A Glimpse of the Past Year, and Some Reading Plans

Welcome, welcome, 2017! It’s already been 8 days into the new year and it might be a little too late for me to post a recap on my reading and blogging activities of the year 2016. But since this blog has been creepily quiet (quiet?) for some time, I can absolutely not leave it empty still and do nothing to cheer it up a bit for the año nuevo. So now I’ll be doing some recap, and tell you what I have in mind (sort of) for my next reading plans.

Reading and Blogging Recap

2016 was the year of J-Lit and local books for me. I’d set myself to read Japanese literary works for the 2016 Japanese Literature Reading Challenge and managed to accomplish 8 books at the end of the year… by the month of August, I mean. That’s less than what I had expected when I started the reading for said challenge. So many things got in the way: boredom, my rekindled spirit for learning Spanish, a sense of obligation to read The Black Book—one of my must-read books of 2016!—and the failure to finish it before the year ended, Agatha Christie (yes, she and her unputdownable Poirot mysteries!)… Oh, well, whatever my excuses were, I failed. That’s the point. But still, 8 is more or less 27% of the overall 29 books I read last year (it’s actually 31, but I count Murakami’s 1Q84 trilogy as one). As for the local books, I reached the highest peak so far last year, which was 13 books. And that’s 44% of the entirety. It was really something. If you’re someone who scarcely read any works of your own country’s literature and suddenly you can finish 13 books in a year then that’s quite a deal. Trust me.

So, what about the other 8? Well, I read 1 Chinese literary work (I planned to read some Jin Yong but didn’t manage, or wasn’t encouraged enough, to accomplish the mission), 3 English books (all Agatha Christie’s), 3 American fiction books (Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector was the best, such a shame I didn’t make a review of it), and 1 book of contemporary German literature.

wp-1483846758581.jpegNext question: among those 29 books I devoured in my little quiet room, which ones made into my top list? Okay, just because I read 13 Indonesian books that didn’t mean I loved all of them, or at least most of them. No. Only two could make me gape in awe: Hujan Bulan Juni (always! Mr. Damono! Never disappoint me!) and Sepotong Senja untuk Pacarku. I loved M. Aan Mansyur’s poetry books (Melihat Api Bekerja and Tidak Ada New York Hari Ini), but the thing is… I’m not really into poetry (what an excuse! ;p). I wanted to love Puya ke Puya by Faisal Oddang and Eka Kurniawan’s Lelaki Harimau (Man Tiger) because the hype was so high and people were talking about them but no, they didn’t really work for me. Sitti Nurbaya was great, but the narrative wasn’t so very captivating. As for the others… let’s just not talk about them.
The third book which got into my favorite list last year was Christie’s Murder on the Links. It blew my mind that I couldn’t sleep, literally. I’m a sleepyhead and I always go to bed before 10 pm, 9 pm even. But this book had really dragged me way into midnight because I WANTED TO KNOW WHO THE CULPRIT WAS! No wonder people call the Dame a genius. For the fourth and the fifth ones, I must point two classic Japanese works: Rashomon and Botchan.  If you’ve been following me through my rambling on this blog from the very first start then you’ll understand. I like it when an author slap me in the face with the bitter reality of life so I can learn something, and Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Natsume Sōseki could really do that with their respective masterpieces. They’re just incredible.

Phew! That’s the reading. What about my blogging activities? Well, I have to say that I sort of lost my spirit toward the end of the year. Five books went unreviewed: Mysterious Affair at Styles, Tidak Ada New York Hari Ini, Smokol, Dan Sepi pun Menari di Tepi Hari, and The Shell Collector. I read them when I was in the throes of reading frenzy but unfortunately lacked the will to write any reviews. Some of you might wonder why there aren’t any reviews of Puya ke Puya and Sitti Nurbaya then if it’s only those 5 books that went unreviewed. Don’t worry, I’ve planned to make a special write-up on those two in the very, very near future. Just wait.

