Like everyone else, I consider this time of year a time of reflection and nostalgia, scrolling through photos from the past year in an attempt to find some broad theme to encapsulate the year. For me, 2017 ended up being a year of improvements and growth (but hopefully that’s every year): I started a new job, started living on my own (sans roommates) for the first time, took some programming courses, traveled, and most importantly, made some significant lifestyle changes.
By that, I mean, I lost weight and began caring more about my health and fitness. I’m still by no means a health nut (my favorite thing is to indulge in a greasy cheeseburger and wash it down with a sugary iced coffee), but in 2017, I adapted a mindfulness toward my eating I’d never had before. I don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t self-conscious about my appearance, especially my weight, and this is the year I finally decided to do something about it. Through the simple (sometimes not-so simple) steps of watching what I eat (still eating what I like, but eating less of it, usually) and exercising more often, I now am at a place where I feel content with my body. I’ve also learned not to freak out if the scale shows me to be a little heavier than my previous weight – the body is a fluctuating thing.
This year, I also began bullet journaling, which for me ushered in a new wave of productivity. I’ve always been a fan of record-keeping and list-making, and my bullet journal helped me tackle my projects more concretely this year.
However…all of these changes meant that unfortunately I didn’t read as much as I have in previous years. I personally hate when people use “not having time” as an excuse for not doing something, so I’ll simply say that I was lazy. I prioritized mindlessly browsing Reddit and Instagram over delving into a new book. At the beginning of 2017, I challenged myself to read 36 books (one more than 2016), more than half by authors whose work I hadn’t read before. Well, I came in quite short at 24, which are listed below:
- Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
- The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
- Smart Women, Judy Blume
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
- The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
- The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
- White Oleander, Janet Fitch
- Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
- David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell
- The Crucible, Gong Jiyoung
- Waiting, Ha Jin
- When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
- The Vegetarian, Han Kang
- The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
- The Sacrifice, Joyce Carol Oates
- The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Phaedra Patrick
- Nemesis, Philip Roth
- Empire Falls, Richard Russo
- Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
- Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
- Good Indian Girls, Ranbir Singh Sidhu
- Nocturnal Animals, Austin Wright
- The Lake, Banana Yoshimoto
Out of the 24, I read 17 by new authors, so at least I accomplished that goal. I also read two novels by Korean authors, which I’m personally proud of – one in the original Korean, and one in the English translation. In 2018, I want to read at least one work from a Korean author, in the original Korean, while also being open to reading English translations or works by Korean-American authors.
I would have to say that while I wasn’t completely blown away by any of the books I read this year, White Oleander was my overall favorite. Although I read it earlier in the year, I still recall the impression the book’s style and characterization made on me when I first finished it. I also enjoyed the Atwood novels I finished this year, which I was inspired to read after watching Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
To be frank, I’m disappointed to not have even come close to my goal of reading 36 books this year, but hoping to rectify my laziness in 2018. I’m setting my 2018 goal to reading 30 books – more than this year, but still hopefully achievable. Hopefully I can stick to it in 2018!