Top Ten Tuesday: Top (Almost) Ten Reading Resolutions for 2016

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Resolutions for 2016.

I don’t generally go for formal resolutions, but here are a handful that I’ve come up with that relate to my reading life. Will I stick with them? Time will tell.

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1) I resolve to concentrate on reading the books I already own.

2) I resolve to ease my guilty conscience by finally catching up on my NetGalley books from last year.

3) I resolve to read all the books I urgently needed in 2015, which I bought as soon as they came out and then left sitting on my shelf.

4) I resolve to resist the urge to participate in challenges or any other sort of activity that tells me what or when or how much to read.

5) I resolve to (attempt to) read series as a whole — all books in a row — rather than reading them as they come out and then forgetting all the details in between volumes.

6) I resolve to attach my backlog of graphic novels. Buffy, I’m looking at you!

7) I resolve to branch out just a wee bit when picking books from the library, sampling genres and subject matter that I might not normally read.

8) I resolved to continue my recent trend of Reading On a Whim! (Stated in bold upper case, because I want to hammer it into my own head…) My best and most enjoyable reading happens when it’s unscheduled, not glued to a calendar, but driven purely by whatever strikes my mood when I’m looking for the next book. It doesn’t always work that way, but it’s certainly the reading pattern I want to strive for.

9) And in non-bookish resolutions… I need to exercise more, explore my city more, and make more of an effort to play and relax.

Resolved

That’s what I’m aiming for in 2016!

What are your bookish (and non-bookish) resolutions for 2016? Please share your links!

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2014: My bookish resolutions for the New Year

stamp-143189_640I never used to make New Year’s resolutions… other than the usual vague statements about working out more, eating healthier, and cleaning out my closets. But since entering the world of blogging, I have a bit more motivation to put my intentions into words, especially when it comes to my book-related and blog-related plans and commitments.

Without further ado, my bookish, bloggy resolutions for 2014:

1) Organize, organize, organize!  At the risk of sounding completely geeky, I must admit that Excel has been a lifesaver this past year! After seeing a big upsurge in ARC approvals, I realized I was losing control, and finally came up with a tracking system that works for me. Now all of my upcoming review copies are listed in a nifty little worksheet, sorted by publication date, review status, and source, and I can always tell at a glance where I’m on target and where I’m falling behind. Plus, it’s easy to see when I’m becoming too swamped, so I know which months to avoid for future ARC requests. For 2014, I want to expand how I use my system, adding in other key reading targets — such as new releases that I’m excited to read, or older books that I’ve vowed to get to — so that I don’t end up frustrated when I never seem to have the time for what I truly want to read.

2) Ease up on the requests. On the positive side, I now get approved for a lot more of my NetGalley and Edelweiss requests. On the negative side, I haven’t yet adjusted my requesting volume to reflect this. I used to request a lot of books, based on the assumption that I’d get turned down for many of them. Well, now that I’m getting approved more, I suddenly have more than I can handle! It’s okay — with the help of my handy-dandy worksheet, I’ve got it more or less under control, but I cannot allow myself to continue adding to the backlog!

3) Attend more author events. I think I made it to four book signings and/or author appearances in 2013, and I loved them all. I happen to live someplace where there are always amazing events going on, so I just need to make more of an effort to keep track of what’s happening and then actually GO.

4) Show my shelves some love. Without picking a specific number of books or a definite ratio of new to old, I’d like to just state a general goal of hitting my bookshelves more often and making sure to leave time for the unread books I already own, rather than always moving on to the next new thing.

5) Diversify. This was a resolution from last year that didn’t go very far, but once again, I’d like to make a point of reading 3 – 5 books from outside of my usual fiction comfort zone. History, science, sociology, memoirs? We shall see.

6) No challenges! If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself as a reader, it’s that I don’t like being told what to read — even if I’m the one doing the telling. This is why I suck at book groups. Sure, I’ll read the group book… if it’s something I want to read anyway. In the past, I’ve signed up for challenges, but I’ve never stuck to them. Because as soon as some other shiny new book comes along, I ditch my older reading plans and just read whatever I feel like. So in 2014, I’ll just be realistic, concentrate on reading whatever I feel like reading, and not enter any reading challenges! Even though there are some really good and clever ones out there… but no! Not for me! I’ll remain challenge-free!

