Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Reading Goals for 2016 and the 10-Category Challenge from 2015


For a few years, I exclusively read romance. Then slowly, I started taking on other types of books. Last year, I decided to discover the reading world at large with a vengeance and to engage with it more.

So I took on the 10-Category Challenge once again. The original challenge was to read 10 books in 10 categories by October 10, 2010. I modified that to: read any number of books in 10 categories, other than romance, by December 31 to finish the challenge. The challenge has worked so well for me for the past few years that I've decided to keep it going every year. It has spurred me to step outside my comfort zone to attempt books I would not have otherwise tried reading. And I've been richly rewarded. (My list of 2015 challenge books is at the bottom of the post.)


Reading Goals For 2015

My reading goals for 2015 included: more non-romance, literary fiction, nonfiction, children's and YA fiction, poetry, and most importantly, more diversity. My diversity umbrella was pretty large: male authors, POC authors and characters, LGBTQ characters and authors, authors and characters with disabilities and challenges, non-Christian authors and characters, books in translation, and eBooks and audiobooks. In every which way I was trying to widen the scope of my reading beyond reading romance in print.


Reading Goals For 2016

I was struck by New Yorker writer Kathryn Schultz's piece on The Best Facts I Learned from Books in 2015. This is so true. You learn facts not just from nonfiction but also from superbly executed and researched fiction as well. And in the new year, I'm going to make it a point to talk about such facts and also ideas in my monthly reading round-ups.

I shall continue my quest for more diversity in my reading, along the same lines as described above. I'm also looking forward to reading more poetry and more regularly as well as reading a few plays. I also want to be more conscious of reading books by/with POC, LGBTQ, non-Christian authors/characters and those with disabilities and challenges. Among children's books, I shall be recording the picture books I read, too; however, not the 38743 times I read each book. I really need to beef up my reading in the Parenting, Writing, and Life Skills categories in 2016. Chop! Chop!

I'm also going to venture into audiobooks in a big way, at least one a month. My toe-dipping into audiobooks in 2015 was very successful. And while I don't record romance books in the 10-Category Challenge, my reading goal for 2016 is going to include participation in #SuperYear, trying to read one Harlequin Super Romance every month.

I shall also continue to participate in Wendy Crutcher's TBR Challenge where on every third Wednesday of the month, I'll comment on a book from the TBR on my blog. I try to follow Wendy's monthly themes but since my goal is to read non-romance books, my books don't always fall in the same categories.

Due to various reasons, I have reduced the number of books I buy and I read almost exclusively from the library. My many reasons include supporting our excellent library system by borrowing books and by requesting they stock in-demand new books. I also hold them accountable for supplying enough copies of those books and for stocking new releases as close to the release date as possible. In return, we donate money and books generously every year to the library.


Non-romance Reading Categories for 2016

Literary Fiction, In Translation
Detective, Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Thriller
Children's & Young Adult
Poetry & Plays
Biographies & Memoirs
Writing, Parenting, Life Skills
General Nonfiction
Audiobooks, e-Books
POC, LGBTQ, Non-Christian, Disabilities & Challenges
Male Writers


10-Category Challenge Books for 2015

Literary Fiction
—"North & South" by Elizabeth Gaskell
—"The Travelling Parsi" by Kamal Sunavala
—"The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro
—"The Bookman's Tale" by Charles Lovett
—"The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion
—"Miss Cayley's Adventures" by Grant Allen
—"The Mill on the Floss" by George Eliot
—"The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka
—"Thrush Green" by Miss Read
—"The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol
—"The Warden" by Anthony Trollope
—"Butterflies in November" by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
—"Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson

Detective, Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Thriller
—"The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro
—"The Bookman's Tale" by Charles Lovett
—"Who Buries the Dead" by C.S. Harris
—"Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret)" by Georges Simenon
—"Miss Cayley's Adventures" by Grant Allen
—"The Venetian Affair" by Helen MacInnes
—"Reykjavik Nights" by Arnaldur Indriðason
—"Cut to the Quick" by Kate Ross

Fantasy
—"The Alchemyst: The Secrets the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" by Michael Scott
—"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle
—"Truckers" by Terry Pratchett

Children's & Young Adult
—"The Alchemyst: The Secrets the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" by Michael Scott
—"Wonder" by R.J. Palacio
—"Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson
—"She Wore Red Trainers" by Na’ima bint Robert
—"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle
—"Truckers" by Terry Pratchett
—"Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli
—"Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm" by Enid Blyton
—"My Basmati Bat Mitzvah" by Paula Freedman

Poetry
—"Classic Love Poems" read by Richard Armitage
—"Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson
—"Poetry of Walt Whitman" edited by Jonathan Levin
—"Shadowskin" by Shveta Thakrar
—"A Partial History Of My Stupidity", "Branch Library", "Early Sunday Morning" by Edward Hirsch
—"Between the World and Me" by Richard Wright

General Nonfiction
—"Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice" by Paula Byrne
—"Slouching Towards Bethlehem" by Joan Didion
—"Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande
—"Tropical Classical: Essays from Several Directions" by Pico Iyer
—"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine
—"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates
—"Inspire: A Volunteer Adventure Inspiration Book" by various authors

Biographies & Memoirs
—"The Travelling Parsi" by Kamal Sunavala
—"Making Masterpiece" by Rebecca Eaton
—"Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite" by Suki Kim
—"I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai

