So, here’s what I’m pleased about. And you know when I start with that, I’m bound to be complaining a little later, right? But, first, the good stuff!

A favourite TO read!

When I was looking ahead at this reading year, I expected to include: short stories, re-reads, my MRE authors, and non-fiction. I also wanted to read on in some series that I’d let languish, and I wanted to read on particular themes (aging, intersexuality, Toronto, and wildlife). And I managed to do all of that. (Very nearly, with one exception: more on that later.)

Count me rightly pleased on those scores. Because when I was looking ahead at this reading year, I didn’t expect to include reading 18/20 of the longlisted Orange-Prize titles or all 16 of the Giller-Prize longlisted titles. So I squeezed all that in too.

But where I completely and entirely fell off the bookmobile? With an ugly, resounding thump? With my own Must-Reads.

I’ve been choosing these annually for years now; usually a dozen. They are usually a mix of classics and books that I’ve avoided reading for a variety of reasons. Making the list always feels like a treat.

There were two things that were different about 2011’s list.

First,I invited three book-friends to choose one title each for me. (I read all three of these — although I still left them until my Giller-Prize obsession wound down, which was near the middle of November — and I’ll be posting about them early in 2012, as part of a new theme that I’m planning to explore in the coming year.)

Then I chose the remaining nine titles myself, which were also recommendations, of another sort, for the dozen.

And that’s the other thing that was different about 2011’s list: I didn’t read a single one of the books that I put on there myself.

And what really, really irks me about that? It’s that I still want to read them, but somehow just calling them Must-Reads has tainted them somehow.

Tainted reads?

I’ve always called them that. And it’s never bothered me before.

But the feeling isn’t entirely new either. You know it, right?

As soon as you feel something is forced — even a book, no matter how much you love reading, no matter whether that very book might not be the perfect-est match for you ever — the shine fades.

I know better than that, because some of my favourite books were school texts that I still managed to love despite the over-the-top analysis and memorization of overly-serious English teachers and professors, but I still avoided these nine books anyway.

So I’m pretty disappointed, but I’m going to ‘fess up and get reading. I can do this. I have my nine ready to read. And I’m calling them Chosen Reads now.

And, if I read these nine? I have another dozen picked out, er, chosen, for 2012. But first things first.

So back to what worked for 2011; I’m going to do that part all over again. The short stories, the re-reads, the MRE authors, the non-fiction, the series I’ve let languish, and the theme-reading.

My themes this year? The one that I read so little for in 2011: Wildlife. (That was the exception. Feel free to share any favourites, fiction or otherwise!)

And, new themes for 2012?
Mythic/Speculative Fiction
Fairy Tales

I used to read a fair bit in these veins, but the habit has slipped away. And because those other habits (particularly the non-fiction reading) aren’t all that secure either I’m going to track them, too.

You know how sometimes you think you read a lot of something, but when you actually look at your log it’s hardly there, or it was there, but that was five years ago?

How time flies when you’re reading good stuff.

I’m really excited about rediscovered these themes, but I’m also really excited about two reading projects that I have planned (one for February and one for June); I think that’s what I’m most looking forward to in 2012.

How about you?