Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My Year in Books: 2019 Edition

2019 has been an epic year of reading for me both in terms of volume of titles read and the number of projects and challenges I got involved in. So many books, graphic novels, manga, audiobooks, comics, collections.... it was a lot. The grand total came to 333 works. I still can't quite believe that number. I really don't think I will hit 300 again. But that is something to think about in another year. As we are still in 2019, I'm going to stick to what happened this year!

Most of my goals this year followed a similar pattern: to read a particular number of books per challenge/project/list I was working on. In a few instances, I had pre-selected the books but for many it was simply "Read X number of books from X list/type/genre". After a year of working with these parameters, I know that I have much more success and fun when I can choose as I go throughout the year. The projects where I pre-selected the books were often the most fun at the selection stage, and than the enjoyment started to wane as the year went on and the pressure of "having to read" them built up. I had some successes at these challenges, but they were not as fun. For future, I think going with letting myself choose the specific books over time is the way to go.

As it was a project/challenge heavy year, I am going to check in project by project. There are a lot of challenges, and a fair amount of books are part of several challenges, so this is quite a long post. Time to grab a cuppa and let's see how 2019 worked out.

Shannon Reads "Those Books" Exploration

GOAL: Read 6 books
Result: Read 7 Books

1. My Antonia by Willa Cather (Great Plains Trilogy #3)
2. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
5. The Once and Future King by T.H. White (Books #1 - #5)
6. Oedipus the King by Sophocles | Translated by Robert Fagles
Bonus: The Tin Flute / Bonheur D’Occasion by Gabrielle Roy | translated by Hannah Josephson

My Shannon Reads "Those Books" Exploration was started back in 2014, when I wanted to read more books that are the books "that everyone seems to have read (or says they do), from classic books or zeitgeist books, books that are influential, books that are highly referenced, books that well loved and books whose themes appear again and again in pop culture."

I'm happy that this year I not only hit my goal for the year but also hit the 50th book read for the exploration with The Tin Flute | Bonheur D’Occasion by Gabrielle Roy (translated by Hannah Josephson). This Canadian novel set in the 40s was also my favourite read for Those Books, with Oedipus the King by Sophocles (translated by Robert Fagles) a close second. And I'll be honest, I didn't expect to enjoy Oedipus the King at all. It's one where the story is so a part of pop culture that I felt it would be rote and I was so wrong. It's definitely a case of where the magic is in how the story is told. I'm already re-read it by listening to it on audiobook (with Michael Sheen playing Oedipus). I also really enjoyed My Antonia by Willa Cather, which I read back in January and feels so long ago. It was an emotional read, but well worth it.

Those were the hits, but I also had some misses. The biggest one was Lord of the Flies by William Golding, because it's the first book on this list that I feel like it might have been a mistake to read because of how disturbing the content was. I also decided to leave it unrated, because I just have zero opinion on it in terms of a star rating. It is also the one book this year I received the most comments and messages for the impact of the book, both for it's importance and of how disturbing the reading experience it had been.

My biggest achievement from this list is definitely Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Wow, this book is HUGE. It took me longer than expected to read, and it really felt like part well spun engaging narrative, and part whale encyclopedia. And man, I don't think I ever needed to know that much information on how whales were hunted and harvested (especially as I have already read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex, the non-fiction story upon which Mody Dick was based). After all the work to read it, it ended up being a "solid 3 star read", which so didn't feel like it was worth the effort. All that said, it is one that I would consider revisiting, just to read the narrative portions and get a stronger sense of the story and characters. In that sense, I felt like there could be a lot to love there.

SciFi Fantasy and Weird Exploration

GOAL: Read 6 books
Result: Read 6 Books *

1. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
2. Alanna the First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce
3. Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
4. Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy #1)
5. Sandman, Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman| Illustrators: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III, Colorist: Daniel Vozzo, Letterer: Todd Klein, Covers: Dave McKean
6. The Once and Future King by T.H. White (Books #1 - #5)

This goal got a little loosely goosey this year. Initially I set out to read 6 books, specifically 2 SciFi, 2 Fantasy and 2 Weird. And than I picked a specific TBR or about 15-ish book. Neither of those ended up working out. I read some of the ones I picked, but mostly I learned pre-picking the titles at the beginning of the year is restrictive to me, and not helpful. I love making lists, which is why I try this method again and again, but I can see that it doesn't work for me.

