Reading Goals: I Did It!

Dec 28, 2015

I just thought about how sad it would be if I sat down to write this post and realized that I'd inadvertently forgotten one of my goals. I guess there would still be a few more days before the end of 2015 to try to cram it in, but I'm not a fast reader, so I'd probably just have to admit defeat. Luckily, I don't think that happened. I guess I'll see as I write up this report (book titles linked to full reviews).

1. Read a past Newbery honor and a past Newbery winner
I loved this goal. It helped me consider anew books from several (or many) years ago instead of focusing on just all the up and coming books. There are so many truly fantastic books that have already been published that even if all the publishing houses closed their doors for 2016, there would still be more good books than I could possibly read in my lifetime. However (and thankfully), I don't think that's going to happen, and my one regret about this goal is that because of it, I didn't really pay much attention to the current middle grade novels. Now the Newbery is going to be announced next month, and I don't even have a book to cheer for. Next year, I'm going to try to strike more of a balance between past and current.

April 2015: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (Newbery medal 1952)
July 2015: Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (Newbery honor 1978)
July 2015: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Newbery honor 2010)
October 2015: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Newbery medal 2009)
December 2015: The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson (Newbery Honor 1959)

2. Read two classics by female authors
This was one of my favorite goals to accomplish this year for two reasons: I felt a major sense of accomplishment when I finished Middlemarch (April 2015) by George Eliot (a new-to-me author), and I discovered a new favorite book when I read Little Men (November 2015) by Louisa May Alcott (a new book by an author I'd read before). In fact, I loved Little Men so much that I'm trying to figure out a way to incorporate more of Louisa May Alcott's work into my goals for 2016.

3. Read a book I put on my to-read list in 2010
I made this same type of goal last year, and it's a great one because it makes me look with new eyes at all those books that have been sitting, neglected and overlooked, on my to-read shelf for five years. I read The Education of Little Tree (May 2015) by Forrest Carter (which I added in July 2010) and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (October 2015) by Joan Aiken (which I added in March 2010). Next year, I'll be tackling a book or two from the books I shelved in 2011.

4. Read a children's classic
I read Just So Stories (August 2015) by Rudyard Kipling to fulfill this goal, then realized it might have been a better choice for my short stories goal. I also realized that defining a children's classic is a bit arbitrary. How does something become a children's classic? Does it have to be a certain age or read an estimated number of times or have several editions in print? In other words, this goal was more vague than I was planning on. I think I could also count The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (March 2015) by L. Frank Baum and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (February 2015) by C.S. Lewis as children's classics (although I didn't count them originally because it was my second or third time reading them).

5. Read a book on writing
This goal was kind of a flop. I take full responsibility for choosing the wrong book (AND for deciding to stick with it), but The Sound of Paper (almost all of 2015) by Julia Cameron was not really what I was hoping for when I made this goal in January. I was looking for a book that would give me some tools to become a better writer and some prompts to practice with. This was more of a book of encouragement for writers (and artists in general), but it has prompts so it fooled me for the first one hundred pages.

6. Read a short stories collection
This was the most nail-biting of my goals because I tried so many collections before I landed on a good one. I actually had almost given up hope and decided short stories just weren't for me when I struck gold with The Unrest Cure and Other Stories (November 2015) by Saki. I enjoyed these stories so much. I'm glad I didn't just settle for any short stories collection I could find (I should have followed the same method for a book on writing).

7. Read something of a religious nature
I ended up reading two books for this goal, and I liked both of them: Mere Christianity (June 2015) by C.S. Lewis and Believing Christ (October 2015) by Stephen E. Robinson.

8. Read two more installments in series I've already started
This goal will probably continue to show up on future goal lists because I'm notorious for starting series and then never returning to them . . . although I don't know why because it is so fun going back to much-loved characters. This year, I fell in love all over again with the Penderwick girls in The Penderwicks in Spring (April 2015) by Jeanne Birdsall and cheered for Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi in Morality for Beautiful Girls (September 2015) by Alexander McCall Smith.

9. Read a food memoir
After much deliberation (and not being able to get my first choice), I settled on My Life in France (December 2015) by Julia Child. It was so good! I loved learning about this spunky, determined, talented lady. (And then, because I recently was talking about Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl and literally felt hungry for her words, I picked up her latest book, My Kitchen Year. I don't think I'll get it finished before the end of the year, but I'm finding it very enjoyable.)

10. Finish a series
This goal has been on the 2013, 2014, and 2015 lists, and it's been very rewarding every time. This year, I finished the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery. It wasn't quite as ambitious as the two series I finished in the previous two years since it only required me to read two books instead of four or five, but I'm still pretty certain it wouldn't have happened this year without that goal, so I'm glad I made it. I thoroughly enjoyed Emily Climbs (March 2015) and Emily's Quest (August 2015), but Emily will never replace Anne for me because Teddy Kent doesn't hold a candle to Gilbert Blythe. And that's the truth.

I have so many reasons why I love making these goals, not the least of which is that they prevent me from basically ever falling into a reading slump. If I ever can't decide what I should read next, I just turn to my year's list of goals, and the options open up. I'll be talking about my 2016 reading goals next week!

Tell me about the books you read this year! Favorite? Most ambitious? Most tedious?


  1. Congratulations on finishing! My main reading goal is an unfocused wish to try things out of my comfort zone, and the 50-states challenge is good at forcing me to do that, so it keeps me happy.

    1. That's awesome! I want to do a 50-states challenge at some point. I'll have to get your list from you!

  2. Congratulations! Was Bread and Wine just not available at your library at the time or is it not available at all? I loved it and even bought myself a copy - and I buy relatively few books each year.

    I'm always hesitant to get involved with a series, but I really love the Flavia de Luce books. They're fabulous on audio and I bet your boys would like them too - if not now, in a couple of years (I think Flavia is 11 when the series starts).

    I didn't have any specific reading goals this year, but I'm happy with what I read; it was a good mix. I finally finished reading about WWI

    1. Not available at all :-( But I requested them to buy it, and they did! (However, the Salt Lake County system is notoriously slow for processing new books, so I don't know when it will actually become available.)

      I love the Flavia de Luce books too (even though I've only read the first two).

      Even without specific reading goals, you are always such an ambitious reader. I'm always impressed with the caliber of the books you read.

  3. Do find a way to read Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom! (Goal: Read two more books by Louisa May Alcott.) I loved these books as much as I loved Little Women. Just mentioning them makes me want to read them over again!

    1. Yes, it will definitely be something along those lines! I've heard such good things about Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom.


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