My Year in Reading

I did two reading challenges during 2019, the Book Riot Read Harder challenge (I also did this last year) and my local library system’s 10 to Try. While I didn’t complete the Read Harder challenge, I came closer than last year and only missed 5 of the tasks. (Quick glossary: YA= young adult, MG= middle grade, AOC= author of color)

Read Harder 2019:

A epistolary or collection of letters: 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff

An alternate history novel: Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

A book by a woman and/or AOC that won a literary award in 2018: The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

A humor book: Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

A book by a journalist or about journalism: Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann

A book by an AOC set in or about space: Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor

An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America: Did not complete

An #ownvoices book set in Oceania: Did not complete

A book published prior to Jan. 1, 2019 with fewer than 100 reviews on goodreads: Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, by Daniel Heath Justice

A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman: Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare, Vol. 1, by Yuhki Kamatani, trans. by Jocelyne Allen

A book of manga: Yakitate!! Japan, Vol. 1, by Takashi Hashiguchi

A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a POV character: The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse: Did not complete

A cozy mystery: By Book or By Crook, by Eva Gates

A book of mythology or folklore: Empress of All Seasons, by Emiko Jean

An historical romance by an AOC: Did not complete

A business book: Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou

A novel by a trans or nonbinary author: This is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp

A book of nonviolent true crime: Billion Dollar Whale: The Mano Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World, by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

A book written in prison: Did not complete

A comic by an LGBTQ+ creator: Bingo Love, by Tee Franklin

A children’s or MG (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009: The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson

A self-published book: Swordheart, by T. Kingfisher

A collection of poetry published since 2014: blud, by Rachel McKibbens

KCLS 10toTry Badge

(Image description: Small green button of a person wearing glasses reading a book that says 10 to Try Reading Challenge Finisher 2019) Because yes, I did pick up my finisher badge at the library 🙂

KCLS 10 to Try 2019:

A book about history: The Making of Asian America: A History, by Erika Lee

A children’s book: The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson

A book about a subject that can be difficult to discuss: Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation, by Robert L. Tsai

A book of poetry: The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

A book by a journalist: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann

A book recommended by KCLS staff: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

A book by an LGBTQ            + author: This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp

A book about a crime: Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou

A book about family: Merci Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina

A book by an immigrant author: Internment, by Samira Ahmed

I didn’t double dip for Read Harder as my goals were to read a separate book for each task, and for each to be a new read not a re-read. If I had, then maybe I would’ve gotten to tasks that I didn’t complete. Then again, I also read 120+ books this year, and many of those would’ve counted as repeats in some of the tasks. So, in 2020 I’m going to try and be more focused on completing the challenge list. I really like the list for next year and have nearly all the tasks planned out. KCLS is also doing 10 to Try again next year!

One thing I really like about doing these reading challenges is that it’s made me diversify my reading list. I started tracking my books read in 2017 where I read 55 books and almost entirely speculative fiction. In 2018 I started doing reading challenges. I finished the year with 108 books read, and while still a lot of speculative fiction (I love my fantasy), I also added a lot more nonfiction, other genres, and comics. That trend appears to have continued in 2019. I read a lot more nonfiction, comics/graphic novels, and middle grade than previous years. Also, a lot of contemporary YA this year. And, since utilizing my library more in the last two years I’ve started reading a ton of current releases. Out of over 120 books read this year, only 34 were published before 2018.

A couple personal reading goals for next year are to complete the Read Harder 2020 challenge without using a book written by a white male author, and to read more short fiction. I have a couple of years of back issues for several speculative fiction magazines waiting on my e-reader.

And, to read more of my collections/anthologies. I’ve acquired quite a few through various kickstarters and fundraisers and plain old buying from the bookstore. It’s kind of embarrassing how few of them I’ve actually read!

Non-reading goals are to continue with the Bob Noble Photography Challenge, which is a bi-weekly challenge I’ve been participating in for the last couple of years. It’s a small but friendly group, and I’m so happy that a new pair of photographers have stepped up to keep it running in 2020.

Tied into that, I know that I say every year that I’m going to be more active/consistent in blog posting (Ha!). But maybe I actually will be? I like the idea of posting more photography here, but I’m also super lazy when it comes to processing photos and posting them ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Happy New Year!

Onward to 2017

Took a look at my “resolutions” blog post from January, and thought I’d do a bit of a recap/goals for next year. As far as my resolutions for 2016 went…well, the blogging once a month almost made it. I think I missed twice, but also posted more than once a few times too. So, let’s call that one fulfilled.

The Writing Goals. I did succeed in having at least two short stories on sub at all times. Yay. As far as the whole, have an entire draft of the novel written and polished and out for querying. HAHAHA. I’m a sweet summer child. In fairness, I ended up scrapping the novel I’d started earlier this year, and started fresh in May. I’m almost finished with the last chapter in the second act, and according to my outline, Act 3 chugs right along. Not that the outline has changed…a lot…during the process… I wanted to have at least the second act finished by the end of the year, but I’ve been hit with a nasty cold/fever and there’d probably just be pages of characters sitting around being pissy that I’d have to fix in post. I wrote a tiny bit of flash, but that’s a goal that will carry over into next year.

Read More. I’ve read a lot more this last year than in previous years, I think. What I might do is start keeping a list of what I finish in 2017 so I have hard numbers to look back on. I have a ton of YA and novellas stockpiled, so 2017 might be the year to tackle those. I was terrible and didn’t do any reviews on goodreads…bad me. It feels kinda weird reviewing books of people I know/might know in the future. Fellow writers, do you have this issue? I need to make an account that doesn’t use my name.

