There are only 139 books out of around 360 in which I'm interested, and I've read most of them, but this is a note to finish the last few. Fortunately, my other reading challenges will help me with that!
I've actually already completed this goal for 2018, if audio books are included, and I'm not planning on stopping yet. I'd actually like to read 52 books per year (including audiobooks), but don't want to fixate on a number. 30 is an achievable, even surpass-able, and worthy goal.
Physical Books read this year: Instructions for a Heatwave, Voyage in the Dark, The Power, Girl At War, The Road, The Member of the Wedding, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Richard II, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Circe, A Man Called Ove, Hillbilly Elegy, A Dog's Purpose, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Dark Matter, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
I've been lucky to have head start on this in school, even without being an English major, but here's what I've read thus far (13 works in total).
1. Much Ado About Nothing 2. Hamlet (which I want to re-read) 3. Twelfth Night 4. A Midsummer Night's Dream 5. Richard III 6. King Lear 7. Macbeth 8. Othello 9. As You Like It 10. The Merchant of Venice 11. Richard II 12. Romeo and Juliet 13. Julius Caesar
I am looking forward to reading or re-reading 20 more works, and am less excited about the remaining 9 (e.g. Pericles). But, I think I will do it, and within a year to boot!
So far this year, I've read 30 books (including 11 audiobooks), and I'm not planning stopping yet. I'm marking this goal done in favor of more specific goals). I'll continue to use goodreads for tracking.
I have now completed Typing Club's Typing Jungle program, and can finally type with all 10 fingers. I completed the entire program within a month (taking into account a few weeks off), and reached 60 wpm in lowercase, with 97% accuracy, and 53 wpm overall. I think this is as fast, or faster than, I could go with my old method.
I'll revisit the program as needed, but right now, I'm happy to call this goal done! It is absolutely worth the time invested.
There are many Learn-to-Skate programs. I want to learn how to stand on skates, move forward, and stop. My advanced goal is to spin. My most advanced goal is to skate the routine I've started thinking of. I already have the song and costume idea, and some of the moves.
This will also help me manage the cold weather and enjoy winter more.
July 2015 - 12. I finished Neil Pasricha's "The Book of Awesome," a little book describng and detailing the little moments that make life awesome, like the moment at a concert after the lights go out and the band comes onstage, being the first person into a really crowded movie theater and getting the prime seats, when the thing you were going to buy is already on sale, the shampoo head massage you sometimes get at the hairdresser, and waking up and realizing it's Saturday. The author's humor is sometimes a little weird or gross, but sometimes it's laugh-out-loud funny. Overall, I enjoyed this little book, which was another good reminder to enjoy the little things.
June 2015 - 11. I finished Paula McClain's "The Paris Wife," a fictional but true-sounding account of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson Hemingway's life and marriage. I loved how it expressed many of the things we still talk about today when we talk about love and marriage, but from Hadley's eyes. I felt that I understood her, even though I would have loved her to have more of a backbone earlier on, though she does ultimately find one. She makes a brave move in the end, and seems to still have a good life. I also like Hemingway's side of the story, and how he worked so hard to become a literary great. The Fitzgeralds' popping into the story was a nice bonus, since I think Scott is a much better writer.
June 2015 - 10. I started and finished Mark Remy's "The Runner's Rule Book" today. It's a quick and sometimes funny (as well as sometimes useful) read. The top things I learned/loved were: just run around the block (just do it!). Stretch only if you want to (and do it after if you do). Stand still at red lights (you'll be fine). Always be growing. Run with identification (ID) of some kind. Before a race or long run, strong coffee is your best friend (I never would have thought this!). The whole pasta thing is way overblown. Double-knot (your sneakers) before the gun (after your warm-up). Write off the first mile (it's not worth sprinting for). Have a mantra. Run the mile you're in. Becoming a human metronome (knowing your pace) is fun. Save the race shirt for post-race.
May 2015 - 9. I finished "How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran today. It was a slow-going read, and I was put off by the writer's tone in the beginning, but eventually, I found myself agreeing with the author's points and thinking that I, too, am a feminist. It really is an unequal world, but I'm really glad I figured out many of the things Moran writes about early (like not spending that much on shoes or bags). However, it was good to read, to realize some obvious things I didn't think of previously - how women have kids just when they are at their most confident and successful, and how this stalls their careers! (At the same time, I read and remembered reading elsewhere, how having a kid makes you realize how much love you have to give, though I wonder whether it can be done otherwise.) I'm curious how this book compares to "We Should All Be Feminists." The main point here is that we should all have some share in the world (more of it).
