It snowed a lot here over the last week. One day it took an hour to shovel the drive so I could get out for work, and I spent that hour pondering Saturn’s frozen yet active satellite. I imagined snow drifts piling up like dunes on the icy moon, Enceladus. There’s surely a story hiding in that thought.
Given the presence of humans on these wintry days, maybe Hoth is a more apt comparison, but I’m not here to talk about Star Wars. I’m here to talk about reading challenges and nonfiction and hikes through snowy woods. I have some goals for 2018 and I’d like to share them. Accountability, you know?
I did the Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2016 and 2017. It’s a good, clear tracker that lets you set your own goal. Goodreads even sends me email updates to help me track my progress, stay motivated, and pick my next read. There are even group reading challenges you can join if you’d like to discuss your progress with a community of fellow readers.
My 2016 goal was 12 books and I read 7. Bad year. In 2017 my goal was 50 and I read 27. I increased my reading volume by nearly 400%! I’m sticking with the goal of 50 this year.
Book Riot also offers a reading challenge called Read Harder It encourages readers to branch out and read widely and diversely. They have monthly themes with several excellent suggestions listed in each theme. I think January 2017 was ‘sports book,’ and it offered everything from a runner’s memoir to a book about the NBA by Bill Simmons (hello, sports people!), and everything in between. Book Riot does a fanastic job with their lists and suggestions, and they have a Read Harder group on Goodreads, too.
I listen to Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next podcast, and she hosts a reading challenge on her “Modern Mrs. Darcy” blog. I just learned about it this year so I have very little information on it. I will provide the link I quite enjoy her podcast, and it’s worth a listen if you like books and bookish conversations in your podcasts.
I anticipate hitting my goal this year. I’m catching up on back issues of magazine subscriptions (Writer’s Chronicle/Poets & Writers), combing through my bookshelves and generally getting more organized. Life is fantastic!
My first goal with my reading this year is to get more nonfiction in my book diet. I’ve had an increasing interest in narrative nonfiction, especially, of late. This year, I’m leaning more toward nature and outdoorsy titles. I read H is for Hawk and A Walk in the Woods this past year, both of which I enjoyed immensely for differing reasons. I also read Other Minds, which was more a philosophical work. I don’t have anything against philosophy, though. I just prefer the nature bits.
Back to the nonfiction goal: I plan to read The Genius of Birds and Coyote America by the end of February. Lofty goals…have I said that before?
On previous forays into nonfiction I tended to pick up medieval history with a European focus. I guess I tend to read in topics. One book I found fascinating traced the web of people and events that wove together the opportunity for William the Conqueror of Normandy to fight and win the Battle of Hastings in 1066. I might be the only one. I also read about Charlemagne, the Black Death, and a pope who quit the papacy (he got whacked for that). Maybe I’ll return to this period at a later date. I still have plenty of reading material on it.
Another realm of nonfiction I want to explore is the biography. Aside from kids “did you know?” books, I’ve never read a biography. My Charlemagne book was more of an overview, and I found it in history rather than biography. That book examined more about how Charlemagne set in motion the creation of modern Europe (politically speaking). There were still a lot of assassinations and intermarriages between the great Carolingian king and the most current map of Europe, but he was the first domino, so to speak. So reading about the lives of well known luminaries is now on my list. Maybe I’ll find a new reading love.
Hikes in the Snowy Woods
I’ve done one already! Here’s my end purpose: log terrain and how long it takes to cover a distance in different terrains and conditions. You were expecting, “To behold the austere beauty of nature in winter,” weren’t you? That’s nice, too. I plan on taking photos during my walks. There is plenty of wildlife in my neck of the woods, even in this weather. I do a little amateur bird watching when I hike and I have a pair of binoculars
So I’ll be hiking, and logging my hikes, and reporting on them. And reading a ton of books, including many about the natural world.
And that’s the update!