January to March 2022 - Reading / 2022 Reading Goals

Hello!


Can you believe we've reached the end of March already? Three months into the year. That's a 1/4 of the year complete! It's hard to wrap your head around. It feels like I blinked and the world shifted on it's axis too far.


But It's been a busy three months. So busy in fact that I have fallen into a dramatic reading slump. In the past three months I've managed only five books. I'm not disappointed in this though. I've also been working, going to the gym, planning a six week overseas holiday, a 21st birthday party and focusing on spending more time writing when I have a spare moment. So reading has simply taken a slight backseat over the past few months.


And that's ok. These things happen. I can't do everything, at all times (despite trying!)


But now is a good time to tell you about my blog post structure for this year's reading and outline my goals for reading this year.


Last year I started by trying to do a post a month, reviewing, ranking and rating the books I read. As the year went on and life got busier this stretched to every two months and I realised based on numbers that less people were engaging with my reading posts.


So, I've decided to do quarterly updates on my reading. There won't be a ranking anymore, merely a discussion on what I read and why I chose to read those particular books over the three months. I think this will flow a little nicer, be less formal and structured and possibly appeal to you all a little more.


READING GOALS FOR 2022


Now I wanted to explain my overarching reading goals for this year. I've created a GoodReads account to track my reading and set a goal of 40 books for the year. Given I read 33 last year with an aspiration to read 50 I dropped my goal back down to 40 and I hope to get a little bit closer if I can.


I'm also going to attempt to read a little more diversely. I generally tend to lean towards crime, thrillers and my classics when I'm reading with the occasional fantasy tossed in. I'd like to amend this this year and try and branch out into some new genres, diversify my tastes and see what I find.


Now, onto my reading for this first quarter of the year.


JAN TO MARCH READING - BOOK REVIEWS


Between January and March I read five novels:


'On Equilibrium' by John Ralston Saul (philosophy, non-fiction)

'Wish you were here' by Jodi Picoult (chick lit fiction/romance?)

'The curious case of Benjamin Button' by F. Scott Fitzgerald (literary fiction/short stories)

'Wide Sargasso Sea' by Jean Rhys (literary fiction)

'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (humour/fantasy fiction)


If any of these books have suddenly piqued your interest it is most likely because I seemed to have picked five separate genres and I'm sure one will appeal to your tastes! I've popped each of the genres in brackets next to the titles so you can compare.


I have also linked each of the titles so that if you click it it'll take you down the page to where I talk about it. How nifty is that?


For wanting to read a bit more widely this year I've certainly started strong and honestly these weren't all my favourites...


I'm the type of person who once I start something I just have to finish it, even if I hate it. So, when I hate a movie or a book I just sit back and grind my way through it. I'll roll my eyes here and there or audibly groan in pain but I get through it. I'm a trooper.


Jodi Picoult's latest novel was a complete bummer for me. I don't say this lightly because I'm generally pretty open minded about the authors intent and even if I disagree I can usually understand what they were going for and appreciate the work they put into it. But this book truly sucked. It was clearly rushed through (not only due to the multiple grammatical and formatting errors I found) but it also felt far too soon.


The premise is based on a girl who goes on a trip to the Galapagos Islands right as COVID hits and she finds herself isolated on the island without her Doctor boyfriend who is busy saving lives in New York and reminding her about the horrors he's seeing via email on the daily. It's an interesting enough premise, hence why I bought the damn thing, but the execution was lacking. It felt very forced with stats and "don't forget to wear a mask" comments that just missed the mark. I felt like I was reading through a government funded advertisement rattling off mandates while trying to sound relevant.


Maybe if this came out another year from now it might be have hit better but for me it just felt too cliché and on the nose. I want to read books to escape reality and this was far too literal and truly at its core felt like a soap box stand moment to preach to the listeners (which I despise in fiction novels).


My two literary fiction reads this quarter were that of 'Wide Sargasso Sea' and the classic 'The curious case of Benjamin Button'. Benjamin was a re-read for me as I am a die-hard Fitzgerald fan, so I enjoyed it immensely as always. The penguin copy I have contains five other short stories of his including 'The four fists' and 'Crazy Sunday'. It would take too much time to go into each of the stories but I will say that his uncanny ability to make seemingly simple and basic stories into beautiful works of fiction is unparalleled and part of what makes him one of my favourite authors.


His work is always engaging, humorous and touching and he never misses in my eyes (but I am a bit biased).


'Wide Sargasso Sea' was an interesting read and not something I would've picked up for myself but I still enjoyed it greatly. It was a book I received as part of my monthly NovelTea Book Club subscription. The books I read in this subscription often surprise me and are usually different to what I might normally read which is a good deal of fun.


This book was inspired by 'Jane Eyre' and is set in Jamaica in the 1830s. Now, something about me that you should know is that I very much dislike 'Jane Eyre', it remains the only book I have never finished because I literally couldn't force myself to do it so you can imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed this book! It was so easy to read, the characters were engaging and I enjoyed the delving into the madness as the book progressed. It almost made me want to attempt to re-read 'Jane Eyre'.... almost.


My final two reads are polar opposites of one another. One is a philosophical non-fiction work delving into the qualities of humanity and how those qualities can be honed to develop an ethical society and achieve balance in individuals. The other is a comedy about the birth of Satan and the lead up to the apocalypse (big thanks to my work team who bought this for me as a 21st present!) Both were fantastic reads that I would wholeheartedly recommend depending on your interest.


'Good Omens' was a hysterical read. It had the perfect blend of ridiculing religious beliefs from all sides while maintaining 'end of the world' accuracy (according to the big book) whilst also creating some perfect character development. I'm not sure I would've said 'man I just get where that demon is coming from' before reading this book now I do. The friendship struck up between Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel is completely hilarious and beautiful and you get hooked on them immediately.


I honestly found myself chuckling out loud, in PUBLIC, no less (which is totally something I wouldn't do if I could help it because ew... embarrassment!) But it was just too funny. So, take from that what you'd like. I'd recommend it completely.


It does also truly seem inevitable that any CD left in a car longer than two weeks will somehow turn into a 'Queen: Greatest Hits' album, they really nailed that too.


'On Equilibrium' was a thought provoking work. I read this on a flight to Brisbane and back and it filled the time perfectly. It's discussion of ideologies developed from obsessions with singular human characteristics blended nicely into my read of 'Good Omens' which focuses on religious fanaticism. I really enjoyed his analysis of historical descriptions of what makes us "human" and how that has been developed through time to where we are now. From the virtues that we build our personalities on to our weaknesses the whole book forced you to think about your impact on those around you and where you fall short.


I was intrigued and uncomfortable at times, but a good philosophical book should make you a little bit uncomfortable, even if only for a few hours. Maybe a good book for a coffee table, to flick through every now and then spark up a conversation with visitors.


And that's it!


I hope you enjoyed the new format and the more dicsussion-esque style as opposed to formal rankings and quick one-sentence reviews. And if you didn't, that's too bad because you made it to the end anyway!


Till next time,

Rhi xx

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