2020 in review: looking back and low-key reading resolutions

I don’t think I need to reiterate again that 2020 was, to say the least, weird. I have made that point in several of my latest posts and I think I should just get on with it. First though, I want to look back at my reading in 2020.

I read fewer books than in other years: Goodreads says 75 but if we’re being honest it’s more like 73. Of those books 56 were written by women, 6 by men, one by a non-binary person, and ten by more than one author of different genders. This tells me a few things, for one that my year of reading only women and non-binary authors was as easy as it was because my reading in general is dominated by female authors. It also tells me that I really should make more of an effort to read books by agender or non-binary authors.

The statistic I am most unhappy with is that only about a third of the books I read were written by a non-white author and this really is something that needs to change going forward.

Genre-wise, my reading was pretty much how I expect it to be: the biggest chunk with 29% is fiction (here I lumped in everything without speculative elements), 26% was what I call speculative romance (everything from Urban Fantasy with heavy romance elements to Paranormal Romance to Fantasy or Sci-Fi Romance), 18% non-fiction, 14% short stories, 5% Romance and 5% Fantasy, and one book each of horror and graphic novel. I am more or less happy with this as I like my reading to be fairly broad.

Looking at my ranked books, one thing became obvious pretty quickly: I am better at choosing book for myself when I don’t read them based on them being on a list or so hyped that I request an ARC for books I might otherwise not read. So, going forward I will try to make an effort to read more books that I choose just by whim and those by authors that I have enjoyed in the past. I know that there is no way I will stop reading review copies and being swept up in the hype but ideally, about half the books I read should not fall in that category. I will also not try to read the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist again because, wow, did I hate some of those books this year (and ultimately didn’t even read everything because I was so displeased with the list).

I did not plan on making proper resolutions as I am utterly unsure how 2021 will go – I am going back to work in June and I am really not certain I will manage to read as much as I would like then (what happens with this blog then is also up in the air). I set my reading goal on Goodreads to an all-time low 52; anything less would make me very unhappy. I want to make sure that what I read is mostly great. Which is why I will aim for one short story collection a month, for about a third of my reading being non-fiction again (because I more often than not adore the ones I get to), and I want to try and finally go back and read the backlist of those authors I want to read everything of. First of I am going to try and read a few of Deborah Levy’s older books, that she has written fiction as well as short stories and non-fiction is perfect for my goals.

But even if I have lofty plans now, most importantly for me, I need to allow myself to let my reading go where it wants to go because I do have the time any more to read books I am not excited for. Which is why I am stopping with those three reading plans and not adding any other (read more series! finish more series! read more high fantasy!).

Bookish Resolutions for 2020 (and a look at my 2019 resolutions)

As with every single post for months now, I am super late with my end of the year posts. I have a few things I want to talk about over the upcoming weeks – and had absolutely planned on publishing my favourite books of the year today, but there is something about the first day of the new year that makes me want to shout resolutions from the rooftop, so I am doing that instead.

I had a weird reading year where I pretty much stopped blogging and instead of reading my normal rooster of genres (memoirs, short story collections, literary fiction, and loads and loads of SFF), I pretty much exclusively read romance. I forgot about my reading resolutions (except for the big one) until checking them again earlier this week – but I did surprisingly well on them (mostly because I had fairly low-key resolutions for 2019).

2019 resolutions:

Read 100 books.

This I managed no problem at all. I read 128 books – the largest number since I started tracking my reading in 2015.

Keep writing reviews.

This I did not do even in the slightest. I gave myself permission to write short reviews for some books in 2019 and then did not even manage that. Part of that has to do with the pace in which I finished romance novels, part with how impossible I find it to properly review said romance novels, part (a rather large part indeed) with how very much pregnancy stole my energy for anything that wasn’t strictly necessary.

Post around two to three times a week.

Oh well.

Read by whim. (AKA request fewer ARCs)

I actually really did that – and while I loved it, it also meant that I went often for the immediately gratifying but ultimately forgettable romance novels that I inhaled – and now there are very many that I could tell you nothing about.

Only read books by women and non-binary authors

I did it (as far as I know). While I enjoyed this experiment and think that it did overall not change all that much about my reading – it was also a flawed idea from the beginning. Gender is not the only thing influencing marginalizations – obviously. Comparing apples and oranges and all that. I naturally gravitate towards books written by women and I cannot see that changing and I don’t see myself reading literary fiction by white men anytime soon – but there is so much exciting SFF and non-fiction written by MOC that I missed out on – and this feels like a stupid by-product of an idea that was more of a fun way of challenging myself than anything else.

2020 resolutions:

Read 100 books

I debated on this when I set my Goodreads reading challenge earlier today – I usually manage 100 books fairly easily and I am not above slotting in a graphic novel if I fall behind and feel like being ahead again. But (and this will be a running theme) I cannot predict how having a child will change my reading pace, my concentration, and my willingness to prioritize reading above a social life (I won’t be working for most of the year and maybe then will actually want to meet up with people? I don’t know!). But my friend Rachel had a very good point: picture books. So 100 books it is.

Keep my blog running

While I have come to realize that the way I have been running my blog up until this year won’t be feasible for the foreseeable future, I still want to keep it. I like having a blog, I love the bookish community, and I like having a hobby for the first time since graduating high school. In whatever form I can manage, I want to keep this part of myself active.

Read the Women’s Prize Longlist

Reading (most of) the Women’s Prize longlist last year was my reading highlight – by far. I had so much fun with my dedicated group chat and being this immersed in the litfic bookish community was fun. I intend to do this again. My (lovely wonderful future) child timed their probable arrival perfectly, which means that I will be off work from the middle of April onwards and hopefully should have finished the longlist before I fall of the face of the internet for a while.

Be kind to myself

Things will probably change this year – and I want to make an effort to be kind to myself and accept that my reading and my blog will be different. If I want to read only romance novels, I will read only romance novels. I do not want to put any pressure on myself that feels unnecessary and I am hoping to just let myself be and enjoy this space I have built for myself in any way I can.

Do you have any bookish (or non-bookish) resolutions for the upcoming year? Also, thank you all for still reading my (sporadic) posts.

Bookish Resolutions: Half Year Update

At the beginning of the year I set myself resolutions for my reading year. Now that the year is nearly halfway gone (where did the time go?), I figured I should have a look at how I am doing with these resolutions.

Read 100 books.

I am not doing so well on this one. I have been behind on my reading challenge since April and can’t seem to catch up, at least not for any significant amount of time. I am sure my decision to listen to It by Stephen King on audiobook has nothing to do with it (I have been listen to that one forever).

0/1

Read at least one author’s complete work.

Not doing so well on this either; because I do not think reading a debut authors only published book counts. I have Megan Stielstra’s short story collection though and do want to read that soon. If I finish that I will have read everything she has written. I also only have two of N. K. Jemisin’s novels left to read and want to get to them at some point during this year. I have also started my second to last David Mitchell book, so this might also happen this year.

0/2

Keep writing reviews for every book you read.

I have not written a review for You Don’t Have To Say You Love me and don’t think I will do that. But, except for that I have written reviews for everything I read which is why I am counting this as a win.

1/3

Read more women; especially WOC.

This one I am doing good on. 71% of the books I read this year have been written by women and 19% by men (the rest were written by people identifying as non-binary or gender non-conforming or were anthologies). 11 books were written by women of colour – that number can and should be higher. But I am still tentatively counting this as a win, especially compared to last year I am doing better.

2/4

Read some of the books that have been on the TBR forever.

Yeah… That is not happening at the moment. Only one book I read had been on my TBR for more than six months.

2/5

Only request books if a) you really really really want them and have been looking forward to them or b) you have reviewed all other ARCs you had.

I am not doing that well on this resolution. But I am doing better than last year!

2/6

Finish at least one unfinished series.

I forgot about this one. And no, I have not done that yet.

2/7

Read only YA that comes highly recommended.

I have only read 2 YA books so far this year and both came highly recommended. I did not love Strange The Dreamer as much as I thought but overall I am counting this as a win.

3/8

Read more Science Fiction.

Yes! And it is going so well! I mean, I have bought way more Sci-Fi than I have read so far this year but I am loving it.

4/9

Read more novellas.

Yes! I am also doing this. Very slowly but at least I am reading more. I love the tor.com novella line and I get so ridiculously jealous at everybody who receives their novellas for review. I want in on that!

5/10

I think I am actually doing ok especially considering half the year is still to come.

How are you doing on your reading resolutions if you have set yourself any?