New Year’s Resolutions aka…

…The Annual Failure Report…

It has become an annual tradition at this time each year that I look back at the bookish resolutions I made last year, confess just how badly I failed, and then, nothing daunted, set some more targets for me to fail at next year. So, let’s begin!

The 2019 Results

Last year I did something I’d never tried before. Here’s what I said:

“Basically, I’ve planned my whole year’s reading in advance, leaving just 30 spaces for new releases, re-reads and random temptations. The idea is this will stop me adding gazillions of books I’ll never find time to read, and ensure I’m reading loads of the books I already own. It should also mean I’ll make progress on my challenges. So my resolutions this year are strictly a numbers game and there’s lots of crossover among the categories…”

While of course I didn’t absolutely stick to the plan, overall it did help me to think more about which books to take for review or buy on a passing whim. But did it help me achieve my targets? Let’s find out!

1) Reading Resolutions

I planned to read:

a) 88 books that I already owned as at 1st Jan 2019. 

The Result: I read 60. Although this is way below the target, it’s significantly up on the previous year, when I only read 49.

b) 25 books for the Around the World challenge.

The Result: I read 17. I had hoped to finish this challenge this year, but I had a couple that I didn’t like well enough to include and otherwise generally just… didn’t! 

c) 25 books from my Classics Club list. 

The Result: Ooh, so close! I read 22, and in my defence some of them were chunky! However, that means I’m more or less back on track with this five-year challenge, so I’m happy with this result.

d) 10 books from my sadly neglected 5 x 5 challenge.

The Result: I read a dismal 6 but on the upside I’ve decided to banish John Steinbeck from my TBR for ever, so that reduces the books on the challenge by another three! Overall, I’m really not enjoying this challenge, so will read the books I’ve already acquired for it this year, and then quietly abandon the whole thing.

e) 12 books for the Murder, Mystery, Mayhem challenge.

The result: I read 12! I set the target low last year because I anticipated getting lots of vintage crime for review from the British Library, and indeed I did. For the same reason I’m going to set it low again this year – it might take me years to finish it, if ever, but I’m OK with that.

f) 24 books first published in 2019 (minimum). 

The Result: I only read (to the end) 20 new releases this year. Admittedly I also abandoned an astonishing 14 – mostly crime and some from authors I’ve previously enjoyed. I’m completely out of love with contemporary crime at the moment so will be concentrating more on general fiction for new releases this year.

2) Reduce the TBR

I aimed for an overall reduction of 40 books last year. So…

Target for TBR (i.e., books I own): 185

Result: 205

Target for combined TBR/wishlist (which is a truer picture): 324.

Result: 322

WOOHOO!!! You weren’t expecting that, were you?? Although the Books I Own figure is still above target, this is because I’ve acquired loads that were already on my wishlist at the beginning of the year. But I’ve been practicising iron self-control to limit additions to the wishlist, with the result that it’s way down.

Overall I read 126 books, which is the highest for a few years, mainly because vintage crime books don’t include the 100 pages of compulsory padding that every contemporary crime book has. But my page count was also up according to Goodreads, reflecting the fact, I think, that I’ve taken more blogging breaks than usual this year.

I didn’t set a specific target for review copies, but I took a total of 76, which is higher than I intended but lower than the 98 I took last year and, because I was more selective, way more enjoyable! The number of unread review books at the end of the year has dropped from 30 last year to 24 this year.

So despite missing most of the individual targets by a little each, the overall effect of planning the year ahead was a big success, not only in terms of reducing the TBR/wishlist but, more importantly, in my having one of my most enjoyable and varied reading years for ages.

* * * * * * * * *

Resolutions for 2020

So since I found I liked the whole planning ahead thing, that’s what I’m going to do again this year. There’s a lot of crossover in these targets…

1) Reading Resolutions

I plan to read:

a) 88 books that I already own as at today. Like last year I probably won’t achieve this, but preparing a list of the interesting books I already own will deter me from randomly acquiring new ones, in theory. Lots of the books below are included in this figure, so it’s not as bad as it seems…

b) 8 books for the Around the World challenge. Only eight left to go in this challenge, which I’ve loved. I should finish it by April or May. 

c) 22 books from my Classics Club list. Ambitious, especially since a lot of the books left on my list are chunky, but I’m thoroughly enjoying my classics reading, so I think it’s doable.

d) 6 books in Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series. I’ve been trying to re-read this series for three years now and have only read five! So setting a target and including them in my plan should concentrate my mind. 

e) 7 books in a brand new mini-challenge to be announced shortly!

f) 12 books for the Murder, Mystery, Mayhem challenge. Going low again in the hopes that I’ll also get lots of other vintage crime for review during the year.

g) 24 books first published in 2020 (minimum). I do feel that I’m losing touch with new releases because of all these classics and vintage books I’m reading, so I’m going to try to read at least two a month.

