What’s In Store For 2021?

In keeping with the Booker Talk tradition for this time of the year, I’ve been thinking back over the year just gone and starting to make some reading plans for 2021.

2020: How Did That Work Out?

Challenges: Twelve months ago I came to the conclusion that it was time to call a halt to reading challenges of the kind where you make a list of books to read. Since I didn’t want to lose out on the spirit of camaraderie you get in those events I switched to short reading events, the kind that last for a month or sometimes just a week.

I did end up doing one reading challenge in 2020: 20 books of summer hosted by Cathy @746books. I hadn’t planned to, but persuaded myself at the eleventh hour I could take part without making a reading list. Amazing what you can talk yourself into isn’t it???

It was fun, as always, and I did pretty well — in fact 2020 was my best “performance” ever in this challenge since I read15 books over the course of three months.

Reading projects: I finished my Booker Prize project (hooray). As I said in my wrap up post it was tough going at times because quite a few of the winning books were definitely not to my taste (fortunately there were only four absolute duds.) But I don’t regret doing this project at all — it introduced me to writers I had never before experienced, some of whom have become favourites.

I also finished the Classics Club challenge in June. It took me far longer than expected because, true to form, I got very enthusiastic at the beginning and had a buzz creating my reading list. In fact, making the list was the best part. Reading from the list came to feel like a chore.

Progress on my third big project —the World of Literature — was sadly glacial in 2020. I did quite well in terms of the diversity of my reading, with some fantastic authors from Turkey, Norway, Japan, Nigeria and Colombia. A quarter of the books I read were written by authors from outside UK and North America. But only one of those countries was a new one for me; North Korea via In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park.

State of the TBR – I read a grand total of thirteen books from the stack I owned pre-2020. And I gave away 47 books whose appeal had faded over the years. But neither action made the hoped-for dent in the TBR. I’m down by just five compared to 2019.

Why? The answer is simple: I bought/borrowed more books this year than ever before — almost double the number from the previous year. Some were for the book club which continued to meet online but many were impulse purchases late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I’m not fretting about the 271 unread books I still own, beyond the fact I just have no space to put them all. If only there was a way to shrink a book for storage and then magically bring it back to full size when I’m ready to read it. If there are any techno wizards reading this, can you please mark this request as urgent???

Reading Events – I dipped a toe into a few of these, starting with the Wales Reading Month (also known as Dewithon 2020) and the 1956club and then scrambling to keep up with three that clashed in November: Novellas in November, Non Fiction November and Australia Reading Month. Phew.

And Now For 2021

There is already enough stress in my life because of the turmoil in the world so I’m not about to add to it with a long list of goals and projects. I’m going to take the path of simplicity. So no targets for reducing the TBR or reading X number of books.

In fact I have just two main goals this year:

Expand Reading Horizons: One thing I definitely plan to continue is my exploration of literature from outside the main publishing countries (UK, USA, for example). To give me some impetus I’ve signed up for the European Reading Challenge 2021 hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader and for the Invisible Cities Project. That might sound like a contradiction given my earlier comments about avoiding challenges but both those initiatives are very casual. They don’t require me to make a list of books to read or to read a set number of titles. To give me some further help, I’ve renewed my subscription to the Asympote Book Club.

Connect Through Reading Events: There are loads of really enticing events being hosted this year, from country-based themes to genre reading. I’d love to do them all but since that’s not possible, I’m going to choose between 4 and 6 this year, spreading them out through the coming months. I’m hoping if I pick them in advance I can be better prepared instead of scrambling to find something to read at the last moment. We’ll see at the end of the year how well that works out!

In between all of this I’ll keep plugging away on getting this blog site better organised and easier for readers to use. I’ll continue to share what I learn through my A2Z Book Blogging Tips.

That should be enough to keep me busy ….

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

39 thoughts on “What’s In Store For 2021?

