Tag Archives: Reading challenge

Reading Challenge 2014 – three months to go

Already three quarters of the year is over. Which means it’s time to take a look at how my reading challenge is going and to start thinking about next year.

According to GoodReads I’m 4 books ahead of schedule for 100 books (I really don’t care if I make it but it’s a number to fill in). In September I was ahead a bit more but the combination of a long book and a couple of days to Newcastle, so not much time to read, has made me slip a little. I’m still ahead compared to previous years in page count, too. But only just. In November I’m going away for a full week alone, I’ve booked an apartment in my favourite holiday park. Besides one or two trips to the nearby town of Harderwijk (depending on the weather, of course) I’ve can read as much as I like. Usually during one of those weeks I manage to read 4 to 6 books so I’ll be able to make up some lost ground, if I haven’t done so already by that time.

Lately, I’ve been starting new series without finished the one already on my active list. And my list of want-to-try series is growing and growing. There are two series I’ve almost finished, so I think I’ll concentrate on those for my next couple of reads.

My favourite new book series is Vera Stanhope by Ann Cleeves. I love the tv series based on the books and was apprehensive about starting them because often when I start reading a book series that has a tv series based on it the books disappoint (Midsomer Murder, Inspector Lynley). But I also love the books, even more than the tv series. I love how Vera is herself; ugly, blunt and nosy. That’s just who she is and people just have to live with it.

It’s also time to start thinking about what to do for next year’s challenge. A lot of people set as goal to read a certain number of books of a certain (sub)genre of even make a reading list of books they want to read that year. That doesn’t work for me. So I think I’ll keep going with the ones I already have; have fun and try to keep the number of active series to a reasonable number.

I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the new Kindle Voyage will be available for order in the Netherlands soon. Either on the US website or, even better, on the maybe soon to open Dutch Amazon website.

Reading challenge: first 6 months

Statistics (up to July 16 of each year):

  • 2012: 62 books, 21790 pages, 2 book abandoned
  • 2013: 65 books, 21665 pages, 5 book abandoned
  • 2014: 53 books, 22140 pages, 1 book abandoned

Although it looks like I’m behind when looking how many books I’ve read, it turns out the book I’m reading this year are longer and I’ve read more, in pages, than the past two years.

Lately I’ve been reading slower than before. There are several other things that have taken up my attention; photography and Project Life, the World Cup, games and now the Tour de France. This month so far I’ve only finished two book, and abandoned one after nearly 200 pages. They were longer books, The Strain was over 400 pages long and A Discovery of Witches nearly 800 pages, so if I had read books of 300-400 pages and didn’t abandon one I might have read 4 books by now. In August I’m going house/dog sitting for friends for two and a half weeks and I always manage to read more than normal during that time.

For the first time I made a list of books I want to read this summer, mostly books that have recently been released:

  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (currently reading)
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
  • The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (read the first book)
  • Skin Games by Jim Butcher

I’m still looking to add more books, I always tend to read a book set in Asia during summer and I got several of those on my TBR list, but I’m having a hard time to decide which I want to read.

I’m not doing well with my ongoing series challenge (to keep the number of active series I’m reading to a manageable number). I finished the Ruth Galloway series and started two new ones instead of just one. Luckily both are trilogies so I should be able to finish them this summer.

My favourite book I’ve read this year is the one I’m reading right now; NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. It’s hard not to compare it to books by his father, Stephen King. It reminds me especially of It and The Stand. It’s become harder not to because he keeps referring to places and characters in his fathers work (Shawshank prison, Derry, Trashcanman).


Reading challenge 2014 update

Almost a third of the year is gone already so it’s time to look at how my reading has been going.

Compared to last year I’m behind, both on page count and on the number of books. However, the books I’ve read are, on average, over 100 pages longer than by this time last year.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump. It took me almost two weeks to read Phil Rickman’s December (which I loved). This is due to me (re)discovering other hobbies. I’ve been playing more computer games and I’ve discovered scrapbooking. The scrapbooking itself isn’t very time consuming, yet. I’ve only made one layout (I need more supplies for my next one). The time consuming bit is looking at what’s available to scrapbook, all the tools, embellishments and supplies and watching YouTube videos of how to use it all and other various techniques.

