More short stories, more indigenous authors, more series completed and updated, more from my own shelves and more non-fiction: my reading goals for this year.

Gallant Other ParisReading Alice Munro’s short stories lasted from 2011 to 2015, reading two or three collections a year, no more than a story a week.

Last year I enjoyed Alistair MacLeod’s stories the same way, but quietly and in a solitary fashion. (I’m not sure why: maybe because there was a lot of weeping involved.)

This year, I will begin to methodically explore Mavis Gallant’s short stories. I’ve read three collections and some odd stories, but I am planning to reread them and explore beyond.

For now, I’ll begin again with an early collection, The Other Paris (1956) followed by The Cost of Living (titled Going Ashore in Canada), which collects some early and uncollected stories.

I’m imagining a story each week, with some breaks between collections. I haven’t thought much more about it, except that I want to make sure I read out of pleasure rather than duty.

Here is a link to the Mavis Gallant Reading Project page, if anyone would like to read along, for a collection or for a single story.

I’ve also got a list of indigenous writers whose works I am counting towards the 10th Canadian Book Challenge. My sign-up post discussed some of the works which inspired me to choose this theme.

Since then, I’ve read seven books towards the thirteen-book challenge, including Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China DollsPaul Seesequasis’ Tobacco Wars Harold Johnson’s Charlie MuskratEditor Hope Nicholson’s Moonshot: Indigenous Comics, Tracey Lindberg’s BirdieRichard VanCamp’s Angel Wing Splash Pattern, and the Summary Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. (I’ve read others, but haven’t reviewed them, so they don’t count towards the challenge.)

Right now I am rereading and reading Marilyn Dumont’s poetry, and I’m aiming for a Richard Wagamese after these.

This is related to my plan to read more non-fiction this year, for I’ve done the math and last year’s reading was comprised of only 10% non-fiction, most of these being bookish/literary/writerish choices. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that my first – and only  – non-fiction read of this year was Sylvia Plath’s Unabridged Journals.

This year, I’m aiming for 15%; it’s not much more, but I’m just as concerned with diversifying my choices, which will probably make it easier to increase the numbers next year.

Erdrich TracksOne challenge on this matter is it’s in conflict with one of my other goals, which is to read more often from my own shelves. Because I not only read but buy far more fiction, so I don’t have many tantalizing non-fiction choices on my own shelves.

And, in fact, less than 5% of my reading this year has been from my own shelves so far. And it’s clearly not because I’m reading more non-fiction and bored with my home selection, because it’s just been me and Sylvia so far for non-fiction reading.

No, it’s my quest to finish reading series and the very projects I’ve chosen for this reading year. For instance, this is the year that I am finally going to begin properly with Louise Erdrich’s novels, but I don’t own them all, not even the first one (in chronological order, that is, not publication), Tracks.

For more than five years, I’ve been intending to do this, having loved a couple of the novels and her collected stories (some of which appear in Tracks, it seems).

Every time Kat has mentioned one of them on “Mirabile Dictu”, I trot out my good intentions but then proceed to read other books instead. And I’ve mentioned it more recently, and more regretfully, on Naz’s site too.

But for how long can one claim to feel a strong connection to an author’s works without actually reading them? Eventually, you simply must sit down with the words.

It’s been even longer that I’ve entertained the possibility of reading Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna series. Even as a girl, I remember them sitting on the shelves of my older female relatives (a great aunt, a grandmother).

I loved to pull them from the shelves and look at their illustrated covers (some of which seemed delightfully risque) and then rearrange the set in the proper order once more. (They had to be in the proper order, of course.)

These will be quite a contrast to my other reading projects: the stuff of colonization with all the women in their proper places, hands pliant and soft on the shoulders of their men-folk. Not only best-sellers, but they were also made into a film in 1935 and a mini-series in 1972; I’ve got a better chance of watching the documentary of the author’s life which was made in 2012.

The books cover a hundred years in the history of the Whiteoak family (in this sense, it will be interesting to compare the Jane Smiley trilogy) although they were not written in chronological order and can apparently be read out of sequence.

Maybe I won’t get too far after all, but this will, at least, be the year of trying. I’m late starting, because I had so many entrancing graphic novels borrowed over the holidays, and then didn’t spend all that much time reading after all.

And, then, there is the matter of tidying up the past year, bringing logs and charts up-to-date and copying lines from spreadsheets. (This year marks my first full year of logging films – I started midway through last year – and television shows too. Because there are so many good stories and they’re not ALL written down.)

It’s not until I’ve gotten the past year in order that I feel I can sink into the next year’s reading. How about you? Did your 2017 begin on time?

Do you feel like this reading year is off to a promising or faltering beginning?