December Reading Plans & Year-End Goals

Somehow the end of the year is less than four weeks away, so it’s time to start getting realistic about what I can read before 2018 begins. I wish I was the sort of person who was always reading books 4+ months before the release date and setting trends, but I’ve only read three 2018 releases so far, and it’s doubtful I’ll get to more than another handful before the end of the year. Any that I do read and can recommend I will round up briefly in a couple weeks or so.

I’m at least feeling pleased with myself for resuming and/or finishing all but two of the 14 books I had on hold as of last month; one I finally DNFed (The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen) and another I’m happy to put off until the new year (Paradise Road: Jack Kerouac’s Lost Highway and My Search for America by Jay Atkinson – since he’s recreating the journey taken for On the Road, I should look over a copy of that first). Ideally, the plan is to finish all the books I’m currently reading to clear the decks for a new year.


Some other vague reading plans for the month:

I might do a Classic of the Month (I’m currently reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin) … but a Doorstopper isn’t looking likely unless I pick up Hillary Clinton’s Living History. However, there are a few books of doorstopper length pictured in the piles below.

Christmas-themed books. The title-less book with the ribbon is Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak, a Goodreads giveaway win. I think I’ll start that plus the Amory today since I’m going to a carol service this evening. On Kindle: A Very Russian Christmas, a story anthology I read about half of last year and might finish this year.

Winter-themed books. On Kindle: currently reading When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow by Dan Rhodes; Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard is to be read. (The subtitle of Spufford’s book is “Ice and the English Imagination”.)

As the holidays approach, I start to daydream about what books I might indulge in during the time off. (I’m giving myself 11 whole days off of editing, though I may still have a few paid reviews to squeeze in.) The kinds of books I would like to prioritize are:

Absorbing reads. Books that promise to be thrilling (says the person who doesn’t generally read crime thrillers); books I can get lost in (often long ones). On Kindle: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

Cozy reads. Animal books, especially cat books, generally fall into this category, as do funny books and children’s books. My mother and I love Braun’s cat mysteries; I read them all starting when I was about 11. I’ve never reread any, so I’d like to see how they stand up years later. Goodreads has been trying to recommend me Duncton Wood for ages, which is funny as I’ve had my eye on it anyway. My husband read the series when he was a kid and we still own some well-worn copies. Given how much I loved Watership Down and Brian Jacques’ novels as a child, I’m hoping it’s a pretty safe bet.

Books I’ve been meaning to read for ages. ’Nuff said. On Kindle: far too many.

And, as always, I’m in the position of wishing I’d gotten to many more of this year’s releases. In fact, there are at least 22 books from 2017 on my e-readers that I still intend to read:

  • A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved Its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement by Philip Ackerman-Leist
  • In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
  • The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst
  • The Day that Went Missing by Richard Beard
  • The Best American Series taster volume (skim only?)
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne*
  • Guesswork: A Memoir in Essays by Martha Cooley
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  • The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson
  • Eco-Dementia by Janet Kauffman [poetry]
  • The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
  • A Stitch of Time: The Year a Brain Injury Changed My Language and Life by Lauren Marks
  • Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer by Antoinette Truglio Martin
  • Homing Instinct: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm by Sarah Menkedick
  • One Station Away by Olaf Olafsson
  • Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry
  • Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia by Gerda Saunders
  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
  • What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro
  • Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward*

* = The two I most want to read, and thus will try hardest to get to before the end of the year. But the Boyne sure is long.

[The 2017 book I most wanted to read but never got hold of in any form was The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas.]


Are there any books from my stacks or lists that you want to put in a good word for?

How does December’s reading look for you?

26 responses

  1. The Quincunx would make a wonderful Christmas read alhough may lead to unsocialbility.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rebecca Stott’s Ghostwalk is really interesting. It was one of our Summer School books five or six years ago and we all enjoyed it. However, it may well add to your current tbr pile because you are likely to want to go off and read around the seventeenth century background involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I picked that one up in the Honesty Bookshop (outdoor area at Hay Castle) on our last trip to Hay-on-Wye for just 50p! I don’t like the holographic cover but otherwise it is very appealing.


