2022 was a stressful year, and my initial impulse for 2023 was to make things easy and not do challenges. But as I do nearly every year, I came to these conclusions:
- Challenges and blog events are great ways to connect with the blogging community around books I want to read anyway.
- Challenges and blog events are only as much pressure as I make them, since I don’t need to complete every one if life gets in the way. Plus, planning, organizing and list-making actually make me less stressed rather than more. I’m guessing many of you are the same.
- Challenges and blog events give me that extra push to read books that aren’t the latest hits or at the top of my library wait list, and often those books are some of my favorites. Last year, some books I loved that I read for challenges were Rules of Civility, The Song of Achilles, Quiet, Before the Ever After, and The Book of Hope.
My primary goal is to read more books about other countries. So I’ve set up my TBR Pile Challenge list to include all books set in other countries, and I’ll also (loosely) participate in The StoryGraph’s Read Around the World Challenge and similar challenges at The Reader’s Room and Literary Voyage. I’ll be tracking my reading around the world on this page. I’m already off to a good start, as this month I read books set in Cyprus, Hungary, and Australia.
I’ll be returning to many challenges I did in 2022, including the Gaia Nature Reading Challenge and the Nonfiction Reader Challenge, and you can see that my approach is to layer these as much as possible so books can meet multiple challenges. I’m adding one that’s very low pressure: the 52 Book Club, which is basically 52 unique book prompts. I don’t expect it will influence my reading much but seems like a fun way to categorize the books I read. I’ll track my progress on this and other challenges on my 2023 Challenge page, and also on StoryGraph.
For blogging events, the ones I do every year are the 20 Books of Summer and Nonfiction November. I’d love to do a few read-alongs but realistically don’t have much time to fit those in. It’s pretty hard for me to fit my reading schedule to someone else’s calendar, so I tend to sign up for things where I can choose what I read and when. I know there are always monthly events about reading other countries, so maybe I’ll participate in one or two of those (please share if you’ll be hosting one!).
For blogging, as I noted last month, I mainly want to stay on top of writing reviews, ideally at least one a week. When I get stressed, reviews are usually the first thing to fall off, since they require more time and thought. My goal is to keep a pretty even mix of book reviews, discussion posts, and lists. I’ve been playing around with keeping a monthly calendar of blog tasks and posts, so I’ll see if that helps.
Finally, I want to continue with my personalized book recommendations. I’ve enjoyed thinking about what individual readers might like to read, based on their likes and dislikes. It was definitely challenging — it’s easy to recommend books to readers who have similar tastes, or who I know well, but it’s more difficult to recommend books for those with really specific interests. I hope those recommendations were useful and would love for anyone who received them to share this service more broadly. I saw an increase in requests the last few months so I’m feeling good about that.
Those are my goals for the year. Thanks to those of you who host challenges and events, as that’s something I know I don’t have the time to do well. I look forward to reading with you in 2023!