Happy New Year! New year, new goals. As a writer, reading is a key part of the profession and for years, I have set reading goals. The number of books I will read in the coming year. Goodreads.com has definitely enhanced this experience, giving me a place to keep track of this goal, review what I’ve read, and plan my next reading endeavor. And if you are an avid reader too, I highly suggest this site (by the way, that was not a paid plug…I love that website and use it freely and willingly. However, if they wanted to pay me to endorse it, I would gladly accept!) In 2017, my final tally came in at 59 books (with a couple more not quite finished, to be completed in the new year).
For 2018 though, aside from a number (I will start at 45 and see how my pace is going as the year progresses), I have set myself two rather lofty, specific reading goals. The first one is my coming rather late to the modern literary party in that I have decided to read all seven books of Harry Potter for the first time. Prior to this past month, I had never read any of Rowling’s works (aside from her speech “Very Good Lives” which she delivered at Harvard in 2008 and which was then published as a short book. A fantastic read!), but knew her to be a great author. When Harry Potter first came out, I was in sixth grade, a schooling level that still required book reports. And, since pretty much everyone was reporting on Harry Potter, and I was the child not wanting to do what everyone was doing, I refused to read Harry Potter (“I’m not really into fantasy stories,” I said for years). At the end of this past year, however, I read Rowling’s first adult book, The Casual Vacancy, and absolutely loved it. It is desperately, painfully, beautifully written. So, spurred by this new-found appreciation for her writing, I have now decided that in 2018, I will read her masterpiece series in its entirety.
The second, slightly more daunting collection that I have set for myself this year are the novels of Mr. James Joyce. I will read Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Finnegans Wake, and the forever argued, either loved or hated, Ulysses. This is a big task and one that I am excited and also anxious to begin. Somehow, I managed to earn two degrees in English without ever experiencing a full work of Joyce. And I know his texts to be dense (particularly Ulysses) and not easy reads. But, from the excerpts of his I have read in the past, I am sure that I will enjoy this formidable task. And I know I won’t mind spending all my reading time on the Emerald Isle.
As I said, reading is a vital part of writing and both these reading goals will contribute strongly to my writing goals for 2018. Not only will I be immersing myself in the works of two of the great writers in the modern western canon, but the content of their writing will provide great example for my own projects that I plan to work on this year, as one of my planned pieces for takes place in a school (albeit not one of magic, but still relatable to Rowling’s work), and both planned pieces take place in Ireland (a place I love and am eager to continue my education in how others, particularly natives, write about…enter Joyce). I look forward to this challenge, both the reading and writing, and know I will be in great hands with these two magnificent writers as my guides.
I look forward to 2018 for many reasons. I look forward to the books I plan to read and those I will come across in the coming months. I look forward to meeting new characters in my own writing and watching their worlds come alive. I am ready and I am excited. May 2018 be a great year for us all. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some reading to do…