2018 Reading Goals: Final Report

Jan 8, 2019


I cut it close in 2018. Very, very close. I basically dedicated all of my reading time in December to finishing up books for my 2018 goals, and I literally finished the last one at 10:30 pm on New Year's Eve. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had checking off a goal, but I just can't pass up the feeling of finishing before a deadline.

Here's how it all went down.

1. Read the 2018 Newbery winner (complete)
I completed this goal in the spring (March 2018), soon after it was announced that Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly had won the Newbery Medal. I remember enjoying it at the time, but the truth is, I don't remember much about it ten months later, and I don't think I've recommended it to a single person.

2. Read A Rambler Steals Home and Zinnia and the Bees (complete)
This was one of the more specific goals on this list, but I am friends with both of the authors on social media, and so I was really interested in reading their middle grade novels (firsts for both of them). I liked A Rambler Steals Home (August 2018) quite a bit more than Zinnia and the Bees (March 2018), which is kind of funny because Rambler is about baseball and Zinnia is about knitting, so you would have thought it might have been reversed. At any rate, either of these books would make fun summer reads for kids.

3. Read something by Virginia Woolf (complete)
I read Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (August 2018). It is one of those books that I'm glad I've read, but mostly just because it makes me feel more cultured. In reality, I enjoyed almost nothing about the storyline, the characters, or the reading experience. That said, I think if I'd had the opportunity to study it in a class or even write a paper about it, I would have liked it a lot more. But at this point, Virginia Woolf and I are not going to become fast friends.

4. Read three older (pre-1970) young adult novels (complete)
This might well have been my favorite goal on this list. Turns out all I needed to do to find young adult novels I liked was to go further back in time. I read And Both Were Young by Madeleine L'Engle (April 2018; published in 1949), Jean and Johnny by Beverly Cleary (July 2018; published in 1959), and Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace (October 2018; published in 1947). They were not full of dramatic issues, immorality, or offensive language, but somehow I still managed  to glean important life lessons from each one (cue a little bit of sarcasm). Out of those three, the first two were new to me, and the third one was a reread. It was such a fun goal, and I'm excited to find some new old titles to love this year as well.

5. Read the three books I recommended for book club this year (complete)
The three books I recommended were The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (June 2018), Dead Wake by Eric Larson (December 2018), and Walkable City by Jeff Speck (December 2018). I really enjoyed The Four Tendencies and probably think about it on an almost daily basis as I analyze myself and others. I ended up discussing it with not one, not two, but three different book clubs. I had Dead Wake checked out from the library multiple times and even started it back in September or October. I finally got back around to it in December but had to just restart the whole thing because my memory is that bad. It was a super interesting examination of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, and I highly recommend it. Walkable City was definitely a drag. I didn't love the author's writing style, and there were several times when I thought, I can't believe I am forcing myself to read a book about traffic patterns. That said, little random facts pop back up into my memory anytime I leave my house and am out and about: "That street is too wide to encourage walking. They would do well to lower the speed limit on this street. Free parking on Saturdays? Don't they know that the only thing that does is make people stay longer in one place and discourages quick turnover at businesses?" So maybe I'm still glad I read it?

6. Read a classic I own (complete)
I decided to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (November 2018) because by the time I got around to this goal, it was autumn, and from what little I knew about Wuthering Heights, I was pretty sure it would be the perfect autumn book. And it was. Take this, for example: "On an afternoon in October or the beginning of November, a fresh watery afternoon when the turf and paths were rustling with moist, withered leaves and the cold, blue sky was half hidden by clouds--dark gray streamers rapidly mounting from the west and boding abundant rain, I requested my young lady to forego her ramble . . . " I mean, right? Perfect. It was also dark and moody and oh, so incredibly twisted in an intensely disturbing and passionate way. How about this, from Heathcliff: "Oh, you said you care nothing for my sufferings, and I pray one prayer. I repeat it till my tongue stiffens: Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you. Haunt me then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe, I know, that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always. Take any form! Drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss where I cannot find you!" That man could work himself up into a frenzy, I tell you what. It definitely was not my favorite read ever, but I liked it more than I thought I would.

7. Read three books from Honey for a Child's Heart (complete)
The point of this goal was to utilize one of the resources I own (in this case, Honey for a Child's Heart). I consulted the book lists and chose three books I wanted to read to my kids: Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (June 2018), The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (December 2018), and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh (December 2018). Out of those three, the only one I really liked was The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. In fact, I'm adding that one to my list of great first readalouds. It was very short, had lots of pictures, and had an engaging storyline--all necessary qualifications for a first read. (And as proof? Clark,age four, sat through the whole thing of his own free will, and that is the first time he has freely participated in any of our group readalouds.)

8. Read Simplicity Parenting or No-Drama Discipline (complete)
If I could go back in time to January of 2018, I wouldn't make this goal. It was not enjoyable to complete, and unlike some of the other goals above (#3, for example), I don't even feel any satisfaction now that it's over. I'll tell you why: I started out with Simplicity Parenting back in September and made it about fifty pages in before it had to go back to the library. Although the basic concept resonated with me, the writing did not engage me at all. When I finally got it back from the library, I couldn't remember a single thing from it and I had no desire to pick it back up. So I didn't. I gave myself a free pass and allowed myself to switch to any parenting book instead of the two I had selected at the beginning of the year. I went with Ignore It! by Catherine Pearlman (December 2018), a book that had been getting a ton of buzz on social media. And although it was much easier to read (I read the bulk of it in about three days), it made me into an anxious wreck of a parent. I began to question everything I said to my kids, and I was constantly afraid that I wasn't doing the methods quite right and consequently making the whole plan backfire in my face (something the author warns the reader of multiple times). I can see how this book could be valuable if you were trying to target one very specific behavior problem (a prolonged bedtime, for example), but for general disobedience, I wouldn't recommend it. But then again, I'm probably doing it wrong because there are about a million ways to do it the wrong way. (This also happens to be the book I finished at 10:30pm on New Year's Eve, so maybe that accounts for some of my bitterness.)

9. Read a book by Clara Parkes (complete)
This goal was just as fun as I hoped it would be. I read A Stash of One's Own (September 2018), which was a collection of essays about the many emotions connected with a knitter's stash of yarn. Some of the stories were serious and others were funny, but mostly I just felt validated in my obsession with all things yarn and knitting.

10. Read snippets from my favorite books on at least one Sunday each month (complete)
This was sometimes a fun goal. The problem was that I often left it until the end of the day on the last Sunday of the month, so it felt more like a chore than it was supposed to. I read:

And that concludes 2018's edition of reading goals. This is the point in the post where I usually say, "Stay tuned for my reading goals for 2019," but I'm actually not planning on making reading goals this year. So instead, stay tuned for the post where I explain why. 
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