For some practical reasons I only started computing stats about my reading on Tuesday and got interrupted (sigh). I’m not going to bore you to tears with analytics, but I definitely surprised myself by reading more than I expected. I thought 2017 would be busy and stressful, and that I would have less time and energy to read. On the contrary I needed the distraction and the release of stress and I read more than ever! And it’s not that I only read short novellas, I read big novels and novellas and graphic novels too.
What worked for me in 2017 (and will go on in 2018):
- short story collections. It was actually a relief to know what I should choose in priority in front of crowded library shelves and massive new release tables in bookshops. I very often feel paralyzed in bookshops. This focus gave me the freedom to say “I’m trying it, but just for one bite”. Of course, more than once I ended up licking off the plate.
- parallel reading. I did it only once, but it was so much fun. Reading two novels with similar main characters, or themes, gave me plenty to think about. If you have suggestions for book pairings, I’m all ears!
- reducing the number of Netgalley books. I tried to be more moderate and I don’t regret it. I usually read in full those books I have downloaded, and I don’t want to just go “DNF” on titles, so I owe myself to be more selective and arbitrary.
- going back for second helpings (can you see the food metaphor once again? I apparently haven’t eaten enough during the holidays, ahem). When I discover a great book, I always say that I want to read more of that author, but I rarely do. Whenever I have done this in 2017 (Elizabeth Strout, Michael Connelly, Maylis de Kerangal), I have never regretted it. So 2018 will probably be the year of the backlist, like Ann of Café Society sets about to do.
What didn’t work for me in 2017:
- A definite book list as a goal. I’m notoriously bad at reading challenges, I’m bad at planning ahead what I shall read, but I shan’t feel guilty about it and I won’t apologize. I’d said I would read 10 books, and I read nearly 80 in total last year, but I still couldn’t bring myself to read 4 out of 10, and some of those 6 I didn’t really enjoy.
- Javier Marias short story collection: While the women are sleeping (1990) – yes
- Dorothy Whipple, The Priory (1939) – yes (although nearly quit!)
- Wallace Stegner, Crossing to safety (1987) – no, although I should try again
- Maylis de Kerangal, Réparer les vivants (2014) – yes
- Emmanuel Carrère, Le royaume (2014) – no
- Mikhail Bulgakov, the White Guard (1926) – started 30 pages
- Alison Lurie, Real People (1969) – yes
- Pawel Huelle Short story collection in French “Rue Polanski” – yes
- Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, Deconstructing penguins – no
- Barbara Vine, the Child’s Child (2012) – yes
So in 2018, I won’t give myself any deadline or pressure. Instead I will have a list of writers to pick from and keep that list close by for when I visit libraries and bookshops.
Without further ado, my few favorite books of last year:
- Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge and My Name is Lucy Barton
- Maylis de Kerangal, The Heart
- Alison Lurie, Real People
Happy reading everyone!