I wrote out reading goals for the first time ever, last year. I enjoyed the project so much that I'm going to do it again this year.
Last year's goals were pretty simple: read through several series and read a list of non-fiction books. This year, I'm going to go in a slightly different direction with a longer set of goals. I want to focus on some specific authors, reread some old favorites, read some literary fiction, some hard science fiction, more non-fiction, and books that hooked me with interesting ideas.
Last year, I made an actual reading list, with the intention of reading every book on the list. This year, I'm keeping things more casual and spontaneous, by making an ideas list rather than a reading list.
For the last 4 years, I've been keeping track of every book that catches my eye. I've also been noting down what I found interesting about each book. I went through that list and skimmed off the cream. The result is a list of over 100 books that meet each of these goals. I definitely won't be able to read everything on the list but it'll give me plenty of ideas to draw from throughout the year.
I keep running across authors that intrigue me. I really like reading through an author's back catalog to get more familiar with him. This year, I'd like to focus on some specific authors that have caught my attention.
Guy Gavriel Kay writes fantasy that's often set in historical analogues to our own world. It may be fantasy, but it reads like historical fiction. I read one of his books last year and I want to read more of them this year.
Robert Silverberg is a giant in the SF field. He's been writing for decades, won countless awards, influenced the field in many ways, and has been named an SFWA Grand Master. I've read a few of his works and really appreciated the literary tone of them. I want to read a lot more.
Jack Vance is another writer that I only became aware of recently. He's another SFWA Grand Master and winner of multiple awards. His stories have a more literary tone to them. According to Wikipedia, "[a] 2009 profile in The New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of American literature's most distinctive and undervalued voices"."
I first heard of Brent Weeks from Brandon Sanderson. His simple description, "Brent is making epic fantasy novels that read with the pacing of a thriller", intrigued me. Then I started seeing his name pop up all over the place. Hint taken, Internet. I'll see what the fuss is about. The last time I did this, I discovered how much I love Jim Butcher's Dresden series. I'm hoping this is just as successful.
William Gibson is the man who launched the cyberpunk movement and inspired an entire generation of writers. I've heard of him, often, but I've never actually read him. At the urging of my team lead, I'll remedy that this year.
Reread Old Favorites
I don't often indulge in rereads. I always feel like there's too much that I haven't yet read, to spend time rereading. But there are a lot of books that I really like and this year I'm going to indulge myself by rereading a few of them.
Last April, I talked to Adam about literary fiction and what makes a story literary. Since then, I've been thinking more and more about literary fiction. I don't want to admit defeat and an inability to read an entire section of writing. This year, I'm going to try reading a few different literary novels in the hopes of better finding out what I do and don't like.
Hard Science Fiction
For me, hard science fiction is what makes the entire genre worthwhile. The focus on scientific and technical accuracy takes the genre from mere entertainment to something that becomes educational. I took a college class on Physics and Science Fiction and learned a lot from it. As much as I like it though, I've read almost no hard science fiction in the last couple of years. That changes in 2015.
Whatever else reading is, it should be educational. I'll continue reading non-fiction, to ensure that I continue stretching my mind and increasing my store of knowledge.
I've collected quite a list of "reading ideas" over the past 2 or 3 years. Many of them are books that had a specific hook that caught my interest. This year, I'll go through that list, write about what hooked my interest, and then read the books to see if they live up to the hook.
I'll finish off last year's goals: reading the Wheel of Time series and finishing the Culture novels. I intend to purchase another Supporting Membership for Worldcon. I'll continue reading Hugo eligible books, to inform my vote. And I'll continue to give myself the freedom to read outside of my goals, as I find things that interest me.