When it comes to this year’s read-o-lutions, I am on track for short stories (I’ve read 8 collections and some singles).
And better than that? I have already matched last year for MustReadEverything authors (13 titles) and series completed (8 finished so far).
Almost a quarter of my reading is from series, most of them ongoing, but including a couple new ones (Ann Leckie’s trilogy and Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy, for instance) started and finished this year.
My series reading is likely even higher because two of my main reading projects for 2017 and 2018 revolve around Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna books and Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine cycle. But I was bitten young by the series bug and I’m nearly always giving the itch a scratch, even without a reading project in the mix.
Where I haven’t made any change? I was hoping to read more graphic memoirs and fiction, but not yet. That’s partly because I’m also trying to read more often from my own shelves, and I haven’t been buying these in recent years.
But it’s partly because I’ve fallen hard into the literary fiction habit. As a percentage, the graphic reads barely register over there. Those mystery and sci-fi series aren’t creating much of a distraction.
And that stack? The mysterious stack? Five books have wriggled their way out of it and into my actual reading.
Mind you, I did manage to start and finish George Perec’s A Void (1969; Trans. Gilbert Adair, 1995), which my niece loaned me (abandoned here?) almost ten years ago. If I had actually started when she left it, and read only a tenth of a page every day, I’d’ve finished at roughly the same time.
And Perec is just one of a handful of international reads for 2018 so far. The bulk of my reading comes from Canada and the United States. The third most represented group in my reading are indigenous authors. But there are plenty of other countries represented as well: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Syria and Zimbabwe.
One surprise is how many children’s books I’ve read this year, but that, too, is down to finishing series. Not only did I finish two series by Julia Craighead George and Gary Paulsen, but I also just finished (this month, so not all the pages are included in these statistics) Margery Sharp’s eight-volume series about Bernard and Miss Bianca, popularized in the Disney film, “The Rescuers”.
Another long-time project was Maya Angelou’s autobiographical writing (the first remains my favourite). And, more recently, I finished Thomas King’s Dreadfulwater mysteries. I haven’t dared to put any specific series on the list while focussing on the Jalna and Love Medicine cycles, but I do hope to finish as many more this year. (My FictFact page says I am “following” more than 200, so another 8 would barely scratch the surface.)
Of the 15 books over 500 pages, four of them were JUST over. As though someone gave the writer a limit and they crammed in every last word they could before the book went to press. Most of them were solidly in the 500s, with just a few chunkier than that: Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire, David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual, and the longest one of the bunch…
You can see it right above: some of you already guessed, because you patiently listened to updates for weeeeeeks. It took me so long to read it that I had to return it to the library between readings, then go back to fetch it again (an uncatalogued paperback – I couldn’t abide the thought of reading the hardcover). But, ironically, when I was finished, it all made sense and it was as though it had to have been told that way after all. It reminded me of the way you can fall into a long story. It make it easy to pick up Wolf Hall next (in the next bay of paperbacks).
And what of the next few months? More Gallant. More Erdrich. More Jalna. More indigenous writers. More of much of this.
But that’s not very specific. And, maybe that’s a good thing. It’s hard to find the line between keeping things challenging and making them homework.
I have more Australian writers to read. More Caine prize authors to read. More French-Canadian authors to discover.
And maybe – but it’s not very likely – I will finish this year with fewer books on my TBR than I started with in January.
How is your reading year? Do you have a favourite book/author so far?
Are you planning for the remainder of 2018?