Sunday, December 7, 2014

Reading Plans for 2015

Well, the year is winding down, and I'm starting to think about next year's reading, as many of you are.

The past couple years, at the end of the year I've usually said things like, "Well, I can't guarantee how much reading I'll get done next year, since I'll be in school..." I've always wanted to participate in all the many awesome challenges I see, but I try to keep it to a minimum, since I know most of my reading will be for school.

Well, this next year is going to be totally different. I'd like to say that I can finally read anything and everything I want, but that's not entirely true either, since, well, I'll have a baby.

I now interrupt this program for a mini life update: I am now extremely pregnant and the baby could arrive at any time. While I'm waiting, I'm writing a bunch of extremely boring papers for school (well, they're mostly not that boring, but I'm tired of them so they're boring to me). I only have one week left of school--hallelujah--and then I'll be a college graduate and a mom! 

I've never had a baby, so I can't say for sure what my reading will be like. I'm trying not to be too optimistic, since most of the moms I know have said that reading time with a baby is practically nonexistent. I'm certainly not expecting to get many chances to snuggle up with a book, uninterrupted, for an hour or two. But maybe after the first couple of months, once I've settled into some kind of groove (I am praying very hard for a groove), I might get to snatch a few minutes of reading here and there.

My other plan, though--which I think is a little better--is to get into audiobooks. I don't have much experience with them, but I imagine it'll be much easier to listen to a book than it will be to read it.

Anyway. Even though I'm perfectly aware that finding time to read will be hard, I still can't help but be excited about my first year out of college, when I won't have to keep up with school reading assignments. I can't help it; I have big plans.

As you know (from the title of my blog if nothing else), I love classics. My past four years studying English literature have convinced me (if I weren't already convinced) that the Western world has a rich history of literature that has had a huge impact on the world as it is today. Our canon is absolutely worth studying.

That said, I've also realized that the works commonly recognized as Western classics are only the tip of the iceberg of books worth reading. As many folks have pointed out, the Western canon is focused mainly on works by "dead white guys," ignoring the wealth of great literature that has been written by authors of diversity, female authors, and living authors.

Then there's the fact that I want to be a writer. I've learned a lot about writing from the classics, but I really need to learn what kind of writing is being published and read and loved in our current world. The best writers of the past immersed themselves in the culture of their time. I think I'd better do the same.

So in 2015, I want to focus primarily on reading new books. I don't just mean books that have been written in the last 50 years--I mean books published in the last 2 or 3 years. I want to know what amazing new work is out there. I want to experience my own culture, as well as other cultures, from a literary perspective. I want to discover new, living authors that I can love and support, whose books I can be excited about. I want to see what kind of books are being talked about, whether they deserve it or not.

I also want to have a secondary focus on books by diverse authors. (I would say "authors of color," but I think that just sounds really wrong, doesn't it? Am I the only one who feels that way?) In our time, we have such an amazing opportunity to read literature by authors from all over the world, with all kinds of different backgrounds. Unfortunately, studying English literature at an American university has made me feel cut off from the rest of the world--I don't even know what's in the news half the time. I want to learn more about other cultural experiences.

I love and value the education I've gotten over the past four years, and I wouldn't change it. I think it would be great if everyone could get a chance to study English literature. But I feel like it's time to expand my horizons and see what my own world, today, has to offer.

I've compiled a list of books I want to read that were published in 2014, and I'm planning on keeping up with the bookish news for 2015 so I can read the newest of the new releases. 2015, here I come!

Did you read any fantastic books published in 2014, or are there any books you're looking forward to in 2015? Help me expand my horizons!


  1. I think your plans sound excellent. I'm excited to see how your reading develops in the months to come. It's always good to explore. Best wishes with the baby. x

  2. Woo, exciting stuff ahead! I will tell you that the groove generally gets hit at about 12 weeks--suddenly, everything gets easier and more predictable. And after a while, you'll have a morning nap and an afternoon nap--with no older children to keep up with, it will be the most quiet time you'll have for several years, so enjoy. You probably shouldn't figure on being able to read heavy-duty literature until 12 weeks, though. (When my younger kid was born, she had jaundice and slept in a little baby tanning booth they lent us. I remember reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons while she slept in it, which I thought was going to be a literary mystery, ha. OK, that was too fluffy even for my mommy-addled brain.)

    I generally don't read brand-new novels, but I've been buying some for work. You might take a look at the NY Book Review's top 100 of 2014 list that just came out--it features several I purchased.

    I so agree with you about world literature. It's important to know English lit--but there is SO much more to love. I wish there was such a thing as a world lit major--I was a comparative lit major myself, which was indeed great because I read a lot of other stuff, but it had the disadvantage of requiring the student to be able to read and write at least one other language. I had Scandinavian lit as my minor focus for a BA, but for an MA you need two languages, and for a PhD, three. Now that I work in an academic library, it would be a good idea for me to get a second master's someday, and I really would prefer to study world literature...but there is no way I could learn a third language that well at this point. Sigh.

  3. I feel like saying congratulations on your graduation and becoming a mom already!

    Your reason to explore contemporary books and more diverse authors is worthy. I cannot give any specific resources, but I bet you can find plenty of helpful reading lists online to get you started.

  4. Are you planning to try breastfeeding? Because I got So Much Reading done while nursing my babies. Nurse baby with one arm, hold book with other hand. My reading time drops off dramatically when they're weaned, which makes me very sad.

    Anyway... praying for your delivery!

  5. Very exciting times ahead for you!! Perhaps you'd like to add classic baby book reads to your 2015 reading lists. There are some fabulous ones out there. And you can never reread Winnie the Pooh too many times :-)

  6. Unlike Hamlette, I didn't get any reading done while nursing. I did get a ton of reading done when my son was a baby, though--so much more than now (he's two and a half now). Take advantage of it! I do find it a little funny that you were just reading Western lit for your English Lit major, though. That was my major and at least a third of my reading material was originally written in a different language. I would really recommend reading some current works by American Indian authors. There is some fantastic reading to be had there in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Actually, if you like poetry, it's a great segway into many cultures--and you can read it out loud to the baby!