As we’re halfway into the year, I’ve been thinking about how I’m progressing on my reading and blogging goals.
In my New Year’s Resolution Post, I wrote about my reading goals for the year.
At the end of June, I’d read 56 books, roughly half audiobooks. According to The StoryGraph, most of thee books have been contemporary fiction, with other primary genres being romance, fantasy, literary, historical, and LGBTQIA+ (StoryGraph defines the genres for each book). Most of my books have been 300-500 pages, medium-paced, and the most common “moods” of my books have been emotional, reflective, adventurous, and mysterious (again, as defined by SG). This is my first year using StoryGraph, so I have no comparison to previous years.
In January I said I wanted to read with greater focus, paying more attention to how books are written and reading for quality rather than quantity. I’ve done this – a bit – by taking my time with books like Caste and The Body Keeps the Score, rather than rushing through them. I’ve found myself balancing really heavy topics with much lighter books like romance and fantasy. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in the books I read.
Some of my favorite books this year have been Real Life, Piranesi, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, Broken (in the Best Possible Way), Shuggie Bain, Concrete Rose, and Firekeeper’s Daughter. Two books I learned a lot from were Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Keek. A few of my favorite just-for-fun reads were Neverwhere, Venetia, A Rogue of One’s Own, Act Your Age Eve Brown, The Proposal, and Comet in Moominland.
This year’s been all about new tools. I’ve been using OneNote as an organizer for my posts, and that’s helped me keep all my drafts, templates, and ideas organized and in one place. I switched my Kindle for a Kobo, I started using The StoryGraph to track my reading and challenges, I’ve been learning to use Canva for graphics, and I worked with a designer on my new blog header. What I need to work on now is actually posting my reviews in Goodreads.
This year I wanted to spend more time writing reviews. Last year, when I got stressed, I had a hard time writing reviews, and that’s still true; yet reviews are one of the things I enjoy most about book blogging. This year I started out strong, writing about four reviews per month. But lately I haven’t come close to that, and I’ve relied more on mini-reviews than I’d like to.
In January, I said I’d make more effort to read books that aren’t on wait lists and more backlist books. For the Beat the Backlist challenge, I’ve defined “backlist” as books published 2019 or earlier, and by an author I’ve already read. By that definition, I’ve read 13 backlist books this year — by new favorites like Sarah Moss and T.J. Klune and older favorites like Neil Gaiman. I’ve never counted this in previous years so I have no baseline, nor did I have a specific goal.
I haven’t read much for the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, even though I handpicked the prompts. I’ve completed 6 of the 12 MMD. If I stick to my summer TBR list, I should complete a few more by September. I haven’t really challenged myself (for example, by reading lengthier works, books that intimidate me, and books I already own). Here’s what I’ve completed.
- Read a book in translation: Comet in Moominland by Tove Janssen
- Read a book set somewhere I’ve never been but would like to visit: The Mountains Sing by Que Mai Phan Nguyen (Vietnam)
- Read a book of any genre that addresses current events: Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
- Read a classic I’ve been meaning to read: Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
- Read three books by the same author: T. Kingfisher
- Read a book in the backlist of a new favorite author: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
For the Reading Nonfiction challenge, I’ve read 9 works of nonfiction but only 4 have addressed the challenge prompts (Food, Biography, Disease, and Published This Year). I’ve been reading quite a bit about food (Eat A Peach, Crying in H Mart), race (You’ll Never Guess What Happened to Lacey, Caste), and mental health (Broken, The Body Keeps the Score). Some of the prompts for this challenge are very specific, like oceanography, inventions, and hobbies. I’ve been picking books I’m interested in rather than trying to meet those categories.
I haven’t done well with my five-year “Reading Around the World” challenge, where I’m trying to read books set in 50 countries I haven’t read about before. This year I’ve read books set in India, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, but only added one new country, Barbados, with How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House (which I highly recommend).
That’s my look at 2021, so far. I’ll summarize this year’s reading in this way: I haven’t pushed myself very hard to meet challenges, but I’ve read a lot of great books that meet my general goals, which are to read for enjoyment, and to better understand different populations and issues.
How is your reading year going? How do you think your 2021 reading is different from last year?