Happy Friday lovely readers and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post. Honestly, I’m glad I’m featuring a Shelf Control instead of a Well, I Didn’t Know That! post. Wednesday’s Vikings of Mann post, in terms of content, is very similar to this feature. I wouldn’t have been able to commit to undertaking a Well, I Didn’t Know That! as well.
Shelf Control posts are nice and easy… and give me a chance to get excited about the books I’m going to read! As always, let’s recap the purpose of these posts.
Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog – a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!
If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.
Today’s book is actually an omnibus, and currently the first chronologically in a developing, epic scale series. How epic you ask? Well, it has the same number of primary works as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Intrigued as to what this is? Let’s take a look!
Set around three thousand years before the rest of the Valdemar series, this is the ancient history of Velgarth and the story of Skandranon Rashkae, a gryphon with gleaming ebony feathers, keen magesight and acute intelligence. He is the fulfillment of all that the Mage of Silence, the human sorcerer called Urtho, intended to achieve when he created these magical beings to be his champions, the defenders of his realm – a verdant plain long coveted by the evil mage Ma’ar.
Together with Amberdrake, a Healer of body, mind and spirit, Skandranon will defend his nation from his evil counterparts created by Ma’ar, the makaar. The glorious city of White Gryphon will rise from the ashes, but it will take careful negotiation, spying and terrible war against the mysterious Black Kings to secure the stronghold. Even then, the elite guard force, the Silver Gryphons, will discover a greater terror lurking in the forests beyond the city walls…
The Mage Wars omnibus follows Skandranon and his lifelong friend, Amberdrake, and their children, as they seek to establish and defend a Kingdom of peace and tranquillity.
I’m not committing to starting such a large series when I already have several ongoing. Maybe, because of the size, I should try to finish Discworld before I take this on.
Confession time – I picked up The Mage Wars, together with two other omnibus collections at Waterstones, on a whim. I did check out the books and the author enough to know that these books are very highly rated. I have never read any books by Mercedes Lackey before, but I can recognise potential in the general consensus of the reviews! Flicking through the other books she has written, and looking the average Goodreads rating – she has a good run!
I love fantasy that involves complex magic systems and plot lines. This omnibus feels like it has all the components of a grand epic fantasy that I enjoy. Personally, I can’t wait to dive in and find out!
The other two omnibus books, I bought at the same time are The Mage Winds and The Mage Storms. I didn’t realise it at the time, but these books chronologically fall later in the series. It’s one of those scenarios where you could read the books in the order they are published, or in chronological order.
I haven’t decided which I’m going to do yet, so if you have any opinions and or experience with these books, I’d love to see what you think I should do? Which should I pick up first?
Happy Wednesday folks and thank you for checking out my mid-year review post! Today, I’m checking in on new year resolutions I set at the beginning of 2023, weighing in on progress and seeing what action I have to take to set myself up to complete my goals by the end of the year!
I’ll recap my goals in this post, but if you’re interested in going back to my original 2023 Resolutions post, it’s linked here for you.
Let’s get my mid-year review underway!
Goodreads Challenge – Read 50 Books
As of the 30th June, I had read a total of 28 books and was mid way through a 29th. I’m sure you can do the maths and work out that I am more than on-track to meet my reading goal!
My current reading pace is really working for me. I’m about back to my 2020 levels of reading, and that’s without being stuck at home because of the pandemic. I still have time to enjoy other hobbies, as well as the blogging obviously. I think it also helps that I’ve signed up to fewer blog tours this year. I’ve been able to pick up and read books that I have wanted to read for a long time. It feels less like a chore and more like the hobby it is!
Read >15 non-fiction books
I’m a little behind on my reading goal of picking up more than 15 non-fiction books in the year, but not terribly. As of the midway point of this year, I had read 5 non-fiction books. That’s only a couple behind schedule, so this is easily something I can recover from.
I do have a few non-fiction books on my TBR, but it is something I have to consciously include on my reading lists. I definitely have a bias towards reading more fiction than non-fiction. This is something I am aware of, and so I have been trying to incorporate at least one non-fiction book on most of my monthly reading lists.
To catch up, I’m looking at needing to include at least two non-fiction books on most of my reading lists between August and the end of the year. That’s not the end of the world. If I’m honest, it’s probably won’t be difficult to achieve! The average page count of a non-fiction book could well equal half of the average fantasy novel I read. Swapping out the odd one of these in favour of non-fiction won’t be a problem!
Read 30 Minutes Daily
When I set my goal of trying to read at least 30 minutes every day, it was with the intention to make reading a regular habit as opposed to something I binge. I have to say, I’ve never been too bad on that front. Reading is certainly a habit and it’s something I do most days.
I haven’t read every single day in the first half of the year, and that is perfectly okay. Yes, I read a lot. But, between working full time, drafting content for my blog and the odd social event, there are days where it just isn’t feasible. There are days when I’m not in the mood. That’s fine too. Broadly speaking, I read several days in a week and that’s more than enough to make sure that reading is a habit. It’s a habit I’ll continue to foster as much as possible.
Finish Book Series
I have only finished (or caught up on) a few series so far this year, but that’s not to say I’m not making progress towards completing others.
