In March of last year, I made a belated New Year’s resolution to read at least one book from 22 different categories/genres of written text in 2013. Now that 2013 has come to an end, it’s time to wrap up and reflect on my reading goal. With one exception, I am happy to say that I followed through on what I initially set out to read.
1. Theology – Done – but barely, I must admit. I spent part of my New Year’s Eve celebration reading through The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, the 30-page religious classic that my husband downloaded to our Kindle earlier that day.
2. Pulitzer Prize Winner – Done! Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons reminded me just how much I enjoy and respect Anne Tyler for her ability to create flawed-and-oh-so-real characters. She took me on an emotional journey as her two main characters, Maggie and Ira, reflect upon themselves, each other, marriage, and parenthood.
3. Mystery – Done! This one I read in honor of my father-in-law: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. I also managed to squeeze in Christie’s The Body in the Library just before the end of the year. John, Sr. will be glad to know that I am now an Agatha Christie fan.
4. Thriller – Done! Having fond memories of being enthralled by The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by John le Carré in college, I had been wanting to read a second le Carré for years. I therefore selected his Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for my thriller category, but I attempted to read it during the busy holiday season, which made for a stop-and-start read. For an intricate novel with many characters and storylines, this was perhaps not the best idea.
5. Trashy Romance – Done! I am going to count Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels–a Love Story as my book for this category.
6. Carnegie Winner – Done! I (re)read Watership Down by Richard Adams.
7. Newbery Winner – Done–three times over! I read The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois (a respectable 3-stars), The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (an enthusiastic 5 stars!), and A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelersby Nancy Willard (a trippy 4 stars).
8. A book that has or is being made into a movie – Done! I read Austenland by Shannon Hale, but I was sorely disappointed by the novel. I gave it only 2 stars. One of my girlfriends and I had planned to go see the movie when it came out this fall, but it disappeared so quickly that we never even had the chance.
9. A Collection of Poetry – Done! Good Poems for Hard Times, edited by Garrison Keillor, contained many wonderful poems, but I will forever fondly remember this collection because of one in particular: Barbara Crooker’s “Ordinary Life.” I cried the first time I read it. After drying my eyes, I promptly reread it about five times. And then a couple more times upon finishing the book.
10. A Play – Done! Before going to see a performance of The Taming of the Shrew at TCU’s Trinity Shakespeare Festival in June, I read the play.
11. A Popular History – Done! I listened to (and loved) the audiobook version of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.
12. Biography – Done! Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz was one of the first books I read last year.
13. Memoir – Done! I read The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure.
14. Comedy – Done! I (mostly) laughed through Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.
15. British Classic – Done! My husband, sister-in-law, and I discovered last spring that none of us had ever read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. To remedy this sad state, we all read the novel and then had very dorky book club discussion about it.
16. Author-I’ve-Long-Wanted-to-Read-but-Never-Have: Barbara Kingsolver – Done–twice! I read–and loved–Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life last spring. Then over the summer, I read The Poisonwood Bible, which along with Wild by Cheryl Strayed (see #21 below), was one of my 2 best reads of the year.
17. Young Adult Lit – Done! In October I read Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl. It was rather disappointing to this Jane Austen fan; I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads.
18. The New Testament in Modern English – Delayed. When I realized that I would have to rush through the New Testament to complete it by December 31, I decided to defer this particular goal to 2014.
19. SciFi or Fantasy – Done! SciFi is not my favorite genre, but Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was extremely well done.
20. Graphic Novel – Done! Bake Sale by Sara Varon was a sweet, if fluffy, read.
21. Current Bestseller – Done! While hiking for two weeks in the mountains and around the lakes of Wyoming and California last summer, I was inspired to read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.
22. Historical Fiction – Done! It took me over six weeks, but I made it through all 500 pages of Anya Seton’s classic novel Katherine. Set in medieval England, it was an enjoyable epic of a read, earning 4 stars from me.
All in all, I am pleased with the outcome of my 2013 reading resolution. It pushed me to read books from several genres that I would not have otherwise read (SciFi and Poetry come to mind), and it kept my reading selections varied throughout the year. The genre goal did not keep me from reading just what I wanted when I wanted, either, as I still managed to read 60 books overall throughout 2013. I am so pleased with the resolution, in fact, that I plan (with a few changes) to repeat my genre goal for 2014. Stay tuned for the details!