Monday, 2 January 2017

A Brief Recap of 2016!

And good riddance! 2016 was a whirlwind of a year for most of us and I am so looking forward to making a fresh start. Despite my busy schedule, one of my new year's resolutions is to read more and actively update my blog. 2016 was a dismal year for me reading-wise and I feel motivated to redeem myself. Even though I failed to reach my goal of reading 15 books for the year (missing the mark by only 3, drat!), I somehow managed to read 52+ short-stories all in the month of December to complete the Deal Me in Challenge. Huzzah. Granted, I was unable to produce a review for each short story as initially planned but might go back and write on them later. Additionally, I read a lot of great poetry this year and contemplating whether or not I should host a Poetry Reading Challenge for 2017. It would function in a similar way to The Deal Me in Challenge where participants would aim to read one poem a week (at their choosing) and post their thoughts on it if they feel so inclined. Poetry continues to be greatly overshadowed by novels and I would love to see more people critically engaged with this wonderful literary form. Perhaps there could be prizes. Sounds fun right? 

Here are a few highlights from my reading adventures in 2016:

Favorite Novel: Jazz by Toni Morrison

You could write a whole textbook on this novel. Toni Morrison's status as one of the finest writers of the 20th century is more than warranted and I can't wait to dive more into her work. Paradise or Tar Baby will be my first novel of 2017.

Least Favorite Novel: The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer

Ugh. I still can't believe this won the Booker Prize. Gordimer chronicles the turbulent years of the Apartheid in South Africa, which one might think would make for an interesting read, but this turns out to be quite the opposite. Dull. Dull. Dull. This crucial period in history and important issues of race and class are obfuscated by her insufferable prose. A huge disappointment.

Favorite Short Story: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

Mind-blowing. You can read my review here.

Least Favorite Short-Story: Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson

Surprisingly, I did not come across any short-story this year that deserved a one-star rating. Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson (cool pen name) won the Nebula award so naturally, my expectations were rather high. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a rather tedious story that is more of a discourse on artistic expression rather than an actual narrative that loosely falls into the genre of science-fiction. Robinson explores some interesting ideas here especially in relation to copy-right laws and creative genius, which prevent this story from being a complete dud but it is not enough to sustain an already limp narrative. 2 stars.

Favorite Poet: E.E. Cummings

It was a toss up between William Carlos Williams and E.E. Cummings but the latter wins by a slight margin. I read a lot of wonderful modernist poetry in 2016 but I find Cummings's experimental style to be so refreshing and beautifully poignant. Sparseness, the lack of punctuation, improper syntax and typography has become his trademark and while reading his poetry might seem daunting at first, there is a method to his madness. In fact, I would argue that his poems are deceptively simple and often contain a childlike innocence. His love poems are absolutely stunning! If anyone has seen Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, you might remember the reference to Cummings's "somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond". This is a very famous poem and for good reason but some of my other favorites include "anyone lived in a pretty how town" , In Just-, and Since Feeling is First.

Let's hope that 2017 proves to be a far more productive reading year for me. Thus far, I have decided to take part in only two reading challenges: The Russian Reading Challenge and The Deal Me in Challenge (obviously) but I am still working on finishing on several of other challenges from the past few years such as my Canadian Reading Project (I plan to make a serious dent in this one) or the Classics Clubs Challenge that I have been chipping away at for far too long. Suffice it to say, I have an inordinate amount of reading material to keep me busy and very eager to get started. 

All the best in 2017 and happy reading everyone!

~ Jason 


  1. Congrats on completing the Deal Me In Challenge! Since it's a year-long challenge, it has a high "mortality rate" as challenge fatigue can set in. I always said, though, that since it's a short story challenge one of the best things is if you fall behind - even a few months behind - it's not so hard to catch up - as you just proved last month! :-) I look forward to seeing what you'll be reading for the 2017 iteration of the challenge, and am on board if you do the poetry challenge. I need to read more of that stuff. :-)

    P.S. Love that pic at the top of your post. It seems manyfeel that way this new year...

    1. It was close to the wire but I am glad that I pulled through in the end. Indeed, the beauty about short-stories is that they are well, um, short and not very time consuming. I actually plowed through around 70 short stories during the month of December!

      As far as the poetry challenge is concerned, I do plan on starting it at the end of January if all goes well and will certainly keep you informed.

      Haha, 2016 sure was real dud but lets hope 2017 proves to be a lot better. *crosses fingers*

  2. I'm so impressed that you got through the Deal Me In Challenge! Woo hoo! At least I can celebrate someone even if it's not myself. :-)

    I'm really surprised Morrison is your favourite. I'm scared of reading her. I don't really know why except perhaps I've convinced myself that I won't like her works.

    I'm in for the poetry challenge if you decide to do it. I might do a shortened version .... perhaps a poem every two weeks. I still feel completely inadequate where poetry is concerned. The poems take so much of my brain power to process. But with practice comes improvement, right, so I'm raring to go!

    Happy reading and blogging in 2017!

    1. Thanks, it took a lot of will-power to get through the DMI challenge in one month. I hope this year will be different and I don't want to leave everything last minute, which is usually the case. I am the master of procrastination lol.

      Morrison is definitely a challenging author but reading her novels are so rewarding! I would highly recommend her excellent debut, The Bluest Eye, which is fairly accessible. I do hope that you give her a chance one of these days but perhaps I might have to convince you by writing more extensively on her work. :p

      Sweeeeet! I am so glad that you would be on board with the 'Poetry Challenge' and one poem every two weeks seems very doable and I would like to make it as flexible as possible. Indeed, any good poetry can be quite complex to unpack but you're right, it becomes easier the more you practice much like anything else.

      I am turning over a new leaf with this blog for 2017 so expect a lot more posts!

      Catch ya on the flip-side Cleo!

  3. Just finished reading Jazz! Amazing!