It's been a productive reading year for me. I reached outside my comfort zone, dove into some challenging literature, and finished what I started.
Looking back, I think I set just the right number and type of goals. In order to complete them all, I had to read at least twenty books; it was a big enough number that I couldn't leave them all for the last month, but not so big that I couldn't read anything else. Also, they helped balance my reading so that I wasn't spending all my time on mindless books but had some substantial literature (or even just books I'd been putting off for a long time) mixed up in there.
It is with great pleasure that I now give an account of each goal and how I completed it (click on the book title to go directly to my review):
1. Read a new genre (graphic novel)
This one scared me, but I knew right from January 1st that I really wanted to try reading a graphic novel. I discovered that while graphic novels will probably never be my go-to genre of choice, I really, really enjoyed Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack (August 2013)
2. Finish a series I already started
I thought I was going to spend weeks deliberating which of my plethora of unfinished series I should finish. But I got such an overwhelming response (like three people) that it should be The Chronicles of Narnia that my decision ended up being really easy.
I wish I could describe how much I loved these books and how glad I am that I took the time to finish all of them. I tried to express my feelings here:
February 2013: The Silver Chair
April 2013: The Horse and His Boy
July 2013: The Magician's Nephew
December 2013: The Last Battle
3. Begin and finish a series
Turns out, I was a bit of a wimp with this one. More than any of my other goals, I dug in my heels and had a difficult time committing to a series. But once I actually made a decision (the Princess trilogy by Jessica Day George), I discovered it was actually pretty fun. And I can't even begin to tell you how good it felt to start and finish a series (even if it was just a trilogy) in quick succession.
August 2013: Princess of the Midnight Ball
September 2013: Princess of Glass
October 2013: Princess of the Silver Woods
4. Read and reread a book
This was definitely something new for me. I've reread lots of books, but there have always been years in between the readings so that I've forgotten most of the basic plot points and it's almost like reading a new book. Never have I reread a book a mere few weeks after reading it for the first time. I listened to Boys Adrift (April 2013). I learned so much from it that I bought my own copy and read it a second time (May 2013), and this time I had the luxury of marking the points that I especially wanted to remember. This has probably been my most talked-about-book (both on the blog and in real life) of the year. Read it. And then, if you're so inclined, read it again.
5. Read something less well-known by an author I like
I was really hoping to read several less well-known books by some of my favorite authors, but I only ended up getting to one: Safekeeping by Karen Hesse (March 2013). Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust is one my favorite books of all time, and so even though I liked Safekeeping, it ended up feeling like a bit of a disappointment. It doesn't even hold a candle to Out of the Dust.
6. Read two classics from the 19th century and two classics from the 20th century.
I feel like I just barely made it with this one. I didn't even start this goal until the second half of the year, and then two of the books I read (East of Eden and The Woman in White) were quite lengthy and took me a long time to finish. Still though, I felt a great sense of achievement finishing all four books for this goal. I know for a fact that I definitely would not have read four classics this year without this goal. Usually I try to read what I feel like reading, but in the case of the last two especially, I really was ready for some lighter fare, but I buckled down and read them anyway, and I'm so glad I did.
October 2013: East of Eden
November 2013: The Woman in White
December 2013: Their Eyes Were Watching God
December 2013: A Study in Scarlet
7. Read at least four Newbery candidates for 2014
It is always fun to see which new books separate themselves as strong contenders for the Newbery award. I loved deciding which ones to read, and out of the five I read, I'd have to go with Navigating Early for the Newbery. It was one of my favorite books of 2013. I'm so excited to see who actually ends up with the award next month.
May 2013: The Center of Everything
August 2013: Navigating Early
September 2013: The Water Castle
November 2013: The Year of Billy Miller
December 2013: The Real Boy
8. Read Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Not going to lie, out of all my goals, reading Blackmoore (September 2013) was definitely the most fun goal to complete. Pure enjoyment.
All of my siblings who are in college have been bragging about their grades from the last semester. I was feeling a little left out, but now that I've reported on my successful completion of goals, I'm giving myself an "A" in reading for the year.
Stay tuned: Reading Goals for 2014 (because why would I stop such a good thing?) coming up when it's officially 2014!