2) Reduce the TBR

Again I’m going for an overall reduction of 40 books this year. So…

Target for TBR: 165

Target for combined TBR/wishlist (which is a truer picture): 282.

If I stick to my reading resolutions, it should be easy… 

Wish me luck!

* * * * *



73 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions aka…

    • Haha – thank you! I’m rather proud of them – I do like to fail big! 😉 I love all of her interpretations of Burns’ songs – she finally made me appreciate him!

      Thanks for popping in and commenting, and have a great New Year! 🍾


  1. You had two passes…that counts as a win 😉I’d never be able to stick to a schedule but best of luck with yours. And…erm…lang may your lum reek too 🥂Happy New Year 🎉🎉


  2. I agree with Laurie@RelevantObscurity. Your list of books read in 2019 is impressive and would be the envy of readers like me. Good luck with your reading challenges in 2020!


  3. Goodness. This is worse than I thought it would be and that’s saying something since my expectations were quite low to begin with. 🤣

    Good luck for next year. I look forward to once again cheering you on (towards epic fail 😉). Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2020! 🥂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahahaha! You suddenly reminded me of conversations I used to have with my maths teacher in high school! 😂😂 I knew you’d be upset – it was a real incentive!

      Thank you – I’ll do my best not to let you down… 😉 Happy New year to you and yours – have a great one! 🥂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That Charlie Brown quotation is divine! 😂

    I think you have made very good progress on all of your goals! Nothing to be ashamed of in the least. I could never make a list for the whole year and stick to it, so that is an accomplishment! I wish you good luck with all your 2020 targets, FF!


    • I admire his outlook on life! 😂

      I find making the list easy. Sticking to it is the bit that’s hard! But I don’t care if I fail so long as there are plenty of good books along the way. 😀 Happy New Year, Laila – have a great one! 🥂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much about not achieving your specific targets, as you put the majority of us to shame with the volume and variety you read. Good luck with your challenges for 2020, and of course, happy New Year.


    • Ah, that’s because I’ve found the secret to reading success – retirement! I highly recommend it! 😉 Thank you, I’ll need it. 😂 Happy New Year, Alyson – have a great one! 🥂


  6. I’m impressed, FictionFan, with the way you’ve kept track of all of this. I wish I were better at that. And, honestly, so what if you didn’t meet every challenge (or even most of them). You met some good books, and that’s what matters. And, now that Steinbeck is off your list, you can devote even more effort to your other goals… Happy New Year, and may 2020 be an excellent one for you!


    • My spreadsheet should undoubtedly be displayed in the British Museum as one of the wonders of the world! 😂 It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that 2020 will be Steinbeck-free – nearly as good as achieving world peace, which would be my next wish. 😉 Happy New Year, Margot – have a great one! 🥂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. A wonderful year of reading whatever the numbers say! Just before I read your post, I came across one of my favourite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson to his daughter: “Finish every day and be done with it. For manners and for wise living it is a vice to remember. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. To-morrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” This flips Charlie Brown’s pessimism and makes me smile too (as did each of your quotes!)

    What a wonderful gift to the world Burns and the Scots have delivered with Auld Lang Syne – just the right mix of regretful nostalgia and looking forward. Wishing you a year of good health, good books, and moments of rich chocolate! 🍫 We’ve already crossed over to 2020, so an early Happy New Year!


    • Oh, that’s a great quote! I love the idea of that approach to life – though in truth I’m probably closer to Charlie Brown. Must try harder! 😂 I adore that version of Auld Lang Syne – Eddi Reader’s interpretation of Burns’ songs are fantastic. None of that heather and tartan stuff – she brings out the real emotion in them. 😀 I saw the NZ fireworks display on TV earlier (bit more impressive than the Kirkintilloch ones will be later – three Catherine wheels and a damp squib, if we’re lucky… 😉 )

      Happy New Year to you and yours, Christine – hope it’s a great one! 🍾

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t consider this year a failure at all, since you came so close in many of the above categories. And the the reduced TBR is great. I think we should pause here to thank John Steinbeck for the part he played in that! 😀 😁


  9. I don’t set myself many specific targets in terms of numbers, but if I did I’m sure I would be an even bigger failure than you! I’m glad you’ve had an enjoyable and varied year of reading, anyway – that’s the most important thing. Have a great 2020. 🙂


    • Thank you – yes, the reading is the main thing! I must admit I only really do the targets as a bit of fun, but it does help to remind me of all the great books waiting on my TBR! Happy New Year, Helen – hope it’s a great one! 🍾


  10. While I hate that you fell short in so many categories, I have to admit one of the most entertaining bits in this post is all those red “failed” stamps!! 😂😂😂 Seriously, though, your accomplishments truly impress me – even if they didn’t live up to your hopes.

