2020 Goals

2020 has arrived and so the start of a new year of blogging goals commences. I’ve already looked back at the poor attempt I made with last year’s goals and instead of learning from that I am going to be bolder and reach wider because I have learnt nothing.

Some of these goals are ones I have thought about through the year and am going to strive and make them part of my reading habits. They aren’t completely extravagant, but even a small achievement in these areas is a win because at least I’m doing something good for myself and for the reading community.

All of these are my attempt to read more widely, more diversely, to spread the love, discover new reads and read the books, genres, and authors I love. Because reading and blogging isn’t just about making goals it is about reading good books, these are just the tools I am using to find and experience these good books. As long as I give it my best these goals can’t really be failed (some can but that is a whole other thing). As I enter my seventh year of this blog (what even is happening about that!) I am growing and evolving once more like a little blogging Pokémon and that can only be a good thing.

Read More Young Adult

There always seems to be more and more published every week while I am still catching up on those published in 2015. I want to try and read more of the YA books I’ve heard so much about, seen on my shelves every day, and bought with speed to own upon release only to never read it.

Read More #LoveOzYA

Adjacent category of the above is to hone in on our Aussie YA corner. Not only am I super keen to see if the #LoveOzYA team release another bingo (hopefully not waiting until October to do so), but in the meantime I want to discover all the Aussie writers have to offer.

Finish series

I will admit, this is my evergreen goal, but imagining the satisfaction of finishing a series is something I need to dream about to achieve this goal.

Finish a whole Bingo Game

I have done it once, I failed last year but if I remind myself I have done it once, it will also make me read these genres and stories I don’t read often which is usually how a card gets unfinished. Hopefully mixing up my card this year and doing more challenges will help as well.

Be more active on other blogs to share the love.

Despite being online and not actually face to face I still get a lot of anxiety interacting with people online but sharing a love of books and reading should hopefully push me out of my silently stalking mode into commenting and sharing the love a bit more around the blogging community.

Read more off my own shelf

A small part of me actually thinks I’ll achieve this where I have failed every other year because I keep adding books to my shelves and seeing these titles I’ve also wanted to read for years. I only need to pick them up. Maybe if I start, it will be a habit I won’t easily break. That or guilt myself into keep going. The key is to connect the books on my shelves to those in challenges or other goals because if I only used my shelves I have no doubt I’d fill every box and every goal and every genre required.

Looking at the list I think that is a decent approach to this 2020 year. If I use these as guidelines to other things I will hopefully be able to achieve them in a small way. I am already looking forward to seeing how far I can go. Do you have any reading goals you want to achieve this year?

So Long 2019, and Thanks for All the Fish

The end of the year has come around with the usual speed and promptness. From November and December flying by and now the last few days of my break over in the blink of an eye the end of the year is one of mixed feelings. As I write this my state and country is on fire, hundreds of fires, millions of hectares destroyed and an Emergency Warning has been issued for my area with a bush fire only a few kilometres away just this afternoon. This brings a lot of strangeness to this NYE and it’s a strange thing to be wrapping up my blogging year when so much is happening around me.

This is a blog about books and reading and this year has been a great reminder about the joys and magic books can bring. While the world has been falling apart around us this year with incompetent governments and a wide variety of imbeciles ruining the planet with their greed, it has been a wonderful escape to lose yourself in books. They are the distraction you need when you feel helpless and frustrated. Working in a library I have a fortunate advantage of seeing hundreds of books a day and getting to find some interesting reads and snagging new releases. Of course whether I get to actually read a lot of these is a whole other thing, but I have done my best.

My Goodreads challenge was won with a few hours left to go in the year, sneaking in a few incredibly quick reads of a couple picture books I have because the novels I’m in the middle of will not be finished come New Year’s night. I love seeing my Year in Books that Goodreads so beautiful presents for me each year. It is a great chance to look back and see all the books I’ve already forgotten I’d read, or ones I thought I read ages ago only to realise it was only in May. This year has certainly been going on for a lot longer than normal.

