Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Reading Goals Recap

This year I made an awful lot of reading goals for myself, and I met them all by the end of September. I had fun tracking the goals, because I’m that type of person, but as I work on my goals for next year, I think the list will be shorter. So here’s a recap of my goals and how they went.


Finish reading the Bible (Jeremiah through Malachi).

Completed: April 12

I am relieved to finally have gotten through the Bible. Much of it, I must admit, was difficult reading. My favorite part was the Gospels, and the hardest part was the first several chapters. I was struck with an overwhelming feeling that millions of people have read the Bible through, study it daily, and love the word of God as laid out in the scriptures. And yet, we have numerous religions (and various beliefs within those religions); there are many interpretations of who God is from Love itself to the great judge and punisher; and the list of prohibitions among the faithful are as numerous and varied as the professors of faith themselves, everything from dancing to coffee to dating before marriage, from owning a television to short hairstyles to using medicine. It’s remarkable that there isn’t more misunderstanding than there is considering the followers of the Bible all seem to be following different things.


Read Jane Eyre.

Completed: February 5

I loved Jane Eyre. I don’t know why it took me decades to read it.


Read or listen to Gone with the Wind.

Completed: July 23

Ooph! Gone with the Wind. This is the longest book I’ve read, and I wished I would have loved it, but I just didn’t. There was no character development—perhaps intentional, I don’t know—and I didn’t like Scarlett or Rhett much at all. But the book did a great job of telling what the south was like before, during, and after the Civil War.


Read or listen to Emma.

Completed: April 2

Emma is not one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. I didn’t hate it, but I just didn’t love Emma Woodhouse.


Read Tarzan of the Apes.

Completed: August 26

I really enjoyed Tarzan of the Apes. I was pleasantly surprised by it and would recommend it to anyone.


Read Crossing to Safety.

Completed: Jan. 23

I fully expected to love Crossing to Safety, but I just didn’t. I know I’m in the small minority here, but I have to be honest. I just couldn’t get close to the characters though I got to know them well.


Read at least 10 books from the library. [Audios don’t count.]

Books read: 26

Completed: April 20

This was a fun challenge, but I sort of lost interest after awhile. I just like to own the book I’m reading. I like to support authors by buying a copy of a book I want to read, and I always feel kind of guilty reading a library book. Most of what I borrowed were children’s books and books I wasn’t sure I was going to like (e.g. comics for the out-of-your-comfort-zone challenge).


Read 10 books at/over 400 pages, including two biographies or autobiographies.

Books read: 14

Completed: September 4

Two of the books I read for this challenge were audiobooks, the rest were read in paper, which averages out to one chunkster each month. I loved almost every one of the chunksters I read this year, which makes intimidatingly long books much more pleasant.


Read 5 children’s classics.

Books read: 5

Completed: August 25

I read: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The House at Pooh Corner; Harriet the Spy; Farmer Boy; and Anne of Avonlea. I felt kind of meh about all of them.


Read a book everyone else has.

Books read: 3

Completed: April 14

I read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, A Man Called Ove, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I loved Ove and Harry, but I kind of detested Fikry.


Read 2 books to fill knowledge gaps.

Books read: 2

Completed: July 19

I read Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (physics) and 50 Paintings You Should Know (art). I loved the art book.


Read 2 books from genres out of my comfort zone.

Books read: 3

Completed: May 30

I read Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal and Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why (comics) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (fantasy). I loved them all. Yay for pushing oneself!


Read 1,000 poems.

Completed: July 24

Poems Read as of Nov. 29: 1430

I read 1430 poems, 1320 in books and 110 loose (online, magazines, etc.). I hope to write a post of its own on this challenge, but to make a long story short: I loved this challenge. I loved almost always having a poetry collection going, loved exploring new poets and poems, and finding gems among the hundreds of poems read. And I loved going back to my poetry home, one of the places I feel most at home in this world. A fantastic experience.


In honor of election year, read 12 [amended to 20] books about presidents, first ladies, the White House, presidential families, politics/politicians, candidates, American history, etc. (Begins Sept. 2015 and runs through Nov. 2016.)

