In the beginning of 2015 I set myself eight goals which I hoped would inspire me to switch up my reading habits and to inspire me to pick up different types of books. This is exactly what it did and, for the most part, I was very successful in meeting these goals. Some of them even led me to discover new favourites. In honor of the new year, it’s time to look back on those goals and how I did in 2015. But first, here’s some numbers:
In 2015, my Goodreads challenge was to read 50 books – and I read 98 books. That’s 21 books more than in 2014. According to Goodreads that’s a total of 26,246 pages.
In 2015, I read 18 books out of my 274 TBR, which means I now stand at 92/274. That’s one book less than in 2014.
In 2015, I read 53 books by male authors and 45 books by female authors.
In 2015, I read 73 books in English, 22 books in Finnish, 1 books in German and 3 book in Swedish. Out of these, 10 were translations.
In 2015, I read 38 books by North American authors and also 30 books by authors from the UK. The third largest nationality was Finnish with 25 books. In 2014, the number of UK and US was both 26. The number of Finnish authors was 22.
In 2015, I read 73 physical books and 25 ebooks. Out of the physical books, 46 were paperback and 24 hardcover.
In 2015, I read even greater variety of genres. Compared to 2014, the greatest changes are the increase of historical fiction (almost tripled), the arrival of new genres such as horror, comedy and poetry, the decrease of mystery (one fourth of 2014), and the joint increase of science fiction and fantasy (4 and 2 respectively in 2014).
Now let’s look at each challenge more closely.
1. Being more conscious about the gender balance in authors
SUCCESS. In 2015, I wanted to be more conscious of the gender divide. Due to reading classics my reading tends to be dominated by male authors. In 2014, 59% of the authors I read were men, which is why I wanted to try and get the balance close to 50/50 in 2015. And I did surprisingly well. I’m my July reading update report I was in fact almost exactly at the 50/50 mark without much effort. My situation stayed rather stable all the way up to September–October when I read 10 male authors in succession. Despite my efforts of catching up, the men kept dominating the last quarter of my reading year and, in the end, my percentages were 54% men, 46% women. It’s not really 50/50, but it is close enough for me.
2. Read 50 books for Goodreads reading challenge
SUCCESS? I set up the Goodreads challenge to 50 despite reaching almost 80 books last year. Back in January I already knew that I would succeed in the challenge, but to have almost doubled the amount seems unreal to me. This year the counter didn’t create any pressure to read more or encourage to pick up shorter books – that I did all by myself. Statistically I read shorter books in 2015 which is most likely because of a combination of reading more graphic novels, poetry and essays. Which leads me to my next challenge…
3. Read big books: 1 Dickens novel, 1 A Song of Ice and Fire novel, and 2 novels over 600+ pages
ALMOST THERE. I wanted to read more big books in 2015 and, to be honest, I can’t really say I read a lot of those. I did read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – which is surprisingly short for a Dickens novel – as well as two novels over 600 pages: Night Film by Marisha Pessl and The Egyptian by Mika Waltari. I did also read a few books over the 500+ mark, so I can’t really say there were no bigger books other than those. However, I didn’t even try to pick up the over 1,000 paged Storm of Swords – maybe next year, then? There are rumours that Winds of Winter would be coming out in 2016, so I need to really start reading if I want to catch up by then.
4. Read at least one book in each language that I know (Finnish, English, Swedish, German)
SUCCESS. This challenge came quite naturally for me, and what’s more, it’s fun to see how the numbers are divided between the languages. In 2014, I read 3 books in German and 1 book in Swedish; in 2015, the numbers were exactly the same, only the other way around – 3 in Swedish, 1 in German. As to English and Finnish I read a great deal more books in English than in Finnish. Almost 75% of the books I read in 2015 were in English, so in this year I hope to read more books in Finnish.
5. Read four poetry collections
SUCCESS. It took me quite a while to get around to this goal because the first collection that I started took me several months to finish. However, in challenging myself to read poetry I naturally had to do some research and thus discovered many new poets to check out. The four collections were a complete collection of Edith Södergran’s poetry, The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy, Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem by Harry Martinson, and Rakkaus on ruma sana (eng. Love is a Dirty Word) by Ismo Alanko. Of these four, both The Bees and Aniara made it to my Top Reads of 2015 list, so I’m more than pleased by the end result!
6. Complete Reading England 2015 challenge
FAILED. Sooo… This should act as a warning example of “How Not To Do It”. I signed up to this challenge already in November, setting myself a goal that was slightly higher than my comfort zone. The first three months of the year went well, but after that none of the books on the list of potential books to read for the challenge just didn’t appeal to me. As spring transitioned to summer I quite honestly forgot about the challenge, until the moment I started writing my reading update in June and realised the sorry state of affairs. Instead of immediate plan of action I, however, let the thing slip hoping that the autumn would inspired me to get back to classics and thus to read books for the challenge. No such luck. The classics that I read were either not set in England at all, or if they were, the setting was always London. In the end, I managed to read 2 counties in classics: London and Yorkshire, and 5 counties in my “Modern Detours” – Channel Islands, Cambridgeshire, Kent, London and Surrey. You can find the exact books for each county HERE. If you count the two together, I’d have barely reached my goal, but because my intention was to read especially English classics, I must admit my defeat. Nevertheless, had I had more enthusiasm for the challenge, this could have been great fun!
7. Read 15 books by Finnish authors
SUCCESS. 2015 was “The Year of Book” here in Finland, and thus readers were challenged to read 15 Finnish books in the course of the year. As I had read 22 books by Finnish authors in 2014, it seemed like a doable challenge. However, what surprised me the most was the fact how quickly my list of interesting Finnish books began to grow once I started to look into the challenge. Although in the end I read only one book more than in 2014, I became more conscious of Finnish literature in 2015 – especially Finnish literature that’s been translated into English. Out of the 23 books, 8 have been translated into English: The Rabbit Back Literature Society, When the Doves Disappeared, Mr Darwin’s Gardener, The Beggar and the Hare, The Egyptian, The Summer Book, The Black Tongue, and The Brothers. In 2016, I hope to read more contemporary Finnish fiction as well as some of the classics that I haven’t read yet.
8. Read approx. 20 books from the TBR 274 list
ALMOST THERE. The year 2015 began with a new addition to my opulently large TBR when BBC published its critics’ Greatest Novels of 21st Century (so far). The list included many interesting titles of good variety, so I decided to add them to my list – transforming the TBR 254 into TBR 274. In 2015, I read slightly more classics and modern classics than in the previous year, most of them listed in the TBR. My year included amazing novels such as A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Red Line by Ilmari Kianto, as well as a bunch of William Shakespeare’s fantastic plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, King Lear). From the more modern end of the list, I really enjoyed The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. There were, naturally, also ones that didn’t quite live up to the rest, such as Maa on syntinen laulu by Timo K. Mukka and Juoppohullun päiväkirja by Juha Vuorinen. In total I checked off 18 books off the list, so I’m not going to beat myself up for not reading two more books.
There! That’s a lot of figures and links to take in, so I’m going to leave it at that for today. I will post my 2016 reading goals tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Let me know in the comments if you keep a record of the books you read in a year and what are the things that you track!