2023 Reading Goals ….Minus The Goals

Cover image showing a pen and notebook with the text 2023 Reading Goals

January is traditionally the time for looking ahead, making plans, setting goals and creating well-intentioned resolutions.

Judging by the number of posts on this topic that have come through my news feed recently, this is a task that book bloggers have clearly taken to with relish. You’ve all been super busy coming up with ambitious and impressive sounding reading goals and plans.

Up until a few years ago I’d have been doing exactly the same: studiously listing all the reading challenges I wanted to join and devising my own projects to broaden my reading.

But I’ve gradually moved away from the idea of detailed planning. I did enough of that when I was in full time work and I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of reading by thinking of it as “work to be done”.

Not that there is anything wrong with reading goals or plans. Some bloggers love them because they give a framework or a direction. They also seem able to cope with multiple challenges far better than I can.

This year I’m taking a more relaxed approach. No reading goals. No targets. No plans. Just some general ideas.

Read What I Own

I have just under 300 unread books in my bookshelves (294) to be precise. At my normal reading rate it will take me about 4.5 years to read them all. Yet I keep buying books, swayed by titles I’ve seen in a bookshop or library or books mentioned by another blogger.

It’s futile to say I won’t buy/borrow anything new in 2023 — honestly, such a declaration would be unlikely to last more than a few days. I’m going to say instead that I’ll put more effort into reading books in my TBR. That includes physical copies and e-books (especially all those requested via NetGalley that I have yet to open).

Explore The World

This month marked the end of the challenge I set myself to read books by authors from 50 different countries. I’m not going to set a specific goal but I do want to continue to explore literature from around the world.

I’ll be using The Armchair Explorer, edited by the Lonely Planet (a Christmas gift) for inspiration. It might help me complete the empty squares in My Wanderlust Bingo card. If I manage to complete that, Fiction Fan has a new card up her sleeve.

Read The Classics 

One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t stick to plans or lists when it comes to reading. That doesn’t stop me making a list of course — making the list is usually the fun part while the reading can feel a chore. The only reading list I currently have is for the Classics Club but I’ve made sure it doesn’t include books that collective wisdom says “should” be read. I’ve also built in plenty of choice to avoid feeling constrained.

Get Those Reviews Done

I confess that I have been very lax in the last year so the list of books awaiting review has reached double figures. I’m going to make a conscious effort to write them in a more timely fashion — while they are still fresh in my mind and I don’t have to rely on my notes. Ideally I’d like to have them written within a month of finishing the book. It might mean doing shorter reviews than I’ve tended to, particularly with books about which I don’t have a lot to say. My new mantra is “Done. is better than perfect.”

Choose Reading Events Wisely

I do love the spirit of comradeship that comes from the reading events that take place throughout the year. So I’m reluctant to abandon them entirely. But I also know it’s easy to get over committed because there are so many of them. My new strategy is aimed at striking the right balance — I will join a reading event only when I already have a suitable book in the TBR and have the time.

And that just about sums up my entire “plan” for the year. It will be interesting to discover whether I am able to stick to the no plan, plan. I’m curious whether you are a planner or prefer to just read according to your mood. Do let me know by leaving a comment.

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals For 2023

BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

52 thoughts on “2023 Reading Goals ….Minus The Goals

  • January 29, 2023 at 5:21 pm
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    I hadn’t heard of the Armchair Explorer, but I couldn’t not buy a copy when I looked it up. Wow! It’s fascinating, I can’t put it down (puts my blog to shame though!).

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    • January 31, 2023 at 11:08 pm
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      I’ve dipped into it so far – the time will come when I use it to find a book from a particular country so it will be interesting what they recommend

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  • January 25, 2023 at 7:04 pm
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    All sounds good! I have a strict policy to only do challenges off my TBR, which helps with that one, and 20 Books of Summer I always just pick the next 20 books on my TBR! I did buy one book for Dewithon this year and I MIGHT have asked for 1940 books for my birthday but that one is legit … I am also trying to read newer hardbacks before they come out in paperback, as I’ve been indulging in them at the new bookshop’s events. Horrifically, I’ve also got myself spending all my book tokens, which has filled up my TBR and more to come, but then they’re done and not looming, or something. I do read in acquisition order but that will go a bit odd as usual with all the challenges. Happy reading and good luck!

