Confession time: I was not particularly wild about reading for much of last year.
You have my permission to recoil in horror.
Seriously though, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I normally am. I read very slowly, didn’t even touch some of the books I planned to read, and started others only to put them down halfway through because I got distracted.
I didn’t read much, either. Earlier, I estimated that I’d read two hundred books in 2013 but I’ve since given the subject more thought and would guess I read forty to fifty. A respectable number, to be sure, but not even close to what I’d originally thought. (Yes, I suck at estimating. This is why I won’t major in math.) I was in a reading rut and I want to break out of it by reading at least one hundred books in 2014.
What were the reasons for this? The first was that I spent several months watching Doctor Who in the evenings when I would normally read. The second was an author of fantasy, writer of dragons, and lover of character deaths. Yes, I’m talking about George R.R. Martin. His fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is lovely yet really freaking long.
From February on my main reading projects were A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows. Of course I read other things – some of my new favorite books, such as Misery and The Dream Thieves, were read last year – but that series occupied a good chunk of my time. Although their length and complexity are nice, they sucked me in. These are not quick, light reads.
They’re about a thousand pages each – for some perspective, the seven books of Harry Potter total around four thousand. They’re the sort of books that need indexes in order to be read properly, and they have them. Twenty-plus pages at the end describing each House, its members, and their loyalties.
They can feel endless, and not always in a “Hey, this book is epic!” way. I kept getting distracted from them, reading other books, then coming back and discovering that I’d forgotten what happened to House Violent-Gory-Death a hundred pages earlier, so I’d play catch-up.
And then I decided I needed a break. Partly because the fifth book never seems to be available at the library, and partly because I’d rather read lots of short books than a handful of long books. I felt meh about reading because my interest in those books was still there yet not as strongly as before, and I was still reading them.
Now I’m thinking, “This is more like it!” I like checking books off my to-read list, but I also need to realize that sometimes I need a break. A long one. Not just one where I pause every hundred pages to read another book. So here are some of the types of books I’ve been reading (or plan to read) to get out of my reading rut:
- Books with racially diverse protagonists. Before finding the Diversity In YA blog, I didn’t give much consideration to the lack of minority protagonists in books. Oh, I was aware of LGBTQ+ books – without a doubt I will read more this year – but I hadn’t really thought about, say, racial diversity (especially in YA). Books to fix that include Legend, Ash, Cinder, Since You Asked, Proxy, Does My Head Look Big in This?, Ten Things I Hate About Me, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, the Heroes of Olympus series, and more.
- Classics. Saying I’m reading these for my own enjoyment probably makes me sound even more goody-two-shoes than saying I’m reading them so I look impressive on college applications, but I don’t care. I wouldn’t want to read them all the time but now and then they’re nice – think The Tuesday Club Murders, My Ántonia, The Screwtape Letters, Hamlet, et cetera.
- Long books. But not too many, or I’ll burn out again! I think nothing of reading a five-hundred-page book in an afternoon but anything longer requires a lot of time so I’ll probably manage to read only two: The Silmarillion and Les Misérables. Handily, they are both split into several parts. Built-in breaks!
- Nonfiction. Because one cannot live on stories alone, I chose books like Harry Potter: Page to Screen and Into Thin Air.
- Popular books, particularly middle-grade or YA. Just to catch up on what my friends rave about. Examples include the Lunar Chronicles, the Heroes of Olympus series, and the Divergent trilogy (I want to read at least the first one before going to see the movie in March). I’d also like to read more by John Green and give The Fault In Our Stars another try since I ended up skimming much of it the first time. (I feel bad for not liking it when so many others do. Maybe I missed something?)
- Books picked at random. I know, I know. It’s weird to say I’ll make a conscious decision to pick out more books at random, but I get so hung up on checking a book off my to-read list that I don’t often pick up books with pretty covers or whose titles made me laugh. It’s perfectly OK to try a book “just because,” so I will. Obviously, I don’t know what those books will be yet…
With those genres in mind, are there any books that you think I should read?