Back at the end of 2017, I made an ambitious reading plan for the next year. In 2018, I was going to read 75 books by non-US/UK authors. My ‘books read’ list was overflowing with authors from just two countries in the world, and after reading Ann Morgan’s account of her goal to read a book from every country in the world in one year (The World Between Two Pages), I decided to try something like it. So I set myself that ambitious goal: 100 books read in 2018, with 75% of them being works in translation.
How did that turn out? Not very well.
With less than one month left in 2018, I’ve read 153 books. A grand total of 32 of them were from non-US/UK authors, far less than half of what I’d intended to read.
I’m not completely disappointed with myself. Finishing thirty-two books is nothing to sneeze at, even if they were the only ones I’d read. According to the hand-wringing pundits, a significant portion of the US population reads fewer than five books each year, so 32 isn’t nothing.
But I think I was overly optimistic, given the dark nature of many of the books on my TBR on January 1, 2018. It’s not difficult to find works in translation, but it can be difficult to find books that fall outside the ‘literary fiction’ category. Of the genres, that tends to be my least favorite. When I’m looking for a book, I want to escape from the grim realities of the world for a little while, not leap into something even grimmer.
When I started thinking about my 2019 reading goals and plans, I decided to do something a little more realistic. My Goodreads reading challenge will be 100 books again, and then each month I plan to read the following:
- Two works in translation
- Two unread books from my own shelves
- One book of poetry
- One book from Clifton Fadiman’s Lifetime Reading Plan
This accounts for six books each month, though I’ve decided that a single book can count for more than one category. For example, Matsuo Basho’s collection of haiku, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, will count for ‘a work in translation’, ‘a book of poetry’, and ‘a book from Clifton Fadiman’s Lifetime Reading Plan’. It’s a more forgiving goal that won’t make me feel bad about not getting far enough along to finish it when May comes around, and will still prompt me to look for books outside my comfort zone. I’ve added more poetry to my shelves, but it’s always good to diversify your reading.
- The Ramayana (a shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic) by R.K. Narayan
- On the Nature of Things by Lucretius
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
- A Journey to the West attributed to Wu Ch’eng-en
- Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
- Paradise Lost by John Milton
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho
- An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima
I also plan to finish off as many series as I can in 2019, as I have several that I’m in the midst of:
- The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
- The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell
- They Wayfarers by Becky Chambers
- The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman
- The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
- Adventures of Arabella Ashby by David D. Levine
- Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
- Rise of the Empress by Julie C. Dao
I would also like to continue reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s back catalog. The more of her books I read, the more I like them.
The Hainish Cycle:
- Rocannon’s World
- Planet of Exile
- City of Illusions
- The Left Hand of Darkness
- The Dispossessed
- The Word for World is Forest
- Four Ways to Forgiveness
- The Telling
- A Wizard of Earthsea
- The Tombs of Atuan
- The Farthest Shore
- The Other Wind
- Tales from Earthsea
There will undoubtedly be other books that I’ll come across in 2019, whether they’re new releases or older books that I stumble across at the library or whatnot, but I think my current plan is quite do-able, as well as giving me plenty of reading time to read whatever other books I want. I’m going to keep track of this plan in my bullet journal, so I’ll have an easy-to-read accounting of it.
Do you have a reading plan or other goal in mind for 2019?