My 2016 in books

Some of the books I read in 2016

Some of the books I read in 2016

2016 was the first year that I took the Good Reads reading challenge.

I’m suspicious of New Year resolutions. They tend to be overly optimistic and, thus, unrealistic. And unrealistic resolutions lead to disappointment and self-blame.

At the same time, I’m a fan of goal-setting. So in early 2016 I thought, well, what if I take the challenge, but with a modest, easily-achievable goal? And so I signed up for the Good Reads challenge, with a goal of 25 books for the year.

Turns out that was a very modest goal, indeed.

According to Good Reads, I read 55 books in 2016. Some of those I wouldn’t count as separate books (e.g. each of the chapters in Ellis’ Normal are counted as a separate book, since I got them on Kindle as they were being released; and Good Reads counts as read books that I marked as abandoned), but it is still well above my stated goal of 25. 🙌

Abandoning books without finishing them is another first. I’ve always been reluctant to do this – what if the book gets better later? how can I have an opinion about this book if I haven’t read all of it? am I a quitter? But life is too short to waste time on books that I am not learning anything from, or are not inspiring or giving me joy.

All in all, it was a good year for my reading. I read some really fun fiction, such as Mr Mercedes, 14 and A Song of Ice and Fire (books 1 to 5) (still making my way through book #4, not bored yet!). I continued to make my way through the Banks’ Culture series, reading Use of Weapons, which did not disappoint. Surprising myself, I decided to re-read Dune, which surprised me for being as enjoyable as it felt 18 years ago (though less profound, perhaps).

In the comic book category, Monstress Volume 1: Awakening was stellar. Stellar art. Stellar storytelling and worldbuilding. Stellar to read fiction with a three-dimensional female lead. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

An honorable mention in comic books goes to Habibi, another story about a corageous woman. This book was a gift from a good friend, and in addition to a heart-breaking story and delicate line art, it helped me learn a little bit more about the Quran.

In non-fiction, I was inspired by Felicia Day’s memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), where she writes about her journey from weird isolated nerd kid to nerd stardom. Excellent Sheep helped me reflect on my own attitudes around achievement, learning and what is meaningful; definitely in the thought-provoking category. (Shout-out to Eric Couillard for recommending Excellent Sheep.)

For 2017, I am taking the challenge again. This year I’ll officially aim for 50 books (and secretly hope for more). I want to be more intentional about what books I choose to read. This means focusing my reading choices on topics of particular interest to me, and on books that come highly recommended by trusted sources.

Life is too short to read mediocre books. 📚