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  • Writer's pictureEmily

My 2022 reading challenge check-in

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Well, it wasn't great, and it wasn't bad.

Part of my reasoning behind this goal (read my own shelves) was that I am always buying new books that look great and then re-reading old faves from my shelves or borrowing from the library, and this goal would remind me to read books that I've already bought. And that part worked! I read or at least DNF'd 12 books. I also got rid of five books; one of those was a very dirty and worn out used copy from a library sale. I'm not sure how many books I bought this year- not alot- but I can say that I didn't make any room on my bookshelves.

Another minor fail is that I never have finished my book from May- Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems. BUT, I still have it out on an ottoman in my living room, and I pick it up from time to time. I'll read two or three poems at a time. If I'd been more consistent with that, I would have finished it, but sometimes I am just not in the mood. Sometime can be a long stretch. I will just keep picking through it until I have read them all. And then it will almost certainly go right back on the shelf. Oh, well.

I've just gotten the last two books done by DNF-ing one that I could tell I wasn't going to get into. I'd read about 15% of it, and I just didn't like it. I would've been fine going into the first week of January to finish, but it was kind of satisfying to ditch it on the afternoon of the last day of 2022.

Jan: London: a Short History

How it started: read my own shelves challenge, last Jan.

Feb: Fairest

March: Love and Friendship April: Will in the World May: Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems

June: McKinley, Robin- Sunshine (DNF) July: Pearl-McPhee, Pearl- All Wound Up (DNF) These were just two that I couldn't get into. I've read a few other books by Robin McKinley that I liked alot, so I tried this. I think that this book would be classified as urban fantasy, which I'm not crazy about. There's some imagined slang that got on my nerves, like 'fo for info. The idea of a globenet seems to have been a little ahead of its time- if I'm remembering right, high-speed internet wasn't very advanced in 2003. It's a vampire story, and the main character is finding out that she has magic or something and trying to make sense of that. It's OK, but I just lost interest. I read half of it, and I'm going to give it away. It's the second book from my read-my-own shelves reading challenge to be cleared off my shelves.

All Wound Up is a book about knitting, among other things. The writer is really popular (known as the yarn harlot), so I was curious. They were short essays and I just wasn't feeling it.

August: Steinbeck, John- The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Nights This is a translation of Sir Thomas Mallory. I took notes as I read.

Merlin had to tell Arthur once "that was a quest, you’re supposed to do something about it." (I'm paraphrasing.) It was a damsel on a white palfrey, Arthur! Obviously that’s the beginning of some dumb quest!

These people literally made decisions by knocking each other off of horses. There’s hardly any evidence of anyone doing anything noble- nobility just comes from being descended from landowners and having enough money for good armor.

Rape is very casual. When Igraine finds out that her husband was dead before Arthur was conceived, she’s really glad that he isn’t a bastard. Never mind that she was tricked into having sex with a duplicate of her husband. There naturally aren’t many women in the story, and I think it’s possible that Mallory never spoke to one in his life. In Igraine’s longest speech, she explains to Uther that when the man who looked like her husband came into the house, she immediately led him to bed like a good wife should. I know that they had different standards of gender relations and hygiene back then, but come on! He’d just ridden there from a battle! Imagine how the man smelled. Maybe when Merlin changed his appearance, he cleaned the man up too? Also, he’s a gross rapist, but she didn’t know that until they were married, and now her child is legitimate, and what else could she possibly care about?

Another character is brought by his father to be knighted because he was useless on the farm and only wanted to sword practice, and then it comes out that a king had taken the mother’s virginity “half by force” as she says it, and everyone’s happy because the king gets a grown son, the man who raised him is okay with it because it was before his wife knew him, and clearly the woman was happy because….?

There’s alot of people killing other people because someone looked at someone wrong.

I can see that this is supposed to partly be about having a code and standards more evolved than who can knock other people off their horses best.

I liked it better as it went along. The last story, about Lancelot, was good.

(This one took forever, so I was still working on it in September, and did 2 in December).

October: Help for the Haunted

November: Tolkien, JRRR- The Fall of Gondolin

I figured out while reading this why I don't like The Simarillion as well as LOTR or The Hobbit. At first, I thought that it was just too sad, but there were some fascinating stories about the elves, so I re-read it and liked it better. But while reading The Fall of Gondolin, I kept thinking, this story needs some hobbits. You know going in that it's going to be sad- even if you haven't read The Simarilion, it's about a place named Gondolin that falls, so, not happy. I think that the next time I'm going anywhere with a used book store, I'll probably let this one go. I could probably read Lord of the Rings on a loop for five years without getting tired of it, but this is kind of a drag. That said, you bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to get ahold of a copy of The Fall of Numenor. I don't know what to expect, but there's only one way to find out, right?


Sager, Riley- Lock Every Door

I ditched Everyone Knows How Much I Love You. I just couldn't get into it. I hated the MC, who I thought was being stupid and self-destructive; I have to say, I didn't get very far into it, so someone who read more might have a very different take. It's the kind of thriller about a woman acting crazy that I just don't like.

I read Lock Every Door very fast. It's a kind of book-within-a-book, with the alternating chapters of the main character's narration and chapters from a true-story book that her dad wrote about the haunted house they lived in when she was a kid. I liked the set-up and was really into it about halfway through, and then I started to sour on it, but it was a fast read. I think I finished it within a day.

So, that was my awesome 2022 reading challenge. I actually cleared a few books off of my shelf and read some that I'd held onto for years and years. I think the oldest was from when I was in grad school, seventeen years ago!

This year, I'm going to have another easy, low-key barely-a-challenge. I'm going to read books from some of the dozens of lists around. The Rory Gilmore challenge is where I'll start, because I actually bought a few from that list when I was serious about it a few years ago, and then they were in storage forever. I'm looking forward to the reading. :)

If anyone has a cool reading challenge or list, please leave a comment.


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