Browse Tag by 50 book pledge
blog

Reading Year in Review: 2016

Another year is through and it’s time to look back on the books I read in 2016. In a surprising turn of events, I think I actually almost achieved my reading challenges for the year?! I guess that’s what happens when you set reasonable goals and actively work towards them throughout the year. Who knew?

50 Book Pledge

This is where I fell short this year: I only read 46 books (up from 43 in 2015), aided greatly by a late-year last-minute reread of A Series of Unfortunate Events. But since I improved on the previous year’s number, read more widely than in previous years, and continued to read non-book material at a high rate (when can I start counting novel-length fanfics as books? Serious question), I’m giving myself a pass. You can see what I read here. Did we read any of the same books? Let’s talk!

Reading Bingo

Penguin Random House Canada’s Reading Bingo card was less specific than last year’s CanLit version, and as a result I did pretty well: two lines filled and only seven squares missed! Some of the missed squares I’m tentative about: I almost certainly read a book with a character with a disability, but none came to mind when I was filling out the card, a sure sign that I need to step up my game in this arena. I’m also pretty sure I read a book from #weneeddiversebooks but a glance through their social media didn’t yield a match – another thing I can improve on next year. You can see which books applied to which squares here.

Books by Women

The goal here was to read 75% books by women in 2016. I didn’t do quite as well as I hoped, according to the numbers: only 57% if you count my speed reread of Lemony Snicket. If you take that series out, I’m at 73%. I was very mindful throughout the year of this goal so I’m disappointed I didn’t achieve it outright. However, I’ve really shifted to consuming a majority of female-created or women-run media (podcasts, websites, fanfics, books) and I’ve been conscious about finding more diverse voices to listen to other than just white men. I can do better with this goal next year.

The Great Tolkien Reread of 2016

It happened!!! I have a half-written post about it in my drafts but in the spring I managed to read all three Lord of the Rings books using a strict reading regimen of 100 pages per week – but somehow I managed to finish it in just eight! It was definitely less of a slog than I was expecting: there are a lot of small moments of humour, and the writing is less dense than I remembered. I didn’t manage to read the appendices (I needed to move on) but I really enjoyed it and my reread didn’t diminish my memories of the series.

Nonfiction Challenge

I read eight nonfiction books this year, mostly biographies/memoirs, up from six the previous year. While my New Year’s Resolutions kind of fizzled out (#relatable), I did manage to complete this goal for three topics – hockey, art and feminism. I read The Game by Ken Dryden and saw AHL, World Cup and NHL games; I read In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and The Birth of Modernist Art by Sue Roe, and saw many excellent works of art in Canadian, Danish and Parisian museums; and I read Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett and joined a women in tech group at work. I’d like to note that while I didn’t fully meet this goal for all topics I set it for, I did grow and learn in each area, either by finding a supplemental source of information about the idea (eg. podcasts, online video) or doing the “practical” aspect of the topic (eg. attended opera performances). I am satisfied with my progress in this goal and am already planning which topics to tackle next year.

Top Books of the Year

Okay okay I know this is really what you wanted to know: with all those reading goals, which books did I actually enjoy the most?

  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (see my Mid-Year Reading Recap for my thoughts!)
  • What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi, for the strength of the leading story alone
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a wonderfully interwoven generational story of a family split between oceans
  • The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua (review coming soon!)

Ok, that’s a wrap on 2016! Let me know what your favourite book of the year was, and if you met your reading goals!

blog

2016 Reading Challenges: Electric Boogaloo

It’s become a bit of a tradition around here at kelsea oconnor dot com to set reading goals for myself at the start of the year. I’ve learned that while my intentions are good, for the most part I lose interest in all but one or two reading goals over the course of the year. So this year I’ve tried to commit myself a little smarter and stick with ones that have worked for me in the past, with only one new addition. Here are the goals I’ve set for 2016:

50 Book Pledge

I enjoy keeping track of what I’ve read, and the 50 Book Pledge makes it easy. My goal again this year is 50 books, and perhaps I’ll meet it this year. One of the benefits of this challenge is that it helps me keep on track with my other reading goals – I can easily see whether I’m reading enough books by women, or if I made a Reading Bingo square without realizing it. I’m currently halfway through book #5 (How  to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran) and keeping pace.