I’ve read 10 books in the first half of 2023 that involve continuing series I’ve started, or indeed finishing it. If you’ve read my original 2023 Resolutions post, you will know that I have a lot of ongoing series! A lot of them are lengthy as well. We have everything on this ‘ongoing list’ from duologies or trilogies to multipart part series. The longest is 41, but I have several others that sit closer to the 13-16 book range.
This was never going to be a quick goal to achieve. That said, I’m really enjoying making progress with the series I’ve already started and taking the time to prioritise them this year. They are generally very highly-rated books by me. Some of those I’ve been reading towards are series that I haven’t picked up in several years (The Dark Tower by Stephen King, for example). It’s great to have a reason to go back and revisit them!
I feel like overall, I’m making good progress towards my goals for 2023. I’ll be looking to step up with more non-fiction reads, but other than that, I’m pretty on track!
Thanks for checking out my mid-year review post!
Did you set yourself any resolutions or goals for 2023? Are you on track to achieve them?
Today’s book review is for the first book I picked up and finished in January 2022 – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.
The book was recommended to me (and a copy loaned to me) by my sister’s boyfriend, Chris. I will be open and honest and say that I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. It sounded good, but it combines a theme and a setting that I wouldn’t necessarily expect to go together… World War II and comics.
Even though I’m not a comic book fan, I actually enjoyed it’s inclusion and emphasis in this narrative. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on with this particular theme, but it ended up working out really well. Even if you’re not sure about it, I would recommend giving it a go anyway!
If you want to find out more, here are the details of the book!
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon
Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.
I really enjoyed this multifaceted novel and all the different elements and subgenres it brings together. It combines historical fiction, which I already love, with an emphasis on living in times of war. There are parts which touch on direct conflict, but the emphasis is more on the average Joe (no pun intended) and life during the period of World War II.
A subject that played heavily in the narrative, which was completely new to me, was comic books. Our main protagonists, Sam and Joe, become famous for producing new comic books and characters. This is a combination of genres which I have never seen before. If you’d asked me if I thought I would enjoy them together, I would have been sceptical. But, they go hand-in-hand very well in this book.
Whilst the subject of comic book producers could be seen as whimsical, in the wider landscape of World War II, it’s easy to believe these creations become a tonic for both the populous and the protagonists looking to escape their everyday lives, and enact a form of justice which they will never see in their lifetimes.
Naturally, this book does not shy away from difficult subjects. Joseph Kavalier escapes the clutches of the Führer when he is sent to America. He has a distant familial link to the country and narrowly manages to get in. He hopes to save enough to be able to pay for the rest of his family to join him the US. However, not all goes as planned. Adversity and strife are no strangers to the characters in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Sam experiences his own difficulties. For a long time, he struggles to come to terms with his identity, in a world which isn’t very accepting of him, or others like him. He may not have had to flee for his life from a sadistic individual who would end it, but instead, he would face more widespread persecution if people knew his secret.
Both of these characters come from very different backgrounds, and yet we see a lot of similarities between them. Whether they know it or not, I think these similarities draw them together… even more so than the family link they have. Yet at the same time, their differences create conflict in the narrative.
The American Dream and escapism are the main themes of this novel. From Joe smuggling himself in to US, and his obsession to Houdini-esque escapes, to both protagonists escape attempts from the oppressive forces in their lives, the author has created a realistic narrative and setting.
The narrative combines a fast-paced plot line with an immersive story. From the busy streets of New York to an isolated army base and a mission to defeat the enemy, there is a depth to this novel which is difficult to describe, yet easy to appreciate when reading the book.
Had The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay not been recommended to me by my sister’s boyfriend, it is unlikely I would have read this of my own accord. However, I’m glad I did! It was refreshing to try something new and to push the boundaries of my usual reading repertoire!
Have you read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, or any other books, written by Michael Chabon?
For today’s Well, I Didn’t Know That! feature, I am taking a look at new-to-me features on StoryGraph. If you’re not familiar with the site, it is an independent alternative to the likes of Goodreads. It allows you to track reading progress, organise the books you want to read, and set reading challenges. All of this kind of functionality is already in Goodreads. However, there are differences between the sites. In this Well, I Didn’t Know That! feature most, I intend to explore some of those.
Before I dive in, here is a link to the introduction post for my Well, I Didn’t Know That! series, in case you want to find out more.
Now, let’s go and check out Storygraph’s amazing features!
Reading Challenge flexibility
Currently, the Goodreads website only allows you to set a reading goal based on the number of books you aim to finish in a year. Storygraph is slightly different and offers more options for setting a yearly reading goal.
If you want to track your reading based on page count, rather than book count, that option is available to you. The best feature though, especially for audiobook listeners, is that the website can track your reading goal based on time listened. All you have to do is make sure the format of the book is set to audio, and that an option in your settings, records audiobook time in minutes rather than pages. The rest is all done for you!
This is functionality not yet available on Goodreads, and great for audiobook listeners.
The Devil’s in the details
Both Goodreads and Storygraph have ways in which to filter down your reading lists. Whether that’s book you’ve read, or books you have on your TBR.
As a veteran Goodreads user, I was surprised to see that Storygraph has a lot more functionality in terms of filtering and sorting books. Each book entry into the site records criteria such as mood, pace, length, format and even content warnings. And even better still, all of these are searchable/usable data points.
