The Year of DNF... and a New Challenge

Monday, January 2, 2017

Well, it's 2017.

In 2016 I took on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and I posted 22 reviews out of 24 challenges. The only two I missed were reading a book out loud and a book about religion. There were probably several books I read last year that qualify as being "about" religion, but I didn't finish the one I intended to read for the purpose of the challenge.

That leads me to the trend of this year - Did Not Finish

I gave out a LOT of four- and five-star reviews this year, at least partially because this was the year that I stopped reading a lot of books halfway through. This used to be fairly unusual for me. I used to care a lot more about finishing any book I started. Especially for the purpose of review, I'll sometimes finish a book I don't like so I'll be able to articulate why I don't like it.

But this year, between completing a certificate program in editing, starting a new editing job with a 45-60 minute commute and then BUYING A HOUSE to shorten said commute, I did not have time or energy for books that weren't working for me.

Here are some of the books I didn't finish in 2016, in rough chronological order of when I stopped reading them. Some I might go back to, some I won't.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith
    • Surprisingly dull. This just made me want to read actual Pride and Prejudice.
  • The Sleeping Life, Andrea K. Host
    • I love this author, so I'm sure I'll get back to this, but I had no memory of the previous book in the series and couldn't get any traction.
  • For the King's Favor, Elizabeth Chadwick
    • Wanted to like this, but it was just a series of happenings, not a story. I got over halfway through before finally putting it down.
  • Religion and the Decline of Magic, Keith Thomas
    • I planned to read this for the religion challenge, but it was dry and incredibly long. I only got a tiny bit into it before moving on.
  • Stealing Buddha's Dinner, Bich Minh Nguyen
    • I started this, intending to read it for the food memoir challenge, but the first chapter didn't grab me and before I read more, it had to go back to the library.
  • The Outlander, Gil Adamson
    • I heard good things about this, and parts of the style were neat, but I realized I was making excuses not to read more and gave myself permission to stop.
  • Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World's Most Celebrated Holiday, Gerry Bowler
    • The beginning about early Christmas history was great, but as it moved into more modern history, the dry academic tone started to just sound smug and horrible. Gave up.
  • The Winter Queen, Elizabeth Chadwick
    • I liked the first one in this series, but the second one is meandering.

As for the year ahead, I am not doing the Read Harder Challenge again. It was a good start, but I need a more focused task. As many others have, I've been collecting a list for my own 2017 challenge, inspired by current events.

I plan to read between 12 and 24 books on:

  • Taking action for social justice 
  • Racism (nonfiction, fiction, memoir)
  • Sexism/misogyny (nonfiction, fiction, memoir)
  • Feminist/women's history
  • Fascism and authoritarianism in history and fiction
  • Immigrant perspectives and other marginalized voices
  • Understanding social conservatism (academically, I mean)

I'm calling it - Reading With Purpose. I'm going to read lots of fluff and fun as well to stay sane, but I can't pretend that there isn't a lot to learn.

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