I read Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury in February and loved it, but didn't get to finish another title the FALL. Yikes. I felt way behind the eightball on this challenge for most of the year. I have learned that this challenge will take me longer because science fiction and fantasy lend themselves to be SERIES. That means you aren't necessarily committing to one book but rather multiple books if you like the work. On the flip side to that I was able to finish two complete series this year for this challenge: The Giver Quartet and The Once and Future King. So bonus points to me!

My favourites this year were the first two I read. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury was SO GOOD. Historical urban fantasy, a carnival comes to town, weird stuff happens and moral dilemma ensure. It was brilliant. I want to read that entire series now, even though this title wasn't book one. I also want or read more Ray Bradbury in general. I think he could end up being a favourite author to me. I also loved Alanna the First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce, this one I read for a readalong hosted by Anita Reads and only after reading did I realize it was on one of my lists. I loved Alanna so much, I wish I had read these books when I was younger, but since I didn't I can enjoy them now!

We also have some doubling up on challenges now, with The Once and Future King by T.H. White (Books #1 - #5) being on both this list and the Those Books list. The Once and Future King was a bit of an all-over-the-place reading experience. I read and loved the first book, The Sword in the Stone but than the rest of the books didn't hit me as hard. I also found this series challenging to read from a comprehension level, and I am suprized/impressed/embarrassed when people say they read it as a kid. I don't think I would have been able to read this as a kid! I had trouble reading it now! But I did it. Although I didn't love this series as a whole, I am happy that I read it. I love reading Arthurian works, and I think I will end up picking an Arthurian series or book to read as a bit of an annual tradition. Because clearly, I don't set enough challenges and traditions for myself. Kidding.

* I'm also still currently reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (which I may DNF) and Dune by Frank Herbert (which I won't finish until 2020).

TBR Unwrappings

Goal: Read 40 books
Result: Read 14 books

1. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
2. Oxford Guide to Plain English by Martin Cutts
3. Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures by John Wilmerding
4. My Antonia by Willa Cather (Great Plains Trilogy #3)
5. Four Major Plays: Vol 1 by Henrik Ibsen: A Doll House, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder | Translated by Rolf Fjerde
6. Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz
7. Selected Poetry of W.B. Yeats
8. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
9. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
10. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Fifty Shades #3)
11. Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld #2)
12. One Hundred Years of Canadian Cinema by George Melnyk
13 The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau
14. The Tin Flute / Bonheur D’Occasion by Gabrielle Roy | translated by Hannah Josephson

If you are unfamiliar with this kind of project, how it works is you wrap up your owned-unread books in wrapping paper so you don't know which book is which, and than you unwrap them .... and read them! Often there is a wrapping paper / colour coding that to give you some sense of the book, but because you don't know what it is you avoid decision fatigue, get to books you may have put off for one reason or another, plus it adds an element of surprize which is super fun. I started wrapping my books in 2017 inspired by both Slywia from Wish Fulfillment and Anita Reads to take on this style of picking a TBR from physical books.

I think I knew heading into this that 40 was a stretch goal for me, and I picked a high number because I have so many wrapped books to read. Oddly, I feel okay about only reading 14. I was really happy I "found" Moby-Dick, because I really wanted to read it this year. I did struggle with several, and almost gave up on a few, but mostly stuck things out. I even finished the Fifty Shades Trilogy! Wow. That took a long time. Some of the ones I really enjoyed this year were Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin and My Antonia by Willa Cather (Great Plains Trilogy #3), but my favourites were Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures by John Wilmerding and Four Major Plays by Henrik Ibsen: A Doll House, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder | Translated by Rolf Fjerde. Maybe I should stop being surprized at loving art books and plays, because there is lots of evidence to suggest that I love them!