If you want to take a look at your bookish stats and see what mood the books you read are, that information is available to you! Here is an example of my stats based on my 2023 reading so far!
These fields are also searchable in your reading list section. For example, if you know you wanted to read a faced-paced, mysterious book between 300 and 499 pages long, the website can bring up listings from your reading list based on that criteria. The site is also flexible in that it can bring up entries matching any or all of those criteria! I’ve given just a basic example here, but there is a lot more detail and flexibility in the way in which information about books can be used.
A feature I haven’t used yet, but would like to be able to use in the future, is Buddy Reads!
Having had a look at the details on the website, you can set up a buddy read with multiple friends and share your thoughts on the book between the group as you go. A really great feature is that comments/spoilers will only be unlocked once your fellow reader has reached the same point at which you submit the comment. Not only is that incentive to keep reading, but this way, you’re not spoiling anything either. You can submit comments/discussion points at your convenience, but not in a way that ruins the other person’s experience.
It is also possible to get recommendations on books to buddy read with a certain group, depending on your individual tastes. This is behind a pay wall, I will disclose. Personally, I don’t pay to access all the features on the site as yet. However, if it continues to improve as I think it will, then I might consider it in future.
Upcoming New Feature – Book Club
I also want to make a brief mention of an upcoming feature I discovered when researching for this post. I’m looking forward to trying it for myself. At the bottom of the homepage of StoryGraph, there are details on functionality available on the site. Some of this is much like Goodreads, whereas others are improvements.
The last of these is an upcoming feature – the ability to set up a bookclub, vote on books, and have discussions about them… all on Storygraph.
If this could be done within a site I already use to track my reading, I would consider this a massive improvement to using a separate site such as Fable. It would also be a great way to reach out to like-minded readers, as the size and popularity of the site will make for a greater community to interact with.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s Well, I Didn’t Know That! post.
Do you use Goodreads, Storygraph, or any other means of logging your reading progress? Do you have any preferences on how you manage your reading?
In today’s Well, I Didn’t Know That! post, I take a deeper dive into a website I use several times a week. I do so even without fully using or understanding the functionality available to readers. I’ve decided to discover what more it has to offer!
As you will probably know from my blog by now, I use Goodreads to track my reading. Goodreads is a massive database with a large community of like-minded readers. Yet, this is the kind of functionality that I don’t use all that often. So, if like me, you use Goodreads as a database and not much more, let’s dive into some of the functionality you can make the most of to improve your experience.
News, articles & recommendations
One of the functionalities I forget about the most is access to bookish news and articles about a variety of topics.
Some recent examples of these articles include recommendations for reading around certain topics (such as Valentine’s Day and Black History Month). There are also articles around topics like best books of the year, anticipated new releases; well, anything you can imagine. If you want to keep an eye on bookish news, then don’t be so quick to overlook Goodreads as a source of scoop. I won’t be any more!
Finding These Features – Website
However, you have to know where to look in order to find them. If you are using the web then it is a lot easier.
You can access recent news and articles via links embedded into the homepage. Equally, you can navigate to the browse menu and locate the ‘News and interviews’ page from there.
Finding These Features – Mobile App
If you want to locate the same page via the mobile app, click on the Discover tab. At the top of the page, there is a link to the latest post shared. If you click that link, a web browser will open. From there, follow the link to the news and interviews page at the top.
There are also a limited number of small boxes at the top of your homepage (picture above) with links to news articles. However, these are visually unappealing and don’t necessarily indicate where they’re taking you on the website. I would recommend paying attention to them now you know what they are!
Community – Groups, Lists & More!
Groups – Overview
There are so many community aspects to Goodreads that I just don’t use day today. From making friends and joining like-minded readers in a group, to sharing lists of books with a common theme (and this is very open, you can decide what you like). There are lots of things you can do to share with other readers. You can also interact with other readers and the content they create as well.
Groups are a great way to interact with other readers in a safe environment. Groups are often very well-moderated and vary in topics or themes. If you’re looking for readers of a certain genre, there is absolutely a group for that. If you want to join a catch-up bookclub, there’s a group (or two) for that too!
Lists – Overview
The community curated lists are a great way of finding books based on the topic that may not necessarily make it into a mainstream curation article. Particularly if you are a fan of indie, authors, or less mainstream novels, these lists can be a great way of finding new or different reads based on this kind of criteria. For example, I took a look at a few lists that have been created based on favourite and or strong, independent, or smart women. Partly, I wanted to see if this was a thing (and I can assure you it is). But, I also wanted to compare the books in those lists with my future books in the Top Ten Tuesday post I shared yesterday. There are some commonalities, which is great to see. But, more importantly, there are plenty more books that I haven’t yet read.
If you’re looking for recommendations, this can be a great way of finding something new! Having gone out of my way to explore what other functionality Goodreads has to offer, I will be making more of an effort to engage with this content in future.
Finding These Features
Finding these features on both the Web and mobile are considerably easier than the previous section. If you are looking for groups, this can be found on the website by Clicking on the community menu, item, and selecting groups. In the app, click on the more tab in the bottom, right screen, and then select groups.
To find lists on the web, click on the browse menu item, and then select lists. If you want to find the same content in the mobile app, they can be located in the bottom of the Discover tab.
I hope you have learned something in today’s Well, I Didn’t Know That! post. Did you know about these functions on Goodreads? Do you actively use them?
