a reading plan for 2022, plus how the 2021 plan fared

I'm enjoying my new-ish habit of having a reading plan for the year ahead. I like having the structure and the direction. But I also like -- and need -- to keep it flexible. It's not a reading challenge. No x number of books for the year, no goal at all. I can (and do) read any book I want whether or not it's part of the plan. I'm also not tracking my reading that's not off-plan, although if I really like a book I'll probably write about it. 

So how did the 2021 plan go? Pretty great! The plan is below, with my current comments in italics. The nonfiction is all reviewed on this blog; the fiction is only reviewed if I liked it (with the exception of literary thrillers or literary crime, and the occasional series, which I don't review).


Ghosts of Gold Mountain: the Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, Gordon Chang 

Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy, Leslie Brody

The Sword and the Shield: the Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Peniel E. Joseph

Janis: Her Life and Her Music, Holly George-Warren

Poisoner In Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, Stephen Kinzer 

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Alicia Elliott

Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck, William Souder

Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit Read a few essays, will continue.

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power, Desmond Cole

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, David Treuer

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, Cal Newport


Charlie Savage, Roddy Doyle

Gilead, Marilynne Robinson Read in part, not continuing with trilogy.

The Cold Millions: A Novel, Jess Walter

There There, Tommy Orange

The Resisters, Gish Jen

True Story: A Novel, Kate Reed Perry

Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel, S. A. Cosby Loved!

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo

The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence 


The Bridge, Bill Konigsberg

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland


A List of Things That Will Not Change, Rebecca Stead (miscategorized as YA)

Continuing to read more by: I did not read more by any of these authors, but I did pick up books by all of them at Powell's in Portland.

Frans de Waal

Carl Safina

Robert Sapolsky

Giving my brain a break between nonfictions

Martin Beck, Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall Read nine of ten, probably should have stopped after seven.

Parker, Donald Westlake as Richard Stark

Long-term goals I did none of these! And two other long-term goals aren't even on this list. Perhaps I should choose one long-term reading goal for the year.

Orwell still to read: three titles

Dickens still to read: four titles

Re-start weekly chapters of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 and Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919. (Project started in 2018 but abandoned later that year.)

This year's plan is much longer. This is probably a bad idea.


A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Alicia Elliott

Men Explain Things to Me and The Mother of All Questions, Rebecca Solnit essay collections

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells

A Primate's Memoir, Robert Sapolsky

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, Andrés Reséndez

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, Annalee Newitz

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, Patrick Radden Keefe

The Turning Point: A Year That Changed Dickens and the World, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, David Grann

Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal, Mark Bittman

Galileo and the Science Deniers, Mario Livio

Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Always, John McWhorter

Four Fish: the Future of the Last Wild Food, Paul Greenberg

The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine, Janice P. Nimura

Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, Nadine Strossen

Permanent Record, Edward Snowden

Bob Dylan: Behind The Shades Revisited, Clinton Heylin

The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison "Promiscuous" Women, Scott W. Stern 

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods, Amelia Pang

Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century, Charles King

The Escape Artist, Helen Fremont

The Last Job: "The Bad Grandpas" and the Hatton Garden Heist, Dan Bilefsky

Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America, Scott Borchert

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, Barbara Ehrenreich

Fiction (will likely try many of these without reading... or so I think)

Charlie Savage, Roddy Doyle

The Resisters, Gish Jen

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo

Razorblade Tears, S. A. Cosby

Marley, Jon Clinch

Christine Falls, John Banville as Benjamin Black

Stay and Fight, Madeline ffitch

Gods With A Little G, Tupelo Hassmann

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa

The Electric Hotel, Dominic Smith

Against the Loveless World, Susan Abulhawa

Simon the Fiddler, Paulette Jiles

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice

Damnation Spring, Ash Davidson

The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Weight of Ink, Rachel Kadish

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich (I've read all her early books, but have not read her recently)


One of Us is Next, Karen M. McManus


Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood, Gary Paulsen

The Leak, Kate Reed Perry

Kaleidoscope, Brian Selznick

Pumpkinheads, Rainbow Rowell 

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, Jason Reynolds

To give my brain a break

Harlem Detective series, Chester Himes (Have read two of eight.)

John le Carré re-reads (Read one this year... so good!)

Long-term goal

Weekly chapters of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 and Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919. (Project started in 2018 but abandoned later that year.)

* * * *

One thing is obvious: this plan is too long! I hope I can use it without feeling defeated, because I can't narrow it down any further right now.


Marie Snyder said...