This is a project I'm a little stumped with how to approach it going forward. I went pretty strong for the first year and a half, but then it started to taper off as I realized my reading includes more than my physical books. I also have discovered BookEnds, which has way better prices for used books than where I was previously going so I don't have any worry about getting used books to read. But I'm sitting with a huge number of wrapped books, and I'm now not even filming videos so where/how would I unwrap them? Not sure what the answer is, but that will definitely be one the things I want to figure out in 2020.

Book to Film Challenge 2019

Goal: Read 12 Book to Film Adaptation
Result: Read 5 Titles, Currently Reading 2 Titles, leaving 5 titles Unread

1. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
2. Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom (Grens & Sundkvist #5) | Translated by Kari Dickson | Film: The Informer or Three Seconds
3. Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie
4. Splinter Cell by David Michaels (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell #1)
5. Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson

Currently Reading:
Dune by Frank Herbert (Dune Chronicles #1)
Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

Oh boy, I really didn't do well on this one. I stumbled big time when I got to Splinter Cell, which was just not a good fit for me and took months to read. I also initially planned reading Sailor Girl at the same time as Moby Dick, but they are both set on the water so I couldn't do it. I did finish Sailor Girl right at the end of December though, and LOVED it. I also really enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The big eye opener was Three Seconds, a Swedish crime/thriller which was a super challenging read but I found it so engaging. I did a reading vlog for it which made it an even more engaging way to enjoy a book. Sadly, the vlog is not available as I'm taking a break from YouTubing. Also sadly, the film hasn't been released here (the film is called The Informer). But I will keep my eye out for it because I really want to see it.

I really do loving reading books before the films come out, and technically this is my longest annual running challenge with the first one back in 2010. That means that 2019 was my 10th year doing a book to film challenge! I love that so much an I think I will definitely be keeping this tradition going.

Read the Oldest Books on my GoodReads TBR Shelf

Results: Reduced the list from 28 to 25 Titles
Read 1 Title, Currently Reading 2 Titles, leaving 22 titles Unread

1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Currently Reading:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Dune by Frank Herbert

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
King Rat by China Miéville
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Shining by Stephen King
Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein
Sword-Sworn by Jennifer Roberson (Tiger & Del #6)
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Animee Friedman
The Blood King by Gail Z. Martin (Chronicles of the Necromancer #2)
The Dark Haven by Gail Z. Martin(Chronicles of the Necromancer #3)
The Dark Lady's Chosen by Gail Z. Martin (Chronicles of the Necromancer #4)
Beggars Ride by Nancy Kress

I joined Goodreads back in 2010, and on that first day I added LOTS of books to my want to read shelf. For this challenge, I thought it would be fun to finish as many as I can, or simply decide how many of them I still truly wanted to read. This is easily the challenge I did the worst on. Remember how I said preselecting the titles didn't go well? This is the strongest case against doing that. But it's also the nature of this particular list as they are specific titles.

I did cut down the list by 3 titles but the rest are ones I still do want to read, or at least give a shot to. A lot of them are hefty classics, like Les Misérables (which I hope to read next year) and others had other pressures like wanting to watch Season 1 of Outlander before reading it. More challenges included that some are later books in series, and I wanted to go back and re-read the previous books again. Sometimes I had access to the previous books, and sometimes I did not. And some of the books I could only get physical copy from the library, and than I didn't do that. But I did read Moby Dick! It's the only one I finished, and it was a challenge, but I did it.

Although this challenge didn't go well, I learned a few valuable things. One, even if this was the sole challenged I picked for the year it was one that I may not have completed. Some of the books aren't easy access either for a copy or from the perspective of the subject/content or even the size. I also learned it's hard for me to let go of things. I gave myself the out of being able to take any of these books off the list if I wasn't that interested because... it's been 10 years so why haven't I read them? But hey, some books it does take us 11 years, 15 years, or 20 years to get to! I don't want to take a book off the list just to meet the challenge. I want to give it the opportunity to be there for me to enjoy later.