In preparation of this post I went back to look at my post where I laid out my 2019 goals. I probably shouldn’t have done that because frankly it was filled with incomplete goals. I only had three essentially:

  • Finishing Series
  • Recapping Books Events
  • Rereading

I didn’t finish a single series I had on my list to finish so fail there.

I think I started strong with my book events before they too were sitting unpublished in a notebook still. I do wonder if I could post them next year, a few (many) months late but still a nice revisit to the event. It may also be a great test of my note taking skills to see if I even know what I was talking about when I wrote them.

I will take a tiny win in that I reread Ready Player One (still amazing, read the book it’s better than the movie). But I didn’t reread the series I wanted to either so also tiny fail.

In a way, I was consistent in my lack of achievement though so…win?

Things to be Proud Of:

Away from my goals I do have things I am proud of that I achieved this year

  • I had more people visit my blog in the first 11 days of January this year than I had in the entirety of 2013. I also saw my total numbers of visitors grow immensely this year which was incredible and something I honestly never thought would happen.
  • I read 181 books out of my 180 set goal which I think is my highest number yet
  • I won AWW 2019 and not just scraping through at the last minute either, proper exceeded it
  • I had a steady blogging schedule which worked like clockwork 99% of the time
  • I won #LoveOzYABookBingo by finishing a line and a few more on top of that
  • I achieved two Book Bingo lines

Looking at that list I am quite impressed, though I didn’t achieve my goals, I did have a lot of wins.

My original plan tonight was to read my book, eat my fill of cheese and wine and enter 2020 with books on the mind and a keen spirit to read as many as I can in this new decade. In light of the events this afternoon, I fear my evening will be to have an eagle eye on the Fires Near Me App, and an eye out the window watching the billowing smoke grow larger.

Honestly, it’s an unideal way to end the year but this has been the reality in this country for a while. I remain hopeful towards 2020 though. I want to find new books to fall in love with, I want to read even more widely and diversely than I currently am, read more Australian, read more YA, read more heartbreaking books and more joyful books.

If you are in any of the fire affected areas I hope you stay safe, if you are fire free I hope your NYE is filled with festivities and frivolity.

Why the Audiobook is Not Always the Better Choice

I love audiobooks. I love that I can still read books while I am driving to work or shopping or otherwise unable to have a book in my hand. I also love that when you get good audiobooks with good narrators you can become so engrossed in a book you listen to it all day every day until you are done. But there is a flip side. There are risks to listening to audios. Not only if you have a bad book it can make it hard to skim and skip over the terribleness of it all, but you are at the mercy of the narrator and how they chose to interpret the text. This may mean you dislike a book you otherwise might have enjoyed.

 

The effect of the Wrong Voice

The voices a narrator chooses for a character can have immense effects on how you as a reader feel towards them. A voice that is too young, childish, and babyish make you look down on a character, makes you see them as childish and immature, something that may not have happened had you had your own voice in your head. If the voice is harsh and grating on your ears, and certainly not one you would ever feel suited that character then that too can be a turn off. I’ve turned off a couple audios recently because I could not stand the voices used for characters. It wasn’t anything I could get used to and it hurt my ears every time they spoke.

 

Bad narration

Connected in part to the wrong voice is also straight up bad narration. If a narrator does a bad job you do find you take it out on the book. Was the book bad, or was it just badly read? So often you can get used to a bad narrator, adjust your ears and your mind to their style and proceed as normal, or you focus more intently on the story and try to ignore their banality or slowness. Other times having a bad narrator can make you dislike a book, something that might not have happened had you had a physical copy in your lap instead. There is one upside to a slow reader though, the ability to put things on 1.5x or 2x speed on certain platforms which wonderfully makes the story play at regular speed instead of dragging on.

 

Changing narrators in the series

This one I cannot understand but at the same time I do. Narrator availability and time between books impacts this but it messes with your mind. Having spent ten hours imaging a character as a middle aged lady of reason, a bit of middle class, nothing too fancy but not that common either can jar the senses upon starting book two when a very different voice hits your ears with a twang and a jovialness that she never had before. Suddenly everything is less upper middle class, still doing the exact same things in the exact same house with the same cat, but the character seems different. It hardly seems right having this voice attached to the lady you had moulded in your mind to be a certain way. This is why I love when series have the same narrators, it makes everything more seamless and doesn’t mess with the characters in your head.

