My 2016 Reading Challenge

I have so many other things I probably should be writing about. My Japan travel series, for example, which I’ve been trying to finish since 2014(!) Or my Kay in the Bag series, since I promised one post every week. I’m supremely bad at keeping my blogging promises, but here’s another post I pulled out of a hat for ya. Happy New Year, kids.

Today let’s talk about books. Last year I read around three or four books. Maybe even less, I’m not sure. (To be honest I’m just trying to save face here. Does fanfiction count as literature?)

Even though I can literally cover my bedroom in books, I’m not a voracious reader. I’m relentless when it comes to book sales, but once I’ve emerged from the piles with my bounty and hinted at my victory on social media, I quickly realize I have five more books to read—on top of the five hundred I already have on my backlog. The pressure to read all the books I’ve acquired over the years pushes me into a state of distress and into the easy, undemanding arms of fanfiction (#Dramione, just gonna leave this here).

My workaround to this mild hoarding problem: push stuff around until I have a space where I can pile my purchases, taking great pains to make sure it doesn’t look like a hot mess.


As the new year jumped into view, I told myself—in a fit of bright, shiny, new optimism and motivation spurred by my dream of constant self-improvement—that 2016 is the year I’m going to be better. Better at reading, better about forming well-constructed opinions about the literature, better at cross-referencing texts on the fly, better at educating myself, better at being a better person. And I thought, what could be better than hitting the books? Finally get around to conquering that hill. That literal hill of books I have in my room.

Here are the twenty books I intend to read this year.

I took cues from a reading challenge Kyra shared, but I made up my own categories after I took stock of the books I already have.

  1. Book by an author with my initials: The Secret River, Kate Grenville
  2. Book of poems: The Essential Rumi, Rumi
  3. Book by a Filipino: Gun Dealers’ Daughter, Gina Apostol
  4. Book from a high school reading list: Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  5. Book that reminds me of my mother: Beloved, Toni Morrison
  6. Book with a fruit on the cover: Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
  7. Book published 100 years ago: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
  8. Book that will be or has been turned into a movie: Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín
  9. Book with more than 500 pages: The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  10. Book with a colour in the title: White Fang, Aravind Adiga
  11. Book about math: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, Charles Seife
  12. Book published the year I was born: Possession, A. S. Byatt
  13. Book from a college reading list: The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  14. Book that reminds me of my father: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  15. Book with an animal on the cover: Swamplandia, Karen Russell
  16. Book published 50 years ago: Against Interpretation and Other Essays, Susan Sontag
  17. Book set in a place you want to be: A Personal Matter, Kenzaburo Oe
  18. Book about science: The World Without Us, Alan Weisman
  19. Book recommended by a friend: Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  20. Book with a one-word title: Bone, Jeff Smith

Twenty is a modest, achievable goal, I think. I tried to put together a good mix of fiction and nonfiction. I even threw in a comic book there at the last minute. This is probably the best opportunity to read some of my more intimidating books (Zero, Possession, and The World Without Us) and the books I should have read back in high school a hundred years ago (Beloved, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird).

Do you have reading goals this year? Let’s be friends on Goodreads!


P.S. On Beloved and my mother: Sethe is a mother. My mother is a mother. There, reasons. The choice has more to do with the fact that there’s a mother in the book that reminds me of my mother in the most literal sense than destructive mother-daughter relationships or slavery.

P.P.S. It’s weird that my copy of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit doesn’t have an orange. It has cherries.

P.P.P.S. Wow, 1966 was a good year in books.


3 thoughts on “My 2016 Reading Challenge

  1. lles January 12, 2016 / 1:21 PM

    i’m no longer sure (because I chucked my copies of high school reading lists after college) but was Beloved included in the summer list for incoming seniors? I’m still pissed that we didn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird or Lord of the Flies or Wuthering Heights in class. I like your list, Kay! I hope you post reviews. Can’t wait to read those.

    • kaygemzon January 12, 2016 / 2:05 PM

      At least they let us read Catcher in the Rye? We had to read something. :))

      YES, LORD OF THE FLIES. Lord of the Flies > A Separate Peace, tbh.

      • lles January 13, 2016 / 3:26 AM

        Sino ba kasi nagsulat ng curriculum!? /shakes fist/

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