Thursday, 16 January 2020

Reading goals for 2020

Providence has delivered me of every worldly passion, save this one; the desire to acquire books, new or old books of any kind, whose charms I cannot persuade myself to resist.
John Henry Newman

I'm no saint, but when it comes to books, I share Newman's evangelical fervour.  I cannot resist buying books, even knowing I have mountains of unread paperbacks waiting for me at home. It's an obsession really.
I buy books online (The Book People is a great source of temptation). I try to find older editions on ebay. I scour the local charity shops every week, looking for something exciting.

Our local Waterstones shop has a wonderful team of people who love books and read extensively. I love their window displays as well.
One of my favourite window displays of last year was for The Way of All Flesh. They even bought a skull on ebay, especially for the occasion.

Gemma and Patti organise fun events - you might have seen my photos from the Harry Potter-themed evenings, when children would arrive dressed up as their favourite characters from J.K.Rowling's books. There were quizzes, prizes, sorting hat bakes etc.

Chez Maximka
Eddie as Newt Scamander

There is another Harry Potter event coming soon in February, and Eddie and I plan to attend.

Needless to say, I do spend quite a bit in the shop.

In the last weeks I've been reading passionate discussions online, with references to the arguments that book bloggers are not "real" readers, because apparently they are paid to read and hence they are happy to sell their souls to the Devil and praise whatever they read.

I've never been paid to write any book review. And I don't know anyone who is, unless they do it as a job, like writing for a magazine, or work as a PR promoting books.

I had a discussion with a friend recently, who saw a big stash on the window of our dining room - books I received for reviewing in the oncoming months. She asked me if I were paid for reading them, and then couldn't quite comprehend why I would agree to do it. I told her that I enjoy discovering new names, and many of the books which I received for reviewing, might have passed my attention otherwise.
For example, two books which I reviewed last year got into my top reads of 2019 list, and I haven't heard of the authors before. Storytellers by Bjorn Larssen is not just in my top 10 reads, I would say, it's no.1 (sharing with The Girl Who Speaks Bear).

A year ago I wrote a post about my reading goals, and looking at it now I see that my goals haven't changed - I still need to declutter, I would like to read more non-fiction, as well as books in Russian.

Chez Maximka

If you have a look at the list of books I read (and finished) in 2019, out of 77 books, only two are non-fiction. I did start several more, but either stopped mid-way, or decided I might return to them at some point again. So, I failed my goal of 5 non-fiction books.

I read only one book in Russian - My Siberia (Memoirs) by Anastasia Tsvetaeva (sister of the famous Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva). That's also pretty abysmal, I really should make more of an effort.

As for the genres, I read 25 thriller/crime mysteries, 32 children's/YA fiction, 7 - romance.

I did slightly better with my goal of reading more classics with Eddie - Treasure Island, Around the World in 80 days (abridged) and Oliver Twist (so abridged that I didn't add it to the reading list).
Plus two classics of crime - The Iron Chariot and The Forest Lake Mystery - both of which are regarded as the classics of Scandi Noir.

Chez Maximka

It would be good to expand on the classics' promise. And to definitely try harder on reading non-fiction.

Chez Maximka

Chez maximka

Chez Maximka, best reads of 2019
The Reading Challenge on GoodReads gives you all the stats you might want be curious about, though some of them are slightly arguable.
For example, The Ice Monster appears to be the longest book on my list. Yes, if you count the pages, but most of them have pictures, some with just a word or two, so if you do a word count, it won't come as the longest.
Apparently, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief was the most popular book. We did love the book, and plan to read the next book in the series very soon.

Chez Maximka

Last year we went to several book-related events, and met three great authors - Sophie Anderson and Candy Gourlay, and Cressida Cowell.

I'm a big fan of Sophie Anderson. Her books are brilliant, and I can't wait for her third book.
She is also a very-very nice lady, and if you follow her on social media, you will know that she interacts with her readers with great kindness and enthusiasm.

Chez Maximka

Eddie was thrilled to meet Cressida Cowell, and he gave her a drawing of Toothless, which she kindly praised. She is a real trooper. The queue to have books signed was like a long serpent, we had to wait quite a bit to have a chance to talk to her.

Chez Maximka

She signed all books and also got up from her seat to have photos taken with everyone who asked for this chance.

How to train your dragon author, Chez Maximka

I'm hoping we could attend more book signing events this year. That's a new goal for 2020.

Do you have reading goals and plans for the year?


  1. No reading goals, I just enjoy every book I read without the pressure with numbers 😀

    1. Fair enough, Leila, if keeping a track on numbers is not your thing. I think my goals are not set in stone, as you can see. :) But it gives me food for thought, when I look at what I've read over the year(s).

  2. What a nice round-up. Why do you want to read more non-fiction? I would recommend a book, which I can't say I loved because of its bias, but it was interesting - Invisible women by Caroline Criado-Perez. I reviewed it on my book blog, if you are curious.

    Good luck with your reading goals for this year.

    1. Thank you, Anca, I want to read more history books and biographies, to learn more, I suppose. I'll check out your review. Thank you for the suggestion!

  3. No, no, no, I will not go and check out The Book People ... it's hard enough trying to keep out of The Works ! lol. Hmmm, I wonder if people get paid to review books? I see it as a great way of saving money for me, as I don't have to buy so many books, but I love the fact that I can share my honest opinion, bad or good. My only reading goal is to cover 52 books - one a week sounds quite reasonable to me :)