  3. I loved Francis Spufford’s I May Be Some Time, although it took me a long time to realise after reading Golden Hill that they were written by the same person… I also liked Peter Hobbs’ A Short Day Dying. Less enraptured by some of the new/hyped historical novels, as always – I found the Janet Ellis disappointing and the Sarah Schmidt unreadable. But I know they were well-received by others.

    I’ve got seven books left on my Kindle or in hard copy that I haven’t read, and am determined to finish them before Christmas, especially the ones I’ve been putting off for ages. I’m ashamed to say Mrs Dalloway is one of them, as is another of my ’20 Books of Summer’, now long-expired – Hild by Nicola Griffiths, which I think needs time and attention, so I might save that for the holidays themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Spufford has written such an odd selection of books on different topics. This will be my fourth book from him. Golden Hill was one of my favourites from last year.

      I’ve seen wildly divergent reviews of the Schmidt. Maybe I’ll give it a few pages and see if it seems worthwhile. (Same with Ellis — and if it’s a dud, oh well, I only paid 32p for it at a charity shop!)

      I have a few books on the go that I may well be reading into the new year; although they’re very good, they can’t really be rushed (Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor, Footsteps by Richard Holmes, Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Schmidt has a very distinctive style, so you probably will know once you’re a few pages in whether you’re going to love it or hate it!

        I thought Golden Hill was brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. So many great books! I loved Spufford’s Ice and the English Imagination. I’ve been interested in Polar exploration since a girl. Beautifully written. But I read it over a long time, perhaps a year. A Short Day Dying was the first book review I did on my blog! I found The Quincunx, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and the Bear & The Nightingale hard to put down. Strout is always amazing. Kitteridge was the first book I read by her. I discovered Pym when she was mentioned in a 1970s New York Times article about what authors were going to read that summer. The article set off a republication of all her books, which I read as they came out. I was the only one in my book club that liked Cloud Atlas; it was confusing for a bit but then I ‘got it’ and the rest of the book read quickly. I recall enjoying the Shipping News. I also liked Brook’s novel March. Not so much her last one on King David. In the Midst of Winter was a miss for me, I appreciated what she was trying for but…I am reading Winter now, just about six essays in. I am not sure what I think yet. I feel bad I have not read Ward’s books…perhaps some day…How will you choose!


    1. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed a number of the books on my stacks. In the end it will probably come down to whatever I feel like picking up on those holiday days, whether I’ve earmarked it here or not! We’ll only be at my in-laws’ for a couple days at Christmas, and then at their second home for another couple of days in the week following, but no doubt I will take an inappropriately large tote bag of books down with me each time.

      I didn’t much care for The Secret Chord either, but I’ve heard great things about Brooks’s earlier books and have this one and The People of the Book on the shelf. Too bad you didn’t like Allende’s latest; I won’t rush to read it soon. I read Knausgaard’s Autumn and thought it was such an odd mix of lovely, cliched and weird. It may very well be the same with this second volume.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m reading a Janet Evanovich for mindless laughs, then Dune by Frank Herbert for Book Club.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annabel (gaskella) | Reply

    The Bear and the Nightingale was brilliant, also Edith & Oliver, I recommend both of those. My December reading plans are rather random – which is how I like it at this time of year. With Shiny’s Christmas break I can prioritise reading whatever I want to (although I have a few Amazon Vine books to catch up on). Good luck with yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being so your photo of another book by her has aroused my interest. As for my December reading plans, I have to say they are far more moderate than yours – probably no more than 4 books!


    1. A Tale for the Time Being was one of my favourite reads of the last five years, but I still haven’t picked up Ozeki’s other books. There’s one more novel besides this one, I think.