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    • January 31, 2023 at 11:26 pm
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      Gosh you are disciplined! Even if you don’t read strictly in acquisition order, it’s still giving you a good framework.

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  • January 22, 2023 at 11:59 pm
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    Armchair Explorer sounds interesting, but I’m frightened to acquire it since I have no doubt I’d end up turning it into the basis for another challenge! Good luck with your plans – taking a more relaxed approach sounds good…

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    • January 23, 2023 at 5:30 pm
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      I know what you mean – it’s hard to resist coming up with plans and challenges. The good news is that each country’s entry consists of only 5 or 6 books so just picking one from each country wouldn’t be too bad (does this sound like I am trying to convince myself?????)

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  • January 22, 2023 at 2:58 pm
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    I like your approach to reading goals and challenges this year. I try to “overlap” my challenges so they support each other and are mostly books I’d want to read anyway but might just need a little extra push. This year I want to focus on reading more around the world. The Armchair Explorer sounds like a wonderful resource. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers talking about wanting to write more reviews, and getting their thoughts down more quickly after they finish a book. For me the idea of “good enough” rather than perfect is pretty important in all areas of my life.

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    • January 23, 2023 at 5:39 pm
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      Overlapping is a good strategy. I think I saw one blogger last year who managed to overlap one book for three different challenges which was good going. Reading more around the world has come up from a few bloggers this year. I’ve just finished by challenge on that but still have many countries on my list to “visit”

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  • January 22, 2023 at 2:55 am
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    I could have written this post. No serious reviews from me, just a quick discussion as though having a chat with a friend over coffee. No challenges. Read more of my shelves. The Lonely Planet book is lovely. I enjoy my copy.

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    • January 23, 2023 at 5:39 pm
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      What do you think of the choices in Armchair Explorer for Australia? I wasn’t all that impressed by their recommendations for my own country

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      • January 24, 2023 at 10:41 am
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        I don’t know enough about other country’s classic literature to comment. I can’t remember what Australia was. I enjoy the format of the book and I have explored some of the music. I suppose it’s all subjective.🌻

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  • January 21, 2023 at 8:26 pm
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    I don’t usually have concrete goals but in 2022 I noticed some trends in my reading that surprised me, and also moved me away from reading mainly mysteries and often older mysteries. I don’t want to stop that but I want more variety too. And unhappy with my blogging too, want to review more. So I did write up some goals. And I plan to join some challenges too.

    And I totally sympathize with and admire your more relaxed approach.

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    • January 23, 2023 at 5:47 pm
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      Interesting that your reading began to change without you making a conscious effort to do so.

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  • January 21, 2023 at 6:09 am
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    Have just ordered myself a copy of The Armchair Explorer so that I can fill in some gaps on my Around the World challenge. Thanks for the tip 🙂

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    • January 21, 2023 at 6:16 pm
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      I’ll be curious to know what you think of the Australian/New Zealand suggestions

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  • January 20, 2023 at 2:52 pm
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    All sound reasonable and similar to mine of just existing and enjoying it without the blog being too burdensome.

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    • January 21, 2023 at 6:20 pm
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      It will be interesting to see by the end of the year whether our no plans plan was successful

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  • January 19, 2023 at 11:41 pm
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    I’m both! I joined two 2023 reading challenges and immediately started on a book that came in for me at the library and doesn’t meet either of the challenge’s criteria. So I join them and then ignore them and read what I want!
    I’m not good at record-keeping to begin with, and my job, family stuff, and other hobbies eat into my reading and blogging time, so I’ve had to accept imperfection in myself and my self-improvement goals for a number of years now. 😉

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    • January 21, 2023 at 6:22 pm
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      We are nothing if not consistent in our inconsistencies!