 

The Songs

When authors feel the need to fill our pages with songs, little hums, and all around general musical merriment, it is a fun thing to have a quick read, glance at the words, not worrying about rhythm or melody. Get the gist and off you go! With audio, to get the Full Experience, some narrators like to sing will full gusto and it makes you realise How Many Songs are in this book and Why Are There So Many Songs? It doesn’t do anyone any good having to sit through these things. It must be part of someone’s Beginners Guide to Torture having to sit through these songs in these books where they have no place being.

 

These are of course only my opinions, a few things that got me thinking after I listened to one of my favourite books as an audio and realised what a horrible mistake I had made. I have also had a lot more wonderful audiobook moments, but sometimes it is a little fun to point out that they aren’t always the best route to take. I suppose you only find out once you try, and thankfully 99% of the time there is another format you can fall back to when you decide your ears deserve better. 😛

The Dilemma of the Signed Book

Recently over the chrissy break I made an effort to clean out my bookshelves. I had been doing it gradually as I came home with another pile of books in my hand but in all honesty they were just piled up on shelves until I had time to Organise. This chance came with the couple of weeks I had off from work and while I have made a lot more room on my shelf (immediately filled by new books), I found myself in a small crisis. What do I do with a signed book I no longer want?

I recently read a few books that I had on audio and didn’t enjoy them at all. I thought there is no point in keeping this book I will never read again and don’t want to lend to people. The only issue is I’ve met the author at an event and now have my name and a lovely greeting scrawled in the front pages.

What do you do? Must I keep this book as some obligation because my own guilt at throwing it out has already made me put it back on the shelf once? I know there are at least two maybe three books there that have my name inside and a lovely message that are attached to a story I disliked. Do I hunt down someone with my namesake and gift it to them? Ideally yes, the book is brand new and why no let someone else enjoy it? If it was just a signature I’d have no problem discarding them, but that personalisation is holding me back.

Meeting an author and handing over your book to be signed is wonderful. I obviously didn’t know I wouldn’t like their book when I gave it to them, and there has been a vast majority more I got signed by authors that I do like. I know they appreciate people lining up to get their book signed and to have then gone on to dislike the story feels a bit mean, it feels like I have wasted their time. And even though there is no way in the world they would ever know, I still think they’ll find out if I get rid of it. I know this is a silly thought to have, but that is how I was feeling as I replaced these books on my shelf, unable to throw them out.

Does anybody have any suggestions or comforting words? Tell me I’m not alone feeling this way? I know I could commemorate the meeting by scanning the signed pages, but those other 300 pages taking up space, what’s a girl to do? A box cutter and a careful page removal might be the best solution at this point.

Happy New Year and 2019 Goals

The first day of 2019 has almost come to an end here in Australia. I had been trying to think of an end of year post like I usually do for the past few days but I got myself a tad distracted by the celebrations and never got around to it. All is good though, it was a great year, I really feel like I have found my feet so to speak and I am really proud of what I managed to achieve. I posted more content and more consistently than in previous years, I read over 160 books which is the highest I’ve done on a Goodreads challenge before, I completed my Book Bingo card for the first time, exceeded my AWW 2018 Challenge, and looking at my stats the number of visitors to my blog is steadily growing which is amazing. Another fun little achievement was that I hit 500 reviews on Goodreads after setting myself to reach the goal in August when I noticed it was 407, just 93 away.

With the new year comes all the reading and blogging goals I try and lay out that I want to achieve this year. Today I’ve been thinking about what I would like to achieve, what would be fun, rewarding, and looking at what I have tried (and often failed) to do in the past. For 2019 I am aiming for goals that are simple and (hopefully) manageable because while they are not a grand challenge, they will tick off boxes and give great satisfaction.

I have three main ones, and then a few minor ones that I am aiming for.

