Author Topic: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)  (Read 3091 times)

Retinend

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2021, 03:27:10 PM »
apropos of:

I've got about a dozen half-finished books of so-and-so's 'Complete Essays' that are perpetually in the Currently Reading pile as well. I can never breeze through them

I find that an advantage of non-fiction (regarding Goodreads challenges, but also generally) is that you can always skip the forewards and prefaces and go straight to "Chapter One" right off the bat.  And if also you skip a couple of the more boring-sounding chapters along the way then who's counting, anyway? Thus, you probably only have about 200 pages to read before you can mark that otherwise fat-looking tome "read".

I think of forewards, prefaces, afterwards, appendices and so on as like DVD bonus features that you can save for later when you fancy revisiting a book - but not something you need to try to understand before you've even experienced the work.

Take the fictional "Preface" for Gulliver's Travels as an example -  if you tried to read it without having first read the entire book, then its meaning would be a complete mystery to you, and you would be obliged to read it for a second time, anyway, in the light of the fate of Gulliver at the end of his fourth journey.

Mister Six

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2021, 04:19:06 PM »
I'm running two or three books at a time, usually a factual book and a fiction one[1], reading at least a chapter of the factual one each day, then having the fiction for desserts. Although the factual stuff I'm reading is usually interesting enough that I'm happy to absorb more than one chapter if my brain can handle it.

Also reading comics and listening to audios on the side sometimes, which is good - spreading across multiple media helps keep them all distinct and doesn't feel like I'm just doing the same thing constantly.

I've also got an app on my phone called Libby that you might want to look into - or a UK version if it's US-only. You stick in your library card number and have access to that library's ebooks, audiobooks and digital comics, all of which can be read in the app, while the ebooks can be automatically sent over to your Kindle. Found it a useful replacement for fucking around on Reddit or whatever I would otherwise waste my time on when instinctively grabbing my phone.
 1. Or something as fun as fiction, like a Bill Bryson book.

Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2021, 06:59:38 PM »
I always set myself the (never attained) goal of 100 books, only managed 66 last year and I've only read 5 so far this year so I'm somewhat behind schedule. I've got about a dozen half-finished books of so-and-so's 'Complete Essays' that are perpetually in the Currently Reading pile as well. I can never breeze through them, I vastly prefer fiction

Get yourself a complete set of Mr Men and Little Miss books, and you'll blast through that goal!

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2021, 09:35:10 PM »
This is working for me! Every time I am too into my internet, I stumble back upon my Goodreads dashboard and the site admonishes me for being one book behind, or two books behind. If it gets to three books behind then I really kick my arse into gear and pick up the nearest book.

I just finished a book by "Matt Alt" called "Pure Invention" all about Japanese pop culture, which was a godsend. I needed something easy to digest like that and something easy to finish that nonetheless required me to spend a good chunk of time per day with my nose in a book. I think I will always have a book like that on the go that seems like a lighter alternative to books I really want to read.

I also fit in an extra book by taking one of the many Arabic grammar books had I downloaded "for a rainy day" and actually read the thing from cover to cover. I hardly try to assimilate an entire reference book - I just read the lists of vocabulary and grammatical examples as I would read a poem. It's quite thrilling to just soak in all the text without having to do any of the exercises.

Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2021, 12:16:09 PM »
I don't really understand the target of x amount of books. Obviously everyone to their own but reading isn't a race. I feel that a good book should be savoured, same with films, and I'll always try and pace myself through certain books and then give myself a day or so for it to sink in. I think it's better to read 1 book a fortnight, and to think about it and let it settle in your head than whizz through 50 a year just so you've reached some target you've set yourself.

There's a guy I follow on twitter, Andy something possibly, who reads shitloads and posted his reading habits and, for me, it was fucking ridiculous. Gets up an hour early and reads, then audible when he walks the dog, then reading while the family have breakfast and reading reading reading and at the end of the month he posts a photo of the big mountain of books he's read and everyone goes 'wow'. He seems to treat reading like it's some sort of headlong sprint through the pages. I think that guy's a fool!

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2021, 01:31:56 PM »
You make me somewhat self-conscious for contributing to the thread. Nonetheless, I think the issue you raise is the same question as why people set themselves any kind of challenge, or why an objective goal is preferable to a subject goal.

Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2021, 02:22:08 PM »
You make me somewhat self-conscious for contributing to the thread. Nonetheless, I think the issue you raise is the same question as why people set themselves any kind of challenge, or why an objective goal is preferable to a subject goal.

