Looking back at 2015 – statistics and reading goals

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).

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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!

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Best Books of 2015

‘Tis the season to pick and choose the best and most remarkable books read in 2015. I’ve seen many bloggers post their lists in the last few weeks, but I’ve been holding off because “it ain’t over until it’s over”. However, I’m now quite certain that I won’t be finishing Hanya Yanagihara’s 800+ paged A Little Life before the year turns into 2016, so it’s time to look back and reminisce.

Despite my good intentions to read bigger books in 2015 and thus read “less”, I read a total of 98 books – I’m already terrified for what will happen in 2016. As you can imagine, there were some duds in the almost 100 books, but luckily there were more than just few absolutely wonderful books that blew socks off my feet. These books definitely made an impact on me and I hope to revisit them again in the future. I’ve narrowed my “best of” list down to ten books, so I’ll try to limit myself to a brief synopsis as well as a link to the review (if published). Let’s get started!

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The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Name of the Rose was one of my first reads of 2015 and it has stuck with me the entire year. A mystery set in a monastery in the 14th century offers both excitement, historically accurate descriptions of monastery life and philosophy that runs deeper than just the plot. The religious, political and scientific debates in this book challenge not only the characters but also the modern reader. A masterpiece that I most heartily recommend to everyone.

 

The Red Line by Ilmari Kianto
Finnish classics tend to be rather bleak and depressing, and in that sense The Red Line is no exception. It follows the first universal vote in Finland (1908) and the frenzy surrounding the political camps. However, the bleakness is quickly forgotten as the intriguing plot, beautiful nature imagery and symbolism wrap this politically loaded book into a stunning package. It’s such a shame that this book has not been translated into English! It might not give the most sophisticated image of the Finns as a nation, but it is a damn good book.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Snow Child surprised me and dazzled me with its writing and character development. Set in the 1920 Alaska the story follows an older couple moving to the wilderness and building their life anew. Another book with stunning imagery of the nature, The Snow Child, however, focuses more on the family relationships and different types of love. It is a heartwarming tale told with such poetic and engaging writing that it did not matter that I read it in the spring – the bone-chilling coldness was inescapable.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Unlike in 2014, I read only a handful of plays in 2015. However, the quantity was replaced by sheer quality because of plays like Waiting for Godot. On the onset it is an odd one: nothing happens, twice. The simplicity of the setting, the slightly offbeat dialogue and the bare-bonedness of the presentation invite the reader/audience to interpret the text in so many ways. Waiting for Godot is definitely a play I would love to see live, because I feel that the physical nature of the roles would really enrich the experience  – and offer new interpretations.

Mr Darwin’s Gardener by Kristina Carlson
Funny thing how one book can lead you to another very good book. In the beginning of 2015, I received the great news that Peirene Press would be publishing the English translation of White Hunger. Looking through the publishers catalogue, I discovered they had also previously published another Finnish title: Mr Darwin’s Gardener. The book is set in the 19th century Kent following the collective consciousness of the villagers, their reactions to the Thomas Davies’ isolation after his wife’s death. The lyrical language and the thought-provoking passages blew me away, and I savoured the story from beginning to the end.

Just Kids by Patti Smith
The 1970s New York was a curious, wild and free environment that pulled in young creative people to gather and share their art. Patti Smith’s National Book Award winning memoir follows her first years as an artist and a poet, and depicts her relationship with her friend and lover famous photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The honesty and warmth with which Smith writes evokes wonder at the times and the people. It’s not just a name-dropping contest, it’s a honest portrayal of the struggles and small successes of a budding artist and an inspiration for all creatives.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
One of my goals for this year was to read a novel by Charles Dickens, and I couldn’t be happier with the one I chose to read. A Tale of Two Cities is a historical fiction novel set during the French Revolution following both the English and the French. It is possibly one of his most stunningly written novels, with enthralling sentences and memorable passages. Dickens is more often known for his characterisation, but this is novel in which the language runs the game. The depiction of the French Revolution is also a depiction of human cruelty, reminding the reader that no revolution comes without pain and injustice.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The dystopian trend in literature seems to be passing, but it doesn’t change the fact that George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four still feels like a dead-on prediction of our society. The society devoid of freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of thought is cruel place to be, which is why the familiarity of Orwell’s fruit of imagination is so terrifying. Never one to shy away from political criticism, the book does not offer any kindnesses towards the Socialist movement. However, the struggles of Winston Smith connect to more than just one political party, raising questions about the innate nature of power struggles.

