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January Reading Recap

January was a pretty great month for reading and I did a little writing, too.

READING โ€” I read 14 books in January and they included more really good ones than in any month I can remember. Hereโ€™s my list:

๐Ÿ“– How Reading Changed My Life, by Anna Quindlen – memoir
๐Ÿ“– My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, by Pamela Paul – memoir
๐Ÿ“– Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs – memoir
๐Ÿ“– Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye – novel
๐Ÿ“– The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield – novel – 5 โ˜…
๐Ÿ“– Unlimited Memory, by Kevin Horsley – memory training
๐Ÿ“– An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones – novel – 5 โ˜…
๐Ÿ“– Brain Myths Exploded, by Indre Viskontas – cognitive neuroscience – audio – 5 โ˜…
๐Ÿ“– The Word is Murder, by Anthony Horowitz – novel – 5 โ˜…
๐Ÿ“– A Quiet Life in the Country (Lady Hardcastle Mystery #1), by T. E. Kinsey – palate cleanser, fun
๐Ÿ“– The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller – novel – 5 โ˜…
๐Ÿ“– The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole – novella – classic
๐Ÿ“– Iโ€™m Still Here, by Austin Channing Brown – memoir/polemic – audio
๐Ÿ“– Cape Cod Summers, by Beverly Koester – memoir

Books that helped meet my reading goals:

Classic: The Castle of Otranto
Read Your Shelves: Jane Steele, The Thirteenth Tale, The Song of Achilles

WRITING โ€” I completed one โ€œ7-in-7โ€ (7 poems in 7 days). Were any of them any good? Three are worth keeping. Not bad.

Serial Reading App

I just heard about this on the Currently Reading Podcast. It’s called Serial Reading (check the App Store) and contains 550 books, all classics in the public domain. The idea is that you can have a “bite-sized” amount of text (e.g., 8 or 9 pages) delivered to you once a day at a specified time. It’s a manageable way to read some of those classics you always meant to without taking time away from your regular reading schedule.

For my first try, I’ve set the delivery for 5:00 AM and, for my first book, chose The Castle of Otranto. I’ve seen the real Castle of Otranto (built in 1480) in Otranto, Puglia in southern Italy and was reminded that I’ve probably never read the Horace Walpole story. However, having read the first installment, it sounds a little bit familiar. I might have read about it, or might have actually read it in some long-ago English class. Incidentally, Walpole’s story makes use of the name but apparently never set foot in Italy.

2019 Reading Resolutions

Iโ€™m determined to do a bit better in 2019 than 2018 (in which I read only 72 books). However, Iโ€™ve added a couple of other goals in addition to a total number of books.

โ€” Shoot for 100 books, but pay more attention to quality than quantity. To meet a goal of 100 books, itโ€™s very tempting (more than just tempting) to forego long books in favor of shorter ones. A bad habit.

โ€” Read at least 2 classics that Iโ€™ve never read. Iโ€™ve singled out Middlemarch as one of them. iโ€™m not yet sure of the second; it could be a Henry James, an Edith Wharton, or Little Women.

โ€”ย At least one Deep Dive: For me, that means reading several works by one author, as well as biography(ies) and critical assessments. Iโ€™d intended to do a deep dive on Virginia Woolf last year and didnโ€™t get very far, so thatโ€™s my goal for 2019. A secondary one might be Dorothy Parker, but she might have to wait until 2020.

โ€” Read Your Shelves! I heard this advice several times on the Currently Reading podcast (a new favorite podcast) and realized that I need to add it to my resolutions. Iโ€™ve acquired so many physical books that I still havenโ€™t read. The Kindle always seems to be my go-to medium. Also, since I love to read the latest buzzy books, I make use of digital loans and, once they arrive, they take priority over everything else. So my piles of physical books grow without being read. Iโ€™ll make a separate bookshelf category in Goodreads for From My Shelves, so Iโ€™ll know how well Iโ€™ve done at the end fo the year.