Writing & Parenting
—"The Writer's Life: Insights from the Right to Write" by Julia Cameron
—*redacted* by Jan Faull

Life Skills
—"The One Skill: How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your Life" by Leo Babauta
—"The Little Book of Contentment: a guide to becoming happy with life and who you are while getting things done" by Leo Babauta

Male Writers
—"The One Skill: How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your Life" by Leo Babauta
—"The Alchemyst: The Secrets the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" by Michael Scott
—"Miss Cayley's Adventures" by Grant Allen
—"The Bookman's Tale" by Charles Lovett
—"The Little Book of Contentment: a guide to becoming happy with life and who you are while getting things done" by Leo Babauta
—"The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion
—"Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret)" by Georges Simenon
—"Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande
—"Truckers" by Terry Pratchett
—"Poetry of Walt Whitman" edited by Jonathan Levin
—"Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli
—"The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka
—"Reykyavik Nights" by Arnaldur Indriðason
—"Tropical Classical: Essays from Several Directions" by Pico Iyer
—"A Partial History Of My Stupidity", "Branch Library", "Early Sunday Morning" by Edward Hirsch
—"The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol
—"Between the World and Me" by Richard Wright
—"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates
—"The Warden" by Anthony Trollope


9 comments:

avidmysteryreader.com said...

Hi,

I applaud each and every reader who make reading goals. I did one several years ago in public and got a lot of support for it and didn't do diddly-squat with it. But I will say that I plan to read more women writers this year on the blog. I read mostly crime fiction so if you need recommendations on that front, just give me a shout. - Keishon

Keira Soleore said...

Hi Keishon! Thank you for visiting and commenting. Last year, I found the goals to help focus my reading, and as a result, I consciously chose to read, for me, a wide variety of books. And I found gold in every new area that I read. Before that, my reading had a narrow range. I'm hoping my goals will help this year as well, though the January plan isn't showing much of that.

Given your great expertise in mysteries, I will definitely be asking you for recs. I currently have these new ones to try: John Dickson Carr and Jason Goodwin. And I shall be reading more Kestrel and Galbraith.

We're planning on reading the second Kestrel book in March. By we, I mean Liz, Sunita, and Jorrie. Would you like to join us?

avidmysteryreader.com said...

Thanks for the invitation to read the Kestrel series, Keira, I'd love to join in. I hope to be finished with the Susanna Clarke book by then. I've had the series for years and this would be a nice opportunity to read them finally. Did you like the 1st book? Obviously since you all are moving on to the second one.

My taste in mysteries tend to run on the dark side sometimes but there are writers out there who write mysteries/crime fiction without all the violence that I can recommend. This year, I'm making a more concerted effort to read more women and also read books that are not as dark and disturbing psychologically speaking and are just as good.

Keira Soleore said...

Glad to have to have you on board for the Kestrel in March. I've added you to my spreadsheet to remind me of it.

We discussed Cut to the Quick, the first book here: https://myextensivereading.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/cut-to-the-quick-by-kate-ross-discussion/
I really enjoyed reading it. I'm primarily a historical reader and I enjoyed the seamless manner of Ross's world building and laying out of period details.

I'm a wimp. I stopped reading Elizabeth George because she got too dark (and also because she killed off Helen).

I don't go for dark dramas. I'm all for the Sayers and PD James type of gentleman detective dramas. So Kestrel fit the bill there.

avidmysteryreader.com said...

Thanks for adding me. I love Sayers, too and you should add Ruth Rendell to your list if you haven't. I'd start with A Judgement in Stone. Excellent novel for a number of reasons. I haven't read Elizabeth George yet but thanks for the warning. I think I heard what she did to Helen from other readers from way back. Karin Slaughter did a similar thing as well and it all kind of got discussed together. But Slaughter taught me to never expect or rely on her to keep anyone around but so far she's been good at not killing off anymore characters. It was a reality check moment for me because I cried my eyes out after what she did and have since had a conflicted relationship with her work.

Keira Soleore said...

Eee! I thought for sure you must've read Elizabeth George. Sorry for busting out with such a huge series spoiler.

I loved PD James and that is what led me to Elizabeth George. I started with her from the beginning so there was a slow dark build-up. But when she had horrible things happen to children, I couldn't take it anymore.

I read early Rendells and I really enjoyed them. But then she turned dark as well and I gave her up. Still, it's been a long time. I should re-read her first. I've added A Judgment in Stone to my list. Thanks!

I like Tey but haven't read her as much. Ditto Crombie. For a while, my focus was on mysteries but then I discovered romance in a big way (I'd always read romance but things changed in the mid-2000s) and for a while I almost exclusively read romance.

Slowly 2010 onwards I started reading a bit more outside the genre. Really branched out in 2015.

avidmysteryreader.com said...

I thought I commented - sorry! You didn't spoil anything for me that I didn't already know. I'm not sure if I'll ever read Elizabeth George but not because of that. I love Tey and plan to read more of her this year. PD James, I've never read but want to read this year and I already have the book picked out. Hope we can read some of the same books this year and discuss them. Take care.

Keira Soleore said...

I would like to return to Tey as well so if you're picking up a book of hers, do let me know. We're reading Kate Ross together in March. I would love to re-read a PD James with you if and when you're interested. Just give me a couple months warning so I can borrow from the library in time.

avidmysteryreader.com said...

That sounds great and thanks! I will do that.