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 ….