I started my reading year by signing up for things:
I rejoined Good Reads, mostly out of curiosity to know how many books I read. There was some discussion over at Facebook on my book club’s group page about people’s individual book counts. Our most prolific reader had a total of eighty-eight, which made the person who had read thirty-six feel very humble in comparison. I had no idea how many I’d read, but I’m fairly sure it was fewer than thirty. I’ve set myself the very modest goal of reading twenty-six books in their 2014 reading challenge.
My reading count would almost certainly have received a boost in the last months of 2013 after I rejoined the local library. I’d avoided the library for years after accruing a fine for keeping a copy of American Psycho out until they sent me a bill to replace it. I returned the book (yes, I did read it), but avoided the library out of shame for at least a decade. Yes, I knew all about the end-of-year amnesty, but I was too scared to face them. Anyway, I plucked up my courage and it turns out there was no record of my misdeeds in their system at all. And in the meantime, the ebook has arrived, so I’ve been spending my time happily catching up on the Harry Potter series, both books and films, as well as The Hunger Games series, and a few missed childhood classics, including The Narnia Chronicles.
It’s through the library that I’ve been able to supplement my book club’s first novel of the year, the Man Booker Prize winner for 2013, The Luminaries, with some eye-saving audiobooks for the Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge, which I’ve signed up for again in 2014. So far, I’ve read and reviewed Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites and I’ve just started listening to Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children.
Actually, neither of these books are part of the official challenge I’ve set myself, which is again focussed on creating audiobooks via Librvox of works in the public domain by Australian women writers. I started the first book for this project, Human Toll, towards the end of last year, with the intention of completing Barbara Baynton’s catalogue. I have planned to record another two works in addition to that for the AWW2014 challenge, but I haven’t decide which.
I’m looking at anything I read or listen to and review beyond the Librivox recordings as a bonus with respect to the AWW challenge. I’ve come to the conclusion that just as writers must read to be better writers, then audiobook readers must listen in order to become better readers. It’s with this thought in mind, in addition to the pleasure of the stories themselves, that I’m listening to other audiobooks, taking mental notes of the various factors that make for a good telling of another’s story.
Meanwhile, January is also the Month of Poetry, an event I only became aware of via the tweets of Penni Russon and Anna Ryan Punch. I’m following both of their MOP14 efforts and attempting to retweet the links to their poems via my @ReadingSheilas account. I’m not sure how I would count these if I included them in the challenge; perhaps, as two anthologies? No matter. As a reader, I look forward to the tweeted announcements of both of these writers. It’s a great way to ease into a new year of reading.