Looking Ahead: Reading and Blogging in 2018
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As we wrap up 2017 with lists of favorite books and year-end reading round-ups, the bookish web is also looking forward to 2018. We’re talking about books we’re looking forward to, books we didn’t get to in 2017 that we plan to read in 2018, how we want to organize our reading, and how we want to choose better books. And we’re talking challenges.
How many books have we read? How many will we read? Will we read harder? Will we finally read those classics we’ve been meaning to get to?
Will we EVER make a dent in our TBR?
A new year always feels like a good time for reevaluation, and maybe some fresh starts. I’ve been blogging here for just over six months, so in addition to planning my reading, it also feels timely to consider my approach to blogging.
Reading in 2018
It sometimes feels impossible to keep my TBR list in check. I love reading book blogs, and therefore I am always finding out about amazing new books. At the same time, I try to balance my new reads with the many backlist books that I want to read.
This year, I made several visits to library book sales and came home with a lot of great books—many of which I haven’t yet gotten to. Which means that my physical stack of books to read is piling up just as fast as my mental list of must reads.
My goal in 2018 is to read as many of the books I own as possible—and not buy more until I have.
Now, there are a few caveats here. I do belong to the Book of the Month club, so I will get at least one new book most months. However, I hope to be a little more choosy about Book of the Month and possibly skip a month here or there if I have doubts about the selection.
I also like to keep an e-book going in Libby, so I always have something to read on my phone or iPad. Those sometimes end up taking priority because of the time limit—or I just get pulled into the book and can’t wait to finish it. I just finished Beartown and all other books fell by the wayside until I finished it. But since I do want to focus on my physical books, I’ll be aiming for shorter, lighter reads in e-books–at least for a few months.
After Christmas (because new books!), I’ll pull together a full list of all of the books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet and post it here.
What about Reading Challenges?
I am generally reluctant to sign on to reading challenges. While I like the idea of some of them—BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge, for instance—trying to check all the boxes feels too prescriptive for the reading life I want to have. They can definitely be useful, especially for ensuring diversity in reading, but I don’t follow any of them to a T.
If you are looking for a good reading challenge, check out Jordan’s at Read Eat Repeat. She has some good categories and there are only twelve—so you can meet the challenge, jump in whenever you want and discuss your choices with others, and it doesn’t have to define your whole reading year. I’m already planning to read books that fall into the categories in her challenge, so this is one challenge that will work well for me.
I do, however, refuse to set a number goal for the number of books I want to read for the year. Part of me would like to get through as many as possible, but I also know that most of my favorite books have been long ones, and I don’t want to avoid those books in favor of increasing my numbers. When I feel tempted to pay too much attention to my reading stats, I remember that tracking an activity reduces overall enjoyment of it.
I know many die-hard trackers will disagree–people do love their stats, and I wouldn’t deny them that!–but it’s never been for me.
My reading challenges for 2018 will be to read the books I own, not buy books, and resist the pull of my library wishlist.
Blogging in 2018
I can’t deny that blogging has changed how I read. Prior to blogging about books, I didn’t pay much attention to the newest books or authors. Now, it’s fun to read new releases and all the buzz as it’s happening.
But again, there is that balance aspect: just because a book is new doesn’t make it more worthy of my time and attention than an older book.
And really, after reading about all the “reading slumps” among book bloggers, there is something to be said for reading older books that have been more widely vetted by a variety of readers.
So, I plan to continue reading and blogging about older books. In addition to the very short summary reviews I’ve been doing, I plan to start writing more focused entries on some of these books. You’ll get my thoughts on the book, but I’d also like to dig up some related articles, author interviews, and relevant history or backstory. I always like learning more about the context around a book, and when I’m really into a story, I tend to seek out this information anyway. I figured as long as I’m doing this, I’ll pull it together for the blog and share it with you.
I also hope to provide more frequents updates on the books I’m reading, rather than rounding it all up at the end of the month. I’ve found that the monthly roundup sometimes brings on the feeling of wanting to increase my numbers, just so I can squeeze another book or two into that post. I want to avoid too much tracking and continue to enjoy reading.
Because of this, my December monthly roundup will be the last—at least for a while. I may experiment with seasonal roundups, or pull together recent reads now and then, but I won’t do it on a set schedule. (I know, this goes against all recommendations for blogging best practices!) I do want to continue sharing brief thoughts on all of the books I read, so I may do some experimenting to see what works best for me, and for you. The one aspect of “tracking” that I do like is how writing reviews helps me better remember the books I read.
Ultimately, though, I want to be more thoughtful in my reading and blogging, and not just churn through books and posts. I’m still figuring out exactly what this looks like, so please let me know if there’s something you’d like to see more of on this blog.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!
I really like your thoughts for blogging in 2018! I’m also doing a little revamping for the new year and trying to figure out what changes I want to try that’ll bring a little zest to my blog so I’m not just focusing on reviews all the time. That’s what I love about book blogs, everyone is a little different. Looking forward to chatting with you about books and blogging in the new year!
Thanks, Renee! I love seeing the various ways people approach their book blogs and reviews. And I actually do like reading about other people’s challenges–they just aren’t always for me. Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for next year!
I usually participate in the Goodreads Challenge, but you have inspired me to not track the number of books I read this year. I often find my book-count (or the fact I’m not reaching my goal) stresses me out, so you have freed me! Thank you!
Ah, I hope it relieves some of that stress! It’s tempting to put a number in that box, but so far I’ve resisted. I do like to take a look at my overall number, now that the year has ended, but I try not to peek too often. Quality over quantity!
I TOTALLY need to do a “read-my-own-shelves” challenge—I once counted it up, and I literally own over 500 books I’ve never read. GAAAAH. Every time I see that, I cringe! I think it’s so tricky sometimes to balance out new releases with older titles, especially because, like you said, the new stuff often has time constraints, meaning that we’re more likely to put our focus there (and then just keep the focus there, since I always seem to be getting in books on hold from the library!).
I love your idea of the in-depth posts of the books with links to author interviews and further info on the topic and such. Can’t wait to read!
Wow! I don’t think I have close to 500, but it does seem like I have more unread books on my shelf than read. I’m not sure how that’s possible, and can only attribute it to some recent donations. It will feel good to make a dent.
Thanks! I’m glad you like the idea–we’ll see how it works out in practice, but I’m excited to give it a shot!
I like your approach to reading/blogging. I’m trying to scale back and simplify in 2018. Less tracking, less structure to my reading, less worrying about if I’m keeping up with the latest and greatest. I just want to breathe and enjoy reading in the totally stress-free way I did when I was a kid. Happy New Year!
Yes, it’s that enjoyment and immersion that I want to maintain, as much as possible, while continuing to blog. This might mean freeing myself from the feeling that I need to blog about every book I read. I do wish I knew how to recapture the magic I felt when I read as a kid. I see it in my daughter, and I think it’s why I sometimes revisit really wonderful middle grade books.
Here’s to a stress-free reading year, and many good things to come. Happy New Year to you as well!
Cheers to that! I suspect it will be easier for me to achieve my goal of unpressured reading since I’m giving up my book blog…but there’s still Book Riot, so maybe not that easy. ?