    I don’t set many goals at this point in life, but I do hope to catch up or complete all of the series I read. It’s certainly doable, though my reading each month might not be as varied as I’d like since most are mysteries. I’m also aiming for at least one non-fiction each month.

    Love the quotes you shared!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do like to fail triumphantly – it’s even more fun than succeeding! 😂 I love my bookish goals even though I always know I won’t make them – they do make me read more widely rather than sticking totally to crime which I tend to do when I don’t set targets – crime fiction, that is, I hasten to add! 😉

      Series always kill me – I start in the middle and then say I’ll go back to the start and catch up, and then never do. My TBR is full of the first or second books in series that now run to a dozen books – no way will I ever catch up with them. I hope you have more success! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I feel I was reading nothing but classics for the last few months but fortunately I’ve loved most of them so it hasn’t felt too much like work! Here’s to more great books in 2020! 😀


  11. The Charlie Brown image is probably one of my favorite. I do like having goals for reading and checking to see how I’ve done. I need to do some stats but since I’m not feeling well this week the motivation is slim to none so it might just be in an early post of 2020. I’m going to try to finish up my favorites of the year post now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m sorry you’ve not been feeling well, especially at such a busy time of year – hope you’re recovering now! Happy New Year, and I hope you find your goals help you get your motivation back soon. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It would take me most of the year to get as organised as you – thus no time left for reading at all! But I’m impressed FF, and wish you every success in your planned failures for the coming year 😳😂 Hope the lam leek rang loudly down your chimney last night and Bledhen Nowyth Da from Kernow 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha – I always reckon if I spent less time on my spreadsheet I could probably read another book a month! Thank you – failure is clearly more enjoyable than success, or else why would I do it every year?? 😂 Hahahaha – you’ve NEARLY mastered Scots now, well done! And I’ve learned my first Cornish – see? 2020 is off to a great start already… 😀


  13. I think that you’ve still done really well considering how many different goals you had! I definitely would have strayed and tried to read books not originally on my list. Hope that 2020 is a great reading year for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, but somehow the TBR seems to have more willpower than us poor readers! 😉 Here’s to some great reading in 2020 anyway – even if our goals remain out of reach. 😀


  14. Well done FF! I don’t think you failed at all, I think you did a splendid job. I’m jealous of how easily you are able to DNF books, I really need to do that more, it’s such a waste of time reading through to the end when you hate every word of it (sigh). I’m excited to see what this new challenge is you’re taking on-I will continue to live vicariously through you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s taken me years to learn to DNF books at an early point but it does mean I spend far more time reading books I’m enjoying – Goodreads says my average rating this year was 4.3! Ha – the new challenge will be revealed next week… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m impressed that you did so well on so many of your challenges – even if you were a hair off in one or two, you came a lot closer than I ever do when I set myself reading challenges. If I set myself 88 books to read off my shelves, it would be a sure way of guaranteeing that I wouldn’t touch any of those 88 books all year, and probably that I would have accidentally given several of them to charity shops by December!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha! Yes, I’m very good at setting the targets – just wish I was better at achieving them! But I still have loads of books on my TBR that I really do want to read – I’ve got rid of most of the impulse buys now. So hopefully I’ll read some of them this year even if I don’t manage the full 88… 😀


    • Hahaha – thank you, glad you enjoyed it! I must admit I only set the goals for a bit of fun and I never expect to achieve them all – or care if I do! And as for life goals – pah! I gave them up long ago – too depressing! My only goal is to never run out of chocolate… 😀 Happy New Year – have a great one! 🍾

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Happy New Year!
    Amazing number of books read! Congratulations 🥳. I think that the planning and removing JS altogether which make you feel good with your reading are excellent things to have sorted out. I wish you much success with your targets although I don’t think it matters too much whether you reach all of them because your two big decisions are already achieved – 2020 already in the bag!

    Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, and Happy New Year!

      Yes, there’s no poitnstruggling on with an author who just doesn’t work for you, however much he’s hailed as one of the greats. Haha – I always love planning ahead at the beginning of a new year, but happily I never really care at the end if I’ve met my targets or not – the main thing is to enjoy the reading along the way! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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