Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, readers!
2016 wasn’t great for a few reasons, and for me it wasn’t a particularly good year in blogging and reading. For the first part of the year I blamed it on finishing my degree (not a bad excuse, really). And the second half of the year? Work got complicated (basically I was doing 2 jobs at once), I was taking migraine meds that made it harder to concentrate, and I felt a lot less motivated to sit at my computer for hours in my free time.
2016 did have some great parts. I earned a degree, got to see my niece graduate high school, and celebrated my 15th anniversary (and my in-laws’ 50th anniversary) in beautiful Hawaii.
In blogging, here are a few things I did pretty well:
In 2015, I put a lot of work into getting more organized about my blogging, and that helped this year. I try to structure each month, looking at how many reviews I need to write and which ones to prioritize and what other bloggish events are happening. I didn’t try to review every book I read. I put reminders on my calendar to do things like post Goodreads reviews and respond to review requests, so I’ve been more timely about those things.
Another thing I worked on this year was keeping track of new followers on WordPress and Twitter, visiting their blogs and following back where I thought it makes sense. I reached 982 followers this year. I think I was good this year about reading and responding to other blogs, which is largely because WordPress continues to make that easier with its Reader features. That means I’m not as good at getting to my favorite non-WP blogs, something I need to get better about.
On that note, things I didn’t do so well:
Looking at last year’s wrap-up, three goals I had for this year weren’t realized: one was to use Twitter better (I did this a little bit), one was to reach out to publishers directly for advance review copies, and the last was to learn to make my own graphics.
Also, this year I decided to pass on challenges and blogging events. I didn’t get to BEA, even though I say every year I want to go (but this year was writing a thesis, so there’s that). I missed some of my favorite challenges, but I think it was good to take a year off and just read what I wanted to read. Maybe not good for the blog, but good for me.
And a few thoughts on my year in reading:
I read plenty of books this year (70 to date) but eased up on reading classics and really lengthy books. 2016 was the year my powers of concentration faltered. No Dickens or Tolstoy or Faulkner for me. My most challenging book was probably Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, which was wonderful. I always miss classics when I don’t get around to them, because they are usually more meaningful (and memorable) than what I read most of the time. I’m sure I read more series books and fewer literary books, although I did read quite a lot of the Baileys Prize longlist, and those were some of my favorites this year.
Instead I focused on children’s classics, which are not only a lot more manageable but bring back happy memories as well. I loved participating in Emerald City Book Review’s Witch Week, where I got to research and write about my childhood favorite, L. Frank Baum.
This year I tried to be thoughtful about which ARCs and review requests I accepted. I read some great ARCs this year, including The Longest Night, The Bishop’s Girl, The Big Sheep, Hero, A Lady in the Smoke, and The Dutch Girl. I tried not to pick up so many books from NetGalley or Edelweiss that I felt overwhelmed, and I reviewed the ones I received.
This year I worried less about categorizing what I read, or pushing myself to read differently. I read a lot from the library this year, and this helped me cut way down on books that were purchased and not read.
In general, 2016 was a year where I didn’t advance my blog or try new things. I need to think about where to go next in 2017, and really commit to that. I would love to hear any suggestions, or things you plan to work on in 2017.
What’s up next: my top books of the year and my final reading wrap-up. Wishing you a very happy holidays!