The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
One of my challenges for this year was to read more poetry, and I set myself a goal of four collections. I did just that, and two of the collections even made it to this list. The Bees is collection of poetry by the Poetry Laureate Carol Ann Duffy – a name I recognised but always mixed up with Joyce Carol Oates (don’t ask me why). Duffy’s poetry is exquisite in its simplicity and emotion. The recurring theme of bees knits the entire collection together and the poetry book itself is a piece of art. The Bees was both sad and happy, joyous and jealous, and I loved every single of this rollercoaster. More, please!

Aniara by Harry Martinson
Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem started off as a joke. I jokily asked my friend who is a big science fiction buff to recommend me something and he immediately presented me with The Nobel Prize winning Aniara. I expected to simply enjoy the book, but it surprised me in so many levels, that I almost forgot I was reading epic poetry. The story follows a regular space flight that is thrown off course by a meteor and subsequently loses the chance of ever getting back to the destination planet. A large colony lost in space and with no hope of rescue turns into a study of humanity explored with painfully beautiful writing. Heart-wrenching.

Honorable mentions: There were simply too many good books that I didn’t make the cut – some almost equally wonderful. These books are also ones that I can heartily recommend and I hope you’ll love as much as I did. Honorable mentions go to To Kill a Mockingbird, Saga vol. 1, We Should All Be Feminist, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, Station Eleven, Villimpi Pohjola (Northern Overexposure) comic series, The Sandman vol 1–3, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Hamlet & King Lear.

Happy New Year! May the odds be in your favour and the your 2016 bookish. x

Helsinki Book Fair 2015: book talks, queens & zen

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The Helsinki Book Fair took place from Thursday the 22nd to Sunday the 25th of October, and I attended the event on Saturday and quickly on Sunday. The HBF is an annual book fair held in the Messukeskus Convention Centre that brings together readers, authors, booksellers and publishers. This year over 80,000 visitors gathered at the Convention Centre to celebrate books. Aside from promoting Finnish literature and reading in general, each year also features a guest of honour country. This year the guest of honour was Russia, which meant that a number of Russian authors – and their translators – held talks or took part in panel discussions at the event. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to catch up with any of these, so I cannot give you an up-to-date report on the contemporary Russian literature scene. I clearly need to up my blogging game. This was my third time attending the book fair, to which I was kindly sent a blogger’s pass by the fair organizers.

This year my calendar was too full to spend the entire book fair weekend in Helsinki, which meant I only got to experience the hustle and bustle of the Convention Centre for one and a half days. Still, it is wonderful how the time spent walking from stall to stall, chatting with friends and catching up with people you haven’t seen in a while can be so uplifting and fulfilling. Time flew by as I focused on taking in and participating in the book fair experience. I listened with rapt attention as one of my favourite Finnish authors recalled the books she enjoyed as a child; I leapt for joy when I found the Finnish edition of The Rabbit Back Literature Society underneath a big pile of second-hand books; and I admired together with my friend the details of the cover poster of the new illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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Literally #book.

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Although I sometimes feel that I know more about what’s going on in the literary scene outside of Finland than within, it was hard not to spot the two “queens of literature” of this year’s Helsinki Book Fair: Katja Kettu and Sofi Oksanen. Katja Kettu is a contemporary Finnish female author whose books have captured the hearts of the public and projected their darkest secrets into the pages of her novels. Her bestseller Kätilö (eng. The Midwife) was recently made into a film and the rights for English translation have been sold to AmazonCrossing – expected publication date sometime in early 2016. Her latest novel came out weeks before the book fair and the reviews have all been extremely positive. Kettu is definitely high on my author TBR!

