Mid-year Musings: 2017 Resolutions and Challenges

As we hit the year’s halfway point, I looked at my progress on blog resolutions and challenges.  Last year I was really overwhelmed, and this year, with no grad school, I’ve been able to put the blog first.  That makes me happy.

But have I accomplished what I hoped?  As a blogger, I tend to alternate between focusing on the mechanics and focusing on my reading.  I’d say this year has been more about reading than blogging, but I’m working on both.

These are my 2017 resolutions:

  • Participate in more group activities like challenges, readalongs, conferences.  How I’m doing: see below!  Except for the conferences part (BEA no longer had their blogging session) I’m doing well on challenges and readalongs.  If there’s another good conference to go to, I’d love to hear about it!
  • Learn to develop my own graphics for the blog.  How I’m doing: no progress, but I really want to work on this (my goal is to learn to use PicMonkey).  Also the blog has looked the same for a while now, so it’s time for some upgrades.
  • Take the blog into the real world.  How I’m doing: very good!  I attended an ARC event at my local bookstore, had happy hour with two local bloggers, and I’m hoping to meet another when I visit London in September.
  • Learn more about blogging in general.  How I’m doing: not so well.  In January, a blogger recommended following ProBlogger, and I’ve signed up for emails but only just last week (prompted by this very post) listened to my first podcast.  I listened to an interview all about generating blog content, which was very useful and I’m looking forward to hearing more.  Much of ProBlogger is too technical for me at this point, but I still want to learn!

Here are my 2017 challenges:

My reading has been much stronger than last year, mainly because I’ve pushed myself to read more award winners, more authors of color, and more books from around the world (focusing on books not just set in other countries, but by authors from those countries).

You can see all my challenge progress on the 2017 Challenges page.

  • Diverse Reads: 13 books by authors of color, 12 reviewed.
  • Reading Around the World (2 challenges): Feeling very good about this one! 9 books read, 8 reviewed. Places visited include Colombia, Vietnam, Ireland, Scotland, Iran, and Bulgaria.
  • Classics Club, Classic Book a Month, and Back to the Classics: not so good, 3 books. This year I also hit the five year mark on my Classics Club list — I’ve read 31 classics over 5 years, compared to a goal of 50.
  • Discussion Challenge: Not great, 3 posts. I posted about books that shaped me, reading about other countries, and the power of first novels.
  • 20 Books of Summer: 5 books read, none reviewed.
  • Bailey’s Longlist reads: 3 books read and reviewed.

What it all means: It’s nice to have challenges and resolutions, but blogging after all is something we do because we love it, and it’s awfully easy to diminish that love by piling on responsibilities and unrealistic expectations.  I haven’t felt that way this year.  This year I gave myself permission to obsess about my blog, and I feel good about how it’s going.  Rather than a chore, my blog is a refuge from all the insanity around us.

This was not a resolution, but one thing I’m proud of is my organization of the blog.  I’ve developed templates for a monthly schedule and any posts I do routinely.  This has helped me keep up with regular posting (about twice a week) and also helps me balance the blog content (alternating review posts with non-review posts) while keeping up with other responsibilities like posting on Goodreads, commenting on blogs, and responding to review requests.  I’ve gotten a lot of ARCs this year and keeping a schedule has helped me make sure I read and review them by the timelines I’ve committed to.  It’s not exciting stuff, but those of you who blog know how much work happens behind each post.

I’d still like to incorporate more personal content into the blog, which is something I think about often.  I will say that reading more diversely has challenged me to write about difficult topics and to face my insecurity about talking about racial issues as a white person.

Finally, I have to say that this year has been a strange one, in that my own life has never been better, but the world around me feels really horrible.  I enjoy my work and find it fulfilling, I volunteer with an amazing program, and I love my husband and our two-cat family.  Barring a few health concerns we have everything we could ask for.  Still, I feel guilty when someone asks how I am and I say I’m doing great. Watching the news or reading Facebook most days literally makes me nauseous.  Am I doing all I can to help people and to support the issues I believe in?  No, and no.  Some days it feels like I’m doing enough, and other days I feel completely helpless.

Thanks for listening to my mid-year musings!  Summer is my very favorite time of year, and I’m grateful for so many things, including this blog and those of you who read it.

  8 comments for “Mid-year Musings: 2017 Resolutions and Challenges

  1. Jillian
    June 25, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Very best wishes for the coming months. 🙂

  2. June 25, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I love all your challenges and you seem to be doing pretty darn well as far as I can see. Hope you continue to enjoy your reading and your blogging.

  3. June 26, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Great update! 🙂

  4. June 28, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I am impressed that you have set such ambitious challenges. As long as we’re kind to ourselves if we fall short of our goals, then I think ambitious goals are wonderful–for motivating us and keeping us on track. It will be interesting for you to look back over all of 2017 and see how your progress might inform your goals for 2018.

  5. JWF
    August 8, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I shared your thoughts on Hillbilly Elegy which I found perceptive and moving on my blog and then one of my readers decided to share them with her museum staff who work with young people. So thank you for your candor about your upbringing and your graduate school experience.

    • August 8, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      Thank you! It’s lovely to know you think my post might be useful to others. It makes me think about how I might reach out myself.

      • JWF
        August 8, 2017 at 7:14 pm

        You’re welcome! And I’d love it if you’d mention my blog which is partly about books, but also travel and culture. Jots & Jaunts at

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