In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I feature a diverse list of new-to-me authors I discovered in 2022! The list of names in this post really goes to show just how many new books and authors I tried throughout the year – I didn’t even have space to feature all the new names I read! These authors come from a broad array of genres; from fantasy (expected), to contemporary romance (not at all expected)!
Robin Hobb was by far the best author I discovered in 2022!
Her books have been recommended to me before, and I even made a cursory attempt at the first book in the series, Realm of the Elderlings before. But, somehow, I never got around to reading these in earnest. That is, until last year. I am enjoying these books so much that I can see myself making my way through the ret of the series over the next couple of years, maximum!
In 2022, I picked up Babel and fell in love with the dark academia genre. Babel has a very loose tie to the fantasy genre, but that isn’t why I loved this book as much as I did.
Throughout this book, we get to conversationally explore some of the finer points of translation, which I found really quite interesting. Most importantly, though, I enjoyed how this book challenges, society, British history and culture in particular. Difficult topics, such as colonialism, classism, and racism are key points of the narrative. If they make you uncomfortable, it is because it is meant to. This book is quite academic in tone, but really point the finger at the less savoury aspects of the British in its history.
Over the course of 2022, I read three books by M.J. Porter. I read these as part of the blog tours organised for her Eagle of Mercia series. This series will appeal to you if you are fans of Bernard Cornwell and his Saxon series in particular. This is why I chose to pick up these books.
M.J. Porter became a repeat author to read because I loved reading from a familiar setting, but from a different perspective. In the series, we experience the English at war, from the perspective of a youth who initially detests fighting. Instead, he would rather heal. Over the course of the books he comes into the role he is expected to take up, but he does not relish it.
I really enjoyed reading The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker in 2022. Having read another Greek mythology book not long before this one, (coincidentally featured below), I was really in the mood for it. I enjoyed the focus of women and their roles regardless of social status. It also paints a completely different light on war. Rather than glamorising it, it portrays the dirty business of it all.
Pandora’s Jar is the book that reignited a love for Greek mythology.
Whilst only a short book, it does a great job of touching upon multiple stories throughout Greek mythology that focus on different women. Where The Silence of the Girls is more of a cohesive narrative, Pandora’s Jar is more of a non-fiction book in which we look at how the roles of women in Greek mythology evolve over time through numerous retellings.
The First Binding made it to an honourable mention in my top reads of 2022 list. This book is the author’s debut novel, but I can assure you, it didn’t read like a debut at all. If you enjoy your big, chunky, in-depth, epic fantasy worlds, then this is a series you want to keep your eye on.
Fans of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss will find similarities in narrative style. I also really enjoyed the character development that takes place in this first book. Even though it is a chunky book, it still succeeds in merely scratching the surface to what I hope is going to be a long, in-depth series.
Richard Osman’s cozy mystery series, the Thursday Murder Club, was recommended to me by my sister’s boyfriend. He loaned me the first couple of books to introduce me to his writing– I haven’t looked back!
These are a completely different tone to the other books of my 2022 reading list. I personally really got on with the lighter aspects of the narrative (interspersed with odd, deep and meaningful moments which I confess made my cry). The characters are hilarious. Some of the plot points are perhaps a little ridiculous, but they make for entertaining reads.
I read the first couple of books in the Dune series in 2022. Whilst I don’t love every aspect of these books (in particular, the blatant homophobia in book one), they are great science-fiction books.
I think it’s important to bear in mind that the attitude of these books will be slightly different because they were published a long time ago. Along the lines of a conversation had at work today, social attitudes have changed significantly since then. Books, and indeed, TV programmes (as was the feature of today’s conversation), cannot express the same attitudes they once did. For the most part, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
In 2022, I read my first ‘multimedia’ book. If you haven’t read anything before in which the story is not written in traditional prose, I would strongly recommend you give The Appeal a try!
The Appeal is told through a series of communications written between the main characters of the book. Predominantly email, but also messages, posters, stage, scripts etc all come together to tell a complex story. I personally enjoyed having to read between the lines and work out what was going on. The subtext is not explained to you, and as a reader, it really makes you think. I loved this book, and so I will definitely read more by Janice Hallett in future.
Perhaps the most surprising author on this list is Lindsey Kelk.
Lindsey Kelk is an author that my mum adores. I wouldn’t like to guess how many of her books she has read. After accidentally ordering two copies of one of her books, In Case You Missed It, she gifted the other to me to try. I read this at a time when I wanted to change of genre and pace. It really worked for me in a way that I wasn’t sure it would.
Contemporary romance isn’t typically a genre I actively reach for on a regular basis. However, on the occasions I have chosen to pick one up, I have enjoyed them. Based on my read of In Case You Missed It, I will definitely reach for another Lindsey Kelk book when I want something from this genre.
Those are my top 10 new-to-me authors I read in 2022!
Have you read any of the books listed, or other books from these authors? Who did you discover in 2022?
Hello everybody and welcome to my review of my 2022 resolutions. This week I have shared my monthly wrap for December, my 2023 resolutions, and my January TBR. We are ending the working week with a review of my resolutions set for 2022, whether I succeeded with those goals and if I can do anything better.
