Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 - The Year of Reading Women and Keeping Track of It

Christmas, New Year's, family, presents, decorations, baking, and here we are two weeks later with Kiddo back in preschool and my husband back to work (though thanks to car trouble, I had to drive him there) and I'm finally back to writing.  Even my reading slowed down during the holidays (unheard of, I know.)  But I'm back, and I'm finally ready to crank out my 2014 reading log post and maybe even mention some of the things I'm excited to read in 2015.

Despite being a prolific reader for my entire life, I've don't think I've kept any sort of reading log/journal since I was a kid trying to work my way to the top of my local library's summer reading program incentives.  Certainly in grad school I made lists of books to be read, but I can't remember making any lists of my reading acquisitions -- and make no mistake, I am very aquisition-minded when it comes to powering through as many books as possible.

My parents mark the dates read on the inside covers of their books, but that didn't seem very satisfying to me as I don't usually re-read, and it wouldn't give me an overall picture of my reading year.  Also, unless it's a textbook (and even then I struggle), I find it nearly impossible to write in a book.  It's right up there with dog-earing or breaking spines.  I just can't do it.

One of my favorite professors from grad school mentioned her reading journal in her blog one day, and for some reason that was a total revelation for me.  I have no idea why it didn't occur to me before.  Also, I took an online survey (I believe it was for Book Riot) about how many books I read in a year, and I had no idea what kind of numbers to even ballpark.  On top of everything else, 2014 was the year of reading women writers, #readwomen2014, and so what better time to track my reading habits? [Edit: Just realized that I didn't include a total count/list of women writers I read.  Will have to write about that in another post.]

So here's a summary of 2014:

Total # of books completed (not counting books started, but not finished): 56 (this counts Station Eleven, which I technically didn't finish until after the first of the year.)

Total # of books started but not completed: 9 (Technically, one of these is still in progress.  The rest are abandoned.)

Overall, I don't think this is a terrible record.  I have a real compulsion to finish books, even if I'm not enjoying them, so I look on those nine books as a bit of an accomplishment.

Some standouts in non-fiction:

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion - How had I never read this?

Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey - Absolutely life-changing.  I want to read this again.

Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber - Church of Christ girl becomes outrageously liberal/progressive church founder/minister.  A must read.

Brain on Fire, Susanna Cahalan - Because if you were ever foolish enough to trust our medical system, you won't after reading this.

Fiction favorites:

The Secret History, Donna Tartt - Why did The Goldfinch win the Pulitzer instead of this?  Such an amazing book.

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood - How had I never read any of her fiction before this?  Dystopian masterpiece. (Also read Alias Grace and Blind Assassins this year, and they were equally amazing.)

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I cannot say enough about this book.  I read it, and then immediately made my friends read it.  And then I read everything else she's ever written.  And watched her TedX talk and her interview on Tavis Smiley and... Can you tell I'm obsessed?

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro - My first Ishiguro (I've since plowed through most of his books.)  This one blew my mind.  So beautiful.  So original.  So perfect from beginning to end.

An Unnecessary Woman, Rabin Alameddine - Just an amazing book that you should go buy immediately.

And last, but certainly not least...

The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert - Loved this book so much.  It was a whopper, but I flew through it like a novella.  Most wonderful/amazing/flawed/perfect/powerful female protagonist I've read in a long time.  I want to read this book again for the first time.

Looking forward to this year?

J by Howard Jacobson
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

And here's my current read:

So, there you have it, folks.  Go forth and read!

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