In 2018, I signed up for a number of challenges but didn’t set many reading or blogging goals for myself. I said I wanted to learn about designing graphics for my blog, I wanted to join a book club, and I wanted to learn more about blogging in general.
I also said this:
In 2018 my goals are more personal. I want to be a better listener. I want to improve my relationships with my friends, as well as meet new people. I want to find a balance between accepting who I am and trying to be a better person. I also need to find a greater balance between supporting my principles and not letting the political world devastate me. This blog may not be the right place for those struggles — but then again, maybe it is.
How did I do?
For me, 2018 was a year of exploration. I participated in a development program at work that forced me to take a good look at myself, and I read books along the way that did the same thing. I also tried to read books that expanded my view of my country and the world.
I read more this year, 102 books compared to 89 last year (although some of these were novellas). I read more nonfiction and more diversely. In particular, the Read Harder 2018 challenge forced me to read different types of books, like works in translation, graphic novels, essay collections, and even a book about nature.
Of course reading differently has trade-offs. I didn’t do much with my TBR pile, I didn’t get many series off my reading plate, and I definitely didn’t read as many classics. But we all have a finite amount of reading time.
Here’s what I read this year (see this post for some of my favorite reads):
- Books read: 102
- Reviewed: 55
- ARC/review requests: 22
- New releases (published in 2018): 36
- New-to-me author: 63
- Author of color: 39
- Part of a series: 32
- New-to-me series: 18
- Set primarily outside the U.S. or U.K.: 21
Higher than last year:
- Nonfiction: I read 22 compared to 11 last year. Mostly memoir but also history, motivational, and social science.
- Authors of color: I read 39 compared to 28 last year (though I note that sometimes this can be difficult to categorize)
- Outside the U.S. and U.K.: 21 compared to 12 last year.
- Graphic novel or comic: I read 5 compared to 2 (and last year’s were my first ever). Partly this was due to the Read Harder challenge, which led me to books like Persepolis, March, and Ms. Marvel.
Lower than last year:
- Historical fiction: I read 14 compared to last year’s 18, and since I read more total books, this seems significant. I think the best explanation is that I read more historical nonfiction this year, so it balances out.
- Science fiction, fantasy, and mystery: the numbers were about the same, but since I read more, my increased reading was not in these genres.
In terms of blogging, I did teach myself to do some basic graphics. I explored self-hosting but didn’t make the leap (though I mean to). Mainly I settled into a routine, I think because 2018 was unsettling enough without making major changes. I focused on blog maintenance, on posting regularly, on reading well, and writing reviews I felt good about. I didn’t spend a lot of time on group blog activities like read-alongs — not because I don’t enjoy them, but because I needed to not over-complicate. I “visited” a number of book clubs and I may have finally found one that fits, but I’m still not sure I have the time to really commit, and I’m not sure if it gives me something that I don’t already get from blogging.
I didn’t always succeed in my personal goals, but I worked towards them. One interesting thing I learned is that you don’t just have an “a-ha moment” that means you’ve fixed yourself. For example, I constantly struggle with my insecurity about how others see me. You would think that’s a grade school mentality you grow out of; in fact I thought I had grown out of it. I’ve often thought that if I could re-do my childhood, I’d have tried a whole lot less to be liked and more to be “myself” (whatever that actually means). And yet, even at the ripe old age of 47, put me in a group situation and I’m like a middle-schooler all over again.
The political climate had a lot to do with how I read and how I blogged this year. As in 2017, I wrestled with the feeling that writing about books and reading is pointless in a world of increasing hate and violence. What can I do to make a difference? I know we can’t go around being angry and frustrated all the time – that doesn’t help anyone. I have no meaningful answer to that question. Reading is the thing that comforts me, but do I deserve to be comforted? After all, my life is already pretty easy. I’m one of the privileged ones.
In a way, the troubles around us take the pressure off blogging. The Book Stop doesn’t need to be the best blog around, and no one’s going to care what I read. I’m trying to be a decent person and make sense of the world. And I hope I can point people towards a few good books along the way.
Thanks so much for reading. I’m constantly inspired by my fellow bloggers, from your book recommendations to your personal journeys.
That was my 2018. How was yours?