Reflecting on 2014: Reading

2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge

As stated in my Reflection on 2014: Life post, 2014 was about progress. Although I did not post as much in 2014 compared to 2013, my blog has greatly improved. From the annual report that WordPress has graciously put together, I’ve learned that I’ve gotten more visitors this year. My followers have also increased, which I’m glad for. This is all due to my effort to both post more and seek activities that will help me improve my blog, such as the Blogging 101 workshop and partaking in a few Daily Post activities. I was also more social, visiting and commenting on other blogs. Overall, 2014 was a great blogging year. I’m proud of myself and I’m thankful for all the support, advice, comments, and follows. 😀

Now this post is actually about books and reading (so it will be long). And despite my intention to progress in all aspects of my life, I regressed in my reading. Actually, it depends on how you look at it. According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I didn’t reach my goal of reading 35 books in 2014. I only made it as far as 22 books. This much is true novel-wise. However, if you were watching over my shoulder throughout much of 2014, you would have realized that I met and surpassed my reading goal with magazines.

I’ve never read so many magazines. I usually just browse them to look at pictures, fawn over clothes I can’t afford, or rub the sample perfume pages on myself though the scent never sticks. But in December 2013 I bought a copy of Scientific American MIND’s special issue on creativity and since then I’ve been hooked on magazines; mostly Scientific American MIND and National Geographic. I’ve always read Psychology Today but my interest in it dwindled some this year when I began reading Scientific American MIND. I also read an issue of TIME magazine; and since my cousin introduced me HGTV, the home network, I’m now hooked on articles discussing home designs so I sometimes read Traditional Home magazine as well (at first I bought it to stare at pretty pictures of pretty houses but now I actually read it). And, as I’ve mentioned in my Wishes for My TBR List: 5 Books I Want to Buy post, I also read ImagineFX Sketchbooks: Volume Two magazine (though that’s another that was bought more for the pictures than the words but I did read it).

So when the magazines are considered, that’s quite a lot of reading; not to mention the various online articles I’ve read on the New York Times and the New Yorker websites, especially the New Yorker since they pulled that stint back in July when ALL their new articles were free to be read regardless of subscription. ALL of them. ALL. So with the magazines included, the count is 41: that’s 19 magazines and 22 books.

As for the books, it was a fantasy-filled year. Obviously I stuck to my comfort zone. I kicked off the novel reading a tad late in the year (due to magazines) with Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. A chance encounter with a classmate from college led me to read it. I also decided to finally give One Hundred Years of Solitude a try after reading in Jeff VanderMeer’s awesome book on writing, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, that it’s a story written without dialogue. I wanted to see what that was like and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s definitely one I will re-read.

Shortly before my birthday in March, I got a bit depressed about the trajectory of my life—my unmet goals and crazy student loans. To cheer myself up, I prescribed Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. It was exactly what I needed. I felt better by the book’s end. To maintain the cheery feeling, I grabbed Rick Riordan’s The House of Hades and was glad that it wasn’t dripping with soppy romance from the characters. Actually this and The Lost Hero are my favorites in the series. My mood continued to lighten and by the end of March I was happy—I had gotten a free Penguin copy of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short stories and selected writings. I wasted no time in reading The Yellow Wall-Paper, which I often heard is a great story. And I agree; it is.

I then turned to Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl after reading The JK Review’s post on the book and the movie. I had attempted Beautiful Creatures before but couldn’t make it past the first few pages—too dry. But since I loved the movie, and was in a great mood around the end of March, I decided to stick with the book and I’m glad I did. After watching the movie, I decided to give The Spiderwick Chronicles a try. I made it as far as The Seeing Stone before stopping because the books were thinner than I expected and I was upset I didn’t buy them as a set. Therefore, The Spiderwick Chronicles = to be continued.

I have a tense relationship with Robert Jordan. Sometimes he makes me so excited, I rush through his books. Other times he bores me so much that I take forever to complete a chapter. Such was the case with The Shadow Rising. I started it in January and didn’t complete it until May, when I picked up New Spring, which made me decide to give Jordan a break until December. In June I bought Mason Currey’s Daily Ritual: How Artists Work to discover the answer to the title’s question. I then read a bit of erotica (yeeaaa…betcha didn’t know that!)—Anthing He Wants 1: The Meeting by Sara Fawkes. I was very upset I did. It was short and I didn’t like it.

