One of the great unintentional perks of being an educator is the occasional snow day. There’s a lot less anticipation involved now; when I was young, I would watch the local news channel, waiting with bated breath as the delay and closure ticker moved through the alphabet, hoping to see my school’s name. Now, my phone buzzes at 6AM and simply tells me if class is cancelled, at which point I turn my alarm off and go back to sleep. Regardless, there’s nothing quite like an unexpected day off, when you can sit inside in the warmth and look out on the snowy landscape. Granted, at some point I’ll have to chisel my car out of the layer of ice that’s inevitably going to form over it, but for now I’m not worried about that. For now, I’m enjoying the unexpected freedom and writing my first post in eight months.
This time last year, I shared a link on my Facebook page to a reading challenge. Rather than focusing on meeting a simple quota, this challenge was designed to diversify my reading habits. Despite my efforts, however, I came up a bit short, only reaching twenty-one of the twenty-six items on the list. Some of them were easy; I was able to check off criteria like “female author,” “adapted into a film,” and “written in the 20th century” rather quickly. Other categories, like “set in my hometown,” for instance, were trickier (I didn’t actually manage to complete that one. If anyone knows of a good book set in the Allentown area, let me know!).
While I could easily go into detail on each of the books that I read for this list, that would be a rather lengthy and uninteresting blog post. I do, however, want to share a few of my favorites, and the categories that they met on my challenge:
Translated: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski - I read this fairly early in the year, after learning that the Witcher video games were based on a series of short stories and novels. The series plays a lot with fairy tales, but not in the cliched “dark fairy tale” sense. It’s very much about the power of storytelling, and how people want to idealize and romanticize the world, even (or perhaps especially) when it's bleak and terrible. In doing so, it has a lot of fun with fairy tale tropes and characters.
Memoir: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day - I’m not generally one for memoirs, but I enjoyed this, and not simply because I’m a fan of Day’s awkward, geeky humor. Her journey from World of Warcraft addict to creator of “The Guild” was interesting and even inspiring. It’s a quick read, too; I flew through it in two days.
Self-Improvement: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman - Obviously, this doesn’t look like a self-improvement book on the surface, but hear me out. I’ve made no secret of my fondness for Pullman; in fact, it was the subject of my last post. One of the reasons that I’m so fond of his writing is that I find it motivational. Good writing moves the reader, and Pullman’s writing inspires me to write more of my own (something I did rather little of during 2017). Diving back into his world reminded me why I love writing in the first place, and gave me a much-needed kick in the backside.
The full list of what I read in 2017 can be found here, if you’re interested. As of yet, I have no reading challenges planned for 2018, but I do have a list of books I have my eye on, first among them being Andy Weir's Artemis. If anyone knows of any challenges that are more than just volume-based, share them below.
Did you attempt any reading challenges last year? Did you come across anything that you really enjoyed?
Writer, professor, occasional ruminator