Reading Challenge Update #2

So last time I checked in, I said I thought I could still read 50 books by the end of 2016, and make my goals in reading 10 nonfiction books, 10 books written by women, and 10 books written by authors who are not white.

Well… I’m not gonna make it to 50, and it’s highly unlikely — without specifically choosing books by length and whether or not they’re nonfiction and/or written by an author who isn’t white — I’ll make either of those goals either. I obviously could go that route, but it feels like cheating.

I did make one of my goals: I have (so far) read 11 books by women authors. Frankly, I’m having some trouble viewing this as much of an accomplishment. I often read books by women, and a lot of the titles I own are written by women. So while I’m always glad to reach a goal, I’m not particularly impressed with myself on this one.

As for reading books by authors who are not white, I’m about halfway there. By the time I finish reading Swing Time (Zadie Smith’s latest), I’ll have read five books by nonwhite authors. It’s certainly better than none, but I have to admit I’m pretty disappointed in myself, and will explain why in a more detailed post this week.


I’ve still got 20 days left, and I am sure I can read at least two more books from now until then. As I am ever the procrastinator and ever the optimist of what I can do in too-little time, I’m not ready to call it quits quite yet.


Books, Lists, Reading

I may have been too ambitious in my reading project

So, we’re less than three months away from the end of the year, and I’m not even to a quarter of my reading goal. Oops.

I wish I could say I had a good reason I haven’t been reading — a family emergency, a fancy new job, I was kidnapped by circus performers and forced to learn the trapeze  — but sadly my excuses are far more mundane. I fell asleep three pages into a book. I didn’t like the book and instead of abandoning it for something better, I stalled for weeks while slogging through. I watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for the 18th time on Netflix. (To be fair to myself, I also watched a lot of really great TV and film, and because I love both, I feel little guilt for the new shows I tried out. I do feel guilt for the old shows I watched to simply avoid doing something more challenging.)

I have also run into the struggle of wanting to read the books already on my shelves, some of which have sat unopened for years. As I’m slowly working through them, I’m discovering exactly WHY I left them unopened for years — I purchased them on a whim, or at a particular period of my life, and the subject matter no longer feels relevant.

Here’s where I stand:

  • 19 of 100 books read
  • 2 books in progress
  • 8 books written by women
  • 2 nonfiction books
  • 2 books written by nonwhite authors

The truth is, reading should be enjoyable. So any time it becomes a chore instead of a hobby, a trial instead of a treat, my reading rate slows drastically. (I may have been better off saying I was going to watch more on Netflix as my goal, which inevitably would have made my brain want to read more instead of watch TV.)

So here I am, woefully behind. The good news is there’s still time to fit more reading, and now that the temperatures are dropping again, I am feeling the urge to lose myself in literature more than I did this summer, when the only thing I really want to do is nap until it was boots and sweater weather again.

I still think I can reach 50, and I can certainly reach my “diversity” goals. It’s just a matter of priority — and page turning.


reading resolution
Best Life, Reading

Reading Resolutions, 2016

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”

—Samuel Johnson

Writers are readers. Or, at least, they should be. Whether it’s reading research to piece together a thesis, a blog to encapsulate in a social media post, or a book “just for fun,” people who work in communications should be constant consumers of the written word. How can you ever get better unless you study your craft?

And while my professional craft is more practical than literary, press releases over paperbacks, continuing to experience how others use the English language can inform and improve my own writing.

With that in mind, I’ve spent the last few years making reading resolutions for the new year. Last year, my resolution was to step out of my comfort zone—fiction with magical elements i.e. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, bestsellers like Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins or All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and books I’m rereading (Pride and Prejudice)—into new genres, particularly nonfiction genres.

I had middling success. I did read some different kinds of fiction, and even a memoir or two, but I was not nearly as successful in expanding my horizons as I hoped. I got so caught up in the idea that I HAD to read certain types of books that I ended up paralyzed and reading less overall.

reading resolutionSo this year, my reading resolution is a variation on a theme. My goal is to read 100 books total, and to make 10 of those books nonfiction, 10 by women writers and 10 by nonwhite writers.

In six weeks, I haven’t strayed from my comfort zone. My wonderful brother surprised me at Christmas with an Amazon Kindle and the e-books for A Song of Ice and Fire, so I read those on vacation and am close to finishing the series. (Just in time for the TV show to return!)

That said, I start diversifying my reading portfolio this week. I have the fortune of hearing journalist Lynn Sherr talk about her biography of Sally Ride Feb. 24, so the next seven days will be spent devouring that book. I also have two nonfiction books I started but did not complete in 2015 (Dead Wake by the talented Erik Larson and The Future of the Mind by the brilliant Michio Kaku), and hope to have those done by the end of the month as well.

You can follow my progress here.

Do you make reading resolutions? What are yours for the year?