November 2016, In My Notebook (IFOA and near-year-end musings)

Back in the summer, I was planning my reading list for this year’s International Festival of Authors in Toronto. It always seems like it will be possible to read all the books which are calling to me from the schedule of events and list of participants.

And maybe it would be, were it not for the other calls from the stacks and shelves, for I cannot ignore the pleas from the Giller longlisted books and the new releases with other bookish events attached (like Jonathan Safran Foer’s promotion for Here I Am).

ifoa-samplingSo here are my original festival reading plans, In My Notebook , and here’s a list of the reviews related to some of those books:

But the pages in my notebook are now preoccupied with various reading projects which I have begun this year.

Now, like my IFOA reading, I’m in the dreaming phase of this planning. List-making and re-making, winnowing and gathering.

What reading will yet unfold in the coming weeks, before the 2016 stacks transform into the 2017 stacks?

Is it really possible for me to finish all the Oz books this year (it’s taken me all year to read 9, and 5 remain)?

Even though I planned to finish all Toni Morrison’s and David Mitchell’s books this year, now I’m working to fit just book from each of their oeuvres into the next month (having only read one of each author’s earlier this year).

My idea of finishing more series than I begin could be thwarted by the fact that I was able to borrow My Brilliant Friend from my brilliant friend, and thus began reading another series, and yet I haven’t yet read on with that series. If I do the math, will I have improved upon my habit of favouring beginnings over endings this year? Would reading the remaining Neopolitan novels help? (I stumbled on a nice new library copy of the second novel: is it a ‘sign’?)

What about all those multi-start-but-never-complete single volumes that haunt my stacks: have I turned a corner towards completion there? (It feels like it’s been months since one of these nestled into my stack. Surely that’s not because I finished them all at last.)

Do my stacks match my intentions, particularly when it comes to discovering and reading more indigenous authors along with other oft-silenced voices? (Or perhaps I am relying upon having bought them as being-nearly-as-good-as-reading.)

Have I reignited my enthusiasm for long-standing reading projects, or is it time to consider filing some of them (as having belonged to a younger reading me)?

And my list of must-reads: is it just as long because I am still consistently favouring the new and shiny books, or have I made a dent (or, at least, begun to make progress)?

But what of the fact that I might not be adding to that list anymore but, in fact, I have a running list in my mind which is tugging at my attention as much as any fresh promotions or publications? (And it’s this list which comes to mind first, when browsing at the library or in a bookstore.)

Even if the rest of life ground to a halt, and I could read a book on each day which remains in 2016, would I still be preoccupied by the idea of all that I did not read this year? Or perhaps I would be content, feeling that I have read my best, even if I read only a few more books this year.

Well, you know how it is. When the stacks and lists seem to be neverending. What’s in your reading plan for the rest of 2016?

Are you squeezing a few more books into your year to satisfy some earlier readolutions, or are you easing into the next season and taking some time to plan?

Squeezing? Or, easing?



  1. DtO January 1, 2017 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Hee, loved the hidden mention.

    The Ferrante quartet will be a breeze. I have Vol 2 and 3 too, should that library copy fail to materialize.

    • Buried In Print January 3, 2017 at 9:39 am - Reply

      I wondered if you’d spot it! The library copy was returned in fairly short order because I realised that the Morrison and Mitchell were both going to take concentration, and, after all, I’ve only just started the series, so if I finish it in 2017, that’s not so bad, right? It took me more than a decade to finish Margaret Drabble’s trilogy!

  2. […] I have been meaning to read but I picked up a novel or collection instead. Nonetheless, I’ve squeezed in a […]

  3. Resh Susan November 30, 2016 at 1:47 am - Reply

    I am more of an easing kind. I squeeze a lot onto my TBR. Then eventually I ease it out when I think Iam no longer having fun reading. And you post reminds me that I must read the Oz books, I havent read all of them

    • Buried In Print December 1, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      That’s another way of looking at it: I can “ease” the books, which I couldn’t “squeeze” into December, into 2017. What a great idea!

      I’ve since finished the 10th Oz book and am now reading the 11th. There are a few volumes which I know I read and reread as a girl, but I’ve come to believe that at least half were unread (also given that I never had copies of #12 and #13 to begin with). Do you remember if you had particular favourites growing up? Maybe I’ll finish them in 2016 after all, and then I can choose a new kidlit series to complete next year…

  4. iliana November 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Oh good question – I’m in try to squeeze in more books mode and failing. November has not been a great reading month so hopefully I can do better in December. If not, there’s next year right? Always more books to add! I actually have started thinking a bit more about my reading for next year and I may actually come up with some reading goals other than reading challenges.

