Last year’s books and next year’s plans

Well, it’s a new year, and although I usually make kind of half-assed, unspoken resolutions (except for the time I resolved to floss every day, which is also the only resolution I’ve ever kept for a full year), this year I’m going to lay out some specific goals for the blog—because I’m just sick of writing blog posts a year after reading the book (or, ok, two years at this point, which is just objectively ridiculous)—and I’m letting you know about it because if I manage to follow through, there will be a serious uptick in e-mail notifications and I don’t want anyone to be annoyed (at least not without being forewarned).

So until I catch up—and possibly on into the future—I’m going to try to keep my posts short and informal. I’m going to try to focus less on the literary merits of the work in question, which I often feel unqualified to judge without a grounding in the culture, and instead more on what was interesting or what I learned from the story. I’ll aim to post a book review weekly until I’m caught up.

2019-02-28 15.27.54-2
Books from Malaysia

I have also been somewhat bemused by how quickly I have assimilated new information; I will read about a food or a concept or a historical event in one book, and then it will appear in another book or two, and by the time I’ve finished reading a country I can’t even remember what I knew before I started, and what was new to me. So I am going to try, every week or two, to post something interesting from whatever I’m currently reading.

I will also post (again, weekly) a brief update of my reading from the past week. This will hopefully help my writing stay more current and fresh, since I’ve been getting very bogged down in trying to remember and accurately portray books that I’ve read a year or eighteen months ago. This might be combined with the former category, or it might be a separate post.

This adds up to two to three posts a week, a tenfold increase in frequency from my current rate of a post every month or so. Given that I currently have a five-month-old and a three-year-old and my life is somewhat full at the moment, it may be overly ambitious to try to start this now and it’s entirely possible I will not keep to this schedule and decide to spend my time doing something more useful, like the editing work I actually get paid to do, or painting, or teaching myself to crochet tiny backpacks for squirrels.

More Malaysian books

This also seems like a good time to post a brief update about the past year’s reading.

In 2019 I read 39 books from this list (a number that does not include “Sejarah Malayu,” The Malay Annals, which I’ve been reading since February and should probably accept that, at this point, I’m not going to finish), bringing the total of books read to 166, and leaving me 1990 books left to read. Of these 39 books, 9 were added to my list over the course of the year, so at the current rate of reading it will take me 66.3 years to finish the rest of the list.

Books from Singapore

Of the books I read this year, 4 were from Brunei, 12 were from Malaysia, 19 were from Singapore, 2 were counted for both Singapore and Malaysia, and 1 was from Norway (Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell). 22 were by women, 16 were by men, and one (The Black Tides of Heaven) was by a nonbinary author. The best book I read from the list this year was probably Ponti by Sharlene Teo (Singapore), although The Terracotta Bride (Malaysia) was pretty awesome too. The worst book I actually finished was almost certainly The Forlorn Adventure (Brunei), but it was so bananas that I actually don’t regret the time I spent reading it.

Onward and upward! I have toyed with the idea of reading *only* books from the list for a year to see how many I could plow through, but due to the aforementioned small children in my life and the associated lack of sleep I have a great need for escapist literature at the moment (this year I reread Harry Potter and all the Game of Thrones books in addition to more mysteries than I care to count) so that will wait for a few years. This year I just hope to keep reading at last year’s pace, which will get me through Thailand, Burma, and possibly Laos, depending on how many books get added to and subtracted from the list as I go. I wish you all a happy 2020 and lots of reading adventures!

Books from Thailand

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