That really wasn't my intention. Please, ignore me.

Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2021, 05:14:30 PM »

There's a guy I follow on twitter, Andy something possibly, who reads shitloads and posted his reading habits and, for me, it was fucking ridiculous. Gets up an hour early and reads, then audible when he walks the dog, then reading while the family have breakfast and reading reading reading and at the end of the month he posts a photo of the big mountain of books he's read and everyone goes 'wow'. He seems to treat reading like it's some sort of headlong sprint through the pages. I think that guy's a fool!

Is that Andy Miller? If so, he does present a book podcast, so it is understandable. (I quite liked his book The Year of Reading Dangerously as well).

Mister Six

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2021, 06:19:31 PM »
I don't really understand the target of x amount of books.

...

There's a guy I follow on twitter, Andy something possibly, who reads shitloads and posted his reading habits and, for me, it was fucking ridiculous. Gets up an hour early and reads, then audible when he walks the dog, then reading while the family have breakfast and reading reading reading and at the end of the month he posts a photo of the big mountain of books he's read and everyone goes 'wow'. He seems to treat reading like it's some sort of headlong sprint through the pages. I think that guy's a fool!

In my case it's because I love reading but had been slacking for decades after doing an English degree that initially led to burn out, which in turn led to being lazy and rubbish. After starting work on a novel of my own, I realised how many gaps there were in my reading, and how many authors I would almost certainly love whom I'd been missing out on.

Setting the goal has been great for me - it's rekindled my love of reading, and the pace has made it easier for me to engage with stuff outside my comfort zone, because I know I'll read a bunch more books before the year is up.

As for packing reading in everywhere, I'm doing the same thing. I could half-listen to some podcast I don't care about, or I could listen to David Lynch talking about his life in an audiobook. I could fuck around on the internet pissing away my time on my phone (which I obviously still do a bit, this thread being a case in point) or I could flip to my library app and reacquaint myself with Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire.

Horses for courses, innit? Same as people who watch telly while they eat breakfast, or on their phones on the subway, or cane a Netflix series in a day. Just indulging in what I enjoy, because I can, and freeing up time for it by dropping TV shows I don't like or social media that is basically just a distraction with no actual value to me.

If it started to get in the way of my relationships or health, or I didn't find it fun any more, I'd stop.

Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2021, 08:54:05 PM »
I've given up setting number-of-books or number-of-pages goals, because I realised too often I was reading towards the goal rather than primarily for enjoyment. The only goal I have now is to read for a bit each day, and if I find my reading sessions are getting shorter or I'm putting them off, I take that as a sign to find a better book to read.

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2021, 10:56:44 PM »
I've given up setting number-of-books or number-of-pages goals, because I realised too often I was reading towards the goal rather than primarily for enjoyment. The only goal I have now is to read for a bit each day, and if I find my reading sessions are getting shorter or I'm putting them off, I take that as a sign to find a better book to read.

I have to agree with this - even within books, the idea of setting targets has made me motor through things before and besides, different books demand being read at different paces anyway. I'm re-reading Flaubert's Sentimental Education at a much slower pace than the previous time, and it's making me enjoy and savour it more than anything.

purlieu

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #41 on: March 21, 2021, 12:17:01 AM »
I understand both sides. On one level, I do think setting arbitrary goals is pretty daft, and goes totally against the whole point of books, which is to get enjoyment out of the reading of them. At the same time, sometimes giving myself a kick up the arse to read more is what I need to re-engage with reading, and I end up enjoying it more because I've decided to specifically put some time aside to just get stuck into a book.
Expanding on my earlier post, my highest books-per-year rate was, I think, 112, but that was a point when I was actually going for shorter books just so I could get my score up. Some of them turned out to be good, though, so it's definitely swings and roundabouts.
It's always disheartening to get so far through a book and give it up. Not only is there a sense of missing out on something that's supposedly great, but also it sets your Goodreads challenge back a fair bit.

Mister Six

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #42 on: March 21, 2021, 10:45:49 AM »
I understand both sides. On one level, I do think setting arbitrary goals is pretty daft, and goes totally against the whole point of books, which is to get enjoyment out of the reading of them.

I don't think these two are necessarily mutually incompatible.

purlieu

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #43 on: March 21, 2021, 11:32:06 AM »
Agreed. I suppose I just mean if you're only reading a book to reach a goal it does seem to go against the point the book was written in the first place. And although honouring an author's intend isn't a necessity, it does seem to devalue the book itself to my mind.
I say this as someone who's done it.

