Chris Reads
5 min readJan 2, 2020


Happy 2020. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I suspect no one misses me.

It’s time to put this project to a close. I find with resolutions, once I’ve fallen off the metaphorical wagon, it’s quite easy to stay off, and I haven’t written anything here for almost three months now. To start off, I’d like to review the goals of this project, and how I’ve performed against them.

The idea was a book review every month for a novel that I haven’t previously read in order to: (1) Force me to write. (2) Force me to read. (3) Act as a writing time capsule. (4) Maybe become a well-established book reviewer.

(1), (2), and (3) were all completed satisfactorily, and (4) was obviously not. The blog was very effective at (2) in 2018, but in 2019, I had a separate resolution to read 52 books in a year, so it was rendered moot. (1) and (3) initially served their intended purpose, but became less effective over time as well.

It’s easy for me to say that work picked up and I became too busy, but the truth is that I no longer relished writing these reviews. For the first few reviews, I was scared to publish my work, and took a lot of care in editing them in a word processor before pasting it into Medium, editing it a few times there, then finally publishing. I would take detailed notes of books after reading them so I had a lot of content to write about. As I increased the volume of books I consumed (usually while standing on public transportation), I was no longer able to take thoughtful notes on every book I read. I also started doing my writing and editing within Medium as I crammed reviews last minute across various devices. The reviews would almost be treated as chores, homework assignments to be completed last minute. So, I stopped. I didn’t intend to originally, and I had even started writing a review on No Longer At Ease, which I had a lot of thoughts on. But I just forgot. And then I just never tried again. Not being excited about writing also rendered goals (1) and (3) moot, as what I was producing wasn’t my best work, and later pieces would often be inferior to earlier pieces.

In summary, the project drifted away from its intended purpose over time, but managed to fulfill the intended goals to an acceptable degree.

I’ve written 17 reviews. 6 of them were on books written by women, and 3 of them were written by people of colour, for a total of 8 books by a non-straight-cis-white-male. I really tried selecting for more diversity, but it hasn’t been easy.

I don’t think I’ve used the section break after trying it out in the Prologue post. Maybe it wasn’t useful in a book review. Since this post is also a 2019 wrap-up of sorts, I’ll also summarize my year of reading.

This year I read 52 novels. This does not include rereading books that I had previously read, or nonfiction books, although those were admittedly few. The authors I read the most (five-way tie at two books apiece) were Chinua Achebe, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Maxine Hong, and Stephen King. My favourite books this year in order of reading were: Invisible Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, No Longer At Ease, A Wise Man’s Fear, and Babbitt, each awarded a score of 8, or “Excellent”. My least favourite books this year in order of reading were: The Fat Years, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and Edge, each awarded a score of 3, or “Bad”.

Despite a very long commute which gave me ample time to read every day, I would find myself dozing off, or using my phone, which severely limited my throughput. I also lost three books on planes this year. Three. They were Vanity Fair (a real heartbreaker, as I was halfway through the monster), Across the River and into the Trees (I am still renewing the library loan on this book to avoid paying for it), and Babbitt (which I lost two days ago, and finished it online yesterday in order to complete 52 books this year).

“Books” and “Rating” are on the left axis and “Pages” is on the right. If I was reading a physical book, I’d check the number of pages. Otherwise, pagecounts are from Wikipedia or Goodreads/Amazon

Some fun observations: I did not read in March. I also was too busy traveling in December and barely finished the 3 books that remained. I read the most during April and November. The quality of books read increased as the year went by.

I normally logged a book the day I finished it or a day afterwards.

Some more fun observations: I didn’t like many of the books I read this year, averaging an “Okay la”. For reference, my all time ranking average to date is 6.3, also an “Okay la”, but quite a bit higher. I read 14 books written by women this year, and 15 by a POC. Once again, I did make a concentrated effort to introduce more diversity into my reading selection, but I ended up at 25 books, or just under half of my reading that wasn’t written by a non-straight-cis-white-male.

Do I think I would have read as many books this year if I didn’t have this goal? No, I decidedly wouldn’t have. Would I enforce this goal on myself again? No, because reading, while still enjoyable, became almost a chore, like writing became. As the year progressed, I found myself reading less non-fiction and revisiting old books, instead focusing solely on novels that I hadn’t read yet to achieve this goal. I had a lot of fun reading this year, but I will do as I tell others often: read whatever you want.

So what’s next after scrapping both my reading and writing goals? These resolutions gave me a sense of achievement, and provided me with small steps that I could complete along a schedule, but weren’t the most efficient way to achieve what I wanted to.

It’s almost the second day of the new year, and I still haven’t figured out how I can make a SMART goal for writing that doesn’t feel constraining. Reading I’ll probably do because it’s just during my commute. I think I’ll write something once in a while for this blog as well. Thoughts on something that I recently read, or just revisiting an old friend.