2014 Reading in Review

BooksWhen I began full-time teaching, I despaired at how many books would go unread. According to the tracker over at Goodreads, I peaked at 78 books in 2012 and slipped to 72 a year later. As a result, when it came time to set my reading challenge for 2014, I aimed low and decided on 50. I taught for the equivalent of a full school year, and surprised myself when I sailed by that goal in early fall. I finished the year with 66 titles read, which is far smaller than I anticipated. With this in mind, I am aiming for 60 books in 2015.

The year mixed in short young adults works and graphic novels so it sometimes felt like a cheat. But then I looked at the mammoth works such as The Bully Pulpit and Rogues, weighing in at 910 and 806 pages respectively. The overrated Goldfinch was right behind with 771 pages with quite a few in the 400+ page range so I felt better about all that.

As always, I challenged myself to sample new authors and this year that included Meg Wolitzer and her fun The Interestings. She had a nice writing style and the subject matter spoke to me being the same age as her characters. While I liked G. Willow Wilson’s comic work, I was unfamiliar with her prose and really liked Alif the Unseen. On the other hand, while I found the structure of Gone Girl wonderful, I realized Gillian Flynn is a bit of a one-trick pony as all those elements resurfaced in her contribution to Rogues. That enormous anthology also allowed me to try a variety of less familiar writers and while anything that size will be uneven, I am pleased for having read it.

Having enjoyed the television adaptation, I read Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish, the first novel in his Longmire series and will probably go back for a second helping at some point.

I also continue to sample the classic authors I’ve never read previously, including H.G. Wells, who’s The Invisible Man proved rather disappointing.

I revisited old friends such as Jim Butcher’s delightful Harry Dresden and worked through more of that series while completing the final two books in Lev Grossman’s well-crafted The Magicians trilogy. And of course, I have valiantly attempted to keep up with the Star Trek novels since so many are written by pals.

There was the non-fiction across a variety of topics, notably Washington’s Spies which was not only the basis of the AMC series Turn (the book is much better) but I also inflicted it upon my juniors as summer reading and sadly, they were not as engrossed in it as my department chair and I were. The Bully Pulpit gave me a great insight into William Howard Taft and how he paled in comparison to Teddy Roosevelt despite all his accomplishments. I also learned a bit more than imagined with The Secret History of Wonder Woman.

The majority of my reading was done via tablet or audiobook, a substantial change from print but one that worked given my current schedule and commitments. There are two shelves’ worth of print volumes waving at me, begging that I not forget them.

Mixed in with all that have been something on the order of 160 comic books a month, the three weekly magazines, daily newspapers, and assorted odds and ends that somehow get consumed. I admit I have fallen way behind on my guilty pleasures such as Alter Ego but they patiently wait.

Books and reading continues to excite me and I wish I could find better ways to bring that to the classroom. Onward to a new year of stories, adventures, tales, and sagas.

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