Reading Manifesto 2013

I had two personal, non-book related resolutions in mind for 2013 but only a few hours into the New Year one of them is already on hold.  The resolution was simply to run more, especially off-road.  However, this goal was scuppered on Boxing Day.  Mr FH, his brother and I challenged ourselves to a woodland 10k run and while trying to keep up with them I fell quite spectacularly leaving me covered in mud and mush with a painful foot and ankle ligament injury and a very sore coccyx! I’m lucky my ankle isn’t fractured, but I can’t run for a while, but oh my, it is painful.  I’m not entirely sure this is what Haruki Murakami was referring to when he said “pain is inevitable” in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  Anyhow.

The other personal resolution is to find a job; a proper one that pays real money and everything…!  This March I will have been a full-time mother for 10 years, it’s about time I got myself back into the real economy somehow, but what to do?  I don’t want a job like I had before with all the corporate nonsense that went with it – so ideas anyone?

When it comes to reading I have a few thoughts about 2013.  I want to stretch myself, but not be completely unrealistic about what I aim to achieve.  Reading, after all, is a pleasurable hobby and not something that has to be endured.  I’m a slow reader compared to other bloggers (I read somewhere the other day about a blogger who read 180 books last year, puts my 45 between Feb and Dec 2012 to shame), but I want to enjoy what I read and I don’t want to feel obliged to read something because it is the current favourite.  At the same time I want to be able to take part in discussions on popular books, so I need to find that perfect balance.   Also, I need to take care not to overspend on books.  So here goes:

Sourcing Books in 2013

Check out the two pictures I’ve added below of a couple of my downstairs bookshelves (ignoring the gnome sat at the top, an addition for my garden once it’s been landscaped and a present from my MIL).

IMG_3683

I don’t even “see” the books on these shelves anymore and there are larger shelves upstairs heaving under the weight of unread books.  I had a really good look at the titles recently and found so many great books I didn’t know we owned or had forgotten we had.  I came across 3/4 of David Peace’s Red Riding quartet.  Having mentioned we were missing the 1st one, Mr FH came home with it the next day from the Oxfam shop.  I’ve only ever seen the BBC adaptation, but want to give them a go, despite Mr FH’s warning about how harsh they are.  We’ve got a couple of Jon McGregor books I’ve never looked at. We have almost a full complement of Haruki Murakami and Cormac McCarthy but I’ve barely scratched the surface.  IMG_3684There’s at least three Kate Atkinson books I’ve meant to read for a while, plus one by Louise Welsh.

You get the picture…I want to read stuff I already own.  There will be times when I have to or want to read something I don’t already have so will borrow from the library or buy it second-hand.  I almost always refuse to buy hardback books, they are far too expensive, but there will be times when I have to buy a brand new book, then I will try to use my local book shop.  Or, if I’m really lucky, maybe a couple of small publishing houses might send me the odd book to read!

I am still stubbornly resisting an e-reader.  I think one of those will only make my problem of unread books much worse.  Nothing wrong with the printed version, it’s worked fine for years.

Variety

I noticed last year how few books I read by women and challenged myself to read more.  I still only managed to read seven post 1950 titles by women.  This year I want the male/female split to be a bit more even, so I need to make a concerted effort on that front.

At the back-end of 2012 I got a lot of pleasure from reading translated fiction, so I want to try to introduce a few more non-english titles to my bedside table this year and maybe review one a month.

Challenges

I don’t want to get too hung up on joining loads of shared reading/blogging events, but they are a great way of getting to know other bloggers and reading something different.  I am already committed to “January in Japan” (more on that to come soon), and will take part in German Literature Month again later in the year.  Of course, joining these blogging events will help with introducing more variety into my reading material.

Reading around my area

Last year I started a little series on my blog called “Reading Around my Area“. Primarily, I wanted to look at how authors who lived local to me used the landscape in their work or how it may have influenced them or inspired them.  It became a bit less focused than that.  I only featured one writer last year, Arthur Conan Doyle but I’ve already promised to feature Aldous Huxley next and then I’ll see if I can manage to write about anyone else.  It takes quite a bit of research and reading, but is really rewarding, making me feel a little more knowledgable about my local area.

That’s it then, nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing and of course most of it is subject to me fulfilling my personal resolution of finding a job, because once/if that happens I suspect reading won’t suffer but blogging might.  I’ll have to wait and see what this year brings.

Thanks to everyone who regularly visits and continues to read my drivel and sometimes even comment on it.  I look forward to bumping into you again on these pages and hearing your thoughts on books and reading.  Happy 2013!

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18 thoughts on “Reading Manifesto 2013”

  1. Great resolutions! I’m always trying to read more varied books – I sometimes get stuck reading what I’m comfortable with and not exploring new authors/genres. Enjoy 2013 🙂

  2. Wonderful reading resolutions! Hope you read discover wonderful books and new writers this year! I totally agree with you on the e-reader – it is definitely not good for the ‘TBR’ pile 🙂

  3. I couldn’t imagine working in the corporate world again either – I left it 8 years ago to have my 1st son. I’m going to try to sort out a job this year too, but I’m going to stay self-employed. Good luck with your search – let’s hope we both come up with a good solution!

  4. I hear you on the ankle stuff. I am still recovering from a sprained ankle back in August. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up running again in 2013.

    I want to wish you good luck on all your resolutions! Like you, I will be trying to read more from my shelves, although I do not think I could stop buying books (believe me, I’ve tried). We’ll see how I’ll do. I am sure you’re going to have a lot of fun with Japanese lit this month, and German lit a few months from now 🙂

    1. Oh god, I hope it doesn’t take that long for the ankle to heal – I’ll turn into a blob! Thanks for your words of encouragement re the challenges I’ve chosen. I’m really going to try hard with reading the books already on my shelves.

  5. If you want to read something by a woman and, as I can see, you’re interested in crime literature, I highly recommend you anything by Kate Atkinson. Her novels are a mix of psychological studies, social criticism and an everyday approach to crime.

    As a crime fiction reader, I also loved Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

      1. I saw it, but I waited a lot to read them even though somone I trust recommended them to me! I think the problem is her books do not seem attractive at first sight.

      2. I know what you mean. She is a safe bet for me though as I have liked her writing for a long time, I’m just a bit behind. Her new book, which is out this spring is getting rave reviews on twitter today.

  6. Ow! Having once landed on my coccyx on a stone floor you have all my sympathies and I hope you’re soon feeling better. I always um and ah about setting myself reading resolutions because I like to have a certain amount of flexibility in what I read but then I can find myself reading far too much light weight material and not enough that I am genuinely glad to have read. One thing that I really ought to join you in, however, is reading some of the books that I already have on my shelves. Apart from anything else, I could then pass them on, thereby possibly averting the imminent collapse of several very much overloaded book cases.

  7. Last year I was sometimes reading three books a week but this year with a full time job and two blogs (each featuring two posts a day) I really will not have the time to get anywhere near that. Like you I decided not to set myself a strenuous goal as it will soon begin to feel like a chore. My goal is 20 .

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