Last year, I set myself a challenge to read 50 books. I enjoyed this challenge and it was an incentive to fit more time for reading into my day, whether that meant sticking a book in my bag so I could read it as I waited for the bus or choosing to read before bed instead of watching another episode of Reign (Does anyone else I know watch this? If so, let me know and we can talk about how ludicrous and amazing it is!). This year, instead of focusing solely on quantity, I also wanted to focus on what types of books I’m reading and to encourage myself to read outside of my typical author and genre choices. To broaden my literary horizons, if you will!
At the moment, I tend to read a lot of historical fiction (I’m currently working on a historical fiction novel), magical realism, Young Adult books and contemporary poetry. A quick glance over at my bedside table confirms this: there’s a historical fiction novel (The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber), a poetry book (New Poetries VI An Anthology from Carcanet) and a book which I’m told features the Devil in Moscow and a vodka-drinking black cat (The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov). But I want to read outside my literary comfort zone and to challenge myself with some new reading goals this year.
I got the idea of a Book Bingo chart from the BookTuber Jean Bookishthoughts in her video here. If you’ve never seen BookTube, it’s a fantastic corner of the internet where funny and personable people chat about what they’re reading and I’m totally obsessed. I liked how she set herself some goals to read in genres that she doesn’t read in as often, as well as to revisit authors she already enjoys. So I was inspired to make a chart of my own:
As you can see, my chart is pretty personalized. For a start, I’ve included a few genres which I’ve enjoyed in the past but not read a lot recently, such as Science Fiction, as well as those that I’m very unfamiliar with (Romance and Detective novels). I know these genres are incredibly broad (I’d love to find a sci-fi, detective romance! That sounds awesome) and there are many subgenres within them, so this is just a jumping off point. Other personal goals I’ve included are to ‘Read a piece of modern translated fiction’, because I’ve read a lot of translated fiction from previous centuries (Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina etc.), but little contemporary fiction translated into English.
I’ve also included a few authors who I’ve read just one (or none) of their books, but who I think I’ll enjoy. Haruki Murakami, Neil Gaiman and Edwin Morgan etc.
Finally, I’ve included goals to read some nonfiction books about topics which I’m interested in: Read a book about fairy tales, read a book about spoken word poetry, read a book with feminist issues/themes (which I don’t think will be difficult as my friends and I are starting an informal Feminist Book Club this summer).
I wanted to expand my reading for a number of reasons. Firstly, as a writer, I think it’s good to expose myself to as many different styles of writing as possible because you never know where you’re going to find inspiration. Secondly, as a reader, this might help me discover new books or authors I really love. Thirdly, if I’m ever at a loss for what to read next, I can just glance at my chart! Fourthly, I like goals. Goals are cool.
As I achieve each of these reading goals, I’ll tick them off on my chart. Once I get a whole row ticked off, I’ll celebrate. Probably by buying myself a book. 🙂
Let me know if you have any book recommendations for any of these goals. I’ve only read one Neil Gaiman book (Coraline. And it has haunted me ever since), so do you have a favorite you think I should pick up? Do you have a favorite detective/crime novel that you think will be a good start to the genre? Let me know if you end up creating your own chart as well (I’d be curious to see) and I hope that your reading is exciting, diverse and stimulating.