The Reading Challenge That Was/The Reading Challenge That Is

2017 wasn’t the greatest reading year for me. It’s strange saying that considering I met my Good Reads challenge, 42 books, but it’s true. You see, last year was the first year that I incorporated graphic novels into my reading challenge having always just counted the novels, but I figured they’re books too and I read them so they should be on the list. I was skeptical about adding them towards the book count mostly because it felt like cheating, outside of The Watchmen would you really consider a graphic novel as a novel novel? I would be willing to bet that a large number of you wouldn’t, but being as pro comic as I am and knowing that there is great substance in comics I decided to run with it. It was with that inclusion that I boosted my list up to 42 books for the year opposed to the 35 the year before… I think it was 35.

It turns out that the graphic novels weren’t the problem. In fact, if I didn’t include them on the list I probably would never have made my goal. I just didn’t pick really good books last year. I don’t know what happened. I guess it was a funk or something but I chose a number of books that I had these high hopes for only to find that I was three hundred pages in and didn’t care. How do you stop reading after three hundred pages? You just kind of grin and bear it and move on to the next book… whenever that may be.

Reading a bad book, or a book I don’t like, seriously messes up my reading rhythm and I felt I was spending the majority of the year playing catch up. I hit my first wall in early February with Fellside by M R Carey, a book that dragged and went on entirely too long. I couldn’t get into it for the life of me which was a shame considering I loved Carey’s first novel, The Girl With All The Gifts, so much. It kind of set the tone for the year. From there it was kind of a smattering of books that didn’t go so well. Firestarter was my first Stephen King book of the year and was okay, the re-reading of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was fun but I didn’t lose my face over it, and Sleeping Beauties by Steven and Owen King was ultimately a massive disappointment for me. I could not find the rhythm in that book at all and it’s currently near the top of my least favorite Stephen King novels.

Luckily I was able to plow throw a number of graphic novels from  Marvel’s awesome Star Wars run to the brutal Old Man Logan all the way to the creeptasatic Locke & Key. I read a whole bunch of kickass graphic novels and they kind of saved the reading year for me. Don’t get me wrong, I read some pretty solid books too. I loved, loved, loved the Shades of Magic trilogy and the conclusion of the Passage trilogy. I think All the Birds In the Sky was my favorite read of the year as magic and technology clashed while The Rest of Us Just Live Here was the last book I remember really enjoying for the year. There were books to be excited about just not enough for my liking making me feel like the year on a whole was kind of a bust. I didn’t care for it.

Reading is my favorite aspect of my day. I look forward to it constantly, sometimes I build my day around it, so when it’s a reading slump year it kind of blows. But you know what they say about a slump, just keep plugging along until you break through. I’m not sure if that’s what they say exactly but I think it’s the general idea, right? Let’s say that it is for the sake of this column. 2018 has arrived and with it a new reading challenge.  Instead of harping on the crappy reading year in 2017 I decided on focusing all my energy on making this a stellar reading year. Now I’m not so worried about including graphic novels into the challenge (which is now set at 45) as I can read a novel and a graphic novel side by side thus giving me more things to read. Boom, increase those numbers. I’ve got a rough idea of what books I’ll be opening the year with, starting with Mr. Robot’s Red Wheelbarrow a book that bridges the gap from season one and two while addressing that mega twist of season two, and another Star Wars graphic novel (seriously I’m addicted at this point). I’m feeling optimistic. The books in my sights all seem good and promising. I have no lingering hangover from the book choices of 2017. 2018 is going to be my reading year. All I hope for is a little more balance between novels and graphic novels. Graphic novels kind of bailed me out of my reading challenge in 2017, I’d prefer if they just added to the awesome this year.

How about you guys? Did you get to read as much as you would have liked last year? What were your favorite books? Did you have any similar issues where a book just never seemed to end? Sound off in the comments below or if you want to talk books or throw suggestions my way you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. Here’s to successful reading challenges across the board. Maybe we can even start that I Am Geek Book Club we mentioned once and never addressed again. Thoughts?

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