Finishing Series

I am in the middle of all of these because I am a Bad Reader. I do want to finish these series but for one reason or another I have been held up, distracted, or just never had a real desire to keep going. This year I am going to aim to finish most of these. There’s probably so many more but these ones I want to finish so it’s a good starting point.

Charlie Parker
I have read a couple of these and I loved them but then I kept reading other things and I’m so far behind because Connolly Keeps. Adding. More. Books. If I get going with a few hopefully I will be so invested again I will keep up the momentum.

Cinder
I own this entire series and yet I still have not finished it. I enjoyed Cinder and I want to keep going but something has stopped me one way or another. This year though I will endeavour to keep going because everyone raves about it and I love a good fairytale retelling.

A Court of Thorns and Roses
I will admit I got a bit bored reading the first book and so I may have put it down and never picked it back up, but I might not have been paying enough attention. I will try again and see if I can finish the series this year.

Obernewtyn
I trailed away from book two cause it was a teeny bit dull but I will push through because I said I’d give the series a chance and I will. But I don’t think I could make myself read all 7 if they are really not enjoyable.

Parasol Protectorate
I adored book one and I have tracked down a copy of book two so I am ready to go. I tried a few times through the previous year to get book two and start reading but it just never happened. I love these characters and need to see the next adventure so I will find a way.

Nursery Rhyme Crimes
Fforde is a genius and all of his books are divine masterpieces and the first book in this series was no exception. I so often praise the first books yet don’t pick up the second.  There are only three in the series (for now) I don’t know how I resisted the charms of nursery rhyme crime for so long. I certainly must finish the set.

The Four Kingdoms
I have read 2 of these and Cellier is brilliant in her fairytale retellings and I am definitely tracking down the others to finish this series.

Miss Peregrine
I got the latest book in the series for Chrissy so with that motivation I am going to finish the rest of the books so I can read my new copy. Whatever motivation works, right?

Rereading 

I am always up for a reread of books but then the little voice pops into my head telling me to read the books I haven’t read first. But that desire is always there, itching to revisit some of my favourite worlds, characters, and stories. These are just some of the books I want to reread but I am also open to any stand alones that come across my path.

Thursday Next Series
I need to revisit the Thursday Next series because it is possible one of my favourite series up there with HDM, Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter. I don’t think I could emotionally go through HDM again so soon and I did a Harry Potter reread last year so it was a tossup between Thursday Next and Artemis. My desire to read about Thursday is stronger than Artemis. Maybe I can prompt the universe to get Fforde to finish book eight because I have a mighty need for the next book which I’ve been waiting for since 2013 which will no doubt be mightier by the time I finish them again. I can see another 14 year wait like Pullman’s The Book of Dust. I might be ok with that if I know it is going to come for certain.

Mary Poppins Series
I recently saw the new film Mary Poppins Returns which was incredible. This prompted me to watch the original again which is also incredible. This is turn now makes me want to revisit the books because they were a delight and were so brash and unforgiving at times but also filled with magic and fun. I can never have too much Mary Poppins in my life right now.

Recapping Book Events

I have finally (after five years of working it out) found a rhythm in terms of reviewing, scheduling, content and all things blog. And yet, I still keep forgetting to do posts about book events I go to and so a lot gets left out, but that is one of the things I want to work on because I used to be very good at it so I want to return to sharing my experiences. Things like the Newcastle and Sydney Writer’s Events that I take page after page of notes for yet never put out there for others to enjoy. Or the book launches and author talks that I always plan to recap and yet never get around to it and then weeks have past and it feels too late. I am aiming to improve my neglect and share some of these experiences I have been fortunate enough to attend.

 

These three things are my very basic and easy to achieve goals. On top of that I have my usual Book Bingo and AWW Challenge which I’m counting separately. I also want to try and read more books when they first come out, review current titles while they are still relevant. This will be a footnote kind of goal that I’ll keep in mind on the side.

I look forward to revisiting this post in December to see just how much I have achieved and how I may have strayed from my path, or, I might have created a newer, better one, I just don’t know. Do you have any blogging or reading goals you would like to achieve in 2019? Let me know in the comments.

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