2016 reading bingo cardReading Bingo

My old favourite Reading Bingo is back this year and I’m pretty excited that it’s a bit more general than last year’s CanLit edition (there was just no way I was ever going to read a book by Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and L.M. Montgomery all in one year. Sorry, Canadian canon!). I actually contributed four squares on this year’s card, so hopefully I won’t embarrass myself by failing to fill them in. I’ve already marked in one square. Onward!

Books by Women

Being mindful about the books I was choosing to read helped me stray farther from my usual reading habits, and tbh I really didn’t miss reading more books by men (actually, I started to find the books I did read by men less interesting!). I’m setting the goal again at 75% books by women, and welcome any suggestions you might have.

The Great Tolkien Reread of 2016

This is the year! I’m thinking this will be my February-March reading project. The goal (woefully unstarted from last year): reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for the first time since 2003. It’s only been 13 years! To be reasonable, I’m going to skip the attempt to reread The Silmarillion – gotta save some Tolkien for 2017, right?

New: Nonfiction Challenge!The Game by Ken Dryden

This one ties into some of my other New Year’s Resolutions, which is to learn more about topics that interest me (art, hockey, photography, etc.). For each subject, I’m planning to read a nonfiction book and then do some practical aspect of that topic. For example, I have already met my goal in the most basic sense for hockey: I’ve read a book about it (The Game by Ken Dryden) and attended an AHL game (Utica Comets vs Toronto Marlies). Ideally, I will continue learning about each subject beyond meeting the two goals, but let’s achieve those two goals first. I think this will broaden my interests and knowledge, and also lets me look forward to a fun outing or project.

My goal with setting reading challenges is always to make sure I’m reading new and interesting books that I might not have otherwise read (with one side effect of making sure I don’t fall victim to yet another Harry Potter reread) and I think I’ve put myself in a good position this year. What are your reading goals for the year?

blog

2015 Reading Year in Review

The year has come to a close, my top books of 2015 are in, and it’s time to see how I did on the year’s reading challenges. It was another underperforming year in terms of my reading goals, but I read some interesting and exciting books this year so I’m not particularly disappointed. Let’s review:

The 50 Book Pledge

I pledged to read 50 books, but I only read 43. I had a few reading slumps this year, especially during the summer, and I sometimes found it difficult to pick my next read, which contributed to longer periods between books (there are too! many! books! to choose from). I’ve noted before that the Pledge is limited to books, and if all the magazines, comics, and fanfics I read counted towards my goal, I’d have far surpassed it.

Random House Reading BingoReading Bingo 2015 filled card

I was a little more proactive with this challenge this year – I kept the bingo card on my desk at the office and filled it in throughout the year. I definitely sought out more CanLit than I would have otherwise, with a view to marking off more squares. I actually ended up not being able to match quite a few books to squares, but alas, I didn’t even finish a line. It’s surprisingly hard to find a Canadian book with snow on the cover! You can see my completed card and the books I read here.

The Great Tolkien Reread of 2015 2016

I didn’t get there, guys. Going to budget some deep-winter reading time for this, as there are fewer books I’m excited about at this time of year; frigid temperatures mean I’m home more, so I will have more time to read my massive illustrated omnibus without trying to lug it around. This is the year.

The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge

Another challenge I didn’t follow along with during the year. But I actually only missed 8 of the 24 challenges! You can see what I read here.

Picture of Books I Read in 2015
A selection of the books I read in 2015

Reading More Books by Women

This was a goal that I was very conscious of throughout the year, and I stayed mindful of it when I was choosing my next book to read. I only read 10.5 books written by men this year (the half comes from A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson, cowritten by Jeff Rovin. Sidenote: I’m sorry, Gillian, this book was awful. Let’s place the blame on your coauthor), which works out to just slightly more than 75% female authors. That’s up from 53% last year and exactly meets my goal. I’m very happy with that number.

Did you meet your reading goals for 2015? What was your favourite book?

blog

2015 Reading Challenges

Last year’s reading challenges went so well that I thought I’d pick up a few new ones for 2015. I’ve kept my favourites from last year and have added a couple personal challenges. The goal: read more diversely, have fun, and maybe finally get through that backlog (1Q84, anyone?).

badge2015The 50 Book Pledge

This is a keeper from last year – I really enjoyed keeping track of what I read, and having a reading goal motivated me to pick up another book when maybe I would have preferred to power through Parks and Rec instead. My 2015 goal is a more manageable 50 books (down from 75) – I’m already on book #7, so so far so good.

