Whew! I was worried that this post wouldn’t happen before the year ended, but I am just getting it in! I also want to do a 2017 Goal post, but that can wait until the New Year if I need to.
2016 has been a strange year for me. I went from working full time to part time, and have gone back and forth between reading and crafting, so there were long stretches when I didn’t read anything and then manic moments when I had to read everything and right now!
Over the last year, I read 29 books. Standouts for me were:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I am currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; if I finish it by the end of the year, it will definitely be added to this year’s favorites!
I’m trying to think of the common denominator in all of these books to help guide my reading picks next year. The Library at Mount Char is a complete outlier – I’m still surprised that I even finished this book and am astonished that I added to my list of favorite books this year! Dark and gritty; violence for what seemed like nothing other than gratuity. But I was so fascinated by life at the “library” – the idea of devoting yourself to one single topic for the rest of your life. Of studying and living in your own little solitary environment is so appealing to me that I was willing to put up with the bizarro world that Hawkins created. And in the end it was totally worth it and the world made a little more sense.
So when I think of living and devoting yourself to your own library (The Library at Mount Char), living a life obsessed with art and antiques (The Goldfinch), living a life that is surrounded and changed by the love of music (The Bellweather Rhapsody), and by struggling to make the world a better and more just place (The Nightingale and The Underground Railroad), I can see a glimpse of what is common with all of these books. (now that was a sentence!) They are all a tiny sliver of what I want my own life to be. Knowledge, surrounded by beauty (I know, isn’t that so materialistic? But art – and the life that artists live – isn’t it worth it?), filled with music, social justice – that is how I picture my life.
All of these picks also reminded me that I will always love a book for its atmosphere and setting over its literary merit. I don’t even know how to judge literary merit, to be honest. I want books that will sweep me away to another world and allow me to live a life that I dream of. So that’s what I’ll be looking for in the next year – complete escapes to lives that I can only dream of living.
I’ve written 42 blog posts this year! I always feel like I’m a bad blogger, but 42 posts doesn’t sound so bad. At one point I had a goal of writing 3 posts a week, which I know is a bit too much for me and my current life. Perhaps one day I can be even more ambitious – but right now isn’t the time to stretch that goal even further. In fact, my 2017 goal is to lower my blogging expectations just a bit with the hope that I’ll be more motivated to meet my blogging goals. More on that to come.
I tried to set recurring blog posts to help me stay productive – Monday Wrap Ups, What I’m Reading Wednesdays, Weekend Lists of Links. I’m not sure what will stick around in the new year, but those types of things give me structure and make my blogging life easier, so we’ll see what I come up with.
And, by the way, 2016 is the year that I finally participated in NaNoWriMo! On top of actually participating, I met the 50,000 word goal! I’m still a little shocked about that. Now the challenge is to figure out how to keep that momentum up and continue working. I haven’t touched that document since November 29 – when I met the 50,000 word mark. There are so many things that I want to do with it, but I don’t feel like I have the skill or the knowledge to craft it into what I want it to be. So I will have to find a strategy to keep plugging away at it.
All in all, it’s been a great year for books and writing. Even so, I cannot wait until 2017 arrives, because this year in general has been really awful for the world. I am choosing to believe that 2017 can’t be any worse than this year. I hope that’s true!
I also want to thank my little band of followers. You have helped me stay motivated and to feel like I’m not just talking to myself! I sincerely wish you all a wonderful New Year and look forward to spending more time together (even if it’s only virtual time).