2016 reading goals.

This year I was much more deliberate about the books I chose to read. This was in part because I started reading more this year and had the opportunity to explore different writers, genres, and styles. I was also participating in Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge. I would like to continue this next year. However, I have a few reading goals for next year that I would like to work on in addition to the reading challenge:

  • 50% of books read should be owned by me
  • Must read five books before I can buy a new book (“Five to buy” strategy from Read Susie Read)
  • Read at least one book written in Spanish
  • Read at least two books by Latino writers

The first and second goals have to do with the fact that I’ve purchased so many books these past few years, and have read a very small portion of them. Most of the books I read this year were checked out from my local public library. I live in a small apartment and have only one bookcase, so I need to be more strategic about my book-buying habits. That is why these goals focus on tackling the books that I already own. I purchased them because they are books I interested in reading, so I might as well get to it!

I’ve only ever read one book written in Spanish and it was for a high school Spanish class. I really enjoyed the experience and would like to read more books written in Spanish. I also don’t speak Spanish on a daily basis as I should, and so I believe reading in Spanish would help strengthen my vocabulary. I also believe it is important to make sure I am reading books by Latino/Hispanic writers in order to explore writing from people with backgrounds similar to my own or that of my parents.

Apart from these four goals, I will also participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge as I do every year, and will participate in Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge. I try not to become obsessed with these challenges and goals, but I find them to be a fun way to strengthen myself as a reader. Have you set any goals for yourself or do you plan to participate in any reading challenges next year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ready Player One

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Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Publisher: Broadway Books, 2011 (Paperback, 372)

Rating: 5owls

Memorable Quotes:

“If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.” p. 14

“Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a start. One of over a hundred billion stars in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of the billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.” p. 22

“We’d known each other for years, in the most intimate way possible. We’d connected on a purely mental level. I understood her, trusted her, and loved her as a dear friend. None of that had changed, or could be changed by anything as inconsequential as her gender, or skin color, or sexual orientation.” p. 321

Read Harder Challenge: Update

Earlier this year, I chose to participate in Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge. I let this list of challenges guide me in making some reading decisions, but I didn’t read solely to check things off the challenge list. I’ve managed to complete 18 out of 24 challenges for the year, and I am pretty pleased with that. I really enjoyed participating in this challenge because it helped me become aware of all the different kinds of books I chose to read throughout the year. This is definitely proof of the different genres and styles of books that I’ve explored this year. There are a few challenges on this list that I did not complete, but I plan to complete soon.

  1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 – White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 – Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  3. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) – Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  4. A book published by an indie press – On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
  5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own – American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  7. A book that takes place in Asia – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  8. A book by an author from Africa – Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
  10. A microhistory – Stiff by Mary Roach
  11. A YA novel – Say What you Will by Cammie McGovern
  12. A sci-fi novel – Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  13. A romance novel
  14. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, or Pulitzer Prize winner – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
  16. An audiobook – Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig
  17. A collection of poetry
  18. A book that someone else has recommended to you – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  19. A book that was originally published in another language – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
  20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind – Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona
  21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, then realize that good entertainment insetting to feel guilty over) – Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  22. A book published before 1850
  23. A book published this year – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  24. A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

Did y’all participate in this challenge? Let me know how you did in the comments below!

The Book of Unknown Americans

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The Book of Unknown Americans

Author: Cristina Henríquez

Publisher: Knopf, 2014 (Hardcover, 286 pages)

Rating: 5owls

Memorable Quotes:

“I felt the way I often felt in this country–simultaneously conspicuous and invisible, like an oddity whom everyone noticed but chose to ignore.” p. 186

“We stood side by side and looked out at the vastness, the possibility of everything out there. Within the universe, I felt like a speck, but with myself I felt gigantic, the salt air filling my lungs, the roaring of the waves rushing in my ears.” p. 233

“We’re the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they’ve been told they’re supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we’re not that bad, maybe even that we’re a lot like them. And who would they hate then?” p. 237

“I couldn’t swallow. It had to be wrong. We had to be able to rewind. It couldn’t be real. It felt so weightless. It felt like an idea, a particle of dust flowing around in the air that hadn’t landed yet.” p. 259