May 2015 - 8. I started and finished reading the short work "Four Stories" by Etgar Keret today. It was funny and moving, and a very quick read. I enjoyed both the lecture (interesting to learn about Keret's family) and the stories.
May 2015 - 7. I finished Patti Smith's "Just Kids." It was an engrossing and inspiring read about two artists. I was intrigued by the lives Patti had described--particularly her own, which seemed so touched by luck. It was also interesting to me, as a New York denizen, to read about how the places I had walked through or by were meaningful to her. I discovered some recipes and music through her too, which I appreciated.* It was nice to see how inspired Patti was by other artists and by a philosopher (Arthur Rimbaud), to the point of making a pilgrimage to the places in France that were important to his life. I was also struck by the "unconventional" life she led with Robert, who shared art between them but did not cohabit regularly. I was not attracted to the descriptions of Robert's work, but I did find Patti's descriptions of Robert himself, and of her own life, moving.
(*This includes grilled cheese sandwiches on rye and a malted milkshake, the films "One Plus One" by Godard and "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones," the book "Ariel" by Sylvia Plath, the song "Can You Hang Onto a Dream?", the music of the Velvet Underground, and the idea of celebrating the Fourth of July by watching fireworks and eating Carvel cake.)
April 2015 - 6. I finished Leopold Auer's "Violin Playing as I Teach It." It had some good suggestions and ideas, which I appreciated reading, though I found the book too pedantic overall. Among the things I learned: the left-hand thumb should be directly opposite the second finger on the note F on the D-string; the main purpose of the left-hand thumb is to form a cradle that keeps the violin from falling; vibrato should not be used as a crutch for faulty tone production, and should be consciously avoided if one has overused it or used it incorrectly; double-stops should first be played in thirds and then stopped, with the second double-stop repeated; the first finger is the most important in simple octaves, and intonation can be checked by keeping the octave in the left hand and having the right hand sound out only the first finger; three- and four-note chords should be broken into two; chromatic scales are too often neglected; nuance in interpretation (esp. dynamics, e.g. p vs pp) is very important, and is what makes the violin "speak"; singing on the violin should be the goal of tone production; musical expression consists of understanding and expressing the composer's ideas and intentions, and relying on one's own ideas to tell one how has done; an artist should not seek to imitate another artist, or follow in the "tradition" of those before him; Spohr is great for musical expression; and one should have studied broadly and widely, and mastered the greats before choosing one's own repertoire.
April 2015 - 5. I finished Haruki Murakami's engrossing book "Kafka on the Shore". The writing style is not typically one I go for, but I couldn't stop reading it. It could probably be described as a surreal adventure story. It has memorable characters and memorable objects (the titular song and painting). Some parts of it were too graphic for my taste, but I don't regret reading the book. The most important thing I learned from it is probably that the most important things are inside you. The most important thing it made me think about is the importance of memory (is it important?) It connects well to the movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which I saw recently, where I was exposed to the idea that memory and imagination can keep a person going if he has nothing else.
March 2015 - 4. I read Lena Dunham's "Not That Kind of Girl" and I was really not that into it. I found it difficult to sympathize with her sometimes and would not want to trade lives with her for anything. I was not particularly drawn to her stories, though I did keep an open mind and probably did laugh a bit. I did, however, think she finished strong. Her last essay was the most moving.
February 2015 - 3. I sped through John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars." I found it an enjoyable read, though I had hoped for more reflections of the kind I found at the end of the novel. I thought the ending was great, though, and I loved the discussion about the tensions between wanting to be remembered as an individual and remembering that "the universe wants to be noticed by us." We spend a lot of time, the book notes, marking things as ours, but it's not enough to make us truly last. In the end, all is oblivion. It's true to some extent, but I think it's possible to make a mark on this world for some time, and to have it last for a while. That should be enough if one also remembers to experience the rest of life.
February 2015 - 2. I finished Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. The book was definitely, at times, a page-turner, but I also found myself putting it down for stretches of time. It would not go on my Favorite Books of All Time list, especially given the ending, which felt tacked on and nearly cliche. However, I really enjoyed the character Boris and the exploration of unrequited love.
