It’s that time of the year again – time to reset the reading challenge. The challenge is mostly to remind myself to keep turning the pages in between all the other things life throws at me, making sure it is not postponed for holidays, drowned in work or forgotten amidst other tasks.
It’s a modest aim this year: 25 books, a little less than one every fortnight. Perfectly doable, maybe even a bit underwhelming. Still, when it comes to reading challenges, I prefer the focus to be more on the ‘reading’ (as in, keep doing it!) and less on the ‘challenge’. Twenty-five books will be just fine for me.
This year, I’m starting out finishing off the excellent Mythos (Stephen Fry) which I’ve been nursing for a little while, then moving on to The History of Bees (Maja Lunde), Strange Weather (Joe Hill), The Boy on the Bridge (M.R. Carey) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury) for a dose of horror(ish) tales. I’ve got Adam Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes lined up in non-fiction alongside the Philosophy of Evil (Ondskapens filosofi, Lars Svendsen) and Six Degrees (Mark Lynas). Some of these, I’ve already started, and some are shiny and new. I look forward to every page!
As usual, I’ve got a long list of books that I want to read in 2017. My goodreads reading challenge is at a modest 35 and I have no specific plans for which ones I’ll choose, but there a few new releases in my preferred genres this year that I’m particularly excited about.
Horror: In the past I’ve tended to seek out older horror novels, but several upcoming releases have caught my eye this time around. Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In, which centres around disturbing disappearances in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, looks great. As does Little Heaven by Nick Cutter, a tale set in a ominous New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven. I’m also keen to read Cherie Priest’s Brimstone, described by the author as one part Penny Dreadful and one part American Horror Story. Should be fun! Finally, there’s Sarah Pinborough’s Behind her eyes, which I am getting simply on the back of knowing Pinborough’s knack for deeply unsettling and menacing storylines.
Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Having read the two previous Aftermath books, I’m keen to see how this Star Wars space opera featuring Norra Wexley and her rag-tag team ends in Aftermath: Empire’s End (Chuck Wendig). I’m also looking forward to the final installment of V.E.Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, A Conjuring of Light, in which the fate of the four Londons will be settled. Oathbringer, the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s fantastic Stormlight Archive series, will be released in November, and I’m salivating at the promise of another visit to Roshar. M.R.Carey releases the prequel to the excellent apocalyptic zombie story Girl with all the Gifts, titled The Boy on the Bridge, and on top of that, Neil Gaiman is fictionalizing Norse mythology in the book by the same name, which should be a treat. 2017 looks like it will be a good year for fantasy and sci-fi.
Non-fiction: In terms of non-fiction, I have singled out Beyond Inifinity: an expedition to the outer-limits of mathematics by Eugenia Cheng and In Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra. Both come highly recommended and the topics are intriguing and wonderfully complex, so my expectations are high.
So I signed up to a goodreads challenge a few months ago, at the behest of a friend. “Read 25 books in a year”. I keep track of my reading and know that I average on about 30+ books per year (excluding re-reads), so I thought it shouldn’t be too difficult. But this year, I’ve read less. Much less. In fact, when taking stock I was dismayed to find that I’ve only got 14 under my belt so far in 2015. The ones I’ve read have been pretty good, and some pretty long, but still – 14!? So I mentioned this to my sister, and got the following reply:
“Lucky you, having plenty of books left to read.”
Lesson learnt. The glass is half full. Going to go read now.