I didn’t read the 35 books I’d pledged for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I read 30. Except for one real dud for which I’d won an advanced copy and thus felt committed to complete, I had a wonderful reading year and thus have no regrets. But my “failure” (isn’t that silly?) has also forced me to consider the whole notion of a numerical goal.
I’ve seen annual goals as high as 150. I can’t imagine how anyone can read so much and still manage a day-to-day life, but obviously there are deeply committed readers who legitimately have the time. I’ve always kept my goals modest, and I’ve over-achieved at least once. But this year, at some point, I remember making a conscious decision just to slow down and appreciate each book, without thinking of what day I would finish it and which book I’d start next.
While I know that some people love audio books and fully understand why they would, they’re not my thing. If they’d been around in the years when I was rocking babies to sleep for hours on end, I might have fallen head over heels, but they weren’t. I’m strictly a reader. I want to see and savor every word, flanked by all those other lovely words that create power, beauty, and, above all, context. I want to be able to go back and re-read a sentence, a paragraph, or even a page. Not surprising that I’m rather a ruthless editor, is it? I occasionally do read electronically, but my preference is print on paper and a book in my hand.
Reading challenges based on numbers are disincentives to tackling anything over 350 pages. Perhaps that’s why the fourth volume of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels is still there on the shelf, waiting for me. I will finish it in 2020, no matter what (and it will be interesting to see how I feel about the series after a lapse of a year or more).
Thus, for 2020, I’m setting a more modest Goodreads goal of 25 (it’s still fun to look back and see all that you’ve read) but adding to/enhancing it with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s more qualitative approach. You can read about it here. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
In the meantime, below are the books that stole my heart in 2019. If you’ve read any of my book posts, you’ll know that several of my favorite writer (Louise Penny, Richard Russo, Anne Tyler, Adriana Trigiani) are in the mix, along with some writers, like A J Pearce, who were new, or new to me, like Carol Shields and Annie Proulx. And then, the final gift of beloved Peter Mayle, who’s in a class all by himself. I hoped to get to Frances Mayes’ latest this year, but I’ll look forward to reading it next month.