One of my year-end rituals, apart from looking back at the past year’s books, is to look ahead for the next year’s reading. This is such a pleasant exercise because Christmas often comes with gift cards from Bookshop.org or Amazon. Until this year I’ve used the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge to push me into some areas I might not read, but that challenge has now been discontinued. I participated (this is strictly self-monitored, of course) in six of the seven years that challenge ran, starting in 2016. Part of each late December was spent in visiting book stores, planning new reading projects, and thinking about the year ahead. Of course, you can’t predict anything with too much accuracy, but I start the year with a stack of books and a head full of literary dreams.
Also in 2016 I began doing the Goodreads book challenge. This is merely numerical—you pledge a certain number of books to read in the year. According to my Goodreads stats (there are some books I don’t publicly admit reading, of course), I’ve read 517 books in the past six years. Numbers were higher in the commuting days, of course, but I try to read more than a book a week and that practice gets me through some difficult times. It always looks sunny when planning ahead for a year’s reading, but you never know where the other parts of life will actually take you. Anyway, this year I’m planning my reading without Mrs. Darcy, mostly culled from my Amazon wishlist, which is unwieldy and constantly growing. I try to buy the books from Bookshop, however, as it benefits independent bookstores.
This year I may set a slightly lower Goodreads goal. The main reason for this is that books seem to keep on getting longer. Novels grow to multiple hundreds of pages but time doesn’t increase in proportion to that number, unless it’s an inverse proportion. Even with a lower goal I won’t plan on slowing my reading down. In my commuting days it was fairly easy to read a hundred books per year. I still tend to get over sixty without those hours on the bus, and hopefully all that reading is doing something useful to the world as a whole. I write to give back for all the good I’ve been given. If this in any small measure offsets the headlines that meet us daily, it will have been time well spent.