I am so excited for a new year of reading challenges! Looking back on my previous year, it was pretty easy to come up with some goals for the new year. In general, my goal is usually to complete my reading challenges and to read all of the books that I’m most excited to read. This year, I decided to add some extra goals to make my reading/blogging life a little easier to manage. Hopefully these resolutions are easier to stick to than the usual New Years’ Resolutions!
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Finish all of my reading challenges by the deadlines I set
My interest in reading challenges and compulsion to check things off lists got away from me a little, and I ended up with 5 separate category-based challenges that I was very interested in doing, for a total of 180 books. Clearly that is not reasonable to expect of myself within one year, although to be fair, I’ve picked quite a few graphic novels and shorter books. To complete everything in one year would require 15 items per month. This year, to reach a goal of 158 books, I needed to read 13 per month, and barely managed to keep up with that even though that pace is not unreasonable. It would be great if I can finish all the books I want within the year, but to take the pressure off, I decided to split it up. Here are my challenges for the year, with the deadlines I set:
- Goodreads Around the Year (52 books plus 1 extra wild card, and 2 additional books for a prompt that I split into three) – by December 31
- PopSugar (50 books plus 2 additional books for a prompt split into three) – by December 31
- BookRiot Read Harder 2018 (24 books) – most likely by December 31, but I’m prepared to be flexible with this one
- Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 (24 books) – The 2018 list didn’t interest me at all, but I decided I really liked last year’s challenge. I’m giving myself until March 31. 2019 to finish this one
- ATY Top Picks (25 books) – This is a challenge I created for myself using the Around the Year prompts that I voted for that didn’t make the final list, eliminating any that were repetitive or already on a challenge list. I’m giving myself until March 31, 2019 to finish this one too.
Assuming the 15 month deadline to complete everything, a total of 180 books, that would be 12 books per month or about 3 per week. For the sake of comparison, to finish everything within 12 months, I would need to read 15 books per month. It’s theoretically possible, but I’m not going to stress myself about it.
2) Balance my reading better
One of the tricks I’ve always used to complete my reading challenges is trying to balance out the books that I’m reading across the year, and across each month. I’ve found that it really helps to vary the books I pick in terms of length, genre, etc. so I don’t feel stuck reading too many doorstops in a row, or too many books that have a similar storyline. I also strategically plan some of my longer or more difficult books for times of year where I know I’ll have more time to read. I generally like to alternate between longer/more dense books, and shorter/easier books.
Every year, there are also inevitably a few books that I’m not so interested in reading, usually because it’s a prompt that just doesn’t interest me much. One strategy I’ve found that helps is to knock out a few of the least interesting prompts/books upfront so I don’t put them off all year, and get stuck reading all the boring books in December. Last year, I didn’t do the best job of balancing things out, which led to a pretty underwhelming first couple of months, and a pretty mediocre December. This year, I want to balance things out a bit better to make sure there are at least a few books I’m really excited for each month. It’s so tempting to read all of the most exciting books right away, but I think balancing them out will give me a better year overall!
3) Learn to use Instagram to document my reading
Up until now, I’ve used a mix of Goodreads and Facebook to track my challenge progress. I will still definitely be using Goodreads, but for some reason, I found it nearly impossible to keep up with posting on Facebook. I have no idea why. In previous years, I remembered to post about each book as I started it (or occasionally just as I finished). Last year, I have no idea why but I just couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t just that I read so many books. It just didn’t cross my mind to post them, and when it did, it felt like a chore to come up with something to say with each post. I don’t want to completely abandon the practice, since I’ve found people on my friends list are interested in what I’m reading and like to see how much I’ve read. I recently upgraded my phone and discovered that Instagram was already installed (my previous phone had no room for it). I’ve decided to try and use Instagram instead to post pictures of the books I’m reading, with a shorter caption, instead of making a Facebook post each time. Ideally, I’m hoping those posts will show up on Facebook as well, once I figure out how to set that up.
4) Find a better system for tracking my thoughts about each book
Another thing that became a huge chore this year was tracking what I thought about each book. In the past, I was always very excited to jump straight onto Goodreads and post about the books I read in the discussion boards threads, and I also wrote short paragraphs in a Word document with a mini-review of the book. I would note down why I chose it, a basic plot outline, and my opinions. As those of you who have followed my blog for a while have probably noticed, I don’t really write reviews. It’s funny because I used to love writing reviews of CDs for Amazon, but when it comes to books, I have such a hard time getting the ideas down without being repetitive and I’m always worried about giving too many spoilers.
My intent was never to write reviews, but I like to keep track of what I think because it’s hard to remember every book in detail by the end of the year. The first year I did a reading challenge, I posted my comments on each book in a note on Facebook for anyone who was interested, but that was a year when I read 52 books. I now read well over 100 every year, and the Word document I have for last year’s challenges is a massive 70+ pages. I know that no one will want to read all that! I still want to keep track of what I read each month, and I still want to track my thoughts. I’ve decided to try a point-form note system instead of full paragraphs, which will hopefully be quicker and feel like less of a chore.
5) Finish the series I have in progress!
One of my top priorities for the year is to finish off many of the series that I have in progress! I started so many great series over the past year or two, and I’ve taken away my self-imposed rule to limit books by the same author. At first, I was hesitant to include all the books I wanted from series because I thought it would eat up too much of the challenges and leave me little room for anything else, but once I made my lists, I saw that there was plenty of room for both. Here are the series I’m hoping to finish:
- Red Queen (3 books remaining)
- Delirium (1 book remaining)
- The Selection (2 books remaining to finish the original trilogy, Books 4 and 5 are not a priority for this year)
- Shatter Me (2 books remaining)
- A Court of Thorns and Roses (2 books remaining, at least as of right now)
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2 books remaining)
- The Raven Cycle (3 books remaining)
- Matched series (2 books remaining)
- Illuminae (2 books remaining)
- The Monsters of Verity duology (1 book remaining)
- The Chronicles of Narnia (5 books remaining)
- With the Light manga series (6 books remaining)
That’s about 30 or so books from series, which leaves me plenty of space to read a wide variety of other books. I do have a couple of series in progress that I haven’t prioritized (Beautiful Creatures and The Program, for example) but I think any more than I currently have in mind would be too much to manage. It’s also been a full year since I read anything from those two series so it might be hard to pick them up again. The series I chose to focus on are the ones I’ve been enjoying most, or the ones that I’ve been meaning to finish for the longest. I hope to be able to finish them all by the end of the year!