10 Average

When Challenges are well conceived they hone an increase of enjoyment for a particular thing. Take my six years of taking part in the Reading Challenge that book-reading diary/community site GoodReads runs. If I hadn’t signed up for my first one in 2011, it’s quite possibly that some great authors would have passed me by. My average of 9 books read per year could also have been noticeably lower.

Reading in 2017reading_challenge_banner-221fdb833e3fce18458f2473c2ba67b7

 

 

The normal reading pattern for any year since 2011 has been a casual mix of graphic novels and fiction. For 2017 I wanted to introduce non-fiction into the mix; autobiographies and historical non-fiction. Although I’ve never been one to read more than one book at a time, I can’t see there being a problem reading a fiction and non-fiction book at the same time. It may even increase the chance of retaining interest in reading with two vastly different topics on the go.

During the last year my interest in WWI has been growing. Although I have a general understanding of WWII, the first World war is a totally mystery to me. It has been the playing of the SP and MP of Battlefield 1 that has increased my desire to understand more about, ‘the war to end all wars’. John Keegan’s book The First World War was gifted to me at Christmas and will be the first WWI book on my non-fiction pile.

I’ve challenged myself to read 15 books this year via this year’s GoodReads Challenge. It’s an achievable goal – 2015 I managed 17 – and I hope to surpass it but 15 will be a good return of reading for the year.

Do you have a reading challenge set for this year? I’d be interested to know why you have or don’t have a book reading goal for the year in the comments below.

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Topping off 2016

There’s been so much negative feeling throughout the world in 2016. So much so that it has dulled over the good things from the year. 2017 has a mammoth task to rebalance things – unlikely? Tough to predict.

I hope your year has been relatively stress free and happy. Mine has seen a work redundancy in May(swapping work stress to stress of finding a job – although working stress is harder to manage), getting my first ever telescope in September followed by the launch of my YouTube channel in November. It feels far longer but for just over a month my attention has been laid fully at creating videos on YouTube. For someone who internalises most of my thought, it’s been a great experience to use my voice and gain some spoken word confidence.

For 2017 my idea is to record one new piece of content a week. During the last month I’ve had the benefit of lots of time to play with ideas and record videos. But they’ll come a time when I can only physically manage to record once or twice a week and I should prepare now for that time.

So what about my writing here? Well during 2016 I had wanted to have a weekly update posted. This didn’t entirely work out but it’s something to again aim for during the 2nd year.

And with that I wish a Happy New Year to you all and in closing here’s my ‘best of’ from 2016;

Best album/ep’

Three by Phantogram

Ever since I picked up Voices in 2014, Phantogram have had their claws in me. Their hybrid sound is unique and all three of their albums are distinct from each other. I’m kinda happy that I don’t know of anyone in my circle that like them. Is that selfish?

Best book/comic book’

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey 

Published in 2014, The Girl With All the Gifts is my pick of 2016 by default. I read no newly published books this year(something I will look at in 2017). Shame really but M.R. Carey’s book was excellent spin on the zombie theme. I missed the film adaptation this year but it will be watching it in January upon the disc release.

2016 was an average year of reading for myself. Blame could be laid that my focus became diluted from around May when I left work. That said, I had a slow reading period from the start of 2016 which I never pushed forward from.

For 2017 I’ll be mixing up my reading with fiction/non-fiction that’s unread in my sub 300 list. Am conscious that I’ve not reading anything but fiction so looking to redress that in the new year.

Best movie’

Arrival

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I was left with a very different opinion of Amy Adams after viewing Arrival. Honestly I hadn’t taken much of an interest in the movies I’d seen her in. Sure those were only a Superman movie and American Hustle (which I must view again). But I really did underrate her as an actress. This could possibly be her best movie to date and Arrival definitely deserves another viewing. Her other film of 2016, Nocturnal Animals, I missed at the cinema which could prove to be just as satisfying.

Best muiltiplayer in a game’

Battlefield 1

Hadn’t planned to pick up Battlefield 1. It was a gut feeling that the gameplay and setting would suit me far better than the modern-day setting FPS. The slower firing/reloading weapons from the WWI setting (and the excellent design work put into producing the nice SP experience and fantastic map design for the MP) won me over.

Best story in a game’

Firewatch

Some would class Campo Santo’s Firewatch a ‘walking simulator’ but it’s far more than that. Probably the best relayed storyline in a videogame that I’ve experienced. The two protagonists, Henry and Delilah, are so well-played out that it’s hard not to empathise with them as they find themselves in stranger and stranger situations. Total recommended for those looking for something unique in gaming.

Best TV’

Stranger Things

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What can I say?

I’m no stranger to Netflix but had no inkling of Stranger Things until it was recommended to me. Then finding out that both Winona Ryder and David Harbour were in the cast gave me the push to watch the first episode. I never looked back and for anyone who grew up as a teen in the ’80s this series will have a special resonance for you.

The casting of the show was spot-on and I can only hope that season two develops upon the ideas and stories introduced in the premier. Go watch it!

Bookish Things

“There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don’t really see the difference.”
― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

My most recent read, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, was a nice break from the fiction-mountain that I have still to scale. Matt has written an honest recording of his struggles with mental health. But not only is it honestly written, I believe it’s a very important book to have been published. If I had to recommend a book that everyone should read, then this would be the one. Especially recommended if you’ve never experienced a mental health issue and know someone who has.

Comics

While recently selling from my comic collection on Ebay, the pull of subscribing to some new(and not so new) titles pulled on the heart-strings. I am back with half a dozen or so titles but that’s my limit. Thankfully a great find came in the shape of an Age Concern shop that has a comic book section. From here I’ve been able to fill a few gaps in my own collections but also pick some bargains too(that I’m selling on).

Fiction

The mountain that is my unread fiction will certainly get a little taller during June. I may not add any graphic novels but really need to get my teeth into the base of that mountain. Certainly I have the time for a good hour of reading time per day while I’m not employed. Yet that time is contending with Snap Map Doom, Uncharted 4 and co-op The Division. Balance needs to be addressed here, for sure.