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  • January 19, 2023 at 9:35 pm
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    I say yay to no reading goals! I used to be obsessive about making them but stopped several years ago and have never read more or been happier. I hope you have a great reading year!

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    • January 21, 2023 at 6:24 pm
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      So far I have succeeded in ignoring Net Galley – I know its still early in the year but I intend to claim even a small victory!

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  • January 19, 2023 at 7:31 pm
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    A mood reader through and through, I do love being swayed by seeing others doing a challenge and may read one book to be part of the noise, but unlikely to do more than that, unless it coincides with a personal project/desire, like #ReadingIreland has done in the past.

    I do enjoy how some of the challenges have changed my reading habits, like #WITMonth Women In Translation when it began about 6 years ago, made me much more aware of women writers in other countries and I make a real effort to read more of them all year round.

    There is something nice about reading in a group of community, so the challenge, while not being a slave to it, does provide for more engagement than going solo.

    Happy Reading off the shelf!

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    • January 21, 2023 at 6:27 pm
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      My heart wants to join all sorts of challenges because as you say you get to be part of something bigger. I like the idea of just dipping in with one book – I’ve done that so far with the FINDS (Nordic) reading month and the Japanese lit challenge. I’ll only do it if I have a book already available that I fancy.

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  • January 19, 2023 at 4:30 pm
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    I wrote a longish reply, but it went AWOL. The precis version is – hooray for goal-less-ness!

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    • January 19, 2023 at 5:54 pm
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      Sorry about that Margaret; I don’t know what could have caused your fuller comment to be eaten up. The short version says it all!

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  • January 19, 2023 at 2:34 pm
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    I looked at the Armchair Explorer in Waterstones last time I was in there and was quite tempted though I did not succomb – I look forward to reading your literary explorations this year!

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    • January 19, 2023 at 5:55 pm
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      I’ve only skimmed it so far – was bemused to see the recommendations for my own country!

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  • January 19, 2023 at 1:47 pm
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    Your post is music in my ears. And I like your new mantra: Done is better than perfect. Yes, indeedy. I also intend reading my TBRs, as I’m saving up for a trip up country in October, so book-buying and airfares are a very bad combo. Enjoy your year of relaxed reading.

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  • January 19, 2023 at 9:49 am
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    “Done is better than perfect” is a great mantra! I’ve used a similar one – “perfect is the enemy of good” – myself in the past, and found it very freeing. Happy reading in 2023!

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    • January 19, 2023 at 6:06 pm
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      I like that mantra too. I’ve never thought of myself as a perfectionist but have always aimed for a high standard. Now I need to let go just a little

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  • January 19, 2023 at 2:28 am
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    “done is better than perfect” is the exact right attitude for blogging!

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    • January 19, 2023 at 6:07 pm
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      I kick myself sometimes when I think about all the hours I put into carefully crafting a review – social media moves so fast you;re lucky if it gets any traction after a week

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  • January 18, 2023 at 11:19 pm
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    As you know (because we’ve recently discussed this topic a bit) I like general plans to guide me through the year – a significant anniversary, the odd event that fits in with books I somehow have on my shelves, hints as to authors I might enjoy whether or not I get to them within a timeframe – but like you I hate being constrained. So no firm commitments, except those I know I can manage with relative ease. So I’m with you on your very loose plans!

    As for reviewing, I’m lucky to be retired and living a life not bound by much that might constitute paid work for a steady income. So I have time for writing crits of the books I’ve read; and I aim to get them up as soon after reading as possible while ideas are still in my mind – and any notes I’ve made are still accessible and unburied!

    That’s always been my aim since starting blogging and one I keep up with 99% of the time. But not everyone has that leisure to do so, so I understand your possible recourse to mini-reviews. Good luck, whatever turns out!

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    • January 19, 2023 at 6:09 pm
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      Well I am also retired though all the hours of spare time I thought I would have to read/blog just havent materialised. I’m too busy with walking groups, sewing groups, my duties as a charity trustee and volunteering. Plus trying to get to the gym…

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  • January 18, 2023 at 10:09 pm
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    SNAP! I’m just going to read what I feel like reading at the time and be very relaxed about the whole thing. I don’t want to be feeling any stress over my books and reading. As ever though I want to whittle down my TBR piles.

