2019 Reading Resolutions
It’s a new year, which means it’s time for a fresh slate of resolutions! Here’s what the High Fever Books gang hope to accomplish in 2019.
Michael Patrick Hicks
Over the course of 2018, I read nearly 140 books (and yes, I’m including audiobooks in the “read” category. Yep, I’m one of those people.) and only quit six. I know my tastes and interests well enough that I’m usually pretty lucky in finding books I’ll enjoy on the regular. The vast majority of what I read over 2018 was horror, which is usually pretty typical for any given year for me, for at least the past four years. Which brings me to my first resolution of 2019.
Read more widely. I used to read a ton of crime and mystery novels, political thrillers, adventure books, and science fiction, before becoming so deeply enamored with the horror genre. In 2019, I want to get back to my reading roots, so to speak. While Stephen King is the author that made me a constant reader, I also owe a debt of gratitude to writers like Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, Tom Clancy, Barry Eisler, Vince Flynn, George Pelecanos, and Michael Crichton for opening up all these different worlds for me to explore. Having recently done some reorganizing of my bookshelves, I came across a couple books from Robert Crais and found out that I’m only four books behind on his releases and that he has a new one coming out in June. Score! I want to get caught up on his stuff, and I also just bought the first three books in Joe Ide’s IQ series. One sub-genre I’m hoping to tackle over the year is Appalachian noir, a particular segment in the mystery community that’s a total unknown to me, which brings me to goal #2.
Read more diversely. While I intend to explore a wider array of genres over the course of the new year, I also want to experience more diverse voices and viewpoints. I need to read more women, more authors of color, more non-Americans. Basically just more non-white dudes in general. Look at #1 up above. You notice anything about the writers that drew me in? What they all have in common? Reading white dudes is easy; they’re fucking everywhere! That’s not a knock, though, just a simple fact. And yeah, I’ll continue to read them throughout 2019, no doubt, but I need to spice things up a bit, add some extra flavor, hear new voices, and learn new stories. There’s a whole fucking world out there, and I need to experience it in someway, somehow.
Read more comics. Both of the above points dovetail rather nicely into this third goal, which is to work on catching up some of my Comixology backlog. Before I discovered the richness of prose novels, I was a comic book reader from a very young age. Currently, my Kindle is filled to the brim with not just a ton of novels, but a wealth of comic books from US and European publishers, created by a diverse line-up of writers and artists. Going by my Goodreads log, it looks like the ALIEN: Dead Orbit trade was the only comic I read last year (well…almost, but I’ll get to that in a minute). It’s possible that book, on top of all the bullshit with ComicsGate, and Marvel and its fatigue-inducing line-wide restarts and relaunches, cross-overs, and the firing of Chuck Wendig, were all bad enough to kill my interest in comics in 2018. I want to dig back into some of the big titles and creator-owned works in 2019, particularly from Image Comics and DC’s Vertigo line-up. I’ve missed out on a lot of incredible sounding books from those publishers and I aim to catch up on at least a few series this year. (I also maybe might’ve cheated a little bit on this one and spent the last couple days of 2018 reading ALIENS: Deliverance because I didn’t want to start a novel with so little time left in December. Keep an eye open for reviews on the two trade volumes of this twelve issue maxi-series from Brian Wood soon!)
Stop adding non-fiction and fantasy to the TBR pile, damnit! Every year I resolve to read more non-fiction, and every year I fail. Ever. Year. I might read one or two non-fic works, but I’m not going to stress about it in 2019. While I do believe broadening my horizons is a good thing and learning is and should be a life-long endeavor, I’m also not going to kill myself to fit in certain categories of work. If some titles come along that strike me as an absolute must-read, like, for instance, Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady From The Black Lagoon, then game on! But I’m also not going to go out of my way to seek out non-fiction works just to add to my to-be-read pile and have them sit there for years/decades on end, untouched. I’m going to focus on reading what I want to read, and what I enjoy reading, and hopefully broaden my scopes within those genres. That said…fantasy and I are a genre that just don’t mix well. Short of two notable exceptions, George R.R. Martin and R. Scott Bakker, I struggle getting into works of fantasy. Even when authors I typically enjoy outside of fantasy, like Myke Cole, start working in straight-up fantasy, as he did with his The Sacred Throne trilogy over the course of 2018, I struggle. In fact, The Armored Saint was one of the few titles I quit in 2018 simply because I couldn’t cross-over to that genre even though I’ve dug the hell out of Cole’s modern military urban fantasies. Unless Martin and Bakker drop a new title, and I can catch up on what I’m behind of in their respective bodies of work, I’m just gonna steer clear of fantasy altogether in 2019. Sorry, fantasy writers, it’s not you, it’s me.