Stacking the Series Challenge

Goal: Read 78 titles from 12 Different Series
Results: Read 63 titles and Completed 9 Stacks

Series Completed:
Fables written by Bill Willingham
The Last Apprentice/Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials by Various Authors
The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett
Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Series Caught Up with / Hit Target for:
8 x Oxford's A Very Short Introduction by Various
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Series Progressed on:
Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
NUMA Files by Clive Cussler
Boston Fire by Shannon Stacey

This is the challenge that I put the most focus/energy on this year and was so adamantly determined to stick to. I spend the entire month of September focused on working on it, and during that month I read the entire Giver Quartet! I did have a few bumps with this challenge, mostly because I only like to read 1 book per genre at a time, which made me feel like I had to read the book from my stacks as opposed to the other series I was in the middle of. Again, choosing the books ahead of time ended up leaving me feeling not at choice throughout the year. I think that's the big lesson I learned this year!

I am happy at the success I had with this challenge. Even though I didn't get 100% of the titles read, I did finish 7 series and read 80% of the titles and that feels pretty freaking awesome.

If you are interested in participating in this challenge, Sarah from Steeped in Books is hosting it again in 2020.

A to Z Graphic Novels

Goal: Read a Graphic Novel or Manga starting with each letter of the alphabet
Result: 26/26

  • The Autumnlands, Vol. 1: Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek | Illustrator: Benjamin Dewey with Jordie Bellair & Comicraft (The Autumnlands #1)
  • Blade of the Immortal, Vol 1: Blood Of A Thousand | Art & Story by Hiroaki Samura | Translation: Dana Lewis & Toren Smith | Lettering and Retouch: Wayne Truman
  • Cowboy Ninja Viking Vol 1 written by AJ Lieberman | Art and Tones by Riley Rossmo | Lettered by Clayton Cowles | Cover Design by Dave Casey | Book Graphics by Riley Rossmo | Book Designed & Publishedby Jim Valentino
  • Deathstroke, Vol. 1: The Professional by Christopher Priest | Artists: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, Larry Hama, Joe Bennett, Mark Morales and Belardino Brabo
  • Eternity Girl by Magdalene Visaggio (writer) | Artist: Sonny Liew | Colorist: Christ Chuckry
  • Fables Vol 10: The Good Prince written by Bill Willingham | Artists: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Aaron Alexovich, Andrew Pepoy | Colorist: Lee Loughridge | Letterer: Todd Klein | Original Series Covers: James Jean
  • Goldie Vance, Vol 1 written by Hope Larson | Illustrated by Brittney Williams, Colors by Sarah Stern, Letters by Jim Campbell
  • Heart and Brain: Body Language: An Awkward Yeti Collection by Nick Seluk
  • I Am A Hero Omnibus 1 by Kengo Hanazawa | Translation: Kuma Sivasubramanian, English Adaptation: Philp R. Simon, Lettering: Steve Dutro
  • Jem and the Holograms, Vol 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson (writer) | Art by Sophie Campbell
  • Kissed by a Stranger | Art by Amu Taniguchi| Original Text: Valerie Parv
  • Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsay Beyer
  • Moonstruck Vol. 1: Magic To Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle | Illustrators: Kate Leth, Caitlin Quirk and Clayton Cowles
  • Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano | Translated from Japanese by Matt Thorn
  • Once + Future #1 | written by Kieron Gillen, Illustrated by Dan Mora, Colored by Tamra Bonvillain, Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
  • Petals written & Illustrated by Gustavo Borges | Colours: Cris Peter
  • Queen of the Black Black written & illustrated by Megan Kelso
  • Rat Queens Vol 1 Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
  • Saga Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas | Illustrated by George Evans (Classics Illustrated #1)
  • Usagi Yojimbo Saga Vol 1 - Created, Written & Illustrated by Stan Sakai
  • Velvet Vol 1: Before the Living End by Ed Brubaker (wirter)| Artist: Steve Epting, Colours: Elizabeth Breitweiser, Letters: Chris Eliopoulos, Edits: David Brothers, Production: Drew Gill
  • The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
  • X-Men First Class #1: The Job Shadow by Jeff Parker | Illustrators Roger Cruz and Val Staples (X-Men: First Class (2007) #1)
  • Y The Last Man, Vol 1: Unmanned by Brian K Vaughn | Pencilier: Pia Guerra, Inker: Jose Marzan, Jr, Colorist: Pamela Rambo, Letterer: Clem Robins
  • ZOMBIEPOWDER., Vol. 1: The Man with the Black Hand | Story & Art by Tite Kubo | Translated by Akira Watanabe

This is one of the challenges I'm most pleased with. For starters, I completed it (and I'm a completist). But also I'm happy because it had me expand my reading horizons and check out works that I had never heard of and take a chances on new to me titles. Sometimes that that worked out well, and sometimes it didn't...I think there are a few 1 or 2 star reads in here, but there are also lots of 4 star reads. And it also gave me an opportunity to read series I've heard other people talk about, from Goldie Vance to Velvet to the super popular Saga (all of which I loved).