Weight Goals. So, that was a total fail. Oh well. I think I gained two or three pounds over the last year. I think I also need to accept that the way I exercised in my teens doesn’t apply anymore. I’m not too down about this “failure” though because I’m not upset with how I look, and I’ve accepted that post-accident my activity levels can’t be the same. Also, I should probably eat out less. Should. Might. Maybe.

2016 was a great year in exploring my new hobby: photography. Had a blast on two big photo trips, both of which I covered earlier in the blog (wild horses in NC, and the Palouse). 2017 should also be an exciting year when it comes to photography. I have two trips already booked: Yellowstone in mid-January, and Norway in June. I’ve got some photography goals for next year which include two separate weekly themed challenges. Even though I petered out about halfway through the Dogwood52 2016 challenge, I am much more inspired by the “advanced” 2017 challenge list. I’ve also joined a second challenge run through facebook, put on my photographer Bob Noble. It looks a little more relaxed and personal than the Dogwood one since the group will be capped at 150 people (sitting at I think 110 now). As a way to try and stay motivated and keep the blog active, I’ll probably start doing roundups of the photos taken with notes about the images on the blog.

The writing goals from last year pretty much all carry over into this year. I’d like to do a few more writing-related posts. I’ve said before I’d “review” some of the online classes I’ve taken (Gotham, LitReactor, Cat Rambo), and I’d like to get those written. I’d also like to do a post on my slush reading experience (I’m a slush reader for Uncanny Magazine).

Hard to think about weight goals right now when things like breathing and swallowing hurts (curse you, cold) but I’m going to vary up the workout routine more, try and get some more HIIT workouts in, etc. Finding workout videos and routines I can do post-accident has been a process, but I’ve started doing more barre workouts and like them a lot.

Ok, this ended up being longer than I expected. Off to drown myself in tea. I leave you with my first photo for the Dogwood2017 challenge: tell a story using the Rule of Thirds compositional rule. Cogwheel loves watching the fish get fed. Thankfully, we’ve never had a cat that tried to go fishing (though both Beth and Cogwheel have fallen in).

week-1-rule-of-thirds

January: New Year, New Goals

Here we are, nearly halfway through January and I’m finally getting around to my New Year’s post with resolutions/goals and all that jazz. Well, one of my resolution/goals for this year is to blog more regularly…so there’s that. I’m trying to set what I consider realistic goals that I’ll actually attain with a little effort, rather than setting myself up for failure. So, my goals for 2016:

  • Blog at least once a month. I’ve been puttering around trying to think about content and figure out what I want this blog to be, getting hung up on “oh but it’s not writing-related enough.” I do plan on putting writing bits on here, but the blog is going to branch out a bit more to encompass my other hobbies. I’ve been getting more into photography, so expect to see more pictures on the blog. I’m also participating in the Dogwood 52 Challenge which is open to all, and it’s ok if you join late as there is no “start” date. It’s a weekly themed challenge with a ginormous facebook group, and several splinter groups also on facebook, flickr, twitter, etc.

Here’s my submission for the Week 2 theme: Traditional Landscape. Found a short, flat loop to hike near my house that goes around this little lake. It hasn’t been super cold here, so I was surprised to find the lake was frozen all the way across.

Fog on Yellow Lake

  • Have at least two works on submission at all times. When the flurry of New Year posts came out, I saw a lot of writers setting high submission goals (like, 10 pieces on sub), which was awe inspiring and depressing. Then I slapped myself and remembered rule #, I don’t know, it’s usually in the top 5 depending on who you ask: “Don’t compare yourself to others.” Two pieces isn’t a lot, but I think it’s a good goal for me that is achievable with a little effort. The number also fits with some of my other goals for the year.
  • In an ideal world, start, finish, and get the novel out for querying. I’d really like to have a rough draft done by summer so I can pitch it at PNWA this July. We’ll see. I’m finishing up the outline and trying out plotting using the index card system. I’m liking it more than my previous traditional format. Law school left me with a nervous twitch upon seeing traditional outlines.
  • Write some flash fiction. I’m considering flash anything less than 1500 words, with less than 1k the ideal. All last year I kept meaning to write some, even took a class with the fabulous Cat Rambo, but didn’t write any flash. The only short piece ended up being 2700 words (doing well, making the rounds and receiving some encouraging personal rejections).
  • Read more. And probably review more too. I probably won’t be doing reviews on the blog, but rather over on Goodreads. I go through phases of reading a lot, and then tailing off where I read more magazines and stuff rather than books. Actually, this really should be a goal aimed at curbing the book buying. Something like “must read x books before can buy a new one.” Bought a lot of books this year, especially at cons, but only read 4 or 5 new ones. I tend to reread a lot. I’m thinking that 3:1 is a good starting point.
  • Get back to my pre-accident weight. What New Year post would be complete without a weight loss goal? I’ve been holding steady at about 4-5 pounds heavier than I was before the car accident at the end of 2012. Some of that is me having more metal in my body than before, some (hopefully) is more muscle in my upper body since I’ve varied my workouts more than I did pre-accident, and definitely that I’m more sedentary. I think this might be the hardest goal to get done.

Week 1 theme: Self-portrait! Found out that what feels like a nice smile on my face I don’t like the look of on camera. Took 15-20 shots, settled on this.Week 1- Headshot self timer1-5-16

Onward and upward! Oh, and a sort of post-LASIK update. Very happy with the results overall, but I’m finding that I’m more sensitive to light, whether that’s the sun, interior lights, or the computer screen. I wear my Gunnar glasses a lot more at the computer. Not unexpected or uncommon, and I’m still so glad I decided to go through with the LASIK.