This year I’ve been quite good at picking books. I’ve yet to abandon a book and there have only been two books I finished because I wanted to know how it ended despite not really liking them.

I have been focussing on series a lot so far, only 9 out of 31 books were stand alone and I only managed that many because last month I decided to take a break from reading series by making myself read 4 non-series books (I’m currently reading the 4th). I think will do this more often. I’ve got a lot of stand alone books on my to-be-read list that have been there for a long long time and I never read them because I’ve been focused on series these last couple of years.

It’s hard to pick out the best book I’ve read this year, since there are a lot that I really liked. I’m really enjoying the Ruth Galloway series by Ellie Griffith and also Kate Morton’s books (all stand alones).

2013 in reading

At the start of 2013 I decided not to set a target of an X number of books I had to read by the end of the year. I noticed that the years before I tended not to choose longer books so I could make the target of 100 books, plus I wanted to have time to do other things I enjoy. To enter the GoodRead reading challenge you have to enter a number so I initially entered that I wanted to read 52 books in 2013, one a week on average. I also added the challenge of reading 10 “classics” and an age challenge (read a book published in every year since I was born), the latter one I decided to spread over two years.

In the end I’ve finished 119 books, totalling 43958 pages. This year I discovered the serialized series Yesterday’s Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright. They call each short book and episode which is around 100 pages. Each “season” consists of six episodes, after that they focus on other series for a while and write the next season. Because I read three seasons, one of which I counted as one book and the other two as 12 different books I thought that although the number of books I’ve read was high my page count and average length of the books I’ve read would be lower than in 2012. I was surprised that it wasn’t so: I’ve read nearly 7000 pages more than in 2012 and the average length is 369 pages (in 2012 it was 354).

My favourite series this year was the Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman. I read several of his other books, including his Dr. Dee series, and he’s my favourite author this year. Other series I enjoyed are Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson and Sigma Force by James Rollins. It’s very hard to decide which book I liked most, although I loved the Merrily books I think that I enjoyed the third book of the Mistborn trilogy, Hero of Ages, most because it ends the series so well.

In 2014 I want to continue my age challenge, which I’m behind in. I also want to read some of the longer books, of a 1000+ pages,  that have been lingering in my ebook library unread. As usually I will try to keep the number of active series down, I’m doing quiet well with this challenge lately, due to the fact that I’ve finished several series (plus I have three on my active list that only have one more book before I’ve finished or am up to date with the series) and although I’ve tried several new series none of them are good enough to continue. In 2013 I’ve become a lot more selective in what I want to read, both in series but also in books, if I don’t like what I’m reading I don’t feel guilty abandoning it anymore.

However most important for me is to enjoy myself, no matter what I read or how many books.

I’ve set up a page on this blog where I will keep track of my 2014 reading challenge.

Reading challenge 2013 a quarter in

It’s already mid April, which means I’m over a quarter of the into my 2013 reading challenge. How have I been doing? Up until now I’ve read 43 books, 12305 page and 3712538 words. The high number of books read is thanks to Sean Platt and David Wright’s serialization. I’ve been reading their Yesterday’s Gone series and have now read two seasons, a total of twelve episodes. Each episode is between 74 and 143 pages long. These are quick reads, it does mean my average length of the books I’ve read is only 286 pages long (last year it was 354 pages).

My classics challenge (reading one classic a month) is doing good. However, of the three classics I’ve read so far two weren’t on the list I made, but I’ve decided that doesn’t really matter. My age challenge, which isn’t a 2013 challenge but one that spans two years, is also doing good. I’ve read five books out of thirty four so far.

The challenge of keeping the number of active series down isn’t going so well lately. I’ve been discovering a lot of series I want to read. It does help make me decide which series I want to continue with and which I want to either stop or put on the back burner. But the number of series taken off the active series list are lower than the number of series I’ve added.