The only hitch I had in this challenge was halfway through the year the number of monthly rentals on Hoopla reduced from 8 titles a month to 4 titles a month for Toronto Public Library users. When that happened, I had to get way more selective on what to pick, and took less chances which isn't the spirit of the challenge! But I adapted. I also noticed that the TPL increased the number of graphic novels and manga available on Overdrive, so I did start reading titles that way as well but Hoopla, even though Hoopla has the advantage of reading right away without having to put a title on hold. Those are logistics I'm still working on adapting too, but overall this challenge is one that I'm super proud of and I'm thrilled to be reading more graphic works. I love seeing the artworks and it's cool to see stories in different formats. The only downside was the number of series I'm reading exploded. But that's doesn't stress me, so it's all good!

A to Z Romance Novels

Goal: Read a Romance starting with each letter of the alphabet
Result: 12/26

  • An Accidental Seduction by Michelle Willingham (Accidental #1)
  • Boots and Bareback by Myla Jackson (Ugly Stick Saloon #3)
  • Claimed by the Highland Warrior by Michelle Willingham (MacKinloch Clan #1)
  • Do You Feel It Too? By Nicola Rendell
  • Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey (Boston Fire #1)
  • Kept by the Viking by Gina Conkle (Forgotten Sons #1)
  • Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan (The Worth Saga #2.75)
  • Pumpkin and Spice by Abby Knox (The Windy City Holiday Duet #1)
  • Rescued by the Highland Warrior by Michelle Willingham (MacKinloch Clan #3.5)
  • Seduced by Her Highland Warrior by Michelle Willingham (MacKinloch Clan #2)
  • Thirty Nights by JoAnn Ross

Wow, I didn't do great with this one. Just 1 book shy of 50%. I just haven't been reading as much romance this year, but I read at least these twelve which is 1 a month, so that actually isn't too bad. There are also a lot of romances that start with C, S and T (Saved, Tamed, Taken, etc), so I read more romances than this list but many of them didn't qualify for the challenge. I wasn't surprized to see a lot of Michelle Willingham on this list (30%!), as she's one of my favourite romance authors. One of my favourite reads was Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan (The Worth Saga #2.75), a historical LGBT novella that was fabulous. I will definitely be reading more Courtney Milan in the future!

This is a challenge that is definitely in the running to be done again in 2020. I have so many romance novels on my Kindle, I think I could probably complete it just from books I already have. That said, I would like to branch out and try some new authors and publishers in the new year so we will see what happens.

Read 10 Non-Fiction Art Books

Goals: Read 10 Art Books
Result: Read 11 Art Books

1. Ai Weiwei Speaks with Hans Ulrich Obrist
2. Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures by John Wilmerding
3. Seeing: A Photographic Voyage of Discovery and Delight by Gordon Andrew | Introduction by David Moore
4. Vermeer - The Astronaut | Text based on the interviews between Frederico Zeri and Marco Dolcetta | Edited by Federico Zeri | Translated by Susan Scott
5. Mastering Sketching: A Complete Course in 40 Lessons by Judy Martin
6. Henry Moore's Sheep Sketchbook - Comments by Henry Moore and Kenneth Clark
7. The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind by Cat Bennett
8. Klee by Flavia Frigeri
9. Draw Your Day: An Inspiring Guide to Keeping a Sketch Journal by Samatha Dion Baker
10. A Visual Guide to Classical Art Theory for Drawing and Painting by Eric Mantel
11. Sketching: Techniques & Tips for Successful Sketching by Jackie Simmonds

I loved this challenge. I love reading art books! And I love that it ended up being a combination of how to, art history and books focused on particular artists. I didn't set out to have that variety, but it really worked. One of my favourites of this set was A Visual Guide to Classical Art Theory for Drawing and Painting by Eric Mantel, it's especially good at showing different colour palettes of colour theory. I read the ebook on Scribd, and it was one of my favourite reads of the year.