  • January 14, 2021 at 10:12 pm
    Permalink

    I understand what you’re saying: it’s hard to find a balance between staying engaged and striving and becoming overwhelmed and stressed by your own plans. Hopefully your selection of a few events and just generally reading what’s on your list as much as possible work out for you in this coming year. And I am all in for the widening reading experiences–we’ve got access to such tremendous publishing and borrowing networks that we’ve no excuse to stop learning about this world we are lucky to live in.

    Reply
    • January 16, 2021 at 9:36 pm
      Permalink

      Good point about ease of access to material – our library service has been a tremendous resource for people during the various UK lockdowns.

      Reply
  • Pingback: It's Time For The Japanese Literature Challenge : BookerTalk

  • January 11, 2021 at 9:09 pm
    Permalink

    You and me both on that TBR pile. I only read 4 of the 250 or so that have been on my shelves for FAR too long. I’m definitely going to make more of an effort this year. And if not, at the end of the year I’ll do a purge! Some I’ve held onto for too long (and they survived a previous purge).

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 9:27 pm
      Permalink

      I found last year I was reading too many newly published books and since my reading capacity had slowed right down, I never seemed to get around to those older books. I’m trying to limit my purchases (though feel guilty because bookshops really do need our business) so I don’t add to the problem

      Reply
  • January 11, 2021 at 12:57 am
    Permalink

    I’m glad you signed up for the 2021 European Reading Challenge! I look forward to seeing which books you pick and countries you visit. Bon Voyage!

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 9:34 pm
      Permalink

      I have an easy one to start with – my home country of Wales. 🙂

      Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 6:14 pm
    Permalink

    Well done on finishing the Bookers, that must feel so good! I am doing a few challenges this year but only using books on my TBR, so I haven’t checked for Welsh and Scottish ones yet but I don’t think I have any Australians. I do have the odd novella and nonfiction books galore, and will be doing 20 Books of Summer as ever – but also from the TBR. Mostly I’ll be rereading then reading all of Anne Tyler during the year and hoping a few people will join me here and there. Not from the TBR, but at least from the shelves! Happy reading and reaching out this year!

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 9:35 pm
      Permalink

      I’m planning also to use only what is on my TBR for those challenges – and if I don’t have anything that fits, then I won’t do the challenge. I know when the time comes I shall feel envious of all those people doing the 20 books of summer. But something has to give….

      Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 7:14 pm
    Permalink

    Well done on finishing what you did. And I think you’re right not to commit to too much – I tend to go with whichever projects or challenges fit in and that’s so much more enjoyable.

    Reply
    • January 9, 2021 at 9:50 am
      Permalink

      I’ve learned the hard way that there will always be more books to read and more projects to do than I have the physical capacity to handle

      Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 5:33 pm
    Permalink

    The great thing about ‘challenges’ like the European one is that it’s more of a prompt–if you read just one in the category you’re risen to the challenge! It all comes down to one essential goal, I think, to read more.

    Blogging Tips, now there’s a thread that I do pluck nuggets from, though I don’t follow them all, so thank you.

    Reply
    • January 9, 2021 at 9:13 pm
      Permalink

      Thinking of them as prompts rather than targets does take the pressure off

      Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 8:49 am
    Permalink

    Impressive that you finished your Booker project and Classics Club list. The reading is its own reward though, or should be — the challenges are just to give us a bit of organization and impetus. All the best for 2021!

    Reply
    • January 9, 2021 at 9:14 pm
      Permalink

      Chris at Calmgrove thinks of challenges as prompts rather than targets which I think is a stress-free way to view them

      Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 4:22 am
    Permalink

    I like to keep challenges on the light and easy side so I can focus on enjoyment and indulge my moods! Happy reading!

    Reply
    • January 9, 2021 at 9:14 pm
      Permalink

      We all need indulgence right now. If it takes the form of chocolate or book buying, who cares..

      Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 3:13 am
    Permalink

    I would like to read more European, and sub Saharan African, and early Black American, and Indigenous Canadian. But how, is the question. I guess I will just have to learn to love Audible, given that my ‘physical’ reading is about 40 books/year and I still have a lot of old Australians to read. And new releases. It’s a hard life!