7) No new series. This is a continuation of one of the resolutions I actually stuck with in 2013: I vow not to start any new series this year — with the following exceptions (because, of course, any good rule has exceptions):

  • New series by authors I love are allowed.
  • It’s okay to start a new series if the entire series has already been published.
  • It’s also okay to start a new series if the final volume will be released in 2014.
  • Obviously, if new books come out that are part of a series I already read, they’re totally fair game.

8) Take stock and take a step back. I’m still working through this one, but starting early in 2014, I plan to take a fresh look at my regular features on my blog, figure out what’s working (and what’s not), and really think about what should be kept, what should be tweaked, what should be replaced, and what should be added. Very vague, I know, but this resolution is really just a way of noting the fact that it’s a good idea every once in a while to reevaluate and try to avoid getting stuck in annoying or unproductive ruts.

nyres9) Breathe, relax, enjoy. I vow to continue to remind myself throughout the year that first and foremost, I read for my own enjoyment. When the blog stress starts to mount or I feel like I have to read something that I’m not excited about, it’s time to hit the pause button, take a few deep breaths, and then do what makes me happy. I read because I love books. And every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to say that out loud!

May you all be blessed with health, happiness, laughter, and great reading in this wonderful new year!

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Resolutions, kept and broken: A look back at 2013

imagesBefore I launch into a whole new set of bookish resolutions for the New Year, I thought I should do a quick look back to see if I actually kept all — or any — or even a few of my resolutions for 2013. And here’s where I stand:

Resolution: Maintain a healthy ratio of old to new.  For every new book, whether purchased or borrowed from the library, I resolved to read at least two that were already in my collection.

Result: Fail! I’m hopeless, I think. The number of unread books on my shelves is simply staggering at this point… and yet the new ones keep coming!

Resolution: No new series. I resolved not to start any new series in 2013, with the exception of new series by authors I already love to read or new-to-me series that have already been published in their entirety.

Result: Success! I can’t think of any series I started this year — with the exception of one or two trickstery books that didn’t warn me up front that there was a big fat “to be continued” lurking at the end. Which is totally not playing fair, as far as I’m concerned. I did read some books in ongoing series that I’m already involved in, and I did read the whole Y: The Last Man series, but those are allowed under my arbitrary rules. This one counts as a win!

Resolution: Patronize local bookstores.

images2Result: Mixed. I still rely on Amazon for a big bulk of my book purchases, especially now that I’m hooked on my Kindle, but I do make sure to visit the local indie sellers pretty regularly to pick up gifts and random impulse purchases… and if I attend an author appearance or other event at a book store, then I’ll always make it a point to buy something while I’m there.

Resolution: Housekeeping. I resolved to do some serious sorting and put together a bag or two (or three) of books to donate for the next library sale.

Result: Mostly a win. I did take quite a few bags of books out of my house. I co-chaired a book swap at my workplace, which was a huge success — and to which I donated about 25 – 30 books from my own shelves. Everyone who participated walked away with some great finds, plus in the end we donated the remaining books to the library for its next sale — a total of 14 cartons of donated books! My shelves are still overflowing, but I did manage to offload some of the books that I just knew I didn’t need anymore, and got my son to do the same. Honestly, this one is a never-ending challenge, and always will be.

Resolution: Try something new! I resolved to read at least 3 – 5 non-fiction books in 2013, preferable from a few different subject areas.

Result: Hmm. Not really. I read two memoirs, and that’s it. I really should have made more of an effort, but what can I say? I’m a fiction fanatic, from my head to my toes.

Resolution: Face facts. I resolved to admit that I just don’t like short stories and stop trying to force myself to read them.

Result: Success. I read a collection of fairy tales that I was excited about, and picked up an anthology that included stories by authors I love. And that’s it. I just said no to any other offers of short story collections, no matter how highly praised or eagerly pushed at me. Iron willed, that’s me!

nyresOverall? I think that’s what you’d call a decidedly mixed success rate! But that’s okay. I never did lose those extra pounds either…

Some of these will make it onto my 2014 resolution list, in one form or another… along with a few new items that I either will or won’t stick with.