Lately I’ve been going through a phase where I don’t know what to read. I’m all over the place when it comes to genres. Normally I stick to one or two genres I’m reading, occasionally dipping into other genres for a bit of variety. At the moment there’s no clear genre that I like, I’m reading post-apocalyptic followed by and adventure thriller after which I read a romantic ghost story. The only thing that’s clear is that I’m not in the mood for hard and/or long reads. I want my book to be relatively quick and/or easy.

If I’m going at the pace I’m currently going I will read 43320 pages this year, which is just over 6000 more than in 2012. I doubt I will make that, the cold and grey weather is very good for reading, but when the weather gets better I’ll probably read less.

A year in books (2012)

I find it interesting to record my reading over a year. This year it’s the first time I did it in a spreadsheet file. In 2011 I kept track only with GoodReads and although it looks nice, visually, it just doesn’t give you the overview you get when using a spreadsheet.

Looking back I find that in 2012 I was really into historical mysteries, reading series such as Mary Russell and Sebastian St. Cyr. Towards the end of the year I started to tire of historical stories, both historical fiction and historical mysteries, and switched back to mysteries and thrillers.

In the end I read 105 books and 37246 pages, which makes the average book almost 355 pages long. The average rating is a 7 out of 10 (not too bad) and the average year of publishing is 2002 (I had expected it to be earlier). Although I did not finish 2 books I started I still need to learn to put aside a book I don’t like sooner than I do.

For 2013 I continue recording my reading, both in GoodReads and in a spreadsheet, I’ve added a word count and series list to my spreadsheet. My only real goal is to try and read 12 classics this year. Besides that I want to try and keep the series I’m actively reading to a manageable number. That said I’ve decided to take off the Aurelio Zen series of my active series list. I like them, but I’ve found I have to be in the mood to enjoy it, so I’ll continue this series whenever I feel like it, just like James Clavell’s Shogun series.

Classics challenge 2013

Last week I decided that next year I want to read at least one classic novel a month (or, at least 12 within a year). I made a list of 15 books, 3 extra in case I come across novels I really don’t want to finish.  I’ve read many for both English class in high school and at university so making the list wasn’t easy. I’ve decided that I can reread novel I’ve read either in high school or the first two years of university because back then I either didn’t understand the story fully or didn’t appreciate it as much as I probably will do now.

The List:
1. Middlemarch – George Eliot
2. Lark Rise to Candleford – Flora Jane Thompson
3. The Circular Staircase – Mary Roberts Rinehart
4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
5. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Wiliam Shakespeare
7. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
8. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens*
9. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
11. Beloved – Toni Morrison*
12. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
13. The Color Purple – Alice Walker*
14. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcie Márquez
15. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

Books marked with a * I’ve read before. A Tale of Two Cities I’ve read as an “summary book” used in the first three years of high school in the Netherlands, those books have the highlights of the novel in simpler English of 30-40 pages long in big print with pictures. Those books mostly confused me, especially A Tale of Two Cities, with its jumping between London and Paris. I think my teacher thought he was doing me a favor by giving me a more advanced level booklet than my other classmates but even back then I’d rather have read an original novel than these books. This version of Dickens and a similar version of Wuthering Heights put my off reading classics for fun for at least 10 years.

I’m considering adding another challenge next year of reading 6 non-fiction books, since looking back at the list of what I’ve read this year I noticed how little non-fiction I’ve read.

Reading challenge 2013: September

It’s half way through September, which means that I’m almost three quarters through my reading challenge for this year. As I’ve said before, I don’t have a set number of books, pages or words set for this year, I just want to document how much I read.

I’m still going strong: I’m now reading my 80th book of the year. However, in the last four weeks or so I have slowed down. I think it’s a combination of books that read slow and having a bit of a reading slump. A week ago I got a tv for in my bedroom and that hasn’t been very good for my reading either. But I still read more than before 2011 (when I started with my first challenge). Last year I read 120 book and I guestimate they had a total of 30000 to 35000 pages in total. At the moment my page count totals just over 28000 so I think that although I’ll probably read less books I still will end up around the same number of pages as last year.