Catch up on some series. Hey, speaking of that TBR and playing catch up…I’ve got some series I’ve fallen a bit behind on, like Crais’s Cole/Pike books as noted above. There’s also the last two installments in R. Scott Bakker’s Aspect-Emperor series on my shelves, waiting for me to dig into them. I’m seriously behind on works from Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, and titles from the Clancy estate. In 2018, I finally began listening to Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger books, as narrated by Ray Porter, and I aim to get caught up on those over the course of this year. Now, I’m not expecting to catch up on all of these authors and their series, but if I can make some headway into at least a few of these long-running properties I’ll be happy. The Ledger books are a given for sure, and at the moment I’m only four titles behind on Crais’s works, which is feeling pretty doable at the moment.
Mother Horror is getting mighty damn ambitious in 2019, working and reading hard to ensure that her new year is even more productive than last. Here’s her main goals for the New Year:
Read & Review 150 books in 2019! Holy shit! Just typing that number seems like both a challenge and a threat. Ha! I’m not worried. I set my goal at 100 books in 2018 and I flew past the goal without really feeling the pinch so I think 150 is doable without being ridiculous.
Schedule in reading time and stick to it. I’d like to be able to put away my laptop and phone and be 100% committed to the time I have carved out for reading without getting distracted by incoming messages, social media, etc. as much as I love promoting horror alongside everyone, I get caught up in dialog about books at the cost of spending that time NOT reading said books; changing this in 2019. So FYI, there will be long periods of “black out time” when Mother Horror retreats to the reading cave and hibernates with her book babies. Bye world!
Utilize my daily planner to keep track of posts, buddy reads, articles, interviews, Night Worms, reviews, la la la…all the things! So many bookish things and honestly, 2018 felt a bit like I poured a jar full of marbles on the table and it was only my two hands to keep the marbles from rolling off the edges and getting lost in the void. 2019 needs to be more organized—otherwise shit will go into the void and that just doesn’t feel good to me.
Here’s to #horror in 2019!
Matt’s keeping his resolutions for 2019 small and reasonable, aiming for two big things over the course of the year.
Finish off my TBR pile! Arg! Isn't this the number one thing on all reader's list? I know it is a lofty goal, but I hate staring at it knowing there are some real gems in there. So, I'm going to do everything I can to chop that pile down...at least until I see something new I want.
Read more literary greats. Every writing book I read lists off a number of great authors that should be read, every interview I listen to or read usually lists off one or two of the greats that were inspiration for the author, so I'm making it a priority to read more of these masters of fiction. Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, M.R. James, Thomas Ligotti are just some of the names I'm looking at tackling this year.
There seems to be a theme developing amongst our contributors when it comes to making headway on those glorious stacks of books to be read. Logan’s no exception, and as Matt pointed out, this is a particular problem we readers all seem to share! Here’s what Logan envisions for his bookish 2019:
It's a numbers game. This will be the third year in a row that I've done a Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I think this will be a tradition for me going forward. My number this year is 30, though I reserve the right to extend that out as needed. Because I'm the boss, and that's the way this is done.
Slay the TBR Beast. My TBR pile is a vicious creature with 48 heads and pages sharp enough to slice you to ribbons. The only way to pierce its hide is to sit on my couch and get to work. I bought a lot of books in 2018, many of which are from writers that are new to me. I want to work my way through my pile and experience all the goodies I spent several paychecks on. At which point I can buy even more books. Which brings me to my last 2019 reading goal…
Leave that comfy comfort zone. I have a stable of favorite authors that I am drawn back to time and time again. I see their names on a cover and I'm there. But my most important reading goal this year is to dial that impulse back and branch out! I want to go into other genres and steer toward writers I've never heard of. The world of books is massive and beautiful. Reading writers from different backgrounds and cultures will straighten me as both a writer and a person.