Sofi Oksanen, of Purge and When the Doves Disappeared fame, is already a household name in Finland and her latest novel, Norma, was possibly the most anticipated release of this year. Norma centres around the eponymous Norma Ross, a young woman with luscious and constantly growing hair that holds magical powers. The novel is said to intertwine reality with magical realism, crime, and sexual politics. From what I’ve heard of this novel, it sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it!

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Although events such as the Helsinki Book Fair focus mainly on promoting new books, my favourite parts of the fair are the second-hand book shops and the panel discussions. I adore going through piles and shelves filled with old books, looking for new titles that I haven’t yet read or titles that I’ve read through library and would like to get my own copy. I guess it’s the joy of discovery that makes second-hand book shopping so addicting; you never know what you’ll find. This year three of my four purchases were second-hand.

Aside from books and reading, I think it’s also fun to listen in on discussions. I sat in on a few panel discussions, ranging from the multitude of Finnish idioms to investigative journalism, but my favourite of this year’s HBF was the panel discussion on e-reading and ebooks. The  panel consisted of both online innovators, literary critics and editors plus the presenter of Fabula, a new ebook service that launched in Finland this autumn. In short, Fabula is the Finnish version of Oyster and the concept is already in use in Estonia and Latvia. The panel questions were constructed around the topic of reading versus online media, and all of the panelists had their own insights to give. The main question of the panel discussion, i.e. Will the subscription model help to boost the industry and lure in new readers?, was left unanswered, but the panelist all presented valid arguments and shared their ideas of ebooks. There were so many interesting points to this discussion, that I’ll probably write a separate post about it!

All in all, I had a wonderful time at the Helsinki Book Fair. In the midst of the craziness that is Master’s, the weekend served as the best type of relaxation. I’m holding fast to my opinion from last yearShould there ever be a heaven for book lovers, it might be a book fair of sorts.

Books that I brought home from HBF 2015:

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I haven’t read any Joyce, but I’ve heard this is a good place to start with him. The cover of this Oxford Classics edition is brilliant.

Kadonnut Pariisi by Markus Nummi. Markus Nummi is the author of Kiinalainen puutarha (eng. The Chinese Garden) which I read (and loved) earlier this autumn. The cover of this one is a bit … quirky, but the premise, that is, Paris has disappeared from the surface of the Earth, is exciting.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (the Finnish edition). I got this from the library earlier this year and loved it so much that I needed to get my own copy. So glad to add this to my collection!

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Valomerkki by JP Ahonen. It’s the fifth volume in the Villimpi Pohjola (Northern Overexposure) comic series that I love and adore. I’ve blogged about the series in here, here and here. This one came out in August and I’m glad to finally own all of the volumes published so far ❤IMG_20151122_170428

Reading update – The first half of 2015

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© ginnerobot / Flickr

2015 has been an interesting reading year so far. I’ve been challenging my reading habits, testing my reading tastes and picking up titles more impulsively. There’s also been a variety of formats in my reading, and though my preferences still go for the paperback, I’ve also grown to enjoy the benefits of ebooks. In the first six months I read 13 ebooks and 35 physical books. I wish I could also say that owning a Kindle has decreased my need to buy more books, but it really hasn’t. In total I’ve acquired almost 30 books during the first half of the year. Nevertheless, I’ve also been actively using my local library and checking out books every month – for free! And now that the first half of the year has passed, it’s good moment to check how I’m doing with the goals that I set myself in the beginning of the year.

In short, my reading goals for the year 2015 are to read equally both men and women, to read bigger books, to read more poetry and to read more Finnish books. I wrote down these challenges in the beginning of January, and for the most part, I’ve been sticking with them. For the most part. In many cases I’m doing better than I imagined and in some, my progress is barely on the line of trying at all. For example, I was surprised to find out that my male-female ratio is almost where I want it to be. It’s not fully 50/50, but it’s definitely looking good and, to be honest, I haven’t even had to try very hard to achieve it. Go me!

