2018: My Year in Reading and Blogging

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.

20181221_142222Thanks 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?

  17 comments for “2018: My Year in Reading and Blogging

  1. thecoffaholic
    December 29, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Hello! I love this post, it’s so interesting how you compared last years statistics to this years!
    2018 hasn’t been a great year on the reading side of things due to the fact that as an English Literature student completing their A-Levels I had to keep re-reading the set books (which when you don’t love them can become rather tedious!) and then starting university makes time management a lot harder. However, with the first term over I have finally figured out a timetable whereby I will be able to read a lot more than before! (Yay for me!)
    I am currently reading The Book Theif by Markus Zusak, in my free time, and The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston as a part of my university course.
    Definitely following this blog, can’t wait for the new year to see more books reviewed by you! Merry belated Christmas and a soon to be happy new year!

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments and thanks for following! I know from experience, being a literature student will definitely limit what you can read in your free time. But then when you have more time you will appreciate your reading even more. I hope you enjoy The Book Thief, an excellent book. Happy new year!

  2. December 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    “we all have a finite amount of reading time” – so true and yet how many times do we criticise ourselves about what we didn’t achieve instead of praising ourselves for what we HAVE done…..

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:47 am

      Yes, and most of us have other things we’re dealing with as well. I thinking pushing too hard on what we read only results in our enjoying reading less. Here’s to enjoying what we read in 2019!

      • December 31, 2018 at 9:23 am

        i’ll raise a glass to that toast too.

  3. December 29, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Very impressive!

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Thanks Davida, and happy 2019!

  4. December 29, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    I think in blogging I’ve found a space where I can just “be a decent person and try to make sense of the world.” That’s what I like about it, and bloggers like you who share my interests. We don’t have to make money, we don’t have to be better than anyone, we just have to be ourselves. That’s something to celebrate!

    How to take on the terrible things in the world remains a mystery. For this past year I just had to take on terrible things in my own life and own that struggle. Being comforted is not enough, and yet sometimes it’s necessary. I’m trying to have faith in the light and just work towards it step by step.

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:44 am

      I’m sorry you had a rough year Lory! Your thoughts are always an inspiration for me, I appreciate your sharing them. Best wishes in 2019, and congratulations on your new blog as well.

      • December 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm

        I didn’t mean to sound complaining, it was just that I realized I had to clean up my own backyard before going after the world. Things are much better now, and the world is still there, so I’ll still be looking for ways to act positively.

        I always enjoy your blog as well. I appreciate your honest and sincere approach, and of course we share many of the same tastes in books! Best wishes for a Happy New year.

  5. December 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    That was a very interesting post—I think it’s essential to take stock of where we are and where we hoped to be. I think striving to think more diversely is self-fulfilling. It’s interesting that you gave yourself challenges but not many goals—sometimes I think of the challenge as the goal, but I think I see what you mean.

    Happy reading in 2019!

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Thanks Jane. I always enjoy reflecting at the end of the year (or whenever). I do think challenges and goals can be the same, though I think of a goal as more broad, less specific. I think, though, I tend to over-challenge. So maybe a 2019 goal will be fewer challenges! Happy 2019 to you as well.

  6. December 29, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    This is a nice reflection piece on your year and you did good on your goals. Do you do themes for your years? I ask since you said this year was about exploration. I usually set a theme goal for the year and try to focus activities and certain mini-goals to meet it.

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Thanks Zezee! I don’t consciously develop a theme, it’s more of an end of year reflection. And arguably, every year is about exploration! I do know of other blogs that establish a yearly theme, it’s a nice idea. What kinds of themes have you used?

      • December 30, 2018 at 6:34 pm

        My themes are usually things like Perserve (because I tend to give up on goals halfway through). This year it was Discipline. I did better on it toward the end of the year.

  7. December 30, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Don’t minimize what you do! We all have different paths and strengths. Books can be a powerful antidote to the terrible forces in the world, and you are doing a great service of helping readers find new voices and topics, and setting an amazing example by how much–and how thoughtfully–you read.

    • December 30, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Thanks Audrey! I certainly find other blogs helpful, so hopefully mine can be helpful as well. I appreciate the kind thoughts.

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