Reading Plans for 2011

As I wade into December with read, partly read, and unread books crowded around my feet and in my bookcase and in my closet . . . I’m thinking about all the lovely books I discovered this year, and anticipating what bookish discoveries will be made next year.

It’s been a little over a year since I first started blogging (I can’t believe I forgot to do a one-year anniversary post in November!).  As a newbie book blogger, I had little restraint when it came to joining reading challenges.  As of today, at least, I do not have plans to join any new challenges for 2011, except maybe RIP around Halloween-time.

I do not regret joining challenges this year as I read lots of wonderful books as a result.  However, just like one may let a field run fallow for a year before using it again for planting, I think I need to have next year be one less ‘guided’ and more subject to whim.

I am not completely without plans, however.

Plan #1: I plan to continue reading books from the list I created for my personal challenge: Read 19 Books Older than Myself.

I actually have read nine off that list (Howard’s End to-be-reviewed).  Add to that, I read six other books this year that are older than I am: The Dud Avocado, The Summer Book, Kindred, Black Mountain Breakdown, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Inimitable Jeeves (on audio).  So even though I will not complete my challenge by the end of this year, I am thrilled by the amount of ‘older’ books I have added to my reading diet.

Plan #2: I will deliberately build a niche in reviews of travel writing.

You may or may not know that I have a special fondness for travel writing.  These include books like Susan Jane Gilman’s riveting Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven (her 1986 travels in China) and the Best American Travel Writing essay anthologies.  I want to explore this genre more thoroughly next year, for my own pleasure and also because I have aspirations of being a sort of blogger-ambassador for the genre.

Plan #3: Read more books from authors around the world and from people of color.

Certainly, there are wonderful challenges out there that will doubtless provide me with some great titles to check out, but I do not want to formally join a challenge.  This goal is definitely inspired/encouraged by blog posts from Eva (A Striped Armchair) and a recent blog post from Raych (books i done read) reminded me again of why I want to diversify my reading.

So there you have it!  For now, anyway. 🙂

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Reading Plans for 2011

  1. Yay for you! I especially support this travel writing notion. I am too chicken to do adventurey traveling, but a good travel writer can be fun. Are you trying William Dalrymple? I read a really interesting book of travel essays by him, which I now can’t remember what it was called. :/

  2. Fun goals! I guess it is that time of year again to think about reading goals and assess the situation…

  3. I don’t think I will be joining as many challenges this year either, but mostly because after writing up the list, I end up failing, always! And I like reading whatever catches my fancy. Having said that, I have way too many plans for 2011 as it is.

    I like your goals. And looking forward to reading more on travel writing and some of your posts on diverse reading.

  4. Jenny: I think I’ve run across Dalrymple’s name before but I haven’t read him. I’ll keep him in mind when I dive into travel writing next year.

    Daphne: Yes, before writing this post I was seeing other bloggers buzz about their reading plans for next year and I was spurred to write my own.

    Iris: I really do like the making-lists part, but yeah, completing the list rarely happens. 🙂

  5. Glad to know that you had a wonderful reading year Christy! I liked very much the concept of reading books which are older than yourself. Hope you are enjoying that challenge.

    It is really wonderful that you like travelogues! Which are some of your favourite travelogues and travelogue writers? Susan Jane Gilman’s book looks quite fascinating. Because it was written during a time when China was still a closed country, I think it must be quite fascinating. Some of my favourite travelogue writers are William Dalrymple (as Jenny has said William Dalrymple has written some wonderful travelogues – for example ‘City of Djinns’, ‘ The Age of Kali’ which are set in India and ‘In Xanadu’ which is about a journey he took from Jerusalem to China), Ma Jian (his travelogue-memoir called ‘Red Dust’ is a fascinating insider’s perspective of China during the ’80’s), Michael Palin (his ‘Himalaya’ is quite fascinating and is about his trip covering the whole Himalayas from the western to the eastern part), Bruce Chatwin (his ‘The Songlines’ (set in Australia) and ‘In Patagonia’ (set in Peru) are wonderful).

  6. Vishy – Michael Palin is probably the author that got me started on travelogues. His books were recommended to me by my cousin. Though I know I like the genre, I feel like I haven’t read widely enough to pick favorite authors. I really like Sara Wheeler, and several of the authors I encountered in the Best American Travel Writing anthologies. I want to read more from them, if possible. I also want to read Patrick Leigh Fermor and I own and look forward to reading The Blue Nile by Alan Moorehead which is considered a classic, I think. Thanks so much for the recommendations of further books and authors! I’ll have to check them out.

    Gilman’s book is actually set immediately after China opened the doors to backpackers, which means that she and her traveling companion encounter some very edgy officials and authorities.

    • ‘The Blue Nile’ looks like a fascinating book! Sara Wheeler’s name rings a bell but I haven’t heard of Patrick Leigh Fermour. Thanks for mentioning them. I will explore some of their books when I go to the bookstore or the library next time. Glad to know that you like Michael Palin’s books. Gilman’s books looks really fascinating from your description! I can’t wait to read it!

  7. I know what you mean about the appeal of reading at whim. And yay, I enjoy reading travel writing too, so I look forward to reading your reviews and learning more about books I might not otherwise have heard of!

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