    Reply
    • January 10, 2021 at 5:20 pm
      Permalink

      There are some interesting authors getting published from Africa now. Maybe do a free 30 day trial of Audible and see how you get on with it?

      Reply
      • January 11, 2021 at 9:53 am
        Permalink

        I buy a book a month on Audible but I struggle to listen to them – I much prefer CDs over the truck radio.

        Reply
        • January 11, 2021 at 9:32 pm
          Permalink

          I’m struggling too Bill and have decided to give up my subscription since I have six credits that are unused. Because I’m not going to the gym (locked down) and I’m not doing any work commuting I just never get around to listening to an audio book.

  • January 8, 2021 at 12:23 am
    Permalink

    I like your point about “the spirit of camaraderie” that comes with reading vents, and enjoy the same solution. I do some but not all of the weeks/months that you do.
    Can I persuade you to put Indigenous Literature Week into your diary for the first week of July? You can read Indigenous authors from anywhere around the world, but there is something special about reading works by Australian Indigenous authors from the oldest living culture in the world, one that dates back 60,000 years. Since you follow my blog, you know that there are heaps of books to choose from, I’m just putting this link here for anyone toying with joining so that they can see how much there is to choose from: https://anzlitlovers.com/anzll-indigenous-literature-reading-list/

    Reply
    • January 10, 2021 at 5:25 pm
      Permalink

      I’ll do my best Lisa – it’s in the calendar so I have no excuse for forgetting it. My challenge will be getting any of the books listed on your page – as you know they often don’t get as far as UK or are at an eye-watering price

      Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 10:10 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for the reminder about this one, Lisa. I can think of several books already on my TBR that would fit, so I really must remember this date for 2021 (last year was just strange *sigh*).

      Reply
    • January 7, 2021 at 9:59 pm
      Permalink

      I’ve learned my lesson from previous years Stu where I set ambitious goals and then felt `i was struggling all year

      Reply
      • January 8, 2021 at 3:07 am
        Permalink

        Good plans–esp Expand Reading Horizons‐that will be so interesting. I posted my goals yesterday.

        Reply
        • January 9, 2021 at 9:20 pm
          Permalink

          Just read your plans Lisa – a very imaginative approach

    • January 10, 2021 at 5:28 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Stu. I feel every year like the child with his nose up against the sweet shop window – knowing he can’t possibly eat all those lovely things but so wanting to try

      Reply
  • January 7, 2021 at 9:17 pm
    Permalink

    The Asymptote book club doesn’t extend to Australia or I would join you. It seems many bloggers are not following lists of books as much as previously. Like you said making the lists is the most fun. I’ll look forward to seeing what you read this year as your posts are always so interesting. Have fun. 🐧🌻🌷

    Reply
    • January 7, 2021 at 10:00 pm
      Permalink

      That’s a shame about Asympote because they introduce me to authors I would never have come across otherwise.

      Reply
  • January 7, 2021 at 8:20 pm
    Permalink

    I’m also looking forward to expanding my horizons too and like you have re-subscribed to the Asymptote book club. I will be dipping in and out of other people’s reading challenges throughout the year I think.

    Reply
    • January 7, 2021 at 10:00 pm
      Permalink

      I like that idea of dipping in – it takes the pressure off enormously

      Reply
    • January 10, 2021 at 5:28 pm
      Permalink

      Dipping in and out is good for the sanity I think

      Reply
  • January 7, 2021 at 7:48 pm
    Permalink

    Big accomplishments in 2020! Well done! I like your simple approach to 2021, lots of challenge and opportunity but plenty of flexibility. Happy reading!

    Reply
    • January 7, 2021 at 10:01 pm
      Permalink

      Absolutely – it is the flexibility I think I needed most Stefanie. I hate the feeling of being boxed in – made it feel more like a work project than fun

      Reply

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: