A Year of Books

December is always dreadful. This is the time when Goodreads sends us our ‘year in books’ and this month I have to face the fact that I didn’t accomplish my reading goal (45/55). I was thinking of reading ten mangas and called it done but thinking about all the books I read, I was quite satisfied. Here I list some bookish highlights (I also tried to think about my highlights in my life, but the list goes very short so…).

  1. I tackled some classics that I dreaded before. They are Dubliners (James Joyce), Great Expectation (Charles Dickens), Wuthering Height (Emily Bronte), Rashomon (Rynosuke Akutagawa), Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen), Middlemarch (George Eliot), The Warden (Anthony Trollope), Demian (Herman Hesse), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), Therese Raquin (Emile Zola), and The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins). I felt awesome that I was able to read this many haha!
  2. I got some new secondhand NYRB (New York Review Books) Classics while I was in the US! It was almost impossible to get them here unless I was willing to pay a lot and wait for five weeks for the books. I went a bit crazy in the bookstores and bought a lot of them. Some that I have read are Our Spoons Came from Woolworth (Barbara Comyns), Don’t Look Now (Daphne du Maurier), and To Each His Own (Leonardo Sciascia). Stefan Zweig’s The Post Office Girl and Brian Moore’s The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne are some other NYRBs I’m excited to dig in.
  3. I discovered lots of new (to me) authors. This is the highlight of participating in bookstagram: you’ll get numerous recommendations of good books! Some of my favourites are John Wyndham (The Midwich Cuckoo), Margaret Drabble (The Millstone), Penelope Lively (Treasures of Time), and John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey). Yes, I realised most of them were written by British authors and I blame this to my obsession with Penguin books.
  4. I read a good number of modern literature. Coming towards the end of the year, I realised that as much as I enjoy reading classics, reading has to be present and real as well. I was glad that I picked up these books, they are such an eye-opener. I was constantly slapped by some truths these books carry. Yes, they are fictions but the events, the society, the history were real. These books are The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead), Exit West (Mohsin Hamid), The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen), A Horse Walks into a Bar (David Grossman), and Everything Belongs to Us (Yoojin Grace Wuertz).
  5. I read some modern classics and now I feel that I can really join the conversation haha. Some of these books are Cannery Row (John Steinbeck), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Carson McCullers), In Cold Blood (Truman Capote), The Pursuit of Love (Nancy Mitford), Night (Elie Wiesel), and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood).
  6. I visited some amazing indie bookstores while I was travelling in the US. I never stepped inside a chain bookstore while I was there and I was glad. These indie bookstores were so much more alive! I love seeing how the community supports these gems. It was really inspiring. Bookstores I went to are Strand, McNally Jackson, Working House in New York and Harvard Bookstores, Trident and Brookline Brooksmith in Boston. Some of them I went to more than once!

See books I read in 2017 here and you’ll find links to all books I mentioned above.

So yes, I didn’t reach my goal but I was really happy with my reading this year. Except for one book and it was a gift: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. It was so bad I gave it only one star on Goodreads. Maybe I didn’t get her poetry but I just think it was a tumblr and thoughtcatalog material. I totally get why people love it but it’s just not for me.

Reading goal for 2018?

  1. Read more diverse books. My reads this year was dominated by white British writers (again, my own fault for collecting Penguin books) and that needs to change! I want to read more international authors.
  2. Read more nonfiction. I read only one this year, The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt, and I cannot count in my compulsory readings for my course… so yeah, only one.
  3. Ticking my long overdue to-read: Shakespeare. Wait, maybe he could wait for 2019? (see point 1 haha).

So what’s your best bookish moment and bookish goal? 🙂

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