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #44 on: March 21, 2021, 12:05:09 PM »
In my case, at least, I'm reading books I actually want to read, and the goal is just a (rather silly, I know) kick up the arse to prioritise it over playing hours of video games or wasting my time on Netflix shows I don't care about.

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #45 on: March 22, 2021, 02:59:33 AM »
A catch-up on what else I've read so far... if this is boring, feel free to skip, but I like to mull over the books a bit.

The Thin Man (Dashiell Hammett, 1/5)
Controversial? I dunno. I loved the film when I saw it a few decades back, but the book is rather more dry and less screwball, and not nearly as funny because of it. The central mystery mostly happens offscreen to people the reader doesn't meet for most of the book (if at all), and the protagonist isn't much interested in solving it. His wife is more interesting, but she's constantly sidelined. It's a short book but I gave up before the end, and I usually struggle through everything.

Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut, 5/5)
Brilliant, but you knew that already. I knew that already, having read it yonks ago, but I'd forgotten quite how good it is. Vonnegut has a particular style that he's deployed in everything of his I've read - time-skipping, metafictional dips into his own life, daft little segues that reveal some dreadful truth about human nature - but I never get bored of it, and it's used better here than in anything else of his, I think. And it's really funny.

Last Chance to See (Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, 5/5)
Brilliantly funny travelogue about chasing endangered species that's even more disquieting than it was when first published because at least two of them have actually gone extinct since then. The dialogue and scrapes (most of it is Adams riffing on his human encounters on their way to the animals rather than the beasts themselves) are just slightly too perfectly comedic and feel a bit manicured, but fuck it - it's hilarious.

The Devourers (Indra Das, 4/5)
Interview With The Werewolf, basically, but tons better than that sounds. A college professor in India encounters a man who claims to be half-shapeshifter and gives him parchments dating back thousands of years that tell the story of a bloodthirsty werewolf and the Indian woman he forcibly impregnates. The first quarter is a struggle as the protagonist is a cunt and Das is a bit too in love with his own mythology, but the middle half of the book, told from the point of view of his vengeful victim, is far more compelling, and the last quarter - set in the present day - is fucking great. This is a debut novel, too. Looking forward to what else he's got in him.

John Constantine, Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Marks of Woe and Vol. 2: The Best Version of You (Si Spurrier, various artists, 5/5)
I'm a massive fan of the original Hellblazer comic, but I'll admit that it ran out of steam in its final years, and am sad to report that all the revivals up to this point have been middling-to-dogshit. This, however, is absolutely on par with the best of classic Hellblazer. British conman/mage John Constantine fends off demonic gammons with the aid of a wannabe rudeboy, a Glaswegian pub bouncer and a kale-smoothie-glugging hipster wizard. Sometimes horribly dark, sometimes very funny, always very Hellblazer. The series was sadly cancelled, but these volumes work fine as a self-contained story, even if it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic (Terry Jones, 3/5)
Jones only had three weeks to pump out this tie-in novelisation of the video game, which was actually written by Adams. It shows, as it's a bit rambling and unfocused, but there are some good chuckles and if you can pick it up cheap it'll give you a nice Sunday afternoon's reading.

Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage (William Rubin, 2/5)
An okayish look at various dada and surrealist artists of varying levels of fame and their relationships to one another. It's picked in academia so the prose is pretty dull and weirdly myopic (the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression are barely mentioned, such is the laser focus on just the art community) but as an introduction to some of the notable artists it works pretty well.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo (Padmasambhava, Francesca Fremantle, Chögyam Trungpa, 3/5)
The actual book of the dead is basically just a long old rambling guide on how to navigate the afterlife and avoid reincarnation that you're supposed to whisper into the ear of the recently deceased, so it's probably not a super useful read in of itself (although it's quite unintentionally funny - lots of bits that go "this method is guaranteed to work and the deceased will definitely not be reincarnated... but if it does fail..."), but the introduction by Trungpa (translated by Fremantle) is pretty interesting, with some details on how to work Tibetan Buddhist teachings on death into your own life.

Room to Dream (David Lynch, Kristine McKenna, audiobook, 5/5)
Alternates between McKenna's pretty detailed and researched autobiography and Lynch's rambling recollections on his life and works (up to and including Twin Peaks: The Return). Audiobook highly recommended for Lynch, although McKenna's reading is weirdly breathy and she often audibly sighs at the end of sentences, which makes it seem weirdly melancholy. A must for Lynch fans.