I’m quickly surpassing my Goodreads challenge for the year, which was expected, and I’m considering lifting the challenge to 75. However, the focus in this year is supposed to be in quality, not quantity, so I feel that lifting the challenge bar higher might make me forget that and just focus on the numbers. Another challenge that I’m acing at the moment is the 15 in 2015 challenge, in which I try to read at least 15 Finnish titles this year. One of the reasons why that challenge has been coming along so nicely is that I’ve read and reviewed also comics and graphic novels as part of the challenge, but where’s the fun in excluding those?

Half-year progress in Reading goals 2015:

  • Male/Female ratio: 25/23
  • Goodreads challenge: 48/50
  • Big Books: 1/4
  • Languages: Finnish (9); English (37); Swedish (1); German (1)
  • Poetry: 0,75/4
  • Reading England 2015: 1/7 (+3 Detours)
  • 15 in 2015: 9/15
  • TBR 274: 7/20

On the side of not-so-great progress, my score for Big Books seems quite poor now that I look at it. And my Goodreads stats agree: I’ve now read more books than in 2013, but about 2,300 pages less. Hmpf. I believe the lower page count is due to the fact that a) I finished both Gone with the Wind and A Game of Thrones in 2013 and b) I’ve been reading more plays, graphic novels and essays this year than in the previous years. Hence more books, less pages. Contributing to the low number is also the fact that my definition of a big book for this challenge is 600+ pages; if I were to count all the books that surpass the 500 page mark, I would also count The Name of the Rose (557 pages in my Finnish edition). The only book so far to breach that 600 page mark is Night Film by Marisha Pessl which had 602 pages. However, I have some hefty books set on my 20 Books of Summer TBR which should fix the problem.

I signed up for Reading England 2015 challenge already in December 2014 and I was so excited in picking up titles that matched certain counties and looking up new ones. However, I might have been a bit too ambitious with my goal setting as well as blind to my own reading tastes, because lately I’ve just been favouring American classics over the British. It all started with Melville, Steinbeck and Salinger in 2014, and continued with Fitzgerald, Poe, Chopin, Lee and Plath in 2015. Right now I feel like moving on, so I’m not completely giving up, but I’m not yet sure where the road will take me. We’ll just have to wait and see. However, I’ve been keeping track of my Modern Detours, so my combined number is not bad at all.

I’ve also been struggling with poetry, and part of that is because I might have picked the wrong book to start with. I’ve been reading the Complete Poems and Aforisms of Edith Södergran since March and the 300+ paged omnibus has been keeping its hold on me. I probably should have  picked up a shorter collection to begin with, as well as something in my mother tongue. Södergran was a Finnish-Swedish poet in the 1920s and, despite loving to read her in the original, the Swedish of the twenties is a lot different from the Swedish of today. So you could say I’m having a bit of problems in translation.

The last challenge on my list one that I’m most low-key about, and that’s reading 20 books from my super-long TBR 274 list. I set it to 20 books because that’s been the approximate number of books that I’ve read from the list in a year. I’ve currently read only 7 books from the list, which was a bit of a surprise because I expected some of the classics that I read (Waiting for Godot, Dracula, The Bell Jar) to be on that list, but it turned out they weren’t. But as I said, it’s not an issue. I’m often reading more classics during the autumn than during spring, so it should correct the balance naturally.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how the year is going and hopefully I’ll be able to discover my inner poetry-loving reader soon. And if not, I’m not forcing it – sometimes these things require the right time and place. In the meanwhile, I’m heartily welcoming poetry recommendations!

 

15 in 2015

As I’ve mentioned in some of my earlier posts, 2015 will be celebrated in Finland as The Year of Book. This is organised to promote reading and literature by hosting book clubs, author meetings, and other book related events. I’ll try to keep an eye out for the events happening near me, but instead of merely reporting from events that I’ve attended, I’ve decided to try and make 2015 also the year of Finnish literature also here in my blog. And for this purpose, I’ve coined my own little 15 in 2015 challenge.