Random House’s Reading BingoReadingBingo2015

Although I had fun with last year’s Bingo, I wasn’t really planning to fill out the card again this year (to be honest, I kind of forgot and just ended up retrofitting books to squares at the end of the year). Then this year’s theme was announced: Can Lit, and my office decided to participate and hold a little competition. So we mayyyy have brainstormed books that check off multiple squares (I think Unsinkable by Silken Laumann ticked seven boxes, the most), but I’m looking forward to delving into more Can Lit than I probably would have this year – I still have most of the Maddaddam trilogy to go, and can’t wait for those Giller Prize nominees.

1000px-JRRT_logo.svgThe Great Tolkien Reread of 2015

Despite my enduring love for Middle Earth, I’m a little ashamed that my last reading of the Lord of the Rings was when Return of the King was released in theatres (over ten years ago! Egads). 2015 is the year I reread the series, and if I’m feeling ambitious, The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, too. I’ve ordered a new edition of the trilogy (a third version, surely, is not too many), and will reward myself with a rewatch of all three LOTR movies – extended editions, of course – when I finish. Teenaged Kelsea is very excited to rediscover one of her favourite series.

BookRiotCircle-300x243The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge

Book Riot‘s is a new one I’m trying this year. With a number of exciting-sounding reading ideas – I’m looking forward to the microhistory and retelling of a classic story challenges – it looks like a fun way to get me reading outside of my comfort zone.

yes-pleaseReading More Books by Women

Something I’m hoping to be a bit more mindful about in 2015 is reading more books by women. Last year, 28 of the 52 books I read were written by women, which is a decent enough number, but this year I’m aiming for a figure somewhere in the 75% region. I’m on the seventh book of the year so far, and it’s the first one written by a man, so this might be easier than I thought. My Tolkien Reread is going to be a lot of man-authored, man-centric story, anyway, so let’s balance that out with great books by women. Please pitch me your suggestions in the comments.

It might already be February, but I feel as though I’m in pretty good shape so far. Did you reach your reading goals last year, and are you on board for any reading challenges this year?

blog

Redux: 2014 Reading Challenges

blog

2014 Reading Challenges

So this year I thought I would participate in a few reading challenges in an effort to get through all the unread books on my shelves, and also to boldly go into strange new worlds and seek out new genres and characters. I’m undertaking the following three challenges in 2014:


logo2014_25050 Book Pledge

Put on by HarperCollins Canada, the 50 Book Pledge is a promise to read a certain number of books during the year. The website helps you keep track of the books you’ve read and you can earn badges and prizes. I like the idea of tracking what I read, and it might push me to read new books instead of rereading the same handful of books every year (yes, you, Harry Potter.) Between school and leisure, I estimate I read over 100 books in 2013. For 2014, I’ve set a goal of 75 books. So far I’ve got three under my belt, which means, according to the website, that I am on track for 84 books. So far, so good!

Reading Bingo

Reading-Bingo-YA Reading-Bingo-small

Random House’s Reading Bingo Challenge is pretty straightforward: use the books you’ve read to fill in the book-themed Bingo cards, and find new reads to complete the more challenging spaces. The result: Trying new books, reading more widely, and feeling the satisfaction of crossing off squares on the cards. There’s two card options: “regular” and YA; I think I might try to complete both. I can already see that some of the squares are going to be tough for me: “A book with music” (what is this?) and “A book based on a true story” (I’m not into non-fiction), but that’s the fun of this challenge!


ToB-2013The Tournament of Books

This one’s a bit different: In Tournament of Books, sixteen books published in 2013 are pitted against each other in tournament-style brackets, where each book in a bracket is read and evaluated by an esteemed judge (this year’s notables include John Green and John Darnielle) before advancing to the next round; eventually, one book is named the “Rooster of 2014.” I’m not going to play along. Instead, I’m going to use the list of nominated books as a base for my own reading and follow along with the Tournament. Okay, so I’m not actually doing this reading challenge, but hopefully I’ll discover some great books.

So now that I’ve bitten off more than I can (probably) chew, I better get reading. What are your reading goals for 2014?