From erotica I moved on to George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It was just as awesome as the first time I read it. I reacted the same—frightened, anticipating, impatient—though I knew what would happen next. Then I watched the Vampire Academy movie and decided to read the book, which is by Richelle Mead. The story is okay but I was surprised that I liked it. I was also surprised that I didn’t like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I really thought I would since EVERYONE was raving about it. But no, it fell short for me. I enjoy his YouTube videos though, especially the Mental Floss ones. He and his brother both talk very fast.

I didn’t know what to read next so I grabbed Christopher Paolini’s Eragon to re-read. Unlike A Game of Thrones, it wasn’t as great as the first time I read it. Divergent was next. And again it was the movie that sparked my interest in the book. It’s similar to other stories I’ve read but it’s an okay read. I then bought The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It was on sale at Barnes & Noble. I am so glad to have read this book. It’s simple but I like its structure and its emotional depths and that for a bit we are given a different perspective of Afghanistan other than what we usually see on the news.

Unwittingly, I read Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three during its 50th anniversary. Though I thought I was reading it for the first time, I felt as if I had read it before. And it’s possible that I have since much of the books I read when I was a little girl have faded from mind, leaving behind a ghost of how they made me feel. The Book of Three is a fun read and I highly recommend it to middle graders. Dataclysm by Christian Rudder was next. I was overjoyed when I got the ARC from Random House and surprised at how easy the book was to read. It’s quite informative and I highly recommend it.

After a magazine, or two, I grabbed Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus from my shelf. I was impatient to learn how The Heroes of Olympus series would end. I wasn’t satisfied but it was okay. I ended the year with Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron, which was just as fun as The Book of Three albeit darker.

And there you have it—all the books I read this year. You didn’t ask for all this but I gave it to you anyways because I love talking about what I read…and I thought you might be interested in a round up of books.

Of all these materials, my favorites of 2014 were:

Novels

Magazines

  • ImagineFX Presents Sketchbooks: Volume 2
  • Scientific American MIND’s September/October 2014 issue: The Psychology of Success
  • National Geographic’s February 2014 issue: The New Science of the Brain
  • National Geographic’s Winter 2013 Exploring History issue: 13 Notorious Villains
  • National Geographic: The World’s Greatest Empires—A History of Power
  • Traditional Home’s June 2014 (25th anniversary) issue: Hello Summer!
    • There’s a home featured in this issue that has a 5×7-foot chandelier that’s made from antlers!

So what can you look forward to in 2015? Well, I’m currently reading:

  • The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan (book 5 in the Wheel of Time series)
    • I’d hoped to complete it in 2014 but it’s Jordan. Who knows when I’ll be done. So far he has me rushing to the end, impatient to know what happens next. Hopefully it doesn’t become a bore.
  • Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto by Anneli Rufus
    • This one is a bore. I thought it would be similar to Susan Cain’s Quiet but it’s not. Far from it, actually. It’s possible I might stop reading.
  • The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
    • I told you I would buy it! 🙂 I’m glad I bought this book both for the pictures and the back story. I’m not happy about how the back story is structured—a maester writing a history book—but it’s great so far. I did read a scathing review of it on Goodreads, which is probably what soured my enjoying the structure but the more I read, the more I love this book and its pictures. So far it has made me pondering Daenerys’ journey in Essos, her drive, and where she calls home. I just wish it had a huge pull-out map.
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer
    • I’ve been reading this book since January 2014. It’s great and I highly recommend it. I’m just slacking in completing the accompanying exercises.
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology by Arthur Cotterell
    • This, too, I’ve been reading since January 2014. I doubt I will finish it anytime soon since I only read it when the mood hits. I highly recommend it as well.

And that’s it for 2014. The goal for 2015 will be 30 books but more on that later.

Happy reading in 2015!

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8 thoughts on “Reflecting on 2014: Reading

  1. Pingback: Read – Repeat | Flying On Empty Thoughts

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