Every year, I make a promise to myself to read more books. Like those who sign up for gym memberships on January 1, I lose sight of my goal and fail to see it through. That’s what happened in 2015. And 2014. And…you get the point.
This year, to make sure I don’t lose momentum again, I’m creating a 2016 reading list.
My relationship with reading is cyclical. I’ll get into a reading groove for a while, before I find myself in a Netflix groove, followed by a Kpop groove, then a gaming groove, and after maybe two or three more other “grooves” I’ll find myself back to reading.
Yes, I keep myself entertained in various ways, and that’s great. With reading, however, I want it to be a journey in and of itself, rather than a short stop on a much larger adventure.
When I was a child, I was a voracious reader. Sure, initiatives like Book It! (and its promise of free Pizza Hut) helped, but I was genuinely fascinated by books. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Then a comic artist. Then a manga artist (high school otaku phase). Then a whole slew of other things when I was a capricious college student (bartender, flight attendant, etc.) before I grew up (?) and found myself pursuing my original childhood dream.
As I became more connected to technology, I lost touch with reading. Well, I would still read, but I had traded novels for brief online articles. I also had mandatory reading assignments in high school and college, and while I did find myself truly enjoying a handful of the selections, a lot of the stories didn’t hold my interest. I had to read them in order to pass, and to me, that was a chore.
Once I graduated, and no longer had to read, I tried wanting to read. It was, admittedly, a challenge. If I read one book a year, that was a “success.” (If I count manga/graphic novels, however, then I read a hell of a lot more than one book a year. But that’s a discussion for another time.) Again, I was largely consumed by the digital world, which appealed to my pea-sized attention span.
Then two things happened: books became digitized — which suits how I prefer to consume information these days — and I came to the realization that if I want to become a successful writer, I have to read. Makes sense, right? I can’t be a world-class chef if my palate only has a taste for chicken tenders. Reading as much as I possibly can will turn me into a more well-rounded writer.
In the last two years, I’ve made valiant efforts to read on the regular, but allowed myself to become distracted and give up, especially when I stumbled across books I couldn’t bring myself to finish. (Looking at you, Orange is the New Black. But I suppose that’s what I get for watching its much more interesting television counterpart first.)
I don’t want my passion for reading to wane in 2016. To keep myself in check, I’ve created a reading list for the year. By publishing my list online, I’m upping the ante — readers, please feel free to hold me accountable! I’ll update the list as I complete or start a title, and add to it when I see new books I want to explore. At the end of the year, I’ll see how successful — or not — I was with maintaining my goal.
(Maybe to help myself along, I’ll indulge in a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza with every five books I complete, like back in grade school. Watch that turn into a future blog post about how I have to temporarily give up my reading habit because it’s making me fat. But at least that will mean I’m reading a lot.)
My 2016 Reading List (as of 2/29/16)
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler *Started it on 3/6
Console Wars by Blake J. Harris *in progress, but I should stop dragging it out
Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah *in progress; I also want to complete the HubSpot Inbound Marketing course
Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse by David Mitchell
Walking Broad by Bruce Buschel *not to be confused with a certain irreverent Philly sports blog
Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA by Sam Pettus
Moone Boy: The Fish Detective by Chris O’Dowd & Nick Murphy
Battle Royale by Koshun Takami
Wool by Hugh Howey *Thanks to my friend Rezin for this rec
The Miniaturist by J. Burton *Thank you to Emma-Jane for this rec
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden *Another rec from Emma-Jane – thank you
The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein *Highly recommended by Matt – thanks
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates *Another rec from Matt – thanks
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho *Thank you, Extra Postage Needed
Completed Books (as of 3/7/16)
#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso — Easy read. Highly recommended for / geared toward high school girls and fresh-out-of-college women who have yet to establish a career. I fall outside of that demographic but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
The Song Machine by John Seabrook — An intriguing look at the (predominately Nordic) core of modern pop music. Unfortunately, it did almost lose me a few times, due to a lack of cohesion. (I also wasn’t fond of the writer’s style, whatever it was supposed to be.) Still, if you’re curious about the inner-workings of pop music, read the article on which it’s based instead.
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín — This was a book that was hard for me to put down. Perfect, it was not, but gripping? Absolutely. I want to see the film version and then do a proper comparison of the two. Meanwhile, I’m considering another Tóibín story down the line — maybe The Master?
Bossypants by Tina Fey — While I expected (and got) some laughs out of this one, I also developed a new-found respect for Ms. Fey. I appreciated her candor as she detailed some of her more trying moments in life (developing a show, becoming a mother). I still think she’s very cool, but now I feel I can relate to her more, beyond being from the same hometown. Granted, I don’t think I’ll ever be as cool as Tina, or emit the levels of coolness she does.
I hope to see a lot more titles under “completed books” come December 31. Hey, I already have four books down. Only ONE more to go for that personal pan pizza! I got this.
The Monday Question
Do you have any book recommendations? As you can tell from my list, I’m more inclined to read non-fiction, but I won’t turn down a good fiction title, either. Share your suggestions in the comments and I’ll add them to my list.
Til next Monday!