2016 Mid-Year Check In

Here we are now in July, rolling down the hill of 2016. Time for the mid-year review! I find it difficult to think this is the first full year where I won’t engage in any formal education. The school year has nothing to do with my own plans. I began private tutoring a couple weeks ago and I started working another part job this week. I’m finding myself with more work hours than I anticipated. I know saving cash for grad school is my priority now, and more work is a good thing, but I wonder how it’s going to affect my blogging. I might need a few more weeks to settle into a new schedule (especially since I plan on spending many weekends at the lake!). Anyway! How am I doing on my 2016 goals?

  • 64 posts (8/month when not travelling, twice a week, ideally one review and one other) – My two non-travelling months (January and June) were pretty well on track with this goal. July’s not off to a solid start, though I should be back on track by the end of the month.
    • Improve writing style (be more precise, use less words) – I’ve done a lot of posts this year, including reviews and responses, that I’m pretty proud of. I think I’m making progress here (though you wouldn’t know it from this post, haha).
    • Be more engaging (in posts and comments) – Bit by bit I’m working on this. I couldn’t do it so much in the first half of the year, but I’m trying to be more active on Twitter, find new blogs to follow, and leave more thoughtful comments.
  • 55 books read (updated to 84 books) – I read 29 books while travelling, which was 29 more than I planned on, so I updated my goal when I returned. I’ve read 46 books so far, putting me 3 books ahead of the new goal. Hooray! I couldn’t be picky with what I read while travelling, so I haven’t made a lot of progress on the goals below. I think I can catch up on them by the end of the year, though. On the goals below, I’m not counting The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, which I read annually.
    • 2/10 books reread – I’ve reread two books: Charlotte’s Web and A Darker Shade of Magic. I haven’t yet reread any of the books I actually put on the list.
    • 0/5 Japanese spirituality books – I’m 0 on this one. Most of the books I’ll borrow from a local university. I received one of the books on the list as a gift while travelling. I plan to tackle that one soon.
    • 1/6 Tolkien-related books – I read The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (which I just realized is also a reread).  Most of the books on this list I have at home, so I should be making progress on this goal soon.
    • 3/5 Canadian Indigenous books – On track. Hopefully I can easily surpass 5!

This time last year, I talked about quality vs. quantity and recapped the ratings of the books I’ve read so far. I didn’t delineate ‘read better books’ as a goal this year, because I have no idea how to do that other than by reading more books, but let’s take a look anyhow…

  • I’ve read 9 ★★★★★ books, including 4 rereads. 5/8 five-star reads last year were rereads, so this is a small improvement.
  • I’ve read 19 ★★★★ books. That’s also an improvement over last year, by 4 books.
  • I’ve read 9 ★★★ books. That’s two less than last year. I really wanted to read less three-star books and more four- or five-star books, so it looks like I’m doing well!
  • I’ve read 5 ★★ books. One more than last year. Three were books I read while travelling because that’s what was around. Two were books I was really interested in but they didn’t live up to my expectations.
  • I’ve read 1 ★ book. Oops. The pretty cover and description lead me to request an ARC that turned out to be one of the worst books I’ve read in the past few years.

Looking at my 2016 Goodreads shelf reminded me of all the great books I’ve already this year. I feel like I’m doing better than in 2015. How is your reading going this year? Are you keeping up with any challenges, goals or resolutions?

Top 10 Tuesday: Under 2000 Goodreads Ratings

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 Top Ten Books with Under 2,000 GoodReads Ratings

Today’s topic stood out as a fun one for me – a chance to spotlight some under recognized books! Out of books I’ve rated three stars or higher, 20 have under 10 ratings and a further 38 have under 100 ratings. For this list, though, I chose not to really include non-fiction or picture books because I have so many obscure ones that I tend to rate highly because they’re great reads for a particular niche, not because I think they’re wonderful books in general. From most to least ratings:

  1. In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss (615 ratings) – A magical, mysterious short story collection. I don’t remember much about it now, but I remember enjoying the prose and creativity of the stories.
  2. Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson (607 rating) – This book, read in a high school history class, introduced me to Ferguson. A bit dated, but I think it’s still the book to read if you want to know about being Canadian.
  3. The Swallow by Charis Cotter (449 ratings) – I especially enjoyed this middle grade ghost story because of the friendship, spookiness, and twist I didn’t see coming.
  4. Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany (414 ratings) – The first Scott miscellany I read, and my favourite. A lovely little book full of interesting food tidbits.
  5. Throwaway Daughter by Ye Ting-Xing (320 ratings) – My grade seven teacher read this book to us, and I ended up writing a paper on it my third year university class on gender in Chinese literature! A good story about the one-child policy in China and how people reacted differently to it.
  6. The Lost Flower Children by Janet Taylor Lisle (122 ratings) – For years, I often borrowed this book from the library, until the thought struck me one day that I should really just purchase it because I adored it so much. It doesn’t seem like the sort of fairy story I would usually enjoy, but somehow this one has stuck with me (much better than Afternoon of the Elves). I love the illustrations as well.
  7. Half a Creature from the Sea by David Almond (111 ratings) – A genre-defying collection of short stories for young adults, or perhaps middle graders. This book is hard to classify but if the description appeals to you, I highly recommend it.
  8. The Evolution of Alice by David A. Robertson (55 ratings) – The first book I read this year. A great addition to the canon of Canadian Indigenous literature, set in my hometown.
  9.  The Dodecahedron by Paul Glennon (41 ratings) – I remember having vaguely heard of this book, then reading it because I found it at a used bookstore where I had credit. I enjoyed the concept and many of the stories.
  10. The 1918 Shikoku Pilgrimage of Takamure Itsue translated by Susan Tennant (8 ratings) – This might sound like a super niche-y book but I promise it’s an amazing journal of a fascinating young woman undertaking a pilgrimage in Japan. Takamure writes in a crisp and modern voice that is at turns hilarious and melodramatic, yet moving and poignant.

What are some books you think deserve more ratings on Goodreads?