Now, I must admit that this is not an original idea – I saw it prompted in the Finnish Goodreads group that I follow. The basic idea of the 15 in 2015 challenge is to read and review 15 books written by Finnish authors. My goal with this challenge is both to read more Finnish fiction and to raise awareness about the Finnish fiction that gets translated into other languages. I’ll try to keep an eye out especially for the books translated into English since it’s the language my readers seem most familiar with. I also plan on writing a second part to my Finnish authors post, because upon reflection there are so many Finnish authors that I’ve yet to mention!kirjanvuosi15

This is the official logo for The Year of Book. [A quick lesson on Finnish: KIRJA=BOOK; -N= the genitive case; VUOSI=YEAR] As the year progresses, I’ll be linking all the reviews to this master post, so if you miss any of the reviews, you’ll always find them here. In order to read 15 books in 12 months, I should read 1.25 books every month – which isn’t much, but I doubt that I’ll be as orderly as that 😀 But so much for the technical stuff, let’s look at the books!

Finnish books that I’d really like to read in 2015:

Adding a few comics/graphic novels into the mix:

I’d also love to write reviews for two books of which the English translation is published in 2015 and that I’ve read earlier: White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (translation published March 1, 2015) & Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna (translation published April 2015).

Let me know if you have any suggestions as to which book I should begin with or any recommendations! I’d love to hear them.

Cheers! x

Reading goals for 2015

So, 2015 is now here and it’s time to make some plans. But before we get into the planning, let’s take a look at some of the numbers of 2014.

In 2014, my Goodreads challenge was to read 50 books – and I read 79 books. According to Goodreads, I read a total of 21,173 pages.
In 2014, I read 19 books out of my 254 TBR, which means I now stand at 75/254.
In 2014, I read 47 books by male authors and 32 books by female authors.
In 2014, I read 48 books in English, 28 books in Finnish, 3 books in German and 1 book in Swedish. Out of these, 15 were translations.
In 2014, I read 26 books from authors from the UK and also 26 books from American authors. I read 22 books written by Finnish authors.
In 2014, I read a good variety of genres. Note that some of the books have been listed under two genres, because for example Maus by Art Spiegelman is both a graphic novel and non-fiction. Hence the reason why these numbers don’t add up to 79.

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Statistics is always interesting, and I can tell you that I’ve spent way too many hours procrastinating with these figures. Overall, I’m pretty happy about my reading stats, with the exception of the male/female ratio. Thus my first goal for 2015 is to be more conscious about reading female authors and getting that gender balance closer to 50/50.

My second goal for 2015 is the Goodreads reading challenge, which I again will set to 50 books. Since I almost reached 80 books last year, I could have gone higher, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on reaching a certain number. This also ties into my third goal, which is to read big books. Partly because of blogging, I’ve noticed that I’ve opted for shorter books that I can read within a week, so that I have a review up for every week. However, there are a lot of larger and more time consuming books that I want to read, so I’ve decided to challenge myself to read at least one Dickens novel, one Game of Thrones novel, and two other books that have over 600+ pages.

My fourth goal is one that I barely reached in 2014, and that is to read one book in all of the languages that I know. English and Finnish won’t be a problem, German will most likely come along nicely, but I really need to up my game with Swedish. I want to improve my Swedish, so this is one of the important steps that I need to take.

My fifth reading goal is to read more poetry. Looking at my genre pie chart, I noticed that I didn’t read a single work of poetry in 2014, which is a terrible shame. In 2015, I challenge myself to read 4 poetry collections – and if I can do them in different languages, that would be awesome. I already have plans to read some poetry by Edith Södergran, who is a Finnish-Swedish poet, but I’m in dire need of recommendations as to poetry in English. Please feel free to give recommendations in the comments!

My sixth goal is to complete the Reading England 2015 challenge. I posted about this challenge already in December, but the basic idea of Reading England 2015 is to read classics set in different counties of England. My goal for this reading journey is to visit 7 counties, and if you’re interested to know more, I suggest you visit o‘s master post for Reading England 2015.

My seventh reading goal is to read 15 books by Finnish authors in 2015. I spotted this challenge in one of the Goodreads forums. The year 2015 will be celebrated as “The Year of Book” in Finland, so I thought it apt to focus on Finnish fiction (and non-fiction!) this year. In 2014, I plowed through 22 books by Finnish authors, so I think reading 15 shouldn’t be too challenging. I shall also try to keep an eye out for the books that have been translated into other languages, so that you too could possibly enjoy them. I will do a small master post for the 15 in 2015 later this month.

And lastly, because I already feel that this list is getting too long, my eighth reading goal is to read approximately 20 books from my 254 TBR. Ever since compiling this list, I’ve read around 20 books each year, and I want to keep that pace. Of course it would be nice to knock of 50 books from the list, but that would mean I couldn’t read any of the books published after 2009, which would be a terrible pity.

So there you have it! These are my eight reading goals for 2015. There is of course the possibility that I might participate in some read-alongs and challenges as the year progresses, but these are the long-term goals for my reading year. Let me know in the comments if you have any reading goals for 2015 plus any poetry recommendations (seriously though, I’m out of my depth here).

Happy reading!

Reading England 2015

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This challenge was originally created by o at Behold the Starsbut I spotted it at Jane’s wonderful blog Fleur in Her WorldThe Goal of this challenge is to travel England by reading, and read at least one book per however many counties of England you decide to read.

I generally tend to read more English literature than American, but so far I haven’t kept track of how well my reading spreads out into the different counties of England. I think this challenge will encourage me to read books from different corners of the country and to become more aware of the image that they present of those areas. Even if I end up reading only books set in London, they’ll at least provide me with differing views of the city.

The Rules are as follows:

  • The challenge begins on the 1st January 2015 and ends on 31st December 2015, but you can also join in later.
  • You can sign up any time between now and the end of 2015. Only books read after 1st January 2015 count, though.
  • Choose a level (below), but do not feel obliged to pick your books or even your counties beforehand.
  • Because this is a classics blog, I’d encourage people to read classic novels, but how you define classics is up to you.
  • You are not limited to English authors. If the book is set in England, it counts for the challenge even if it was written by a non-English author.
  • It would be great if you blog about the books you read for each county but you don’t have to. If you do, you don’t have to feel obliged to give any information about the county in general other than, maybe, “This is my review of x which is set in the county of x“. You could also include a description of the landscape in your posts, but again you don’t have to.
  • You do not have to read the books in their original language, translations are accepted.
  • Audio books, Kindles, and whatnot are accepted too.
  • Poetry, plays, biographies, and autobiographies count as well as novels.
 The Levels:
  • Level one: 1 – 3 counties
  • Level two: 4 – 6 counties
  • Level three: 7 – 12 counties
  • Level four: 12 + counties

Because I truly want to challenge myself, I’ll go with Level three: 7–12 counties. I doubt the result will go anywhere above eight, but to reach the minimum of seven counties means that I’ll need to read at least one book for the challenge every second month. Should be doable? I won’t be making a extensive itinerary for my journey, but based on the books mentioned in the master post, I’ve picked a few classics that I have high hopes to visit.

Berkshire
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare

Cumbria
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

West Midlands
Middlemarch by George Elliot (fictional?)

Dorset
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Hampshire
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Shropshire
Howards End by E. M. Forster

Please check out o‘s blog, Behold the Stars, for more recommendations if you’re interested join in!

In addition to writing down classics and marking my journey, I’ve also decided that as with every journey, there’ll be detours on this one as well – in this case, Modern Detours. This means that in 2015 I’ll also keep track of non-classic books set in England, and try to see how my contemporary journey differs from the classical one.

The Diary Entries from my Journey:

Modern Detours taken: