Reading challenge complete!

I’ve reached my reading goal of 20,000 pages (and then some) with a few days to spare!

This year, I set a reading goal based on pages instead of number of books. Since book length can be so variable, pages seems like a better comparison of how much I’m reading, year over year.

Also, a goal based on the number of books caused some bad behaviors. I was avoiding really long books and reading a lot of short stories or novellas towards the end of the year, just to keep the book count high.

This year, my longest read was The Golem and the Jinni, at 819 pages. My shortest read was A Gift from the Sea, at 130. That’s quite a difference!

In 2020, I read 104 books but only 800 pages more than the year before, when I read 82 books. In 2013, I read seven more books than in 2014, but only 250 pages more. In 2016, I read one book more than the previous year, but actually came in with 650 fewer pages!

Looking at this data, it seems clear that counting the number of books is misleading!

Now that I am no longer hyper-focused on book counts, I’m looking forward to jumping into some longer picks. For 2023, I want to re-read The Stand (1,358 pages), and finally get around to the latest Outlander novel, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (960 pages).

Bonus trivia! According to Goodreads, the longest book I’ve ever read is A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6). I’ve read 18 other books that have over 1,000 pages (four of those are Outlander novels, another four are Stephen King, and three are GoT novels).

What are you looking forward to reading in 2023?

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Emily Wilde is a professor and the leading expert on faeries. She is compiling the world’s first-ever first encyclopaedia of faeries. She is most herself while researching or in the company of books and doesn’t seem to fit in with others.

Emily travels to a remote village to complete her encyclopaedia, where she is joined by a colleague/rival, Wendell Bambleby–much to her displeasure. Wendell is the opposite of Emily in many ways. Where she is unkempt and lacking in fashion, Wendell is stylish and sophisticated. Where Emily has alienated the locals, Wendell makes fast friends. And it’s a good thing he does, otherwise these two would be in big trouble!

This book fell short for me because it centers on Emily and her research and spends less time directly on faeries. While faerie lore and stories are sprinkled throughout, I prefer when the faeries and their world are front and center. I will admit though, that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.

This book is perfect if you’re looking for something new, like books about socially awkward people, and (of course) if you like books about faeries.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own.

Why I love The Walking Dead

I recently finished watching The Walking Dead. I have only seen the original series, and I have not watched the spin-offs. I may watch some of the new spin-offs and limited series coming out in 2023. Watching the final episodes inspired me to write this post.

On the surface, The Walking Dead appears to many to simply be a television show about zombies. Yes, it is a horror show, replete with gore and guts–it is about zombies after all. However, at its core, it’s about so much more than that.

The Walking Dead starts as a humans-against-the-dead show. Our heroes are fighting for their lives against flesh-eating zombies. But what happens when the dead aren’t the only threat? As civilization crumbles and a cure for the virus seems impossible, the biggest threat to people becomes not the zombies but other people. There is darkness everywhere and some must rise above the others to bear this burden.

“Darkness is heavy. Some of us carry more than others because we’re strong enough to hold the weight.”

Ezekiel, S11E15

Given a cataclysmic, world-altering event, what happens to humanity? Do we band together to face the problem, or do we turn on each other? This is the set-up for The Walking Dead, and how the show moves from a horror show about zombies to a show about zombies that is also about what it means to be human.

Time and time again, we see our gang work towards building the world back up again. They strive to create families, communities, and a peaceful, safe place to live in a world filled increasingly with danger.

And time and time again, they come up against evil. Sometimes it’s lurking within their group, and other times it comes from the outside. Other people are jealous of what they have created and seek to steal or destroy it. Resources are a commodity, and food is often scarce.

They must choose how to live. They must make life-or-death decisions and often choose who lives and dies. Do they show mercy to those who have wronged them? Or do they seek vengeance?

“My mercy prevails over my wrath.”

Rick, S8E16

How do you rebuild society with the ever present threat posed by the walking dead? How do you deal with the people who choose not to integrate into society, who choose only themselves?

The characters in The Walking Dead aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. And sometimes, people die because of those mistakes. I’d hate to be in their shoes. They live in a bleak world and have incredible burdens to bear. And yet they continue to push forth, to fight for their lives, and the lives of others. They continue to show us what it means to be human, and what it means to fight for our humanity.

“We can do more than just save ourselves.”

Aaron, S11E24

I won’t go so far as to say this is the best show on TV. However, it touches on many very emotional topics and storylines. Some character arcs are disappointing, and some that are entirely unexpected. It’s about survival, love, mercy, revenge, and forgiveness, and as I’ve mentioned, above all, it’s about the humanity in all of us.

I came for the zombies, but I stayed for the people.

“Though we are not bonded by blood, we are family.”

Ezekiel, S11E24