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