My absolute favourite from this list was the Henry Moore's Sheep Sketchbook, which is exactly what it sounds like: sheep sketches done by Henry Moore. It is wonderful. A huge thank you to my sister Jamie for this one, I love love love it.

Read 5 Memoirs

Goal: Read 5 Memoirs
Results: Read 5 Memoirs

1. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore | Narrated by Drew Barrymore
2. Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsay Beyer
3. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay | Narrated by Roxane Gay
4. You're On an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey | Narrated by Parker Posey
5. High School by Tegan and Sara Quin | Narrated by Sara and Tegan Quin

This challenge I got in right under the wire, finishing in December. I am really surprized it took me that long to read 5 memories, I think I usually more like 10 a year. I think what happened is I changed formats and that threw things off. I used to only read memoirs in ebook format, but this year I read 1 graphic novel and the remaining 4 were all audiobooks, narrated by the authors. Although I loved listening to the authors narrate their works, I am still pretty new to listening to audiobooks, so they do take me a bit longer to read. Memoir can also deal with more challenging subjects, and I found Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay an especially challenging read, but also a very important read. I am glad I listened to it on audiobook, to literally hear her tell her story. It was one of the most powerful reads of the year.

Read 5 Non-Fiction Productivity / Practices Books

Goal: Read 5 Books
Result: Read 7 Books

1. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
2. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown
3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
4. The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll | Narrated by Ryder Carroll
5. Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life by Niki Brantmark | Narrated by Ana Clements
6. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
7. Everything is Figureoutable: How One Simple Belief Can Help Us Overcome Any Obstacle and Create Unstoppable Success by Marie Forleo | Narrated by Maria Forleo

I love productivity and practices, hence taking on this challenge. And the love I have for it shows in that I over achieved it the goal! These were definitely some of the most inspiring, impactful and thought provoking reads of the year. I absolutely loved Grit by Angela Duckworth, and realized that I am very gritty. That in it of itself wasn't a bit shock, but it reminded me that not everyone was, and not everyone wants to be. It's helpful to know we have different drivers, and this isn't a thing that works for everyone. But it does work for me (and that is okay!).

This is another set of books that I often listened to on audiobook, but I felt like that didn't always have the best results for me. I loved it in the moment, but without text I didn't have something to remember it by or refer to later. Or, if there were exercises and I wanted to do them I had to stop what I was doing and leave the book to come back to later (or not do the exercises). So that was a challenge. This lets me know this is one situation where I wouldn't mind having the physical book as well as listening to it via audio, which is something I hadn't considered before. I read The Bullet Journal Method with both audio and physical, and was really happy with the results.

Participate in 10 Readathons

Goal: Participate in 10 Readathons
Result: Participated in 10 Readathons

1. Translatathon - March
2. March Mystery Madness - March
3. Grinchathon - April
4. Bizarre Individual's 24 Hour Readathon - April
5. Borrowathon Round 6 - May
6. Summer Romance Book Bingo - June
7. Grinchathon - Christmas in July
8. ReadMOARComics - August
9. Grinchathon - December
10. Holiday Book Bingo - December

I was a little worried with how things were going in terms of readathons this year, because I had started strong with one a month...and than almost nothing in the fall. But I got 2 in December so I hit my 10. There are several rounds of Grinchathon (hosted by Izzy) and Book Bingo (hosted by Sarah) in there, which are readathons I really enjoy. I also love Borrowathon and had a great time participating in that in May. Plus I tried some new ones with this year with Bizarre Individual's 24 Hour Readathon and Rincey's ReadMOARComics. One of my favourite things about readathons is chatting with fellow readers, usually on Twitter. I find it's a way to find new people and connect with them, get to see what they are reading and just have a fun time reading together. It continues to be one of my favourite bookish things to do.

