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.