It’s becoming a habit of mine at the end of each year to reflect back on the books I’ve read in the past 12 months — and invariably I decide the list is not long enough, or diverse enough, or recent enough and I resolve to do better. (Here’s what I read in 2012.)
This year will be no exception. In fact, my total for this year is so embarrassing I contemplated not writing this post at all. But I’m going to come clean.
Once again I’ll break them down into medium…
In 2012 I listened to an estimated 19 audiobooks in the car during my 1.5 hours in the car as I commuted to and from work five days a week. This year I didn’t have that commute, so I’ve only made it through four that I can think of:
- Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn (see my review here) and its sequels, Grass for his Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon. (This trilogy is a beautiful fantasy set in a fantastical world reminiscent of feudal Japan.)
- Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (This is the first in Carey’s acclaimed fantasy series about a courtesan spy, and one of my favourites.)
I’m currently listening to Kushiel’s Chosen (sequel to Dart) in the car and Santa Olivia (also by Carey) on my other MP3 player when I go walking.
- Banished by Liz De Jager (This is a YA paranormal I picked up as an ARC at World Fantasy and read on the plane on the way home. I don’t think it’s actually been released yet from Tor UK. Woot! Something recent!)
- Among Others by Jo Walton (See my review here) (This won lots of SF awards a couple of years ago.)
I’m currently reading Stormlord Rising by Glenda Larke, a popular Australian fantasy author. I’m also making my way through For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
- Shadow Queen by Deborah Kalin (see my review here)
- Slow River by Nicola Griffith (see my review here)
Once again, there are a couple of others I started but haven’t persevered with. (There were also a few random romance novels consumed.)
So that pitiful total comes to about eight books. Eight. In a whole year. I’ve re-counted several times and can’t come up with any other total. Yes, I’m officially embarrassed.
Maybe I’ve forgotten a few?
Actually I did also beta-read novels for three writing friends, so I guess they could sort of be added to the tally…
So what has gone wrong? I’m pretty sure I wrote a whole post about how I wish I was still a bookworm not so long ago, mainly focused on identifying activities that have displaced my reading time, so I won’t repeat myself. Bottom line: I’m just not spending enough time reading.
But another thing I have noticed is my inability to find the books I want to bury myself in. I’ve always loved immersing myself in books, but I don’t seem to be choosing books that will give me that fix.
Perhaps I need to be more ruthless at abandoning books that aren’t gripping me. I’ve never been someone who has to finish every book I start — I’m too slow a reader to waste time doing that. But sometimes I find myself reading a book that I genuinely want to finish, except at the end of each day I find excuses not to read it. This means I turn off the light without reading anything. And I don’t start anything new, because I have real plans to finish the one I’m already in the middle of.
It’s a conundrum…
All this has made me wonder what I’m looking for in a book. What is that secret X-factor that will lure me to pick up my book even when it’s late? (Just one chapter… Just one more… It doesn’t matter if I only get four hours sleep… Sleep? Who needs it? Is that the birds chirping I hear? Oh, shit, the sun is up…!)
I’ve always believed it’s characters I truly care about, a journey that excites me, a world that I wish I could visit, and a well-constructed (and well written) story. An emotionally powerful love story doesn’t hurt either.
These are the books I try to select, but my strike rate hasn’t been very good of late. If I’m honest, I think I’m veering towards the more critically acclaimed and they’re not meeting all my criteria.
I’m particularly disappointed that I didn’t achieve my goal for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, which was to read and review a mere four books by Australian women. I read and reviewed two and part-read a couple more. It seriously shouldn’t have been that hard.
Anyway, it’s been extremely poor showing in 2013. I figure things can only get better from here. Much as I hate the necessity, I’m going to be diligent in scheduling in reading time for 2014, just to make sure I do a certain number of hours per week!
How did you go with reading this year? What’s the best book you read? Will I like it?! (Heh)