Goodreads reading challenge 2020 (24 books)

Every year for the past six years, I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. It is a challenge of setting yourself a goal; the number of books you would like to read for the year. And throughout the year, you track your progress, marking the books you have read, and selecting the books you are currently reading.

The lowest target I set myself was in 2017 and 2018, where I set myself to read 16 books. This is lower than my usual 24 books for the year, mainly because I was doing my part-time Master’s study at NUS while working at the same time. So I figured that I shouldn’t torture myself and set a goal that was simply unattainable given my workload and the amount of required readings for my Master’s study.

However I managed to reach my reading goals for 2017 with 19 books read, three books more than my original target set at the beginning of the year. But I wavered a little bit in 2018, with two books short of my 16 book target. It was still a decent milestone though and I was quite proud of myself in being able to set aside time to commit myself to reading a book every now and then.

2019 was the year that I set a really lofty target; 30 books. I initially wanted to make up for lost time, now that I had graduated with a Master’s Degree, I should have more time catch up on my reading. I was wrong. I was short by 8 books, reading only 22 books in 2019, 2 books short of my usual 24 books a year goal typically set in earlier years. The fact that I was 8 books short, meant that I was distracted by a lot of other things that was happening in my life.

This year, I am trying to be kinder to myself and set a goal of 24 books to read for 2020. I suppose that after all these years using the Goodreads reading challenge, 24 books seem to be my sweet spot. I have exceeded that goal a few times before, usually by one or two books.

It’s mid January and I have completed reading three books. I am not celebrating just yet, but I am confident that I am off to a great start in reaching my goals of reading 24 books this year. I am currently ahead of schedule (although who knows what is in store for me in 2020 that might ultimately derail my reading plans) and who knows if I might eventually reach 30 books by the end of the year, the highest goal that I have set for myself but fail to eventually reach it. Maybe 2020 is the year where I will smash that 30-book goal set in 2019.

On the topic of reading…

Now that HBO’s run of Game of Thrones is over, I believe now is a good time to fully immerse myself in the world of Westeros.

I read the first book many years ago, right after the first season ended. I was curious about the world, and wanted to know more about it, something the show simply cannot provide. However, for some reason, I did not continue reading the series and simply stopped at the first book. I continued watching the show till its grand finale last week, but never caught up from the perspective of the book. So here it is. I dug up the first book from my shelf and started reading it again. This time, with the rest of the books on my shelf, there is no excuse to not read those books. You can see how weathered the book is. Even my parents read the books.

I just started the first book and got to the part where Jaime Lannister pushed Bran Stark off the ledge of the dilapidated tower. How could I ever forget that scene from the show?

This is going to be an uphill task. With each book reaching almost a thousand pages, there are currently five books. I will have to cover almost five thousand pages! And not to mention two more novels that have yet to be released. That is at least a couple thousand more pages!

With two more novels in the pipeline before concluding The Song of Ice and Fire saga, I really hope that by the time I reached the end, the new books would have been released. I am in no hurry to finish the first five books. In fact, I am consciously telling myself to take my time. Screw my reading challenge that I set for myself at the beginning of 2019. It’s the number of pages that is more important!

Reading goals for 2019 (New Year Resolutions 2019)

I am an avid reader but not a voracious one. I suffer from episodes of intense reading sessions followed by absolute disgust for books. I go through these cycles several times in a year.

Apart from the magazines and news sources that I subscribe to, I am quite conservative when it comes to deciding just how many books I want to read for the year.

The goals that I have set in recent years have always been to read about 24 books a year. That works out about 2 books a month. Totally achievable. 2018 was different. I was busy with my studies. So I lowered my bar to 16. It’s the final days of 2018 and I am short by one book. And that is ok. I still find reading 16 good books in a year an achievement. Furthermore, I never lose sight of my goals and still kept at it even when the going got tough, juggling work, school and a multitude of things that have happened in my life in 2018.

2019 is the year where I swore to push myself even harder in almost every aspect of my life. 2019 is the year where I will push the envelope, going further, harder, faster and deeper. I am setting my sights higher in every aspect of my New Year Resolutions.

So what is my reading goal for 2019? I have decided to read 30 books in 2019. This is the most ambitious goal I have set for myself when it comes to reading.

Will I be able to reach my goals? As of now, I am pretty confident that I can achieve it, provided that life doesn’t throw a curveball at me.

I am going to do it. This will be set in stone as part of my New Year Resolutions 2019. Soon, I will compile my resolutions into a list so that I can write it in a brand new Moleskin notebook that will serve as a constant reminder whenever I write stuff in the notebook.

Christmas is upon us.

Today, I went to town after work to get a present for a Friend of mine. She wanted a book, by Daniel Kehneman, Thinking Fast and Slow. I bought it at Kinokuniya and had it gift wrapped. I read this book before. Or tried reading it it. I have read hundreds of books ever since I first started tracking what books I have read over the years. I started tracking all the books that I read when during my years in Polytechnic. After 10 years or so, I have collectively read close to 400 books. And these were just the ones I was able to remember and track.