“Maybe it’s the instinct of every immigrant, born of necessity or of longing: Someplace else will be better than here. And the condition: if only I can get to that place.” p. 286

 

Stiff

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Stiff

Author: Mary Roach

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003 (Hardcover, 292 pages)

Rating: 4owls

Memorable Quotes:

“The gains in the average person’s understanding of biology have, I imagine, worked to dissolve the romance of death and burial–the lingering notion of the cadaver as some beatific being in an otherworldly realm of satin and chorale music, the well-groomed almost-human who simply likes to sleep a lot, underground, in his clothing.” p. 57

“Life is looking rosy for our one-celled friends. They’ve already been enjoying the benefits of a decommissioned human immune system, and now suddenly, they’re awash with this edible goo, issuing from ruptured cells of the intestine lining. It’s raining food. As will happen in times of plenty, the population swells. Some of the bacteria migrate to the far frontiers of the body, traveling by sea, afloat in the same liquid that keeps them nourished.” p. 66

“Life contains these things: leakage and wick age and discharge, pus and snot and slime and greet. We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.” p. 84

“It is an unfortunate given of human trauma research the the things most likely to accidentally maim or kill people–things we most need to study and understand–are also the things most likely to mutilate research cadavers: car crashes, gunshots, explosions, sporting accidents. There is no need to use cadavers to study stapler injuries or human tolerance to ill-fitting footwear.” p. 152

“A patient on the way to surgery travels at twice the speed of patient on the way to the morgue. Gurneys that ferry the living through hospital corridors move forward in an aura of purpose and push, flanked by caregivers with long strides and set faces, steadying IVs, pumping Bambu bags, barreling into double doors. A gurney with a cadaver commands no urgency. It is wheeled by a single person, calmly and with little notice, like a shopping cart.” p.167

Norwegian Wood

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Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Vintage Books, 2000 (Paperback, 293 pages)

Rating: 5owls

Memorable Quotes:

“All I knew about the well was its frightening depth. It was deep beyond measuring, and crammed full of darkness, as if all the world’s darknesses had been boiled down to their ultimate density.” p.6

“We kept walking all over Tokyo in the same undirected way, climbing hills, crossing rivers and rail lines, just walking and waking with no destination in mind. We forged straight ahead, as if our walking were a religious ritual meant to heal our wounded spirits. If it rained, we used umbrellas, but in any case we walked.” p. 27

“It may well be that we will never fully adapt to our own deformities. Unable to find a place inside ourselves for the every real pain and suffering that these deformities cause, we come here to get away from such things. As long as we are here, we can get by without hurting others or being hurt by them because we know that we’re ‘deformed’. That’s what distinguishes us from the outside world: most people go about their lives there unconscious of their deformities, while in this little world of ours the deformities themselves are a precondition.” p. 87

“People screamed there’d be revolutionary changes—which always seemed to be just ahead, at the curve in the road. But the ‘changes’ that came were just two-dimensional stage sets, background without substance or meaning. I trudged along through each day in its turn, looking up only rarely, eyes locked on the endless swamp that lay before me, planting my right foot, raising my left, planting my left foot, raising my right, never sure where I was, never sure I was headed in the right direction, knowing only that I had to keep moving, one step at a time.” p. 236

“It was one of those early autumn afternoons when the light is sharp and clear, exactly as it had been a year earlier when I visited Naoko in Kyoto. The clouds were white and narrow as bones, the sky wide open and high. The fragrance of the breeze, the tone of the light, the presence of tiny flowers in the grass, the subtle reverberations that accompanied sounds: all these told me that autumn had come again, increasing the distance between me and the dead with each cycle of the seasons.” p. 273

The Girl on the Train

Book Review-The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Riverhead Books, 2015 (Hardcover, 323 pages)

Rating: 3owls

Memorable Quotes:

“If I can just learn how to hold on to this feeling, this one I’m having now—if I could just discover how to focus on this happiness, enjoy the moment, not wonder about where the next high is coming from—then everything will be all right.” p.57

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete: you mould yourself through the gaps. All these things I know, but I don’t say them out loud, not now.” p. 94