Toward the end of each year, when I start looking at the prompt lists for different reading challenges, I make myself a semi-tentative list of the books I want to use for each category. Part of the reason I plan in advance is to make sure I can fit in all the books I’m most excited for, and part of it is also the practicality of depending on the library. Although I’m generally pretty good at picking books that I’m excited for, it’s inevitable that there will be at least a few that I change my mind about. Often toward the end of the year, I end up switching things out when I know I don’t have enough time to enjoy the book properly, or when I’m just not excited at all for it anymore. I try to avoid switching too much because it sometimes feels like a bit of a cheat to me, even though I know it isn’t. Here are ten books that I planned to read this year, that I didn’t get to, for a variety of reasons.
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1) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Let’s get the big one out of the way upfront. Every year, there is at least one book that I plan on reading that I just keep putting off and putting off until eventually I scrap it from the list. A couple of years ago, it was The Goldfinch, and last year it was One Hundred Years of Solitude. It chose it for a difficult prompt requiring a book set in South or Central America, by a South or Central American author. To be fair, I wasn’t super excited to read this book in the first place, and as a result I kept procrastinating on it. It didn’t help that it was a lengthy book that I just didn’t think I would have time for as I got closer to the end of the year. It didn’t help that I saw very mixed reviews. I’ve learned in the past that if I go into a book expecting that I won’t like it much, it’s almost guaranteed that I won’t be into it. I consider this book more of a long-term goal.
2) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I’ve been meaning to read more Jane Austen for a while, and I think I’ve had this book in mind every year so far that I’ve done a reading challenge. I kind of burnt myself out on classics over the past couple of years, so I ended up being pretty unmotivated. I love Pride and Prejudice, and I liked Northanger Abbey, and I would love to read the rest of her books at some point. I’ve decided to take a break from classics for this year, but this is one of the only exceptions I’m considering. The main reason I didn’t read this book last year was because I ran out of time and didn’t have the patience for the more old-fashioned language. I know Jane Austen is usually a little more accessible than other classics, so I would still like to give it a chance.
3) Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks
I think this was the first year in a long time that I didn’t read the new Nicholas Sparks book within a few months of it coming out. Nicholas Sparks used to be my favorite author, and although I still enjoy his books, most of them only reach the 4-star mark for me. I kept putting this one off because I wanted to buy my own copy, but the hardcover was so expensive! I ended up buying the paperback version, and continued putting it off because the book was close to 500 pages and the plot synopsis didn’t grab me that much. This book is a pretty big departure from Nicholas Sparks’ other work, focusing on the breakdown of a marriage and the husband’s bond with his young daughter instead of on a the romance. It ended up being the first book I read in 2018 because I didn’t want to put it off anymore, and as expected, it was 4 stars.
4) Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
This was another book that I really wanted to read, but I kept putting it off because of a combination of the nearly 500 page length, and because it was a book I owned and I was prioritizing my library books. By the time I got to it, I only had a few days left of the year and didn’t think I’d be able to finish in time, so I decided to switch it out for something shorter, and prioritize it this year instead. This ended up being the second book I read (although two 500 page contemporary books in a row might not be the wisest start). This book is about two best friends, Tully and Kate, over the decades of their friendship. This ended up being one of those frustrating books that was exactly between two star ratings, and Goodreads does not allow half-stars!
5) Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
I think this is the one book that I am genuinely shocked that I did not get to. Immediately after reading This Savage Song, I just knew I had to go out and buy the duology. I bought them both not long after, but put off reading this one so I could work through my library books first. It was one of the books I was most excited for, and I just ran out of time. I originally planned to make this my first book of 2018, but I ended up picking the Nicholas Sparks book instead because I had a day off work and figured I would need to the time to devote to it. I am currently in the middle of this one, and looking forward to reading the rest of it! This Savage Song was easily one of my favourite books last year, and so far, this one is just as good!
6) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This was a book that I put off for strategic reasons. I had it in mind for a prompt last year requiring a book from the BBC’s Top 200. As my Goodreads group started voting for prompts for this year’s challenge, I was disappointed to find a prompt that required a book from Amazon’s Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. Looking through the list, I realized that I’d already read all the books that interested me most, and the remaining books that were on my TBR tended to be lengthy classics or books that I just was not in the mood for. When I saw The Wind in the Willows on the list, I decided it was the best available option and since it was pretty easy to replace for the 2017 prompt, it seemed logical to switch. I know very little about this classic, although a version of it was performed at my elementary school. I can’t say I really remember enjoying it much, but I think it’s worth trying again.
7) Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley
I’m generally not a fan of non-fiction, but this book sounded very interesting. I had a prompt for one of my reading challenges last year that required a book about food, and I had another book lined up for. I had to request the library to purchase that one and it seemed that it would not be available in time. When that book actually showed up, I decided to put this one off and use it toward a different prompt for 2018 instead. This book is about a woman who grew up with severe food allergies as well as other allergies to mold, dust, etc. I have a family member who has severe allergies, and I also work with participants in my day program who have a variety of allergies. It sounds like this book would give a very interesting look at the topic, and I’d love to give it a try.
8) This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee, and 9) Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
I had a lot of trouble finding options that interested me for my challenge prompt requiring a steampunk book. These two books appealed to me most, but they were both books that I had to ask the library to buy. They didn’t end up getting copies in the system until it was much too late in the year for me to get them in time, so I had to find something else. I’ve managed to work This Monstrous Thing into my plan for 2018, and I’m thinking of trying to squeeze Ticker in as well. They are both very interesting, although I wouldn’t really consider steampunk (or even sci-fi) a genre I really reach for.
10) The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I think I must be the only person in the world who has never seen this movie. I wanted to read the book for a tricky prompt requiring a story within a story, and I’d heard great things about how funny it was. Every time I went to release holds from the library, I found myself putting this one off in favour of other books that appealed to me more. As I got to November and December, I realized that I’d pretty much lost any interest in reading it and decided to switch it out for something else. I’m sure I would have been more driven to try it if I had seen and loved the movie like everyone else, and I would still like to give it a chance at some point, but as of right now, it doesn’t appeal to me much.