At the beginning of last year, I set myself three goals – to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, to take a more flexible approach with the reading lists I was setting myself every month in 2022, and lastly, to work on the admin side of managing my blog, and being more effective at doing so.
Let’s take a look at how I did over the course of 2022!
Goodreads Challenge – Read 40 books
In 2021, I deliberately didn’t set myself a reading goal as I was burned out. I didn’t want to compound that by constraining myself with a target. I had every intention of reading just as much as I would in any other year. Somehow, I was surprised when that didn’t happen. I read approximately 25 books in 2021. Don’t get me wrong, that’s more than a lot of people. But, if I’m completely honest with myself, I knew I could have done more.
With that in mind, I decided to resume taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2022. So as not to overwhelm myself, I set myself a modest target of 40 books. I wanted to give myself a number that I could work towards, but not set so lofty a goal that I set myself up to fail. Ultimately, my aim for this year was to read more whilst maintaining a healthy balance of doing other things I love as well.
As of the end of the year, I had read a total of 47 books. Not only did I meet my target, but I did surpass it slightly. For a brief while, I entertained the notion of pushing it to 50 books, but I’m glad I didn’t. In December, I read some very chunky fantasy that meant that I didn’t get around to the volume of books, even if I was reading a significant volume of pages!
All in all, I got my reading motivation back in 2022, which is what I wanted. However, I didn’t do it at the expense of anything else. I’ve given myself the time and flexibility for other hobbies and activities. This is exactly what I wanted from this resolution. So, in my opinion, it was a resounding success!
In my 2022 resolutions post, I set myself a goal of being more flexible with my reading list. Historically, I set myself an entirely fixed list for the whole month. At the beginning of 2022, I changed this stance slightly. Instead, I set a mostly fixed reading list, with the option of one or two mood reads at the end of the month. This was a good idea in theory, but more often than not, I was only just getting to the end of the fixed list by the end of the month, if at all, so I never actually got the benefit of allowing myself mood reads. I decided to stick with this approach though to give it a fair chance.
It wasn’t until June that I changed my stance again. When setting my June reading list, I couldn’t decide what to read. I kept changing my mind. In the end, I decided to accept the mood I was in and set just one fixed read on my TBR, keeping the rest as mood reads. Finally, I got to see the benefit of the flexibility I was trying to allow myself.June, in theory, should have been one of my worst reading months, as I sat an exam at the end of that month. However, it was one of my best reading months of the year. Naturally, it was at this point of the year that I took the decision to allow myself more flexibility again, changing my reading lists to just a handful of fixed reads, and the majority being mood reads.
Having looked back at my reading progress throughout the year, I read 23 books prior to the end of June, and 24 more by the end of December. In terms of book count, that’s a fairly even split. However, I read slightly chunkier books in the second half of the year. Whilst the end result may be very similar, I was definitely happier with my reading in the second half of the year. There is no tangible evidence that reading was better in the second half of the year other than my subjective opinion that I enjoyed it more. That’s enough for me!
I’m really happy with the approach I’ve taken throughout the year and the changes I’ve made. What I have learned since starting my blog is that I work differently at different times. In the past, having a totally fixed list has worked for me. There are times when it hasn’t. There are times when I’ve allowed myself complete flexibility, and that has worked. Again, there are times when it hasn’t. More recently, I’ve taken this hybrid approach and that is currently working for me. I need to be flexible with myself and understand what mindset I’m in as to which approach is best at any given time. None of them are wrong. If I need to change the way I’m doing things in the moment, I need to just do it.
Blog Post Writing
In my 2022 resolutions post, I set myself a goal to be more organised with writing my blog posts. The aim was to draft blog posts approximately one week ahead of schedule. This would give me leeway to get post out to you on time. In my midyear review, this was the goal I hadn’t made much progress towards, but I was determined to turn this around.
I did get myself to a point where I was drafting blog posts ahead of schedule. It was really handy if something came up, or I just wasn’t in the mood to blog on a particular evening. My blogging schedule wasn’t compromised by this. What I didn’t foresee, however, is that logistically, some posts can’t be drafted ahead of time. For example, my month-end wrapups have some degree of last-minuteness to them. Even if I was drafting the majority of these posts ahead of time, I was having to finish them off last minute anyway.
Another thing I didn’t consider was that drafting things ahead of time was going to be confusing. Particularly when I was drafting my Sunday Summary posts, I would get confused with what was coming up in the following week compared to what I’d just drafted, as that was for the week ahead of that.
Ultimately, it has its benefits and its drawbacks. I have now reverted back to drafting blog posts in the week they are due to go live. Personally, I find this easier to manage. However, I have started being more forward-thinking to make sure my posts go out with fewer unforeseen changes to the schedule. Rather than drafting blog posts on the night they’re going live, I’m more likely to draft them a day or two ahead of time. It is a compromise, but equally not a perfect approach either. I have had a blog post delayed slightly since going back this way. But, for the most part, things go out as expected.
Overall, I would say that I have made progress towards this goal somewhat, even if it is not in the way I envisioned at the beginning of the year. And, it’s one of those things that will be constantly evolving. Sometimes, it will be a benefit to draft the week ahead of time, and I will do so. Likewise, sometimes it’s not possible and I will just have to manage my time and roll with it.
