Austen Almighty’s Year End Reading Wrap-Up

Another year, another reading wrap-up. In 2016 I read 28 books and it took me until the last minute to get it done– I finished my last book, Colson Whithead’s Underground Railroad about an hour before writing this. For the full list, feel free to head over to my Goodreads, where I track all of my reading.

Breakdown
Total books read: 28/28
Five Stars: 5
Four Stars: 11
Three Stars: 12
Two/One Stars: 0

As I’ve said in the past, I vet my books fairly carefully because reading bad books is a waste of time, so this distribution is not surprising. I did read more 3-star books than usual, however.

As far as patterns go, I started strong and had a major dip during July and August. I had a lot of reading to do for school this semester, of which Too Big to Fail was one, which hurt my year-end totals. Luckily, because of my good start I was only two books behind at the end of the semester and I was able to safely complete my goal.

Five Favorite Titles
1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (the first book I read this year and yes, also my favorite. Read my review here.)
2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (I actually gave this book four stars, but it also really inspired me to write, and I know I’ll be using to for reference in the future.)
3. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Although, much like the last half an hour of Interstellar, the ending of this book lost me, I find myself thinking about it all the time.)
4. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (There’s not much more to say than what has already been said. Read my review here.)
5. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan (Literally just the most delightful thing I read all year. I like to look back and remember how happy this book made me.)

My goal next year is to read 29 (new) books with enough time to re-visit older titles at the end of the year. This will require some more consistency on my part, though my shelves are in disarray since I can’t have all my books with me at once. First on the docket is Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker, mostly because it’s the only book I actually have with me on vacation.

2017 Resolutions

In 2017 I want to be more like Lin-Manuel Miranda.

To say the least, 2016 has been a less than stellar year. But during the rocky course of time I’ve found that I have gained some perspective and a little bit of insight.

Probably the best part of the year is that Hamilton and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda continued to be a bright spot in the world, an endless source of creative out-put, positivity, and kindness. In 2017, I want to be more like him.

Far too often we view the world with apathetic eyes. This is something I have resorted to many times in the past. The world is hard— emotions are hard, so it’s easier to look away and feel nothing. I want to change that about myself. I want to care deeper and wider than I have before. I want to be moved to tears by the great and terrible acts of humanity. I want to experience the euphoria of the highs and yes, the despair of the lows. These things makes us more empathetic. We need to be more empathetic.

I want people I know in life to see me as someone bright and encouraging, someone who can be relied upon in highs and lows. This is not to say I want to completely abandon the part of myself who is calm under pressure and pushes through hard times. Rather, I find a need to strike a balance and free my emotions from how I often keep them inside.

Finally, I have a renewed desire to create. To create beautiful things that inspire emotions or thought. It’s something I’ve come to terms with, but I’m not truly happy unless I’m doing something. I need to be writing or learning something in order to feel fulfilled. Part of this need will be satisfied by a upcoming semester where I will surely be just as busy as the last, but another concrete goal I’ve set for myself is to learn how to code (HTML/CSS to start). Not only do I find coding interesting, but it also happens to be a great, marketable skill. I’ll try my hardest to document that process here.

2016 was a year of change. I have always hated change, if it comes suddenly and defies my expectations of something. This past year I have been forced to accept it, deal with it, because there was simply no other option than to keep moving forward. In 2016 my world changed; in 2017 I will be the one changing.