It’s fun to look back at my list and see that I go though genre phases. From crime thrillers to urban fantasy to historical mysteries and then horrors. Sure, I will mix it up; when I’m in a historical mystery phase I’ll throw in a horror or a cozy mystery to keep things interesting but I will predominantly read one genre for a couple of books before switching to another genre.

It’s also time to start thinking what to do next year. I think I’ll keep going with my series challenge (not starting a new series until I’ve finished one that I’m currently reading) and besides counting books and pages I might also count words, at least for the ebooks I read. I also want to pick up writing reviews again, probably not for all the books I read but maybe one or two a month.

Nic Costa series

I’ve had the Nic Costa series by David Hewson on my “active series” list for quite a while now. Years ago I read the first book and really liked it. Some time last year I bought the first two books for my Kindle to first freshen up my mind and then continue with the series. Last year I read the first book, which I though was okay, and last week I read the second book, which I also found to be okay.

It might be that I wasn’t in the mood for a crime novel but although I like the first two book I didn’t love them (at this point in time). Which is why I’ve decided to move the series off my active list. That doesn’t mean I won’t be continuing with this series. Whenever I feel like it I might return to the next book, it just isn’t a priority anymore.

One thing I’ve learned from this year’s reading challenge (bringing back the number of series I’m actively  reading) is to be more critical about what I want to read. It’s become a lot easier to say that a series doesn’t do it for me, last week I tried out two unknown series to me and have decided not to continue with those.

My reading challenge is doing very well. At the start of the year I quickly finished one series after another and then had a bit of a slow couple of months but now I have three series for which I only have to read one more book to finish it. This means that soon I can start with two new series (rule: finish two, start one). At the moment I haven’t got a clue which two that will be, though.

Half year point reading challenge

So, June is nearly over which means that it’s time to look back on how well I’m doing on my reading challenges for this year. My two main goals were to keep track of my reading, including page count as well as book count so I’m not compelled to only read shorter book to read an impressive amount like I (unconsciously) did last year. My second goal was to bring down the number of series I’m actively reading.

I’m doing well of keeping track of my reading this year. I’ve just finished the 52nd book, last year I read 120 books so it’s a little less. However, I’ve read over 18000 pages, I estimate that last year I read between 30000 and 35000 pages so I’m on par when looking at the number of pages I’ve read.

At the beginning of the year I did really well with my series, that was easy because I had almost finished several of them. At the moment I’ve slowed down a bit, thought there are three series I hope to finish in the next two months: Cotton Malone (Steve Berry), Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes (Laurie R. King) and Sebastian St. Cyr (C.S. Harris).

I’ve added a sub goal to the series challenge. Last week, when reviewing the series I’m currently reading I noticed that of the eleven series on my list are eight mystery series. Of which three are historical, two police mysteries that are set in Italy, one cozy, an urban fantasy and one thriller/adventure. Obviously I like mysteries, however, I know I can easily burn out on a sub-genre. So I’ve decided that I only want to have, for instance, one historical mystery on the go.

Not a goal, but a decision I made at the beginning of the year was to not continue with books or series that I don’t like. This year I’ve only had it happen once that I put down a book after one chapter, that was Hilary Mantell’s Wolf Hall. I can see why many people liked it, but the writing style makes me have to go back to figure out who saying what and that isn’t fun for me. I’ve also stopped with the Inspector Montalbano series, after two books I found them just “okay”, there are more interesting reads I have on my various lists I’d rather spend time on.

Summer is traditionally a time of year when a lot of reading is done, so what are my plans for the next three months or so. Besides hoping to finish the three aforementioned series I think I’m going to read the second book of James Clavell’s Asian series, Tai-Pan, this series isn’t on my active list because it’s the type of books I need to be in the mood for. Last summer I read the first in the series, Shogun, which I loved. It’s beautifully written and a treat to read, however, it wasn’t a fast read for me (not that I would have wanted to speed through it). I will probably do the same as last year and read short(er) stories in between. After burning out on Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series I took a break of two months. Earlier this week I picked up on the series again and found I enjoyed it so I’ll continue with that series, too.

All in all, I’m quiet happy with my reading in the first half of 2012.