Read more Non-fiction
An additional goal I added to my resolutions in July 2022 was to read more non-fiction. You know me, I am very heavy in the fantasy and science-fiction genres. I really enjoy reading these, as well as other fiction novels. However, I like to learn new things. I’m always looking for ways to improve myself. Naturally, these are the kind of itches I can scratch with a non-fiction novel. When I drafted my midyear review in July, I set up my intention to add at least one non-fiction novel to each month for TBR, which I did.
However, I didn’t always read a non-fiction book in each month up until the end of the year. In a lot of cases, my chosen non-fiction read was downloaded in audiobook format, which is my slowest way of reading. As a result, it often took me longer to finish my non-fiction reads than I anticipated. At the end of the year, I succeeded in reading three non-fiction novels. An additional novel I had started by the end of the year, but not finished, was Queen of Our Times by Robert Jordan.
Admittedly, in the second half of the year, I read as many non-fiction books after setting the goal as I did before I set it. However, I did have more non-fiction books on my TBR; picking them up was a more conscious decision. It was something I was deliberately making time for rather than just allowing to happen naturally.
I wasn’t so successful in completing this goal. If you have read my 2023 resolutions post, you will know I have set myself a similar, but slightly different goal towards this end. This is something I can definitely work on more, and that is my intention in 2023.
So, those are my thoughts on how well I did (or didn’t) do in completing my 2022 resolutions! Did you set yourself any resolutions last year? How did you do? Have you set any goals for this year?
With the beginning of a brand-new year, it is prime time to talk about my reading resolutions for 2023!
With the exception of my blog, I’m not one for setting New Year’s resolutions. Frankly, I don’t stick to them. However, since reading is a big part of my life, setting myself targets within this is a lot easier for me to do rather than begin a new habit from scratch.
Last year I succeeded in reading 47 books over the course of the year. It’s not the most I’ve read in any one year, but it is significantly more than I read in 2021 (approx. 25 books).
In 2021, I suffered from burnout. When I set myself my reading goal of 40 books for 2022, it was to get myself back into the habit of reading, but at a pace I could sustain. My burnout was in part caused by the pandemic, moving house, changes at work and being overzealous with prior reading goals.
Over the course of 2022, I found that I was more than able to reach that goal whilst not compromising on other things I want to do. I’ve had plenty of time to study and extend my qualification for work. I have enjoyed a number of creative projects, such as knitting and cross-stitching. Most importantly though, I’ve spent time with friends and family. Overall, it has been a very good, healthy balance.
Do I think I could have read a little bit more? Well, obviously. I have done in the past without causing harm or burnout. This year, my reading resolution is to stretch myself a little, but maintain the exact same balance that I am enjoying right now. If I can read anywhere near this amount then I’m happy… whether that’s over or under. Obviously, I prefer it to be a little over – I’m trying to stretch myself just that little bit. But, not so much that I burn out again. It’s not worth it.
Read >15 non-fiction books
This resolution is probably the greatest stretch of this year. In the second half of 2022, I set out to start reading more non-fiction. I was aiming for one book a month, but I didn’t quite achieve that.
This year, rather than committing myself to one a month, I am being a little bit more flexible in when I can read the books. But, I still want to make a commitment to read them. So, I’ve set myself a challenge of reading a minimum of 15 non-fiction throughout the year. I have a number on my TBR that I really need to get around to and read. It is the genre (that I consider myself to read) that gets the least attention from me. I want to change that.
The non-fiction books I have read so far are useful and insightful. In 2022 I enjoyed the change from reading the same or similar genres all the time. I’m hoping by committing myself to read non-fiction more that I can learn a lot of new things that I don’t know already. You never know, these facts might come in handy for future pub quizzes I end up in. Probably not knowing my luck…
Read 30 Minutes Daily
This is a goal I am setting, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t do it every single day. The purpose of setting this goal is to help build up and maintain a regular reading habit once again.
I used to read pretty much every day without fail. More recently, I am more likely to read for slightly longer sittings, but only 3/4 days a week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that’s a lot more than most people do. However, I want to try and get myself back in the habit of reading on a daily basis – even if I can only commit to 30 minutes. This is what I used to do back in the days when I was just getting back into reading. I was taking a book with me before bed.
It all adds up!
Finish Book Series
Another of the larger commitments I am making to myself about my reading is that this year, when I’m not reading non-fiction, I’m going to chip away at book series I have already started but I’m yet to finish.
Previously, I have read what I liked, when I liked. This has meant that to date, I have approximately 30 book series which I’ve started but not finished. For a handful of these 30, I am up-to-date. However, I know there is going to be a future book or books and so the series is staying on the list, even though I can’t make progress right now. That’s more because I don’t want them to get forgotten about. And if I’m painfully honest, it’s not that many (4?).
So, you will find that this year, I am going to be spending more time reading sequels than I am ‘new’ books. That’s not to say I’m not going to let myself start anything new at all this year. However, before I allow myself to start a new series, I have to take at least one series off the list (be that by completing a series in full, or by reading all the books published to date). Maybe even at this starting point, I’m going to say that I have to take two off for every new one I start to make sure it starts going down!
I can work out the logistics of how I manage this as I go. However, for the purposes of this reading resolution post, my resolution for the end of this year is to have fewer than 30 ongoing series as I have right now. No pressure Rebecca!