    • Buried In Print December 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      You’re not alone in having had a difficult time reading in November this year. Typically it’s a slow month for me (compared to October) but I haven’t found it so this year; perhaps because I didn’t have that many duedates this month, so it felt like whimsy was ruling over duty. I’m looking forward to hearing about your goals/challenges!

  5. Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis November 29, 2016 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    This time of year, I’m always squeezing and this year is no exception. I still need two titles to complete the What’s in a Name reading challenge, one of the few I (unofficially) still enter.

    • Buried In Print December 1, 2016 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      Why unofficially, if you’re still working to squeeze them in? Shouldn’t you get credit for the squeezing? Are you still scarred?

  6. Karen November 29, 2016 at 3:38 am - Reply

    I’ve not done particularly well with my reading projects this year. I had intended to finish the Booker prize project but still have about 10 yet to read so it’s unlikely I will finish. I’ve read hardly anytning from my classics club list and seem to have stalled on reading works in translation, oh dear what HAVE I been spending my time on – children’s lit for one thing as part of a university module and the Bookerl long list. Hope to do better next year…..but I’m goi g to have to cut down on buying since I have no more space remaining…..

    • Buried In Print December 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      On the positive side, it’s quite likely that you will finish the project this coming year. I think it’s funny that you would say you have to cut down on buying because there’s no space; a non-booklover would think you’d meant to say that you must stop buying. Silly people. At least you can figure what you have been spending your time on instead; that way, if you want to change the pattern, you know just what to do (but they sound like worthwhile reads all the same)!

  7. Melwyk November 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I wish I didn’t have such a strict schedule of work-related reading, so that I could read some of the older and more unusual books that I’ve had on my shelf for years. I am adding to the list but also discarding some titles — having them in hand and being able to skim a chapter or so really helps to winnow out those that I know I don’t want to read — but it’s never-ending…….

    • Buried In Print November 28, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      I was just thinking the same thing as I was updating my reading log; I’m really weighing heavily on the recently published titles these days, whereas I began the year with a slant in the other direction reaching back for some Margaret Drabble and Judith Kerr and some one-off titles that had been squatting on the shelves here for ages. How often would you say that you sample a chapter and then decide against reading on?

      • Melwyk November 28, 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

        Mostly when it comes to the suggested titles for work projects — I’m often more likely to skim those before deciding to fully read them. About every 6 or 7 titles in that case — in books that I want to read for my own self it’s a much lower ratio. Not all that helpful as the majority of the time I’ll just want to read it anyhow 🙂

        • Buried In Print November 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm - Reply

          That sounds reasonable. It’s not that I feel I simply must finish every book I begin, but by the time I actually get a copy in my hands, I’ve already done most of my deciding and likely want to just read the whole thing. Which is, as you’ve said, the neverending part. I was relieved to take a closer look at my TBR list on GR last week and realise that a number of books on my TBR were books I have read, but I must have selected a different edition at some point in time and so there was one copy marked To-Read and another marked Read. Even correcting a few of those did not solve the sense of a neverending TBR though! And obviously you’d have that feeling too, especially being surrounded by books every workday!

  8. Naomi November 28, 2016 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    I think I’m both easing and squeezing. I’m not trying to squeeze books in by a certain date – just trying to squeeze them in at all. 🙂
    You did well with your IFOA reading! And, I think we both did okay with the Giller longlist. A couple of them I’m still planning to read (I have Pillow out from the library right now…), and a couple might never get read. But that’s okay.
    One thing is for sure – there will always be great books to look forward to. Even if everyone stopped writing new ones (which sometimes I wish they would, just for a year or two!).

    • Buried In Print November 28, 2016 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      That sounds like a permanent state: always trying to squeeze books into every day life. You’re right: no shortage of good books awaiting. That should be the focus instead of all the ones which haven’t gotten read yet. Guess this is a bookcase-half-full or bookcase-half-empty situation, except that anyone wrestling with the issue probably can’t imagine what a half-empty shelf even looks like! I’ve still got to finish Pillow – loved his voice but my copy was due back at the library and it hasn’t made its way back to me yet. While at the library today, I also picked up a copy of the *third* Ferrante. Uh oh.

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