How did you do with your 2013 bookish resolutions? Any big successes that you’re particularly proud of? And any “what was I thinking” items? Let’s round out 2013 by sharing our successes and our “not so much” results!

2013: My bookish resolutions for the New Year

Forget working out more (or at all…), eating healthier, and doing good deeds. (Oh, shush, I’ll try to do those things too).

My extra special New Year’s resolutions are all about reading. It’s a new year, a new opportunity to make some pledges to myself, and perhaps try a new approach or two when it comes to my reading life.

My resolutions for 2013:

  1. Maintain a healthy ratio of old to new: I have piles and piles of unread books in my house, at least 20 unread books on my Kindle, and yet I still gravitate toward grabbing the newest releases, checking new titles out from the library, and ignoring what I already have. Well, it has to stop! Stop, I tell you! My resolution for 2013 is to aim for at least a 2:1 ratio. For every new book, whether purchased or borrowed from the library, I will read at least two that are already in my collection. I think this will be my biggest challenge, to be honest, and I thought of settling for even a 1:1 ratio… but hey, let’s aim high.
  2. No new series! I simply will not start any new series in 2013 — with the following exceptions (because, of course, any good rule has exceptions):
    1. New series by authors I love are allowed. Because I simply must read Gail Carriger’s Finishing School books as soon as they’re released. (Etiquette & Espionage is due out in February. Hurray!)
    2. It’s okay to start a new series if the entire series has already been published. For example, I read the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher all the way through, books 1 – 6, once the 6th and final book had been released.
    3. It’s also okay to start a new series if the final volume will be released in 2013. A friend has been urging me to read Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle series, but I’m holding off until there’s a release date set for the final book.
    4. Obviously, if new books come out that are part of a series I already read, they’re totally fair game.
  3. Patronize local books stores. I’ve made a conscious effort in recent years to rely more and more on the library for new reads, and then supplement my shelves with amazing finds at the library’s annual used book sales. But I’m as guilty as the next person in terms of relying on Amazon for cheap prices and quick delivery. I’ll never totally stop buying from Amazon, but I will try to funnel more of my book dollars toward the wonderful people who work so hard to keep independent bookstores alive in our communities.
  4. Housekeeping. It’s time to do some culling. Yes, there are a lot of books on my shelves that I intend to get to eventually. But, facing facts, I admit that there are some that have been there long enough that if I really wanted to read them, I would have done it already. Impulse buys, unfortunate duplicates, books that sounded more appealing than they ended up… they need to go. I resolve to do some serious sorting and put together a bag or two (or three) of books to donate for the next library sale.
  5. The same goes for kids’ books in my house. My son, world champion reluctant reader, has shelves full of books that he’s never going to read. Every time his school has a book fair or his teacher hands out Scholastic book order flyers, he begs me to buy stuff and swears that this time, he’s really, really, really going to read them. I’m a sap and never say no when it comes to books, but of course, it turns out just how you’d expect. So, another culling is in order. I resolve to go through my son’s shelves — with him — take out the books that he has no interest in or that he’s already outgrown, and donate them to a good cause.
  6. Try something new! I’m a fiction reader, head to toe and deep down in my bones. But it’s nice to stretch one’s wings, expand one’s mind, branch out a little bit. So I resolve to read at least 3 – 5 non-fiction books in 2013, preferable from a few different areas. History, biography, social commentary, science — I’ve actually got some terrific-looking books on my shelves already, and it’s times I paid them some attention. I’m such a fiction junkie that this may be one of my hardest resolutions to keep, but I intend to at least make the effort.
  7. Face facts. I don’t like short stories. I’ve never particularly liked short stories. So maybe it’s time to face facts and stop trying to force myself to read them. Every time I go to the used book sales, I come home with at least a few volumes of either fairy tales, science fiction stories, or horror stories. And no matter how much I like the author, I just never feel motivated enough to pick up a story collection rather than a novel. So my resolution for 2013 in this regard is to let myself off the hook and admit that it’s just not going to happen.

They say that resolutions are made to be broken. Remember those 15 pounds we all vowed to lose last year? Or the year we were all going to become fluent in Spanish?

Well, I’m determined to give all of my bookish resolutions a fair try. Some may stick, some may not. But here’s to 2013! May it be full of good cheer, good health, and good reading for all!