So, as of the 3rd of January 2023, those are my reading resolutions for the upcoming year. As in previous years, I will review these goals on a regular basis to measure my progress against them, and also decide if any of them are no longer relevant, or if I want to add anything!
No matter how big or small, setting yourself a goal can be all the motivation you need to try something different.
Have you set yourself any reading resolutions or goals for 2023?
As we are coming to the end of 2022, it is only natural that you may be thinking about the year ahead and about setting a reading goal. Are you the kind of person to set yourself a challenge? Do you prefer to go with the flow? These are important things to know about yourself in order to manage your motivation.
With this discussion post, there is no right or wrong answer. On the contrary, it is all about understanding what is best for you! I hope this post helps you to consider what works best for you.
Like having a goal to aim for? Set yourself a reading challenge!
At the beginning of the year, I usually set myself a reading challenge. In the history of my blog, there is one exception to that rule, and that was an exceptional time. Even then, I don’t think my choice of not setting a goal helped me in the long run. It felt good at the time because I felt liberated. Unfettered. Free of expectation. However, as the year went on, I effectively allowed the status quo to continue, even when I had the capacity to get back into reading more. I had lost the habit of picking up a book.
I like having a goal to work towards. It is funny – my blog and my reading are the only facets in my life in which I really set myself goals (outside of work anyway). Otherwise, I am very laissez-faire. However, as proven to myself during the year in which I didn’t set myself a reading goal, I need one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an ambitious goal to motivate me. But, having a number to work towards effectively helps me schedule my time and manage expectations. The year I didn’t set a number was my ‘worst’ by far. Compare my 2020 wrap-up with my 2021 wrap-up post and you will see what I mean.
I recently watched a short motivational video about writing a book, but the underlying principle is the same. The lesson stuck with me. The speaker was talking about how people will take as long as they allow themselves to complete a job. For example, if you give yourself three months to complete a task, you will use the whole three months to do it. If you give yourself a week, you’ll do the exact same task in a week. It’s a psychological mindset thing.
For some people, not setting yourself a goal and effectively having a timeless task can be detrimental. In 2021, I didn’t set myself a reading goal, but I fully envisaged that I would still read the same amount. It probably won’t shock you that I didn’t. As soon as I started setting goals again, I got back on track.
Want to maintain a habit?
Setting a goal doesn’t have to be setting yourself a challenge. If you comfortably read 20 books a year, you could set yourself a goal to effectively maintain that standard.
For example, one of the goals I am considering setting myself next year relates to maintaining the habit of reading every day. It doesn’t have to be for very long, and this is not a difficult goal to achieve. It’s not meant to be.
Even if you set out to read a chapter every day, or for just 10 minutes… it all adds up. My reading habit and my blog wouldn’t be here today if not for a change in my lifestyle in 2017. That change resulted in my picking up a book before bed every night. Initially, it was only a temporary arrangement as a result of circumstance. I started taking a book to bed to read for half an hour. Even after my circumstances returned to normal, I continued to read before bed. By the end of April, I’d read 20 books – more than I had read in the last several years combined. That is how reading became a habit for me.
Setting yourself a goal if this type means that whatever it is you are trying to do is important to you. However, it can also help promote a healthy balance. I have found in my experience that after reading too much, my other hobbies suffer. In the end, my reading suffers because I over-compensate for not doing other things by doing just the other things.
Maybe goals just aren’t for you
I’m not going to say that setting a reading goal suits everybody. I’m sure it doesn’t! Just because I don’t categorise myself as one of these people, it doesn’t mean that you don’t exist. If you don’t like having a reading goal, that is entirely up to you. It is perfectly okay to enjoy a hobby with no strings or obligations attached.
If you are the kind of person who doesn’t set reading goals, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not going to profess that this works for me and that I understand this approach. I proved that the year I didn’t set any reading goals for myself.
If you don’t set yourself reading goals, is there anything else you do instead? I’d love to hear from you to add to the conversation!
Have you set yourself a reading goal? Do you have a reading goal for 2023?
In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I am sharing my top ten book series that I would like to finish. Scratch that – I NEED to finish!
The theme of this post could also have been book series that I would like to start or continue with. Now, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how many books series I have ongoing. The ones that I have selected for today’s post are just a small handful from a very big pot. They are, however, the ones I have made the most significant progress in, or ones that I am heavily invested in and therefore more likely to finish sooner rather than later. At least, theoretically…
I didn’t want to share a post about books from a new series that I would like to start. It would only fuel my desire to start even more. I certainly don’t need any help in that department!
I’m hoping that this post will serve as a personal reminder of some of the series I have ongoing, and help me get around to finishing them. Some of the series featured today can’t physically be completed at the moment. I am fully up-to-date with some of them, and I’m awaiting further books to be published. However, for the most part, they are ready and waiting to go. The only thing stopping me is me!
So, without further ado, let’s dive into today’s list: –
The Mistborn series is split into several parts. I read the first trilogy as a teenager, but finally came back to reading the second trilogy last year. It was great to revisit the series and the magic system that I came to enjoy when I was younger. It was a gamble to see if I was going to enjoy the books set in a slightly more advanced time period, however, it really worked in my opinion.
The final book of this series has been awaiting publication for quite some time. However, that last book is due to be published in November. So, since I only have one book left, and the events of the second series are fresh in my mind, I would like to start this sooner rather than later!
