Reading Goals – 40 books in 2021

I read fewer books this year than the previous. With COVID and quarantine of last year, I had the time to read more than other years. This year I worked a lot more, nearly non-stop, and therefore simply had less time to read.

I really struggled to read this year, beyond simply being busy.

I became increasingly reliant on audiobooks, so much so, it became a determent to my reading overall. When my audiobook app, Libby, required I resubmit my library card I found it had expired and I just never got a chance to sort the problem. I had to go hunting for other audiobooks which broke the flow I had cultivate… which I now know sabotaged me in the long run. I am currently relearning how to sit down a read books regularly rather than allowing audiobooks to do the work.

Here is everything I read this year.

  1. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (audio)
  2. The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe
  3. The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black (audio)
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  5. Texas Ranger by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle (audio)
  6. Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie (audio)
  7. The Deep by Rivers Solomon (audio)
  8. Hellcraft by Jordan Patrick Finn
  9. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (audio)
  10. Death Kanji by Jordan Patrick Finn
  11. I am Legend and other Stories by Richard Matheson (audio)
  12. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (audio)
  13. 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie (audio)
  14. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide by Robert Louis Stevenson (audio)
  15. Emma by Jane Austen (audio)
  16. Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski (audio)
  17. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (audio)
  18. Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski (audio)
  19. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (audio)
  20. The Servants of Twilight by Dean Koontz
  21. The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski (audio)
  22. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (audio)
  23. Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (audio)
  24. Storm Front by Jim Butcher (audio)
  25. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson (audio)
  26. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
  27. Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
  28. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  29. Star Wars: Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka
  30. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  31. The Black Star Passes by John W. Campbell (audio)
  32. Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kell Sue DeConnick
  33. Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change is Constant by Kevin Eastman
  34. Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (audio)
  35. Cripple Creek by James Sallis
  36. Conan the Usurper by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp
  37. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  38. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (audio)
  39. Thrud by Zach M Schuster
  40. Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl

Looking back, however, I do see when I began to stumble.

Louise Erdrich’s Shadow Tag is a beautiful, haunting and intensely intimate story about a family falling apart and it was a complete slog to get through. It’s short, barely five hours, but it is so well made, so painful, so real… it was difficult to get through. Then the issues with how I was getting audiobooks became a problem. I was ahead of the game for much of the year and then it became scattered when I forced myself to read something that I wasn’t excited to read more of. A similar problem happened with Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq. It’s not lost on me that when reading non-genre fiction, even well-made, indigenous dramatic literature, I struggle to get through it. Reflecting my preference for genre over drama.

I don’t think the lesson is, “only read what you like” because I find that to be completely at odds with my beliefs as a writer and art as a medium of exchange and my own necessity to read outside my comfort zone. I think the lesson is… well simply… don’t procrastinate. Finish the thing before the delay infects everything else.

I did have an incredible flow bouncing between Jane Austen and the Witcher Series earlier in the year. It showed up in my writing, bouncing between monsters, fantasy politics and the marriage politics and romance of the English gentry. Hopefully one day you’ll all be able to see what it helped create.

My favourite reads this year were probably when I was bouncing between the Witcher and Jane Austen, though that may only correspond to quarantine when I was living at the family cabin. Other highlights include; The War of Art, Storm Front and The Catcher in the Rye (which is really good, I was ready to hate it).

Where does that leave me for next year?

Well, I’m doing something a little counter-intuitive… I’m going to focus on clearing my bookshelf of the BIG, EPIC, HARDCOVERS. All the big epic fantasy, science fiction and history books that fill my shelf. The heavy duty stuff. Instead of forcing myself to read smaller bites of various different things… I’m going to double down on what I like and what tends to get me to read more. This will be me relearning how to read regularly, clear out my to-read pile AND hopefully just enjoy reading again rather than often treating it as homework.

First up? Finishing Children of Dune and restarting Rhythm of War.

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Thank you!

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