The New Year Book Tag

I spotted this book tag at Anniek’s Library and thought it would be fun to do. The original creator is the YouTube Channel Bookables.

I. How many books are you planning to read this year?

I never set myself goals to read a specific number of books (if anything, I need to set myself goals to read less, because my free time is all about reading, as opposed to doing other beneficial activities!). I think I read around 80 books last year, so I think I may do about the same this year.

II. Name five books you didn’t get to read in 2020, but want to make a priority in 2021?

(i) Deep Water [1957] by Patricia Highsmith;

I have always been a fan of Highsmith based on just three of her books – The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Price of Salt and Strangers on a Train, but last year I also read Patricia Highsmith’s Edith’s Diary and The Tremor of Forgery and was impressed all over again with this author’s mind, craft and talent. This January (the 19th) was Patricia Highsmith’s centenary and it is all the more reason to pick up nuanced and psychological Deep Water, which promises to be a special mystery/thriller that is well-characterised and twisty, centering on a married couple where the wife is given free rein to choose her lovers – only to see one of them murdered unexpectedly. A film adaptation by Adrian Lyne (9 & 1/2 Weeks, Jacob’s Ladder) is set to be released later this year.

(ii) First Love and Other Novellas by Samuel Beckett;

I did not read any Beckett in 2020, although I planned to do so. Goodreads says that First Love and Other Novellas are “four novellas [which] are among the first major works of Beckett’s decision to use French as his language of literary composition. Rich in verbal and situational humour, they offer a fascinating insight into many of the issues which preoccupied Beckett all his working life.”

(iii) The Exiles [2020] by Christina Baker Kline;

This is a new book that is already gaining a reputation of being a good read. I did not get a chance to read it in 2020, but I will prioritise it for 2021 because I love books which are set in distant lands and which focus on particular time periods. On Goodreads I read that The Exiles is “an ambitious, emotionally resonant novel that captures the hardship, oppression, opportunity and hope of a trio of women’s lives in nineteenth-century Australia.” This is said to be a story which “brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna.

(iv) Village of Stone [2003] by Xiaolu Guo;

Set in China and written by a Chinese-born British author, this book is about a girl’s struggle to lead a normal life amidst all the hardship she encounters in her native China, including natural disasters and poverty. This book is about haunting memories, loneliness and finding solace within oneself.

(v) A Burning [2020] by Megha Majumdar.

This book is said to be for readers of Tommy Orange, and I previously liked Tommy Orange’s imperfect, but convincing and unusual debut There There [2018]. A Burning is also a debut and focuses on three characters whose lives become intertwined in contemporary India. One character, Jivan, wants to rise above her poor upbringing when she becomes a suspect in a terrorist attack; another, PT Sir, wants political standing and power, and can use Jivan’s situation to his advantage, and, the third is Lovely, a social outcast, who have certain signing and acting aspirations, taking their lessons in English from Jivan. The novel is said to have much to say on contemporary India’s social problems and the criminal justice system.

III. Name a genre you want to read more of in 2021?

Probably, historical-fiction. Property by Valerie Martin, Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar and Augustus by John Williams (Stoner [1965]) are high on my TBR list. I also want to read more authors from Africa.

IV. Three non-book related goals for 2021?

(i) To improve my Japanese even further (I now know the Hiragana and Katakana “alphabets” and some fifty Kanji characters – I need to focus on speaking and listening); (ii) to improve my piano skills and be able to finally play fluently at least two full, but simplified-for-beginner, compositions from films (I chose “The Godfather”, “Forrest Gump” and “Schindler’s List” themes); and (iii) to intensify my yoga & meditation practice (that contributes to boosting my mental health and overall well-being!).

V. What’s a book you’ve had forever that you still need to read?

I have two books by Evelyn Waugh that have now been for ages on my TBR list. They are Brideshead Revisited [1945] and A Handful of Dust [1934]. Perhaps 2021 will be the year when I finally read these classic books.

I am not tagging anyone, and if you are reading this, I am interested in reading your answers! What are your reading goals for 2021? Do you plan to read certain authors or books?


13 thoughts on “The New Year Book Tag

  1. My only plans for 2021 aren’t very specific but I plan to read/listen to more collections of shorter works—essays and short stories. So far, I feel like it’s fast tracking me into having a better understanding/appreciation for a particular author’s voice and writing style. The author’s I’ve looked at so far include David Sedaris, James Baldwin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

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    1. Your exploration of short stories and essays sounds great! I hope you like your future selection. I have never been much of a short story reader, but in the last year I surprised even myself by reading some and enjoyed them (mainly Japanese authors). I also now think that it is a good method “to get a feel” for an author and their writing. I am not too familiar with David Sedaris, but have heard good things about his book Calypso. Likewise, James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s books remain on my TBR. This year I really want to delve into short stories by Guy de Maupassant.

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  2. I never set any reading goals – being a mood reader I prefer just to see which (and how many) books I feel like reading. If possible, I would like to read more translated literature, though. Your backlog from 2020 looks good, especially The Exiles and Village of Stone. Hope you get to read all of them.

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  3. I didn’t know you played piano 🙂 Now seems like a good time to practise more, now that most of us are spending more time at home. I don’t have any sheet music from films at all, although I do have the score of the Cats musical.

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    1. I started learning the piano only last January and I still consider myself a beginner (more or less). And, yes I love practising playing simplified film scores. They provide some respite from my usual dose of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach & Purcell beginner drills and pieces. There are so many film scores I want to be able to play one day, including Nyman’s The Piano and Yared’s The English Patient. Do you play? The score to the Cats musical is very popular, isn’t it? I may have it too in one of my books, though I am not sure.

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  4. I do always set a number for my reading goal but this year I’m trying to also set weekly goals (ex. read a certain number of chapters). Good luck on your piano goals too! I used to play much better than I do now but recently my oldest daughter has expressed interest in learning so I’m hoping to teach her some basics and excited to get back into piano a bit.

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  5. Best of luck with your 2021 goals! I love playing piano so am happy to see that’s a skill/hobby you’re working on, and yoga/meditation is something I should really try to spend more time on this year as well. I don’t think I’ve read any of the books you mentioned, but several are also on my TBR so I’ll look forward to any reviews you might share throughout the year! 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much! It’s great to know you play the piano too 🙂 (I think you mentioned in your previous posts that you like playing Disney classics as well? I love them also). Incidentally, I now know more than a few people here on the wordpress’s book-blogging community who play the piano. Books and pianos seem to go wonderfully together, both connected with such deep, introverted, reflective and fulfilling activities that require patience!

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      1. That’s true! Both books and instruments are great creative outlets that let us learn and expand our thinking, while potentially being relaxing at the same time (depending somewhat on the content, I suppose!).

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