Thinking Fast and Slow was one of the very few books that I selected to be in my reading list but I never gotten the chance to finish reading it when it was time to pick this book up. The book was extremely technical and academic in it’s writing that it was hard to follow. Language was not complicated, but rather, the subject matter that was discussed within those pages. As a renown psychologist who won a Nobel prize for his works in the field of the psychology of judgment, decision making and behavioural economics, this book, in order to appreciate it, requires fundamental understanding of these three topics. I clearly didn’t, or maybe not to the level that is required to fully appreciate his works and experiences as an academic who have spent his entire life researching on the topic. Now, as he wrote this book as a reflection of the fields that he has advanced throughout the years, without sufficient knowledge behind those concepts, you can easily get lost in the technical jargons founds within the pages of this book.

And so, my friend’s wish list was this book. I chose not to warn her about it, but rather just get the book as her Christmas gift. Whether or not she gets to enjoy the book is completely up to her. If she actually manages to finish reading it, then I admire her tenacity, but judging from experience, she may be able to read the passages in this book, but I highly doubt she will be able to follow the concept through at the end of each chapter. Imagine each chapter, being written and read like an academic paper. Now imagine multiple academic papers bound together to give birth to this book. The topics are complex, and the delivery, extremely dry. On a positive note, its a pretty good book to fall asleep with every night if he or she suffers from occasional insomniac episodes.

I feel bad not warning her about this book. So I decided to get her another one, based on my own personal recommendation. She won’t know that she has another gift waiting for her, until the day we exchange gifts. I hope that the second book I have chosen would serve as a counter-balance to the dense book she wished for as a Christmas gift. It calls for light reading with light-hearted humor found on almost every page. It’s none other than Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. One of the best books I have read in recent years. It is so funny. I hope she can appreciate the humor found within the pages and serves as a great alternative to Thinking Fast and Slow, should she require some light reading material. I think Born a Crime would nicely serve that purpose.

Robin Hobb: Fool’s Quest, Book II for the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy

It took me a while to complete this 800 page tome. In between work and studies the past year or so, progress on this book has been painstakingly slow. But I have reached the end of this book and as usual, another truly enjoyable epic fantasy. I lost count exactly how many of Robin Hobb’s books I have read over the years, but judging from my old blog post, I mentioned her as an author back in 2003. In other words, I have been reading her books, slowly but surely, for the past 15 years!

For the past 15 years I have followed the adventures of FitzChivalry and courts of Buckkeep with all its intrigues in all the books she has written. So many wonderful characters filled those pages, characters that grew with me all these years. I still have one more book to conclude this trilogy. Called Assassin’s Fate, I will begin reading this book probably next year, as I have other books in my list of ‘to read’ yearning for my attention, books that I have put off reading for far too long.

I have completed my post grad studies.

Two years. Two years as a part-time post grad student, working and studying at the same time. For two years I hunkered down, bit the bullet and made the arduous journey of completing my studies and finally getting my Master’s degree from NUS.

Two long years. Sacrifices were made, Something had to give. Now that I have completed it, I have time (again) for leisurely pursuits. Netflix, reading, travel. Especially travel. I am now ready to see the world once more. For too long I felt caged up and confined, unable to find time to travel and experience new things. I has been really hard, juggling work and school at the same time. And the lack of time to travel has been one of the many sacrifices I made so that I can graduate on time.

And graduate I did. Yesterday was the day I officially completed my studies. I did my thesis presentation, the final push before officially ending school. The presentation went smoothly and there were lots of emotions running through after all my classmates presented their projects yesterday as well.

For me I was really glad that this is all over. Looking back, time really flies. Two years come and gone. I am happy to have walked this journey and to reach my destination after all this time. And I did not walk alone. My classmates were there with me along for the ride. My classmates were we have become good friends, despite not seeing each other on a daily basis. Now that we have all reached the end, I can safely say that there is a tinge of sadness to say goodbye.

Of course, we will still see each other during the convocation sometime in June next year. But after that, we will go our own separate ways, our time spent together during classes are no more.

For now, I just want to indulge myself during the weekend. Binge on Netflix, catch up on the shows that I have always wanted to watch, trim down my ‘to watch’ list on Netflix. I also want to catch up on my reading. There are far too many books in my list to clear and it will definitely take time to clear them all. But now that I have time, no doubt I will devour most of them before the year is up and hopefully meet my reading target that I have set up on Goodreads.

And travel. Yes, travel and see the world. Yogjakarta in December, New York City in March, Morocco in April. Who know where I will travel next in the second half of 2019.

I am going to fully enjoy my weekends. My first weekend without having to worry about school work, outstanding video lectures, writing assignments, deadlines and time spent doing research for my assignments.

This weekend will be me and either the TV or the books.

That is what I am going to do.

My Year in Books 2016

24 books. That was the number of books I challenged myself to read for 2016. I set my reading challenge on Goodreads, and it really does help in tracking my progress. 24 books a year roughly amount to about a book every 2 weeks. Challenging for someone who constantly have to find time to set aside just for reading a book, but not impossible (I read lots of news articles from NYT, magazines online and on my smarphone such as Nat Geo, New Yorker and Foreign Affairs, so I do have a lot on my plate when it comes to reading)

And I did it (at the 11th hour, I was behind 3 books with less than 3 weeks left to 2016)

Presenting, My Year in Books 2016.

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