Year after year, I look forward to the Goodreads Challenge. The challenge satisfies three of my most obsessive loves: books, a desire to log everything I read, and Goodreads itself, which is an addiction spanning the last 5 years of my life. Each January, I choose a number of books to try and read in that year, and each year, I fail. In the 4 years since the challenge began, I have, not once, come close to completing my goal.
2011 – Goal: 50 Books, Actual: 32 (64% Completed)
2012 – Goal: 60 Books, Actual: 48 (80% Completed)
2013 – Goal: 80 Books, Actual: 48 (60% Completed)
2014 – Goal: 85 Books, Actual: 61 (71% Completed)
I would always rather start with a high goal and work towards it than to begin with a smaller goal and raise it, so each year I got more and more ambitious. This year, I was actually reasonable, putting my goal to 65 books, knowing how close I came to that last year. However, I went through a few horrible reading slumps this year and am currently hovering at 54 books. Up until Thursday morning, I had resigned myself to knowing that once again, I wouldn’t make my goal. First, I made lists of what to read to finish in time, but the lists were not exciting to me and would prove to turn my Christmas holidays into a reading chore. So, regretfully, I came to peace with my situation.
Then, Thursday morning, I came into work to a gorgeously wrapped gift sitting on my desk. Across the gift was a banner which read “Open In Case of Goodreads Challenge Emergency”. It will probably surprise no one that with a bookish job like mine, I have coworkers who are just as book-crazy as I am. One of my coworkers, turned friend, and I have followed each other’s reading habits for the past year; often buddy-reading books together. After an exasperated claim that I would once again fail at my challenge this year, he offered up suggestions on how to complete it. I knew this box was from him.
Inside, each individually and thoughtfully packaged, were three of his favourite books. Each book was shortish in length, and picked specifically for me. Since I live in a home full of unread books, I almost never ever get books as a gift – let alone recommendations. Most of my family and friends aren’t huge readers and those that are are afraid of giving me something I already have. So, most people steer clear. I had mentioned, a few weeks back, that I missed the personalized recommendations, and now, here they were! I can’t begin to express how nice a gift this was!
- Sum – Forty small stories about possible afterlives. (The author is a neuroscientist who writes fiction in his spare time! Hello!)
- Juliet Naked – My friend knows I have a thing for Nick Hornby but mostly his non fiction. I wasn’t a huge fan of the beginning of Funny Girl and eventually abandoned it, but he swears by this one, so I’m excited to give it a shot!
- A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius – I am most intrigued by this. Eggers’ story of losing his parents at a young age and basically becoming a parental figure to his brother at a very young age changed his life. Some people love this book (like my friend) and consider it an art form. Others hate it with a fiery passion. I can’t wait to see where my thoughts lie.
His thoughtful gift put my confidence back on the map. So what if I have to fit 11 more books into 11 days. IT CAN BE DONE! So, with this newly recharged motivation, I reveal: my holiday reading goals! Now, this year, I am taking some vacation in January to spend holiday time with Jay’s family in Montreal so these books will carry over (and as per usual, the list is overly ambitious, but what else is new) but I will make sure to finish at least 11 by January 1st!
Yes, I’ll be using comics to boost up my number, but I’m actually pretty happy with that! I’ve nearly abandoned my comics in the second half of the year, and I have a stack that I’ve wanted to get to for ages, but haven’t. Finally, it’s time to bust them out!
Firstly, the four books I’m currently reading:
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I’ve been on Chapter 3 of this for ages, but I’m ready to get back in there and go to Hogwarts for Christmas!
- A Monster Calls – Jay and I are reading a chapter of this each night before bed. We’ve only done this once before, but I love getting to share a story with him. Needless to say, we are moving through it very slowly as my reading mostly puts him to sleep (ha!).
- The Nest – This is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the new year. Everyone is talking about it! So I’m lucky to have had an advanced copy passed to me by a friend. So far, it’s keeping up with the high expectations Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You set up for dysfunctional family dramas in my world.
- Lean In – I’m moving through Lean In slowly because I pick it up when I need a boost of girl power. But I’m almost finished and will definitely have it completed by the end of the month! (And I love it!)
Next up, the comics I’ve been stock-piling but not reading over the course of this year:
- Relish – Lucy Knisley is one of my favourite comic artists. This is the last of her work I have to read (I was even lucky enough to read an early copy of her new book releasing next year, Something New!) I’ve heard from most people that Relish is her best, though I find it hard to believe it could compete with The Age of License. We shall see!
- Manhattan Project Vol 1 – Another one that has been recommended to me a million times. Mad science? Sure, I’ll give that a go!
- Ms. Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why – I loved the first Ms. Marvel and can’t believe I have yet to pick up the next volume!
- Batman Earth One – Two Christmases ago, I read and adored Batman Noel. So I thought I’d continue my Batman holiday theme with this one!
- The Sandman Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes – I adore Neil Gaiman’s novels, so now it’s time to give his epic, cult-classic comics a shot.
- Wytches – This one looks terrifying and I had every intention of reading it during October, but that clearly didn’t happen. Time to give it a go now! (Plus, creepy books seem to be a recurring theme in my holiday reading goals. Stay tuned.)
And lastly, the novels I can’t wait to dive into over the next few weeks!
- The Monsters of Templeton – Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies has been everywhere this year, and though I can’t wait to read it, I’m oddly drawn to this one. It was an early Christmas gift … to myself.
- The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet – I’ve heard amazing, AMAZING things about this on BookTube and I’ve wanted to get more into sci-fi so… let’s go!
- NOS4A2 – It’s been a while now since I finished Joe Hill’s Locke and Key series and I miss it terribly. A coworker recommended this to me last year but I wasn’t in the mood for something scary. Now, I am! So .. evil children and Christmas? Let’s see how that goes..
- Don’t Look Now – I so badly wanted to read this around Halloween but it didn’t happen, but I can’t let this whole year pass without any Daphne du Maurier, so this has to happen!
- Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – This is a maybe for me. I bought this on a snowy evening a few years ago and never read it. When flipping through it to see if I wanted to just donate it to the library, I got caught reading and decided to give it a shot.
Not pictured is another one I hope to get to soon.. Red Rising! With the conclusion of the series coming out early next year, Pierce Brown’s books have been everywhere. A slew of my coworkers picked it up for the first time to join in the others who were re-reading it in preparation for the next book. I missed that bandwagon but am planning to still give it a go, as soon as possible!
Let me know what books you are hoping to read this holiday season and if you take your Goodreads Challenge as serious as I clearly do. Hope you all have wonderful nights spent curled up by your trees or with your loved ones!