The year 2018 has already passed and I’d unbelievably read more than 40 books! This is a record breaking since I’d never read more than thirty books in a year before. But perhaps it’s more due to my determination to finish all volumes of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer manhua series (a.k.a comic books) so it’s not really a record after all. Be that as it may, I’m still pretty proud of myself and particularly happy because among those 40-something books there wasn’t a single disaster. Not once did I ever give a 2-star rating. All of them were marvelous, great reads.
There were of course some best books among others, some which were so outstanding that I cannot help but pick them as the best of the best for last year. And they were (not in any particular order):
- Raden Mandasia si Pencuri Daging Sapi (Yusi Avianto Pareanom)
- Gentayangan (Intan Paramaditha)
- Hotel Tua (Budi Darma)
- Surat Panjang Tentang Jarak Kita yang Jutaan Tahun Cahaya (Dewi Kharisma Michellia)
- Buku Latihan Tidur (Joko Pinurbo)
Yes, they’re all Indonesian books (4 fiction and 1 poetry books). If anyone wonders why my last year’s bests end up without any single foreign/translated book all I can say is that beside those 17 volumes of Chinese and Japanese comic books I finished, I mostly read Indonesian books in 2018. I did read, and like, Human Acts by Han Kang and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, but unfortunately those two fascinating novels couldn’t compete with my choices above. My best 5 last year were truly, truly somehing that were so great, so entertaining, so meaningful and so relatable to me in many ways. I’m currently reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, and so far I like it so much, but for my “reading-like-a-snail” habit I might have only finished it in the middle of January.
And oh, for those who are curious, the English edition of Gentayangan by Intan Paramaditha will be released by the UK’s Harvill Secker in 2020. You might want to catch it up.
Of course, as much satisfied as I might be with my last year’s reading, there were still some books that didn’t live up to my expectations. They were not necessarily bad or so below my standard, it’s just I thought those books would really blow my mind and be worth my writing a review. But no, they were pretty good, but my slight disappointment made me too lazy to produce even a single word out of my brain. They were Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, Love Her Wild by Atticus, and Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. Yep, you read it right. A book by Isabel Allende, one of my favorite authors. While I loved the Tripartite so much, Eva Luna, in my opinion, was not up there at the same level. The narrative was a little bit boring, the main female character was like she’s going nowhere, and there was too much haste in building the romantic relationship between her and the second male character that I almost couldn’t believe they are truly in love. However, this doesn’t mean that I will not read any of Allende’s works anymore, but perhaps I need time to heal my disappointment and pick up another one.
The year 2018 also marked my new (and unwelcome) habit: polygamous reading. I’m a very focused person. I don’t like to, and cannot, do two or more things at the same time, and yet last year I suddenly jumped into this particular habit of reading two or more books at the same period. I felt like I was easily bored, easily distracted by something else. When I hadn’t done with this book, I would go to the library and borrow that book. When I knew I had to finish a certain book as soon as possible, I’d turn around and read some comics. It was very mentally exhausting but I kept doing it. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why I have not done reading the book The Smiling, Proud Wanderer by Jin Yong, because I ended up reading Gu Long’s Seven Killers instead (which I haven’t finished yet!). I hate this and I want to get out of it. Hopefully in 2019 I will not do the same “mistake” again.
Speaking of 2019, I also hope I can read more books (I mean, not comic books) and write more reviews this year. This blog had been a dark pit of almost emptiness as I felt too lazy to write a review for every book I’d read last year. I still kept it alive, yes, but it was not as active as in the past. Hope this year my spirit will kick in and I’ll be writing more book reviews and articles. But, well, that might be a bit difficult since I’ll have to get away from Twitter and watching C-Dramas then XD.
So what’s my reading plan for this year? Well, I’m thinking of reading some Orhan Pamuk again since I haven’t gotten my hands on any of his books for so long and I feel as if I’ve been betraying him. And perhaps I will read more books by women (something I never cared to do before) just because… Other than that, I maybe, maybe, will try and pick up The Smiling, Proud Wanderer again and finish at least one volume of the whole four. Last but not least, I intend to read more foreign/translated books to make up last year’s lack of the genre. Don’t get me wrong, I will still read Indonesian books (fiction or poetry) as it has been my “personal project” to explore my own country’s literary landscape, but this time I want to make some balance. So hopefully I can manage that.
That’s it my review of last year’s reading activity and some reading plan for 2019. I really, really hope there won’t be too many changes and most of everything will be as I have planned. What about you, readers?