David Lynch: Chaos Theory of Violence and Silence (David Lynch, Yoshiko Ikoma 3/5)
Bit of a cheat this. Mrs Six got me this as a gift. It's just a catalogue for an exhibition in Japan, so light on text (there is an article of some sort in the back, but it's in Japanese so I'm not reading it) but some lovely reproductions of Lynch's photography, illustrations, paintings and photography, and stills from some of his short films (including this one, which was clearly reworked into The Return). Obsessive collectors only, of course.

Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want To Come (Jessica Pan, 5/5)
Billed as "One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes", it sounds like it might be a bit tedious - basically an introverted woman forces herself to try to become more extroverted - but it's genuinely, properly funny. Kind of gets a bit repetitive - every chapter ends with some kind of positive summary along the lines of "and that's when I realised (name of stupid thing) was actually worth trying", and just once you wish she'd go "This is fucking shit, I hate it and I hope everyone involved dies of bees," but mostly it's a great old laugh.

The Compleat Moonshadow (JM DeMatteis, Jon J Muth, 1.5)
I was fascinated by this painted graphic novel whenever I saw the ads decades ago, but it's sadly a big disappointment. The art is absolutely stunning, but the story is basic stuff - supposedly a "modern fairy tale" but more of an on-the-nose Dickensian yarn in which we learn that consumerism is bad, war is bad and cynically manipulative religion is bad. Basic bitch stuff.

A Man of Shadows (Jeff Noon, 4/5)
I used to love Noon's stuff back in the 90s, when he was doing a unique mix of weird fiction and post Irvine-Welsh "wayhey, let's go down the club and do eccies" faux-clubber shit like every British author under the age of 40 was constitutionally bound to do. Obviously the statue of limitations has expired on that, and now he's free to do this neo-noir-sci-fi thing set in a city in which one half is in perpetual daylight, one half is in perpetual night-time, and an ever-expanding misty dead zone between called Twilight threatens to consume them both. It's a cracking pacey little book with some good sci-fantasy ideas, although the main villain's actual motivation isn't properly explained as far as I can see. Crying out for a film adaptation by Denis Villeneuve with Roger Deakins as DP.

Watching the English (Kate Fox, 3/5)
A British-American sociologist tries to figure out what it means to be English (specifically white English - an awkward bit at the start tries to justify this but ends up conflating Englishness and whiteness in a clumsy way, which is unfortunate). Some good observations and insights, but for actual English people it's probably telling you a lot of stuff you already know. Felt that way to me. Worth picking up for any foreigners who have to spend time around English people, though, may God have mercy on them.

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Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #46 on: March 22, 2021, 06:19:30 PM »
Set at 30, easily attainable so it doesn't put me off tackling some big old novels. Halfway through A Man Withour Qualities at the moment (so I'm a bit off track...)

Some of my parent friends include the books they read to their kids, which is surely cheating - i read at least ten a day to my one year old.

PM me if you want to be goodread 'friends'.

Re: 2021 reading challenge (Goodreads or whatever)
« Reply #47 on: March 23, 2021, 08:06:22 AM »
I'd been doing Goodreads for the past few years, never really hit the targets but this year decided to really go for it. Partly because of a new baby (thinking it might force me to read a bit more).

It is funny how exposed you can feel ('Oh, everyone can see that I read loads of rubbish') but I decided to say 'sod it' so everything goes on there - graphic novels, long books, short books etc (though I have forgone putting my recent blitz through the recent Doctor Who Targets), hang what anyone else thinks about them

Given that I regularly review books (comics and genre stuff really) it's actually been quite good as it's pushed me to extend my reading. I tend to be the kind of person who goes to a book shop and pick up stuff I might not have heard of but it's cheap (caveat - I am not in the UK, so finding decent English stuff is always welcome). So I tend to have piles of books that I haven't read so I am trying to extend my range

So aside from the usual graphic novels and the like, I've recently read Wolf Hall, Portnoy's Complaint and 101 Reykjavik because they happened to be on my shelf. I think I'm going to give Thomas More's Utopia a go

So I understand that some people think they can be restrictive but I find it sort of helps along, keeps my reading a bit wider and forces me to grab some time reading rather than - say - tooling around on YouTube. Or looking after the baby

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