The OF Blog: 2013 Reading/Reviewing Resolutions and challenges for those reading this

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013 Reading/Reviewing Resolutions and challenges for those reading this

Since people seem to like reading these exercises in dual self-restraint/promotion, I suppose I could write something that could serve not only as a personal challenge, but one that it would be nice if others would dare take up this challenge.  I'll try to keep this short and simple:

1.  Have a higher percentage of reads be by women writers.  I read 144 books that were written, co-written, edited, or co-edited by women in 2012.  That sounds good...until I note that I read/re-read 501 books in 2012.  That's a paltry 28.7%.  Even worse, after the first 200 books read, I had read 80 by women, 40%, so a combination of re-reading/reviewing two very long epic fantasy series (Erikson/Esslemont and Sapkowski) and not searching as much the final 6-7 months of the year greatly reduced the percentage.

2.  Work on my reading comprehension in Italian, French, German, and Serbian.  My Spanish reading comprehension is near-native levels and the Portuguese is only a small bit behind.  But I want to improve in these four languages, especially since I hope to travel, either late this year or by mid-2014 at the latest, to Vienna-Budapest-the old Military Frontier district of the Habsburg Empire-Venice and knowledge of three of those languages (Hungarian would be much too difficult for me to learn effectively in a year's span with the available resources to me) would be very nice.  Would be nice to read more easily (although this is somewhat the case already with French and Italian) the 500 or so volumes I have in those four languages.

Those are me-specific ones (I don't include a reading goal of X books, since 500 books read in each of the past two years is not an accomplish I want to achieve each and every year).  Now here are some that I'd like others, especially those who have their own review spaces, to consider:

3.  Read and/or review at least 5 poetry collections/epic poems.  Poetry is a challenging but rewarding area for a reviewer to hone his/her craft and I would love it to see if anyone will review Derek Walcott before I do later this year.

4.  Review at least 20 works by women writers.  For most, that should constitute reading at least 25% women authors, but for those who can read much more, try to make the percentage higher than 33% of reviews this year by women writers.

5.  Read/review at least 3 works of non-fiction.  Different skill set, yes, but again, it'll help.  If inspired, maybe I'll re-read some of the grad school materials I've kept since 1997 for the first time since then and write relatively brief commentaries on them.

6.  Review at least 2 books, possibly with different slants, on at least one "hot topic" social issue.  I'm going to write at least one review/essay on capital punishment later this year, likely before spring begins.  Might stir up some arguments, but hey, since when does that have to be a bad thing?

7.  Watch/review at least 3 movies that aren't "standard blockbuster fare."  Maybe something that's dubbed/subtitled from another country/language.  Maybe just an "art" or "independent" film.  It'd be nice to hear of interesting new movies that aren't Hollywood clone franchises.

8.  Talk about at least two albums of music that you've purchased recently.  That can be fun and challenging and might generate more conversation.

9.  Read and/or review at least 10 books written by people of color.  And if you do review them, please don't talk about how it "enlightens" you.

10. Read at least 5 collections/anthologies and talk about them in some form or fashion, as there are too few good reviews being written these days on short fiction works.

11.  Take at least 5 minutes each day/night, if possible, to worship and/or fear the squirrels around you, as they are the key to your success at life.  Or something.

I'll try to adhere to as many of these latter ones myself as possible.  Should make for a fun year, no?


Adam Whitehead said...

I have instituted a policy of alternating male and female authors, which was surprisingly effective. I didn't do this until May, so my figures for the year are down overall, but since then have been adhered to. Although if KJ Parker turns out not to be female, that'll bring the figures down. I also didn't include graphic novels, which skews things a bit.

Larry Nolen said...

I may have to do something similar, but first I'll have to focus on acquiring more books, as I try not to re-read a previous year's books as much as possible, so I can have more "fallow" time between reads (2-3 years is preferable, if not longer). I just don't have many (maybe a dozen or so?) unread books by women around here. But that's another issue for another time and place.

Juan Manuel Pazos said...

I'm only taking you up on the women writers "challenge" because to be honest I had already decided to do it,but I want it to be at least 50% of my reading for 2013. I realized recently I have lots of books by women writers that I haven't read yet, over sixty in fact. I don't review though... I'm not always very articulate about my opinions and it takes a lot of time I'd rather spend reading.

Another New Year resolution: not to read very thick books (like Erikson's or Peter Hamilton's) so I bump up my figures. 2012 I read 70 books of which about a dozen were around 1000 pages long. I just don't know how YOU do it Larry. I really don't.

Larry Nolen said...

It's hard to explain, as it involves speed of processing words into thoughts, so I often just joke and say it's really that I have a team of Serbian reading squirrels doing most of the reading for me :P

Hélène said...

I'd like very much to read something about poetry collections! I used to read a lot of Spanish poetry. Here's a mystery : I don't really like Spanish but I like Spanish poetry and I do love English but English poetry leaves me cold...
I'll try to reciprocate on your second point : I've got some Spanish books lugubriously (does this word exist?) waiting to be read. Unfortunately, last time I wanted to re-read Neruda, I had to pick up the dictionnary every two words it seemed. Thus, they are still waiting.

Larry Nolen said...

Yes, it's a word and a dolorously-sounding one :P I prefer Spanish poetry to English as well, or at least I think the best Spanish-language poets appeal to me more. Yet Neruda is far from a favorite of mine, oddly enough. I like Rubén Darío much more, along with Roque Dalton. Those are two favorites of mine, although I like several others.

Add to Technorati Favorites