Reader resolutions

One of my book club friends shared with me this set of reader resolutions a friend had passed along to her around New Years.

Read this year:
A book published this year
A book you can fnish in a day
A book you’ve been meaning to read
A book recommended by a librarian or book seller
A book you should have read in school
A book chosen by a child, spouse, BFF
A book published before you were born
A book banned at some point
A book you previously abandoned
A book you own but have never read
A book that intimidates you
A book you’ve already read at least once

I didn’t go out of my way to assemble a reading list based on these details at the time, but now that it’s July and the year is more than half over, I thought it would be interesting to look at the past few months to see how my reading may have lined up (or not) so far. An asterisk indicates a title that’s on my to-read list but not yet accomplished.

A book published this year

American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis. It has proven repeatedly to be uproariously funny, then suddenly dark and disturbing. It’s a truly odd collection of stories (not a contiguous novel) that entertain while, if you think about them afterward, they also make thoughtful points.

A book you can finish in a day

Unless the Berenstain Bears or Sweet Pickles or Dr. Seuss or Julia Donaldson qualify, this is a category I will never, ever meet. Despite the reams of practice I get, if you were to compare my reading speed to that of other voracious readers, I’d probably fall somewhat to the slow side of center. Oh well.

A book you’ve been meaning to read

Chimera by Mira Grant. It’s the third of a trilogy I had begun eating up over the winter, and it took me ages to finally get my hands on the final installment. (Aside: This is the frustration–and also the beauty–of the public library reserve system. I might be frothing to read something, and then my excitement slowly fades with the wait. But what a great surprise when my turn suddenly comes up!)

Now, if you’ve ever heard of Mira Grant, you may know her as a zombie thriller writer. However, this series that I read–Parasitology–is NOT of that genre. There is indeed horrifying stuff going on, but it’s not screaming and gore that makes it so scary. It’s that Grant has put in just enough plausible science and carefully considered fact that the terror is absolutely believable.

In fact, what sets off the catastrophe at the premise of the series is that, in the near future, a clever pharmaceutical company offers humanity miracle solutions to every medical problem from severe epilepsy to common allergies using one technique, but customized to each patient. There’s a boatload of clever and very effective marketing to go with it. (Sound familiar?) And never mind the fact that–cue ominous music–ignoring ethics, caution, and known biological truths is what made it all possible.

I’d put this series in the same category as a Michael Crichton, Robin Cook, or Tess Gerritsen medical thriller.If you like any of them, I’d definitely recommend looking up Mira Grant.

*The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This has been on my to-read list for what seems like forever and has finally advanced to within sight.

A book recommended by a librarian or book seller

*Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This is my club’s August book pick. I’m told it’s a World War II-era survivor story. More on that–and the wonderful depth and breadth of the modern “young adult” book classification–later, too.

A book you should have read in school/A book published before you were born

*The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Obviously it’s a play, not a book, but it otherwise fits both of these categories. My 12th grade class was the only one in the school that read King Lear instead. I guess a couple of decades isn’t too late to mend a hole in my education?

A book chosen by a child, spouse, BFF

Daily…see “a book you can read in a day” above!

A book banned at some point/A book you previously abandoned

*Beloved by Toni Morrison. If the critical reviews are any indication, I’ll certainly have something to write once I finish this one, despite my previous starts and stops.

A book you own but have never read

*A Marble Woman by Louisa May Alcott. The subtitle is “the unknown thrillers of,” so I’m not sure what’s taking me so long to open this one. The idea of the same person who wrote Little Women turning out “thrillers” is bizarrely fascinating.

A book that intimidates you

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. Maybe “intimidates” isn’t quite the right word here. I read it because I felt I had to as it was a book club selection. But I really dragged my heels getting it done. I’ve read Anne Tyler in the past, and her work just isn’t my cup of tea. I finished it anyway, and again I was mildly disappointed. But others in my group enjoyed it immensely, and we had a really good discussion about character development. My hesitation is a matter of style preference, not, apparently, quality of her writing.

A book you’ve already read at least once

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. I would read ANY Kingsolver book over again. She writes the kind of entertaining and thoughtful stuff that is relevant in different ways each time you read.

Also, I reread novels from Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series regularly. I do pick up the newer series installments written by other authors now and then, but so far, I think there’s no substitute for the real Parker. (I wrote about Robert B. Parker in detail in 2010 if you’re interested.)

Your turn, Readers! Did you make any reading resolutions for 2016? What books or genres have you gone out of your way to read so far this year? And, if you’ve also read any of the titles listed above recently, what were your impressions of those particular books? Please share your ideas in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Reader resolutions

  1. Great topic, AnnaLisa! I love to read, but you’d never know it because I never do anymore. You have inspired me to make a list. I just pulled these off the bookshelves, dusted them off, and just need to decide where to start!

    Started and never finished: “Before Amen” by Max Lucado
    Should have read in school: “The Tempest” for me as well.
    Written before I was born: “Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Read before and want to read again: “Normal is just a setting on your dryer” by Patsy Clairmont. Very funny lady! Or “The Present Darkness”, Frank Peretti (love his books)
    Finish in a day: Probably “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” H. G. Wells
    More difficult book: “God and Liberty. A Religious History of the American Revolution.” My son was a history major in college and this was one of his! I really like history, but usually find books on the subject a bit daunting.
    Own but never read: “Silenced. The Wrath of God Descends” by Jerry Jenkins.
    Published this year: “The Daniel Prayer,” Anne Graham Lotz

    My favorite author is Frank Peretti, Christian suspense and supernatural stuff.
    My least favorite genre is any type romantic novel

    1. Pam! How wonderful to see your name again!

      I love your list–terrific assortment. It looks like we’re similar readers in that we have favorite genres that we return to again and again, but we also do a fair amount of sampling outside that category. Sound right?

      I have never read anything from Patsy Clairmont or Frank Peretti, but they are both on my own list now (and thanks for the recommendation). Max Lucado–he’s one whose books have floated around the edges of my reading now and then but I haven’t pursued. I have found his essays/excerpts thoughtful and interesting, so I’m not sure why I didn’t follow up with longer/more complete forms. Funny how that happens. I’m with you on the romance, too. I know a lot of people who enjoy them, but I find the plots so tedious and–I kind of hate to use this word, but in my opinion it’s accurate–shallow.

      I wish you a happy return to reading (and a workload that’s steady-but-settled enough to allow that!).

      1. It’s great to see your articles again, AnnaLisa; I always love your writing!

        There are so many good authors out there, it’s hard to try them all. And when we find ones that we really like, that makes it even more difficult to venture out. When I find blog articles or excerpts that I like, I also want to read an entire book by that person. I never seem to get around to it most of the time, though.

        Here’s happy reading to you!

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