Monday, January 19, 2015

My Year In Books: 2014

Writing the first entry of a new blog is a strange undertaking. How to set the tone for the blog? Do you make some sort of formal introduction? I've always sucked at journaling, so personal blogging- doing something beyond hitting the 'reblog' button on tumblr and fancying myself a half-assed curator of feminist quotes and Beyonce gifs- feels strange. I'm not sure how I fare at introductions, either.

But, hey, I wanted a way to track my 2015 reading, so, here it is. Some sort of book blog, in all its glory!

To begin at the beginning: in 2014, I'd wanted to read 114 books. This challenge was an update of 2009, wherein I had magically (read: coincidentally) managed to read 109 books. In the following years, I was an English major, so reading for fun and tracking my reading wasn't really in the realm of possibility (nor was anything beyond drinking obscene amounts of coffee and obsessively Pinterest-ing while I avoided writing my essays).

So, 2014 hits, and so does a motivation-destroying battle with clinical depression. One of the side-effects of depression is difficulty with reading and concentration (I believe Sylvia Plath wrote about this particular thing in The Bell Jar, a book which I re-read in the midst of this same depression battle and found way funnier than I did as a sullen teenager). There were definitely days where I would lay down my books after an hour of reading, having absorbed nothing. Under such squalid mental conditions, language becomes an inaccessible commodity.

So, the 83 books. Not all were born great, not all achieved greatness, and not all had greatness thrust upon them. Titus Andronicus surprised me with its crude violence. I loved it. I expected to fall in love with John Green at the first read, yet was left grossly underwhelmed (with some faith renewed by the time I finished Looking for Alaska). Sonia Sanchez wowed me with her play with form in her Morning Haiku. A book I'd found at the hotel where I worked, Outside the Wire: The War in Afghanistan in the Words of Its Participants, impressed me with its variety and lack of nationalistic sentiment.

                                    A selection of my 2014 reading list, from my Goodreads.

I'd read widely last year, with my first forays into Young Adult fiction (as an adult, at least), and a plethora of Creative Nonfiction (which I've always loved, but didn't get to read in my literature program) seeming to dominate. By the end of the year, though, I was exhausted, especially in the last months, where my mad scramble to get close to 114 meant I was reading up to 5 books a day.

I wanted a new kind of challenge, one that didn't necessarily depend on quantity of books read. I needed some sort of external direction in what I read. I'm in one book club (despite my blog name), but we don't read or meet quickly enough to keep up with the amount I want to read, in general. Thankfully, just before the end of the year, I found a new challenge. What did I find? Tune in to the next post!