I pretty much just read the ones on your list that you haven't read - that is to say, not much! The Solnit was excellent, and Wallace-Wells writes well, but I didn't love his conclusion. (I say more about that here. Might I suggest Amin Srinivasan's The Right to Sex, Elizabeth Kolbert's Under a White Sky, and/or Michael Sandel's Tyranny of Merit - they were my favourite reads this year. Cheers!

Amy said...

That is one very long list. When do you find the best time for reading? I know you've said you no longer can read at night, and I know you're working during the day. How in the world did you do this? I still try to do most of my reading (outside of genealogy stuff) before bed, but I find that I usually cannot read for more than about 30 minutes a night if that much. It takes me forever to read one book now---which is not usually a bad thing.

laura k said...

Marie, thank you for sharing that review. I have a feeling I'll share the same reaction.

Amy, I think this plan is too long and needs editing -- but don't want to cut anything! I have to approach this as a "list of books to choose from" rather than a to-do list.

I think I've mentioned in past posts, I read on the treadmill, almost every day. That habit has hugely increased my reading time. I've also found that now that I'm not commuting or attending a lot of evening meetings, I can read after dinner for an hour or so. And I also get some concentrated reading time on the weekend, although that is mainly for long articles that I've saved to read later, book reviews, and (now, I hope) my long-term reading goals.

As I mentioned in my recent post about the Digital Minimalism book, I've made a conscious effort to create more space in my life for reading books, over the last 10 or so years. It's really helped me feel calmer and more focused.

Amy said...

I did forget about your treadmill reading---which I can't imagine. I tried at one time, but it didn't work for me. I've also tried on a stationery bike.

I always find it odd that I can sit for hours at the beach and read, but rarely can I do the same while sitting in my own house. When I am at home, some other chore or distraction gets in the way. I need peace and quiet to get myself immersed in a book. No music, no talking, no phone calls, etc.

With God's Help said...

Thank you for this update. I may update my lofty 2021 reading goals too. I took away your "books I could read" concept and it reduced the pressure to get through *all* the titles.

Another learning for me was around my aspirational self. As a Librarian I feel a lot of "shoulds" about reading. Bringing home books I "should" read because of the author or list (award nominee, EDI, Indigenous, etc.) they are on. These books on my shelf became a burden because I realized I just didn't want to read them. So I returned them all and breathed a sigh of relief.

laura k said...

Amy, if you can read for hours at the beach, that means you can create the conditions at home for reading for hours, too. Or reading more anyway, if that's a goal.

Sometimes when my concentration is bad, I need short "micro-breaks" after almost every paragraph. I've learned to focus on something else for a few moments, then return to the book, rather than getting up and getting involved in something else.

WGH, I'm glad you've adjusted your thinking around that! I have zero "should" reads. Even when I worked in a library where readers' advisory was a big priority, I didn't read the shoulds. We were always being told to read outside our comfort zone, read books in all genres, etc. etc. I ignored that. It felt like my job encroaching too much on my personal life, like bringing work home. I would do the librarian five-minute scan/skim thing -- but only at work! :)

wallythe24 said...

Looking at other people's list of ' to read ' are a great help for finding things I otherwise wouldn't know about.
I'm just not that disciplined in what I'm going to read next.
I have four never ending lists on the go.
One of writers I buy the day they come out. ( Three at the moment ).
Books I really want.
Things I don't want to forget to add to the previous list.
And lastly ( in my head ) writers I really want to read but haven't got round to.
Yourself and Allan have helped me go in different directions so thanks for both your posts.
Maybe I should have been a Librarian instead of a Fork Lift Driver.
I wish I had time to read more but sleep and music get in the way.

laura k said...

Wallythe24, I'm happy my book-ish posts also bring your reading along sometimes.

I can read randomly too, especially when interesting-looking books cross my path at the library. But I'm obsessed with lists, with crossing things off lists, and I feel better when I'm intentional about how I use my time.

Who are the writers you buy as soon as they come out, currently? This is a good idea for a post...

wallythe24 said...

The three day-they-come-out writers are
Dean Koontz
Mark Billingham
Linwood Barclay

I am also collecting John D. MacDonald ( the only writer I do that for ).
His British published books are not easy to find , so it's taking a while.

I haven't yet mentioned non-fiction which are
Gt. Britain and Ireland from the end of the Roman Empire to 1066.
Oh and Baseball ( obviously )
And things in and around Mods.

laura k said...

Love this -- thank you!

You probably already know that Allan also collects JDM, along with a whole slew of other pulp paperbacks.

wallythe24 said...

Yes , we had a brief conversation about him when Allan posted about Robert McGinnis.