The Dark Tower
I started The Dark Tower series at a time when I wanted to try Stephen King, but wasn’t feeling quite confident enough to read horror. They proved to be a good introduction. However, to date, I’ve only read the first two books of the series.
I actually own all of the series, and most of it is up on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. According to Goodreads it has been three years since I picked up The Drawing of the Three, the second book of the series. I didn’t think it was quite that long ago since I last picked it up. It proves the point that I need to pull my finger out and start reading these more seriously.
Reading my way through the Discworld series is going to be a project. I have already made a good deal of progress though. The series has a total of 41 primary works, and to date, I have already read 18 of those.
What I really like about these books is that the wider universe is split down into smaller series. So long as these individual series are read in order, everything will make sense. I have taken the decision to read all of the books in order, but the beauty is, you don’t have to! You don’t even have to read the entire thing. I have some preferred mini-series over others, such as the witches and death series. Whilst I wouldn’t let that stop me reading all of them, anyone has the flexibility of choosing not to read all of them if you don’t want to.
The books in themselves are also reasonably short and very lighthearted. One of Terry Pratchett’s skills is addressing important or difficult topics in a satirical manner. It may take some time to get through the whole series, but it is one that I can chip away at and read quite easily.
A Game of Thrones
This is one of the series on my list in which I physically can’t progress at the moment. To date, I have read the entire published works of the A Song of Ice and Fire series twice. There are two books remaining in the series, and I can’t wait for them to come out so I can finally read them!
Whilst talking about this, I’d like to take the opportunity to call out people making angry noises about George R.R. Martin and the series because they’re having to wait for the sequel. Yes, it has been a long time since he published the last book, A Dance of Dragons. However, you’d also complain if he turned the last two books out quickly and didn’t put the full thought and planning into them that makes them as good as they are. If he rushed it, and you thought it was crap, you would also complain. The man can’t win!
They’re his books, and he’ll publish them when he’s happy with them. Don’t hate on him, and certainly don’t give up on the series because you’re impatient. That’s just cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The Name of the Wind
The circumstances of The Name of the Wind are very much the same as George R.R. Martin and the A Song of Ice and Fire series. However, we are waiting on just one book to conclude this three-part series (The Slow Regard of Silent Things shown above is a companion novella to the main series, but it is one I have also read).
Again, we have been waiting for a while, and the author is getting a lot of hate for it. I reiterate my comments above. Patience is a virtue.
Dune is a series I started at the beginning of this year. I was gifted the very first book of the series about five years ago, and it has taken me that long to start it.
To date, I have also read the second book of the series and own the third ready to pick up. It is an interesting series, and it is unique to my TBR in that it is probably the oldest in terms of publication date. I typically pick up more modern books, and in some ways, Dune shows its age in its portrayal of some of its characters. However, I can see it is a series of its time and I haven’t let that stopped me reading it.
There are a total of 8 books in this series, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one. And the next one… you get the drill.
Rivers of London
It’s not very often I have an audiobook series that I’ve made decent progress on, but Rivers of London fits that bill.
I started this series back in 2020 and to date, I have listened to six of the nine primary works currently published. Of course, as with any popular series, there are novellas and side stories that I could delve into if I wanted. However, my priority is to work my way through the main series. I only have three books (as things stand currently), so I think it makes sense to try and get a shift on with these.
The Saxon Stories is a series by Bernard Cornwell with which I’ve made solid progress… but there’s more work to be done yet.
This is also a lengthy series, currently standing at 13 primary works (unlucky for some). I have read the first five books so far, and I think I’ve actually progressed with the storyline via the TV series beyond this point. That’s a rarity in itself, but I haven’t felt my enjoyment of the books wane or be affected as a result of watching it on TV first.
Having checked out when I read the last book, The Burning Land, I need to pick this series up again. It’s been two years since I made any progress on it. It is clearly a genre and setting I enjoy, because I have read books very recently set around the same period. Maybe I need to focus my efforts on continuing what I’ve already started…
But where’s the fun in that!
Skyward is a series by Brandon Sanderson that I started just this year. It is the first young adult narrative of his that I have read, and I really enjoyed the first book of the series. The next book of the series is up on my bookshelf and begging to be read. I very nearly added it to my November TBR. Depending on how things go, and whether my mood changes, it may very well worm its way on. We’ll see.
Realm of the Elderlings
This last series is another I started this year. Do I sound like a stuck record yet? Maybe now you see my problem? I don’t regret starting this one, as much as I joke about my tendencies to over-commit. Robin Hobb is an author that a friend of mine has been recommending to me for a number of years, and now I see why. In just the latter half of this year, I have already read the first trilogy that makes up a wider 16-book series.
These books have been absolutely fantastic. I’m simultaneously looking forward to a change of setting in the next mini-series (the Live Ship Traders), but also to going back and re-visiting the same characters at a later date. Whereas I have allowed other series mentioned in this post to fall by the wayside, I don’t think that’s going to be the case with Realm of the Elderlings at all!
So, those are my top ten series that I really need to get on and finish, as well as airing some dirty laundry on my bad habits!
Have you started or finished any of these series? Are you like me in over-committing to too many series at once? As always, I’d like to have a chat in the comments or on social media.