I finished reading this book, which spotlighted the importance of a matriarch in a family. Perry highlighted the role of Rose in raising her nine children, instilling into them values that they carried into politics and that she herself held onto through the many tragedies in her life. Perry also emphasized Rose's important role in stumping for her sons. I wouldn't call this book a page-turner, but it is important, and as a woman, I'm glad it was written!
November 2014 - 12. I finished Jonathan Tropper's "This is Where I Leave You." It was a lot more inappropriate than I expected, but it was also hilarious and meaningful. I liked the funny and poignant parts the best.
October 2014 - 11. I finished Amor Towles' "Rules of Civility." For more than half the book, I was absolutely in love: it was a page-turner that read like Fitzgerald. Then, after the "surprise" was revealed, the book slowed down a bit. I think I most liked the setting and writing style here. It's also one that I'll remember.
September 2014 - 10. I finished Colson Whitehead's "The Colossus of New York." I haven't read a book like this in a long time. There are wonderful, flowing, and sometimes hilarious passages in here. Sometimes, the passages do not flow together well (more often than I'd like), but overall, this book is a pretty good, at times gripping tour.
September 2014 - 9. I finished Cheryl Strayed's "Wild." While I felt this book was often a page-turner and I commend its author for having hiked the PCT, it also often felt inauthentic (even when understanding that it was completed long after its events were) and embellished, and I often found it hard to feel sympathetic towards a narrator who had been so unprepared and so uncommitted to herself, even though the non-physical journey was to find herself.
1. In the Land of Israel - Oz 2. *A Tale of Love and Darkness - Oz 3. Love in the Time of Cholera - Garcia Marquez 4. *The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald 5. *Les Miserables - Hugo 6. *Pride and Prejudice - Austen 7. Gone with the Wind (somewhat favorite) - Mitchell 8. *The Things They Carried - O'Brien 9. *The Trial - Kafka 10. *In the Heart of the Seas - Agnon 11. *Ignorance - Kundera 12. *The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Wilder 13. *Selected Essays of Ahad Ha'am - Ahad Ha'am 14. *Heart of a Dog - Bulgakov 15. *The Master and Margarita - Bulgakov 16. *Survival in Auschwitz - Levi 17. *The Interpretation of Cultures - Geertz
June 2014 - 6 I finished reading Sophie's Choice by William Styron. I thought the Holocaust-related material was powerful and gripping. However, I was not attached enough to most of the characters, and found Styron's choice of narrating the story primarily through the eyes of an American, non-Jewish 22-year-old interesting. Maybe the narrator represented the majority of America's initial understanding of, and attitudes towards, the Holocaust. At the same time, Stingo (the aforementioned youth) had a lot of typical 22-year-old male thoughts. Though I didn't regret reading it, ultimately, this book will not place on my list of all-time favorites. It was a complex book that I felt covered only the Holocaust and Holocaust qua South comparison really well.
May 2014 - 5 I finished "Almost Dead" by Asaf Gavron. Overall, it was pretty good. Some of it was really moving, and some of it was just vivid, but other parts did not grab my attention as much: they just didn't offer ideas that I had't heard before. I thought the ending was difficult to grasp at first, too.
Apr 2014 - 4 I finished "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie on Sunday. It was a real page-turner, and a great introduction to A. Christie. I would have liked more plot and character development in another genre, but this was a mystery. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say it kept me guessing.
Apr 2014 - 3 I finished "A Room of One's Own" by Virginia Woolf. I found myself agreeing with her many times, and admiring various details and examples she had used, but I wasn't as engaged in this book as I would have liked. However, I will take her advice, which was to write what I think and to read.
Feb 2014 - 2 Poverty. Food. Life. These are what stand out after having finish the final words of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. It was heartbreaking, beautiful, and memorable. It wasn't as gripping as I would have liked (it's not one of my all-time favorites), but I'll remember the coffee and the Rommeley women for some time.
Jan 2014 - 1 Today I finished "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" by Anna Quindelen, which was a quick read with some insightful thoughts about life. I wouldn't say it was the best book I've read, and I certainly didn't like it enough to buy it - because it was a memoir that was essentially a collection of essays on a common theme. However, it offered some worthwhile perspectives from a woman growing up in times that really changed.