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    • January 18, 2023 at 10:27 pm
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      Love your relaxed attitude! We have enough stress from other things like the cost of living crisis, war, climate change etc etc so to add even more seems foolish!

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  • January 18, 2023 at 10:02 pm
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    I love a post like this that goes against the trend!
    I am a reformed ‘joiner’, but now I have just three challenges barely worthy of the name: to read on and off from 1001 Books, and eventually to have read all the Booker Prize winners as you have done, and the Nobel winners who wrote novels.
    As for events, if I get adequate notice about an event, and I have time, and it appeals, and I have a book on the TBR, then I join in.
    The rest of the time I just read whatever I like. This summer it extended to not reading any books sent for review during January. I’ll start that again in February. There’s actually a good reason for this. Publishers invite me to review a book because they want publicity. So it’s not so good for them to have a book reviewed when everyone is loafing on the beach. And because most of what I review is from small publishers who produce the most interesting books, I like to do the best I can for them…

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    • January 19, 2023 at 6:13 pm
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      I did flirt with the idea of doing a Nobel winner project but once I’d finished the Booker one, I felt I’d had enough of prize winners for a while.
      Well done on finding an approach to reading review copies work for you as well as the publishers. I’ve had some sent to me which I’ve not read and feel guilty about but I’ll have to get over it

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  • January 18, 2023 at 9:47 pm
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    Your non-goal goals are similar to mine: own shelves, classics, and around the world, plus the books I’ve taken on for review. Although I came up with my own new challenge this year, I don’t know how far I’ll get with that. Each year is a new reading adventure.

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    • January 19, 2023 at 6:15 pm
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      Challenges you dream up for yourself seem less stressful/onerous somehow – you have the freedom to go at your own pace and to stop when you feel like it

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  • January 18, 2023 at 8:25 pm
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    yes, if I may paraphrase this reader: ‘let book serendipity work its magic’ reader, especially as I get older. It’s not entirely planless, but my main goal is to find and read books that will stick with me. If they fit in with a reading event, even better. And I do wish I wrote posts more quickly, but am not holding my breath on that one…as they’ve summed up my ideal, and thank you very much!

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  • January 18, 2023 at 7:48 pm
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    You’ve summed up my feelings about not turning something I love into an inadvertant chore – being very much a ‘let book serendipity work its magic’ reader, especially as I get older. It’s not entirely planless, but my main goal is to find and read books that will stick with me. If they fit in with a reading event, even better. And I do wish I wrote posts more quickly, but am not holding my breath on that one.

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  • January 18, 2023 at 7:44 pm
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    I joined a GOODREADS group devoted to the TBR stacks. It really works.

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  • January 18, 2023 at 7:21 pm
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    Sounds pretty good to me! Although I went in all guns blazing at the start of the year, I won’t beat myself up if some of my plans fall by the wayside. But like you I do want to read as many books I already own as I can – and if they fit in with reading events that will be great!

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  • January 18, 2023 at 7:20 pm
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    Since I started the blog I have been doing the Goodreads challenge each year, but this year I haven’t signed up for it. I can still see how many books I’ve read in a year from my book list. I just didn’t want the pressure of the challenge.

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  • January 18, 2023 at 7:00 pm
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    “wisely” sounds a very good idea.
    The older I get, the less events I join.
    I also plan to focus on my TBRs.
    I actually have lots of reading-buddies-books, as right now three of my French students want to read a book with me, and these are 3 different books.
    I hope to read more books in Italian and Spanish.
    And hopefully have time for random reading!

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  • January 18, 2023 at 6:21 pm
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    I could have written this post, as I’ve scaled back joining reading challenges and have given up any idea that I could plan my reading – it just doesn’t happen. And I’ve started writing short reviews as I really want to get to grips with all the unread books on my shelves and in my Kindle.

    Reply

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