My reading this past year: 2011

If you know me, you know that I love to read. It seems when I find out someone else likes to read, I feel an instant bond. When I find out that we like to read similar genres, that person feels like a long lost cousin. When I find out that someone has read some of the same books I have, especially a novel or two that I really enjoyed, I declare that person my adopted sibling. I know. I take it too seriously.

Just to be weird, I’d like to break down what I read this past year. I have been keeping lists of what I read since 2003, and here is the latest.

I’ve rated the books by giving them five points, five being the best possible score. Here is the list broken down by genre:

Science Fiction:

  • A Player of Games, Iain M. Banks (3/5)
  • Awakening: Dead Forever Book 1, William Campbell (1/5)
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5/5)
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (3/5)
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (4/5)
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (5/5)
  • Ariel, Steven Boyett (3/5)
  • Use of Weapons, Iain M. Banks (4/5)

Urban Fantasy:

  • Play Dead, John Levitt (3/5)
  • Uncertain Allies, Mark Del Franco (4/5)
  • River Marked, Patricia Briggs (4/5)
  • Death Masks, Jim Butcher (4/5)

Books on Writing:

  • How Not to Write a Novel, Howard Mittelmark (4/5)
  • The Nighttime Novelist, Joseph Bates (3/5)
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne (5/5)

Non-fiction:

  • American Government, Paul Soifers (3/5)
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions, Brandon Toropov (4/5)
  • Quitter, Jon Acuff (3/5)
  • Pocket Guide to 2012: Your Once-in-a-Lifetime Guide to Not Completely Freaking Out, Jason Boyett (5/5)

Drama:

  • The Importance of Being Ernest, Oscar Wilde (3/5)

Contemporary Fiction:

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Stieg Larsson (5/5)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer (5/5)
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett (5/5)
  • Memoirs of an Antihero, Drew Blank (2/5)
  • Choke, Chuck Palahniuk (4/5)

Classics:

  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (5/5)

Notes about my reading this year:

  • Without intention, I began and ended the year reading one of Iain M. Bank’s novels from his Culture series: A Player of Games and Use of Weapons. I have five more to go and I have decided to go ahead and begin 2012 by reading the rest of the series.
  • For the first time, I read books on a Kindle! I still read several of the books listed above in hard copy and even checked some of them out from the library.
  • I read about one book every two weeks. Wish I could read faster.
  • Rereads: Ender’s Game. This is at least the third time I’ve read it.
  • Worst book of the year: Awakening. Sorry, it was just too juvenile.
  • Favorite book of the year: The Hunger Games. I know this book is hyped, but it really kept me in suspense. I can’t wait until the movie.

Well, that’s my reading for this year. Can’t wait to see what worlds I will explore in 2012.

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New Year’s Revolutions for the Mind

In 2012, I promise to . . .

  • Not take myself so seriously. I will laugh at myself at least once a day and encourage my friends to join me in the chucklehood.
  • Try harder to see things from the other person’s perspective. I will realize that not everyone has lived life in the save way I have, nor have they had the same experiences I have had.
  • Not make assumptions. How many times have I made a judgment call about someone without getting the full story. And if I don’t get the full story, I won’t make that judgment call.
  • Learn when to not take things so personally. It’s usually not about me.
  • Stand up for myself more often. Sometimes people really are being jerks and I have to do them a favor and point it out.
  • Cry more often. Women are all over this and that’s why they usually live longer. C’mon guys, it’s a great stress reliever and there are things we need to be more upset about.
  • Cry less often. Stop being such a big baby.
  • Pick my battles more wisely. If it doesn’t matter a day, a week, a month or a year from now, why fuss over it? What do I really need to fight about?
  • Speak up sooner. As Barney Fife use to say: “Nip. It. In. The. Bud.”
  • Conquer one of my fears. Wow, in the past when I face one of my fears, I feel rewarded.
  • Be nice to someone who has absolutely nothing to offer me. It’s easy to be nice to someone if I feel they have something to offer.
  • Smile and say hi to complete strangers more often. Who cares what they think.
  • Memorize something everyday. It could be a quote, a poem, an affirmation, lyrics to a song, a recipe, scripture or something really practical like how to change a tire.
  • Listen. I will make it a habit to really, really, really listen to what someone is trying to say instead of what I want to say.
  • Have a scream space. This is easy for me because I live alone. I will go into my walk-in closet about once a month (or when necessary) and scream at someone whom I want to strangle.
  • Keep in touch with my friends more often. I’m so bad at this. Facebook helps, but I need to deliberately contact someone I haven’t spoken to in a while and encourage them. I’ll try and do this once a week or so.
  • Keep on top of my goals. Ask myself every morning “What three things do I need to do today? This week? This month? This year?”
  • Explore a new route in creativity. I have always explored creativity through the venues of writing or drawing or painting. I think it’s time to learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Have a backup plan. Evaluate the areas in my life that may need a backup plan. What if I lose my job? What will I do if someone close to me dies? What if my house burns down?
  • Stay in the habit. Make a list of things I need and want to do on a daily basis and do those things.
  • Break out of the habit. I will not get into a rut.
  • Look at this list on a daily basis and see where I am at.

Does anyone have anything to add?

Work from home!

This kind of sounds like me a long time ago.

I wrote 100 short stories I’m glad you’ll never see

Some learning tips from this article:

“The one consolation through all this was that my stories did improve — slowly — and I was just aware enough of my shortcomings as a fiction writer to keep sloughing layers of dead skin. ”

“Looking back at them now, these stories that once seemed so wild and vibrant now seem amazingly bland, because the characters are nondescript. Literally, “nondescript” is the best word for them — they’re not really described very well, and they’re mostly ciphers on which a bunch of action is hung. The stories are over before they really get going, or they drag on and on without developing anything.”