In January I had set myself a few challenges (inspired by Claire’s really) and I’ve gone and surprised myself by completing it early. Hoorah! I’ve already beefed up the challenges for next year though because this year I didn’t have a good idea of how much I was likely to read or anything since I’d never bothered recording any of my reading before joining Goodreads. So here was what I’d set myself for 2014.
5 Books by Female Authors because I feel like I don’t read that many female authors
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath ★★★☆☆
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ★★☆☆☆
- Passing by Nella Larsen ★★★★☆
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie ★★★★☆
- Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin ★★★★★
5 Books from Around the World Just anything not British or North American (or otherwise Western) because it’s so easy to unintentionally trap yourself in the world of Western literature.
- Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Japanese) ★☆☆☆☆
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (Austro-Hungarian/Czechoslovakian) ★★★★☆
- Chant and Be Happy: The Power of Mantra Meditation by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda (Indian) ★☆☆☆☆
- The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu (Chinese) ★☆☆☆☆
- The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy (Russian Federation) ★★★★☆
5 Non-Fiction Books because, learning aside, while the fictional world is brilliant, sometimes the real world is just more bizarre and interesting.
- It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden ★★☆☆☆
- Freakonomics by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner ★★★★☆
- The Sociopath And The Psychopath – What’s The Difference And How Do You Keep These Crazy MF’s Out Of Your Life by Trey Wyatt ★☆☆☆☆
- The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley ★★☆☆☆
- Lyotard and the Inhuman by Stuart Sim ★★★☆☆
5 Quick Reads (150 pages or less) because the number of pages has no bearing on the poignancy of its content.
- All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman ★★★★★
- The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson ★★★☆☆
- The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway ★★☆☆☆
- The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlott Perkins Gilman ★★★☆☆
- The Yellow Wallpaper as a standalone story: ★★★★★
- The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman ★★★☆☆
I think people sometimes underestimate the novella, but many classics are actually novellas and they are definitely worth spending time on.
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I also found this reading challenge.
- Chunkster (over 450 pages): WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE by Haruki Murakami (609 pages)
- Loved By Others: THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood
- ∆ Reread a book you loved: I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen (read 4 times)
- Fantasy: SABRIEL by Garth Nix
- Audiobook: THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU by H.G. Wells
- Classic: THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Graphic Novel: THROUGH THE WOODS by Emily Carroll
- ∆ Poetry: THE POETRY OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH by William Wordsworth
- Science Fiction: THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells
- Award Winner: RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA by Arthur C. Clarke
- ∆ Second Chance (give a disliked book/author a 2nd chance): _________________
- Mystery: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie
- Picture Book: THE DARK by Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen
- Lost In Translation (translated work): THE METAMORPHOSIS by Franz Kafka
- Watched The Movie First: LOGAN’S RUN by William F Nolan
- Biography or Non-Fiction: FREAKONOMICS by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner
N.B. I’m very unlikely to do the challenges marked by a ∆ … So double points for me if I do them!
status: 15(+2 bonus points)/16
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Wahoo! I guess this is sort of like unintentionally finishing that “50 book challenge”?
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Challenge #2 was great for getting me to leave my comfort zone, but also kind of a chore at times. In future, I may just do the first challenge – which feels directed/purposeful but more flexible and, therefore, enjoyable – and maaaybe the Goodreads challenge. Though I find it completely pointless, the GR challenge feels like a fun – albeit silly – achievement.
All in all, this whole challenge business has been good for getting a better idea of the kinds of things I don’t read enough of. I read for fun, of course, but I also want to be a conscientious reader so I did some (interesting/boring/???) statistics and found out some stuff about my reading habits.
Out of the 53 books I’ve read in 2014 so far 34% (18 books) have been by non-white and/or non-male authors.
Female authors made up 27% of my reading. Let’s try to get that up to 50% next year, shall we?
Authors of colour made up 17% of my reading. I’d like to increase this to at least 30% for next year. (If you’re interested in a further breakdown, of that 17%: asian 44.(4)%, black 33.(3)%, indian 11.(1)%, latino 11.(1)%.)
Translated works made up 10% of my reading. This is connected to my desire to get out of the anglophone bubble a bit more.
So there you go.
This was looking a lot more balanced at about 45 books in, but recently there’s been a slew of homogeny in my reading and my current TBR shelf* is almost exclusively white male (minus 3 white female books…) which is pretty sad.
*As in my physical bookshelf of unread books – not my list of books that I want to read but do not yet own.
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Why does any of this matter?
So if you have any suggestions of great books by diverse authors, I am all ears. Check out my Goodreads to get an idea of the kind of stuff I’m into and recommend away!