12 Books Completed: June 8

20 Books Completed: September 28

Books read: 22

I completed this challenge in June and I was having so much fun, I decided to extend the challenge to 20 books. I will really miss this challenge next year.


Read at least 10 books over 30 years old.

Completed: July 31

Books read: 15

Interest in this challenge waned. I had so many book titles saved up for this one, but I just didn’t get to them. Almost all of what I read here fulfilled other challenges.


Read 10 contemporary novels.

Completed: August 9

Books read: 16

I’m not sure I need a challenge any more to read nonfiction. This was on last year’s list of goals to force me to read novels, but I’ve found my fiction legs, and I probably no longer need to push. I loved most every novel I read this year. I’m picky about what I choose because there’s nothing more claustrophobic to me than reading a novel I don’t like. It really does make me miserable.


The novels I read this year:

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Remains of the Day

Ella Minnow Pea

A Man Called Ove

The Summer before the War

Miller’s Valley

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

These High Green Hills

Death Comes to Pemberley

Lily and the Octopus


Girl Waits with Gun

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

The One-in-a-Million Boy

A Gentleman in Moscow


Read 2 “manly” books, not used for any other challenge.

Books read: 2

Completed: September 14

I read In the Heart of the Sea and I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson, and I didn’t love either.


Read 5 books I’ve been courting awhile.

Books read as of Nov. 29: 13  

Completed: April 14

I did this challenge to help me make some decisions about books I’d been waffling on, and it worked—I read double the amount of books in the goal. Three of these, A Man Called Ove, For the Love, Girl Waits with Gun, and Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure I ended up loving.


Re-read at least 5 books.

Books read: 9

Completed: April 4

I lost interest in this challenge pretty quick. I loved re-reading last year, but this year there were so many books coming out that I just adored, I didn’t want to re-read. Of the nine books read, five of them were on audio. When I had no good audiobook ideas, I’d just choose a favorite book instead.


Read 10 books from my 2015 TBR.

Completed: July 28

Books read: 13

I lost interest in this one, too. I went into the year knowing which titles I would read, so this ended up being a checklist.


Read 10 [20] books published in 2016.

Completed 10 Books: June 22

Completed 20 Books: August 31

Books read as of Nov. 29: 34*

I had a blast with this challenge, and it will re-appear next year. More than a challenge, this was a treat—I encouraged myself to read new books while they’re still new. I felt so refreshingly current sometimes! This is the best year for new releases I’ve ever encountered. Almost every one of my favorite authors put out a book this year. It was heaven.


*I anticipate reading nine more books before Dec. 31 that will qualify for this challenge.


Read 5 books from the Goodreads Top 100.  

Completed: May 30

Books read: 6

I think I’ve now read everything on the Goodreads Top 100 list I want to except Frankenstein. Titles read: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; And Then There Were None; Jane Eyre; The Holy Bible; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; and Gone with the Wind.


Re-read a book within 12 months of its first reading.

Completed: July 20

Books read: 1

I re-read Killing Reagan because I needed to see if I’d missed anything, feeling vaguely disappointed in it the first time. It felt very much the same the second time around. I also watched the National Geographic movie version, which was pretty good.


Read 12 contemporary children’s books, including one by Kate DiCamillo.

Completed: September 29

Books read: 15

I added this challenge several months into the year. I enjoyed this one very much.


Titles read:

This Strange Wilderness

Appleblossom the Possum

The Story of Diva and Flea

How to Build a Car; How to Build a Plane; How to Build a House 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Clementine’s Letter

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate


Raymie Nightingale

Grover Cleveland, Again! 

The 50 States

Firefly Hollow



Read or listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Completed: May 30

I added this challenge late, too, and I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed Harry Potter. I’m not sure that I’ll go on in the series, and I am quite sure I’ll never finish it, but I’m delighted to know how well-written the books are. 





