Monday, January 2, 2012

Reflection and Resolution

Happy New Year, all! I hope you all enjoyed some New Year's revelry, or at least some quality long weekend reading time. I know I've enjoyed a good deal of both. But now, here at Leafing Through Life, it's time to get back down to business. For me that means reflecting on the reading and blogging of 2011 and then scheming about how to make 2012 an even better reading and blogging year. I'll be honest, I don't usually write one of these posts. For one, true reflection on last year's reading requires me to divulge the paltry amount of books I manage to read in a year. This is in comparison to all the especially voracious readers of the book blogging world rather than the general public, of course. Hopefully. I also usually take a hard line against any but the most vague resolutions because, you know, who likes to fail at publicly stated goals?

But enough talk, I'm biting the bullet this year, and writing the recap and the resolutions. Go big or stay home, right?

Here it goes...

In 2011, I read a grand total of 44 books and 12,218 pages. While I'm busy making myself look bad, that books read number is actually higher than any one of the past 3 years. Which is good, but there's still some room for improvement.

Of those 44, I managed to review only 33 in the confines of 2011, though 2 more reviews are currently in the works.

Now for some wild disparities...

39 books read were fiction, only 5 were non-fiction. (Oh non-fiction, where have you gone? I miss you, but I find you kind of scary...)

A paltry 10 were plucked from my own shelves (10!!). (I will not tell you how many unread books are on my shelves. I want to retain some small bit of dignity by the end of this post.) The rest (34 books) of this year's reading were in some respect or another review copies (offered to and accepted by me from publishers/authors/publicists, requested from Shelf Awareness, or picked up at BEA). How did I not notice this happening??

And some less wild disparities...

This year the ladies ruled with 25 of my reads being authored by women and only 16 by men (3 more by both).

29 books written for "grown-ups," 15 for a younger audience - children's, middle grade, YA. (Finally, a breakdown that I find fairly acceptable!)

2011 was a fair reading year in terms of quality with a good balance between, 5, 4, and 3 star reads (But a few 2 star reads snuck in there, too. Yikes!). More importantly, though it was a big year for self (shelf?) discovery. I rarely truly crunch my numbers, so honestly, it's kind of shocking to see those huge disparities, and it's definitely something I intend to change up a bit. In other news, 2011 started off to be a good blogging year, but things kind of went seriously south in places, and I admit I was not feeling the joy of blogging so much as feeling the guilt of not being where I thought I should be. In the interests of a less disparate year and also a more guilt-free blogging year, I give you...resolutions!

I hereby declare that this year, I will attempt to...

Read more non-fiction. I like non-fiction. I will no longer let a few bad apples frighten me away from lots of non-fiction books I have the potential to really enjoy.

Read and/or get rid of more books from my own shelves. My shelves are long overdue for an overhaul. There are tons of great books that I haven't gotten around to reading yet for no especially good reason except for all the other shiny new books I've been reading. Additionally, there are tons of books that I'm probably ready to let go, but I can't seem to set them free without at least giving them a 50 page chance. This year I'd like to make at least every other book that I read be a book that I've had for more than, say, 6 months, and I'd like to use in conjunction with my LibraryThing library to make sure I'm picking up some of those books that I'm on the cusp of getting rid of.

Embrace the DNF. This is especially important in light of the previous resolution. I don't give up on books that aren't doing it for me nearly as often as I ought. This year, as I read from my own overburdened shelves, must be different. Bad or "meh" books will be given no quarter, they'll be given away. So far, so good. 2 days into the year and I've already DNFed two "no longer my cup of tea" books from my shelves.

Show some restraint. With review copies (and book acquisition in general). I'm a long way from giving up review copies. I love the new and the shiny and the delectable feeling of having found a great book early in its "life." That said, the time has come to stop "giving a chance" to books that walk the fine line between something I think I'll like and something I worry that I won't. Discernment needs to be the name of my game this year.

Write reviews within a week of finishing the book. This is going to be my loftiest goal, I think. I've always benefited from a little bit of "marination" between reading a book and writing about it, but this year it got out of hand and turned into downright avoidance of writing reviews once the week long window had closed, until it became months between the reading of the book and the subsequent reviewing of it. I end up feeling like a jerk because I actually have some great books that are still waiting for me to review them because my reviewing mojo wandered off sometime in the middle of 2011. I think not waiting too long to write my reviews will do wonders for my relationship with my blog which was, unfortunately, plagued by guilt for much of this past year.

There, I've done it, forthrightly admitted the extent of my turtle-y reading pace and even publically stated some goals. Is there anything you're looking forward to changing/improving about the way you read and blog this year?


  1. Embrace the DNF! I love that one. I started doing that in 2010 and now probably DNF 100 or more books in a year, often in the first 10 pages. :D

  2. I don't want to talk about my shelves either. I really need to cull them this year. I struggle with giving up on a book too.

  3. I'm also learning to "Embrace the DNF", as you call it. I never used to abandon books in the middle, but I'm gradually learning to be pickier and figuring out when it's okay to forgo a book that just isn't doing it.

    As for reviewing, I'm not certain I agree with you. I believe time is a major factor in how we appreciate books. Reviewing too quickly is often jumping the gun a bit. For example, how can you know if the book will truly stick with you? Or the other way around: what if a book that seemed merely okay at first continues to haunt you for weeks after reading it? Retrospect is a huge factor in reading... I think some time can often help the reviewing process.

  4. Don't feel bad. I only read 20 books last year. Good lord.

  5. I didn't keep track of my stats like I usually do this past year. I read 36 books though. More than I thought I might.

    It looks like you had a good reading year and your goals seem doable. Here is to a great year both in reading and life!

  6. Sheesh Megan, I can't believe you're being so hard on yourself! 44 books sounds pretty damn good to me! And some people never read *any* non-fiction. (Though I'm with you--I love it and don't read nearly enough for my liking.) Anyway, I don't think you had a bad year at all...BUT!!! I'm still glad you're hoping to blog more, because, well because I'm just plain selfish! :D

    Hope you have a marvelous 2012, Megan!!! And not just with reading and blogging, but with everything!!!

  7. Once you embrace the DNF you will never look back. I had a hard time not finishing books. I felt guilty. Now I have no problem admitting when a book is not for me and labeling it as a DNF.

  8. I think you have some great goals. I think both of us are in the same position of wanting to get rid of some of our unread tbr pile but have the desire to read them first.

    Good luck to you! Happy New Year!