Oh, that’s not all. There’s something worse: I didn’t do the plan I’d made earlier last year to join the collective BBI blog posts on as many monthly themes as I could manage. I ended up posting articles for the themes of March, May, June, and July only. Four months! Only four out of seven possible monthly themes I could have joined. Blame it on my laziness. The bad news is, this year BBI hold a very, very interesting challenge, Read and Review Challenge 2017, but I don’t know if I’ll be joining it at all.

2017 Reading Plans

I would have asked her what her plans were, and she would have gracefully brushed back her hair and said, “Plans?”—as if that was a word I had invented.

—taken from The Moons of Jupiter

If someone asks me what my plans are for this year’s reading activities I will probably say the same as what Nichola does in Alice Munro’s short story quoted above. But I have some things in mind already. I do. I really do. The thing is, I don’t know if I can, or will, truly pursue them.

1. The first and foremost, I will, no, I have to, finish The Black Book. This is the first time ever, ever, that I’m reading Orhan Pamuk’s work without so much interest and enthusiasm. I have started the book in September (that’s four months ago!) and am still now stuck on page 320 (of 466 pages). I will not blame it on some other books I read in between, because honestly, the narrative is so exhaustingly long and tiring. It’s been Pamuk’s signature style actually and I’ve been used to it, and the premise is interesting, too. So there shouldn’t be any reasons for the delay. But… well, I don’t know. Time. Perhaps that’s what I need. And some remembrance of my love for the writer and the country he is living in.

2. Second, I will (have to) read and finish the free books I acquired last year: Eka Kurniawan’s Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea, and Mimpi Bayang Jingga by Sanie B. Kuncoro. Free books are not easy to get (that’s a fact, I tell you), and I think it’s time to be responsible for my penchant for free stuff and eat them all.

3. Last year was the year of J-Lit, so I want this year to be a Spanish one. No. I will not spend the whole time reading Spanish/Latin literature only, but I want to know more about it, to get to know deeper about it. I have a stack of Marías, Allende, Gabo, Vargas Llosa, and some other books by various Spanish/Latin writers and I want to devour them one by one. You may guess that it comes as a result of my recent learning Spanish—that’s partly true. You cannot go learning the language without learning the literature. Moreover, it’s about time that I widen my reading horizon, don’t you think?

4. Some say, “When you get what you want, will you be happier?” Yes, that question might as well apply to me. Last year I was lucky enough to get almost all of my wish-list books, but then I just left them and went reading the other books. Why? I have no idea. But this year I’ve promised myself to start reading them. Not all of them, of course. But I’ll try to read some and make reviews of them. Wish me luck 🙂

Ah, well. Those are my plans, if you ask me. A year consists of 365 days but time often flies without our realizing it, and suddenly… puff! The year ends and we get nowhere, we read nothing. I hope it won’t happen (again) and I hope I will have a stronger will to make reviews so I will be able to write better in English and liven up this dull blog.

Bye for now. ¡Feliz 2017 para todos! Happy reading and blogging!

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4 thoughts on “A Glimpse of the Past Year, and Some Reading Plans

  1. Still a great reading year and a diverse collection you read, I know what you mean about plans, I rarely make them, I love the spontaneous and the new discoveries awaiting me or even just a review that makes me excited to read something I already have on the shelf. Knowing there are books I am going to absolutely love and they are already on the shelf, I just don’t know it yet! My only plans really are, ‘a book a week’ and to read Women in Translation #WITMonth during August and #OneSummerChunkster.

    All the best and Happy Reading in 2017!

  2. As Claire said above, that’s still a very good year of reading. Soseki’s The Gate narrowly missed out on a place on my end-of-year highlights, so I should investigate Botchan at some point. There is something very appealing about classic Japanese literature, maybe it’s the quiet, introspective tone. Anyway, wishing you all the best for the year ahead – let’s hope it’s a good one.

    1. You should try Botchan! And yes, you’re right about classic Japanese literature. There’s something about it that makes us drawn easily to it. I think this year I will read again a Japanese book or two. All the best to you, too, Jacqui 🙂

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