Challenge: Find my way to DNFing a book
Result: ???

DNFing, which stands for Do Not Finish, or perhaps Did Not Finish, is something that gets talked a lot about in the book community. Different people have different rules, ways or viewpoints on DNFing. Popular ways are stopping if you aren't engaged by 50 pages or simply that life is too short for bad books/books you aren't enjoying.

These parameters don't match my own philosophy, so I have struggled with not knowing what my way of DNFing is. I actually do have a fair amount of time to read, so often I will push through. I also don't solely read for enjoyment, I also read for wanting to be in the know on topics/genres as well as to challenge myself. I often like a challenge, and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment for reading something challenging or long (or both).

I think the truth is that I don't really DNF books. What I am more likely to do is let it go and mark it as unread if I've not read a lot of it. Or, I will choose to skim read. And both of these happen only rarely. I skimmed maybe 2 books this year. I do this if want to know what the fuss is about, or simply what happens in the end. And I mark only 1 as unread. So that's 3 out of over 300 titles. I think the truth is I don't DNF. I choose a different approach. And that is a-okay.

Goal: Do Monthly Reflections & Share Progress on Goals for the Year
Result: Elephant in the Room

Okay, so my last goal is one that is a bit tricky, because I did monthly reflections on my YouTube channel for the majority of the year so this feels like a success. But, with changes and complications in YouTube in both Dec 2019 and upcoming in January 2020, I decided to shut down my channel for now and make all my videos private. So I did this, but... it's not available. And I feel complicated about things, like the fact that even here on blog I have lots of embedded videos that don't play. But, it's the choice I made and I'm sticking to it.

It took me while to find my rhythm to the reflections videos, but once I did I found it gave me really interesting insights to my reading and helped me stay on track for several of the projects and challenges throughout the year. That said, they were time intense videos to prep, to film and to edit. I do still continue to look at my stats, but it isn't the same as when I was sharing them.

In a way, this whole post serves as reflecting on the year and man if you have made it all the way to the end - THANK YOU! I hope it was a fun read. I always enjoy having all of the info in one place, and it's such a good reminder of hope the year went. Some years are super light and others are very intense. I think this year was voluminous! So many titles read! I have said it in previous years, but I really, truly do not think I will ever exceed the 333 titles read this year. I also finished 19 series this year. I think I hit my max, on pretty much everything. But who knows what 2020 will bring? I am not sure, but just as I was posted this I see that Brock from Let's Read has shared the new spreadsheet for 2020. Now I'm all ready for the new year!

Love reflections? See my previous Year in Books: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Love books? Let's be friends on GoodReads!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

December 2019 TBR

Happy December All!

It's time to look at the books I plan on reading in December. I have three different things I'm working on this month, including two readathons and then the general goals of trying to finish as much as possible of the books I'm currently in the middle of. Thankfully, there is some overlap with these goals which should make succeeding all the more likely.

The two readathons I am participating in couldn't be more different. One embraces the holidays and the other, well... doesn't. Every year I wonder if I'm the only one who participates in both. Thank goodness the lovely hosts don't seem to mind that I like to join both of these parties! They are the best hosts!

Holiday Book Bingo | Dec 1 - 31, 2019

Hosted by Sarah from Steeped in Books and Elizabeth from Lizzie Faye Loves Books

I love that for this year the Holiday Book Bingo is a three by three bingo card with so many possibilities to get a bingo. Plus, we are totally allowed to double up, triple up or more which is awesome! Because December can be a month with lots of holiday activity, be it planning, shopping, baking, wrapping and visiting I decided to go a bit of an easy route with novellas, collections and graphic novels. Plus, most of the titles can count for 2 challenges or more. In fact, Maisey Yates' Cowboy Christmas Blues can counts for three: it's part of a series, the cover has lights on it and snow on it. That means with this novella alone, I can get a bingo! I should totally start with that one!