Other goals is where I failed, failed, failed. There were all good goals, things I should have done, but I could feel I wasn’t committed to them. Plus reading over 100 books is probably enough of a goal without adding other goals. I’ve realized my time for blogging is limited, and I seldom have time to do more than the minimum one or two posts per week.


1. Investigate audiobook options (iPod? Kindle?).

Completed: Jan. 9 – Bought external speaker w/AC adapter.

This has worked very well. There are a couple of irritants that I’ve had to accept. For one, I still have the problem of the CD player running on batteries, so occasionally the audio will cut out in the middle of a sentence. Another dilemma I still have is that I have to play books pretty loud to hear them over the shower and blow dryer, so my husband has to crank up the sound machine while he sleeps in across the hall from the bathroom. Luckily, he’s a good sport. I really like the speaker I bought this one. I’ve used it for music as well, and its sound is superb.


2. Create a poetry month feature.

FAILED—I tried to think of something, but I just couldn’t think of something I really wanted to do.


3. Try PicMonkey for blog images and to create a package of monthly images (months, monthly reading lists, monthly wrap ups, Top Ten, etc.).

FAILED—I kind of knew I’d fail at this one. It’s something I want to have done, but not something I want to do.


4. Create a weekly or monthly feature.  

FAILED—I thought I’d start a feature of answering a bookish question, but I never launched it. I still want to do this, and it’s a reasonable goal. Maybe next year.


5. Do something in honor of election year.  

Completed: June 8

I did a political reading challenge (see above) in which I read 21 books. I loved this goal.


6. Collapse my blog reviews onto one page.

I’m still working on this. This isn’t the easiest thing to do in Blogger.


7. Read one of Charles’s lectures.

This was a spiritual reading goal that I recently finished.


8. Memorize a poem.

FAILED—It’s not like I didn’t try! I even chose the poem, but memorization has never been a skill I’ve had. It was so frustrating that I abandoned it.


9. Complete a favorite poems anthology.

FAILED—I got as far as choosing the poems, but I didn’t put them together and print and bind the collection, which was what I had in mind. I was frustrated with this goal, because I couldn’t decide that the anthology should be. Favorite poems? Touchstones? Poems on a specific theme?


10. Review books read in a post at the end of each month. 

PASSED! I didn’t reach this goal as written, but I did review books each week. Every week. And somewhere along the way, they became real reviews, too. I’m proud of this. I feel like I finally found a reviewing system that works for me and isn’t onerous. And that’s worth all the FAILED grades on the other goals!


11. Interlibrary Loan a book from another campus/library.

Completed: April 1

And now I interlibrary loan all the time!


12. Read at least 50 picture books.

Completed: May 25

Books read as of Nov. 29: 102

I found some gems and some stinkers. I’ll post my favorites later.


13. Read 100 books.

Completed: October 11

Books read as of Nov. 29: 117



  1. You just amaze me! I can't believe you completed your incredibly ambitious goals so easily...I'm scrambling to finish my measly list this month, and I honestly don't know if I'm going to make it. I especially love your poetry goal (that's amazing that you read over 1000 poems!) and your goal about reading new books. I always feel like I wait around to read popular books until enough of my friends with similar taste have read them before me and recommended them. How do you select books when they're still so new? Are they mostly from favorite authors you already know you love?

    1. Amy, you are definitely an Upholder! :) I will say it might be easier to do what I do because I don't have four adorable little boys to keep up with. So no regrets if you don't finish your goals this year.

      Also, I sort of stack the deck because I let books count toward more than one goal. If I didn't, I'd have to read hundreds of books each year!

      I was concerned I wouldn't reach the 1,000 poems goal, but they really add up, and I didn't realize just how many poems I read that aren't in books.

      As for reading new books, I really had to think about that. I think it is partly books by authors I know--it seems like all of my favorite authors put out a book this year. But more than that, I think it's that I have a really good instinct for what I'll like. And I'm interested in a lot of things which opens the field way up, so if a book is getting a lot of positive recognition and the subject is something I'm interested in, I'll try it.