

Least popular book I read this year (according to Goodreads): Verses by Ani DiFranco, with 440 other readers

Average rating: 3.3 stars

Number of live author events attended: 3 (Kelly Link, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dinaw Mengestu) (all were awesome)

Number of states I purchased books in: 4 (Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Louisiana)

Number of library used book sales attended: probably around 10. I tried to count, but I lost track.

Number of books I bought: infinity, approximately

Number of audiobooks I listened to: 4

Plays I attended (plays are similar to books…): 3: Book of Mormon, Twelfth Night, Spring Awakening

 

meta-chart

meta-chart(1)Reading Challenges:

✓Participated in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon

✓Read more than 60 books

✓Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

read-harder-finisher-2015

✓Colorful Book Covers Challenge: read 3 books for each color

Red Cover
The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2) by Samantha Shannon A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes

Orange Cover
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5) by Ilona Andrews Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) by Ilona Andrews The Martian by Andy Weir

Yellow Cover
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Green Cover
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3) by Ilona Andrews All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost A Novel by Lan Samantha Chang

Blue Cover
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag, #1) by China Miéville

Purple Cover
Fracture Me (Shatter Me, #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi Steel's Edge (The Edge, #4) by Ilona Andrews Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan

Pink Cover
The City & the City by China Miéville Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Black Cover
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter Small Gods (Discworld, #13) by Terry Pratchett Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

White Cover
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Gray Cover
The Heir (The Selection, #4) by Kiera Cass Smoke and Mirrors Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye, #9) by Seanan McGuire

Brown Cover
Forbid the Sea (October Daye, #0.4) by Seanan McGuire Anansi Boys (American Gods, #2) by Neil Gaiman Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Colorful Cover
Euphoria by Lily King The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Here’s to even more awesome reading in 2016!

Bout of Books Reading Challenge!

 Bout of Books 15 is COMING!

One of my reading goals for 2016 is to participate in more reading challenges, so I’m kicking off the year with a week-long, low-pressure reading challenge: Bout of Books. I heard about this challenge after I participated in the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon last year and was looking for similar challenges. So, while I’m still working on compiling my breakdown of my reading in 2015 (spoiler alert: there will be pie charts!) I’ll be working on reading more books than usual this week. Let me know if you guys are participating as well!

Here’s more information about the challenge:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team