      1. i’ll keep an eye out for your comments on this one in that case


  8. A nice variety to choose from! Are you planning on reading them all or picking some from the stacks?
    My firm December reading plans are: the last book in the Anne of Green Gables series, Rilla of Ingleside, and my book group choice, Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg. Other than that, I’m choosing from my library checkouts and my holds coming in. Realistically, I can probably read 6-7 books this month. I always want to revisit favorite Christmas movies so that cuts into my reading time at night.


    1. Hee hee, even at my rate I couldn’t read them all! I will probably end up picking one or two (at most) from each stack … or completely ignoring them and picking up something else that catches my eye. I really loved Saint Mazie. I hope your group enjoys it. We haven’t yet had our annual watching of Elf. I also begrudgingly allow the Muppet Christmas Carol to be put on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Elf, yes! I might pop that one in tonight while I work on my Christmas cards. 🙂 Glad to have your seal of approval on Saint Mazie!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Argh, Christmas cards! I’d best get started on them tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Gonna enter a solid plug for Sing Unburied Sing here, which I thought was breathtakingly good. (Also, re Joan Ashby, I know that buying a new book for full price seems a little ridiculous when there are libraries and charity shops, but if you ever want Heywood Hill to send you a little something, you need only say the word.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Annabel (gaskella) | Reply

      I’ve just started Joan Ashby – and struggled. Mainly due to the small print size and heft of the rather thick tome rather than the writing. Having to concentrate on the physical things about the book was taking away from the actual reading! Will persevere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is quite big—I read a paperback proof copy on an airplane, and not having to go anywhere much while reading no doubt helped.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Finally commenting rather than lurking in the shadows! I really liked March too and Miss Smilias feeling for snow is an old favorite. Your mention of Duncton Wood took me back, I too, like your husband, read those all when young and they transported me to the world of moles. Would be interested to see if they held up. I just want to finish all the books I have on the go before the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome! I’m glad to hear you liked those three. I shall try to pick them all up sometime over the winter. Inevitably some of the books I’m reading now will end up carrying over to 2018, but oh well.


  11. I’ve really enjoyed several of these, especially Ruth Ozeki’s first novel, although I’m not sure if you’ll enjoy it for the same reasons. The other one of hers, BTW, is All Over Creation, which I also love. (Actually, I think I loved her earlier ones more, but that’s only me.) One that I thought was very impressive, and which I think you might appreciate too, is Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State. I did love Sing, Unburied, Sing, but I think one of the things I loved about it might rub you the wrong way, so I’ll be interested to hear what you think (if you get to that one).

    As for my December, normally I am in a mad rush to finish a hundred things and then settling for 25 of them, but this year I tidied my stack very early and am ambling through Bleak House, wondering why other reading Decembers have been so messy and unmanageable! Clearly I have misplaced my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got a copy of An Untamed State for my birthday, actually! I do intend to read that, and all of Gay’s other books (I’ve only read Hunger so far), at some point, though I feel I’ll need to build up some fortitude.

      I started Sing, Unburied last night. Only 3% in but so far, so good. Your comments are intriguing…I’ll have to see if I spot what you might mean!

      That’s great that you can have a relaxed end to the year’s reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I can recommend the Ozeki and the Proulx from your lovely piles, and I’m going to put the Spufford on my own wish list (what an enabler I’m allowing you to be today as I work back through missed blog posts!)

    My December plans involve actually doing more reading as it feels like I’ve been missing out the last few weeks. I have my Iris Murdoch to read and three large hardbacks for Shiny. I did really want to chip away at the TBR before the (lovely) Christmas and birthday influx, but this starts tomorrow with the BookCrossers’ Christmas Party, so that’s not going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll look forward to seeing your book haul 🙂

      I opened up the Proulx and I swear it must have the most boring first sentence ever written. But I’m sure I could forgive her that and persist!

      Liked by 1 person

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