My Holiday Book Bingo TBR:
Cowboy Christmas Blues by Maisey Yates (Gold Valley #0.5)
A Wish for Noel by Deborah Simmons
Christmas on the Anvil by Michael Penmore
Burning Bright: Star Light, Star Bright by Anne Stuart | Return of the Light by Maggie Shayne | One for Each Night by Judith Arnold
Mistletoe and Mischief by various authors
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 8 by Kieron Gillen
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 9 by Kieron Gillen

I know it may appear that I'm stretching things with The Wicked + The Divine, an urban fantasy graphic novel series. BUT! Volume 8 includes their holiday issue/special and I added Vol 9 for the bingo square of "Traditional" which Sarah describes as a holiday tradition that YOU have. One of my traditions is enjoying finishing things by the end of the year. Given that Vol 9 is the final volume of the series, it feels like a gift to myself to finish one more series before the year ends.

Grinchathon Round 8 | Dec 15 - 21, 2019
Hosted by Izzy from Punkockgirlpa

I love Grinchathon! It's low pressure readathon that's there for us during the stress of the holiday season. It's especially for people who don't enjoy the holidays. Or don't celebrate the holidays - not everyone does! It can be a tough time of year, even at the best of times. Not everyone is full of cheer and there are times where we and total Grinches. This readathon celebrate that inner Grinch. Rawr!

Grinchathon Round 8 Challenges:
1. Green and Black
2. Diverse
3. Warm
4. Pictures
5. Short
6. Dying To Read
7. Dark

My Grinchathon TBR:
1. Attack of the Ninja Frogs by Ursula Vernon (Dragonbreath #2)
2. The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
3. Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (Dance Off #1)
4. The Wild Storm Vol 2, 3 and/or 4 by Warren Ellis
5. Beastly Bones by William Ritter (Jackaby #2)
6. Dune by Frank Herbert (Dune #1)
7. * Nightmares! The Lost Lullaby by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller | Illustrated by Karl Kwasny | (Nightmares! #3) or Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1)

Some of the great thing about Grinchathon are: you are encouraged to manipulate the challenges in any way you see fit, you can also continue reading anything you are already reading (I LOVE THIS!), and hanging out on Twitter during Twitter sprints is so much fun. I may not have done a great job at the manipulating the challenges, but I'm super excited about all of the books so that counts too! That said, I may be stretching by picking "Beastly Bones" for "Short". It is a shorter book at under 300 pages, but honestly I just wanted to included it because I read Jackaby during a previous round of Grinchathon and loved it so much that it felt fitting to get back to the series during this round.

I am a bit nervous including a book as long as Dune in a TBR this close to the end of the year, but it really does feel like the one book that I thought I would read this year, but haven't gotten too. That's why it's my Dying to Read choice. Even if I just make a good start this year it will feel good. And I'm including two options for challenge 7, because the Nightmares series has been a buddy read with Izzy and at the time of this posting I haven't confirmed if we are reading it in December or not. So if we aren't, I have the back up of Guilty Pleasures. Both feel like they fit "Dark" to me!

The December Everything Else TBR! aka Read all the Books!

Although I never actually get my "currently reading" list on GoodReads down to zero books, I would really like to finish a good chunk of them before the end of the year. Mostly, I am aiming for anything I started in October 2019 or earlier. If I started something in November, I am okay to carry it forward to the new year. But before that... I want to finish it off.

My Finish-It-Off TBR
Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #3)
The Cottage of Pumpkin and Vine
Concepts of Modern Art - Edited by Nikos Stangos
Midsummer Nights' Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse (Wiccan Wheel Mystery Series #1)
The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 1 (1931-1934)
Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson
The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (Dance Off #1)

Some of these titles are already in the readathon TBRs, for when doubling up is allowed I certainly will take that opportunity. I know it's optimistic to get ALL of these books read in December, but hey, I am an optimistic person! And I love having choices, and this certainly gives me a lot to choose from. I think the hardest thing will be waiting until December 15th to start my Grinchathon TBR! We'll see how I do.

The last thing on my book-ish list is to do my annual-ish Year in Books post, which I tend to post right at the VERY end of the year. I have done a lot of reading this year, so it will be interesting to see how to be true-to-the-year and now write a very long post. Wish me luck!

Love books? Let's be friends on GoodReads!

My Year in Books: 2020 Edition

What a year it has been. This truly has been a year like no other. I started off blogging and even got out to do an awesome book haul at Bo...