2018 Reading Reflections

2018 has come and gone, and I realize now that I never posted my reading goals on the blog for 2018! I wrote them all down in my book bullet journal, but now I kind of wish I had made a post outlining what my yearly goals were. I have a post coming up this week about my goals for 2019! Since January 1 was in the middle of the week, I decided that my 2019 “goal year” would start this week.

These are the goals I wanted to reach in 2018:

  • Read 12 Star Wars books
  • Read 12 Star Trek books
  • Read 12 classics
  • Read 12 nonfiction books
  • Read 12 science fiction books
  • Read the first 80 Penguin Little Black Classics
  • Read 180 books total for the year

Here are the end results of those goals:

  • Read 4/12 Star Wars books
  • Read 0/12 Star Trek books
  • Read 8/12 classics (every 10 LBCs I read counted as one “classic”)
  • Read 12/12 nonfiction books
  • Read 8/12 science fiction books
  • Read 80/80 Penguin Little Black Classics
  • Read 180/180 books for the year

Overall, I think I did a really great job, and if I could redo the year, I’d make more of an effort to read more classics and nix the Star Trek list all together. And possibly reading all 80 of Penguin’s Little Black Classics. I’m going to do a post reviewing the entire box set, but honestly, I don’t think the entire box set is worth it unless you like having them look pretty in bookish photos or on your shelf. All that time I spent stressing over reaching a monthly quota of reading those Little Black Classics stressed me out and often put me off reading. I also realized that consistently being part of big marketing campaigns took a toll on my reading as well. I loved being part of them and wished I could have chosen more specific titles to feature and review, but ultimately, I felt like my blog and Instagram became advertising channels, and I know I lost a lot of engagement that way because who wants to deal with someone advertising at you all the time?? I’m not a hustler by nature, and it was draining and demotivating me more than I realized.

On the flip side, I did get to work with some amazing publishers and imprints, I read a lot of books out of my usual zone (a post on my attitude toward romance as a genre coming soon too!), and I learned a lot about myself, my reading styles and habits, my social media output and expectations, and the world. 2018 was definitely a year of turbulence and change socially and politically, and I have such good vibes already going into 2019.

What goals did you have for 2018? Did you reach them?

Favorite Reads of 2018

A little late in posting, but here are some of my favorite reads of 2018! I’ve been in such a reading and blogging slump even though I had such high hopes to do more (having a technical error that was 99% my fault just totally wiped my motivation because I worked so hard on some posts only to realize they hadn’t posted because I didn’t actually hit “schedule,” UGH). ANYWAY. A new month starts tomorrow. I am going to make the effort to do better. January is just a weird month for me, and I think I just need to start my “new year’s resolutions” in February instead.

I read a lot of different things than my “usuals” in 2018 (and I have a post for that coming soon), but here are some of the standouts of the 180 books I read last year!

TORDOTCOM NOVELLAS! Especially the following:

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing – Brooke Bolander
  • The Descent of Monsters – JY Yang
  • River of Teeth – Sarah Gailey
  • Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire
  • The Armored Saint – Myke Cole

tor.com have released some of the best reads I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and I can’t wait for what else they put out! If you’re in the mood for a shorter, but highly engaging and imaginative read in the speculative fiction vein, definitely check out the above titles and the rest of their offerings!

2019 RELEASES!

  • Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Wolf in the Whale – Jordanna Max Brodsky

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I was so excited to receive an advance reader’s copy of Daisy Jones & the Six. It’s going to be a big spring read. The Wolf in the Whale was one of the most immersive historical fantasies I’ve read in quite some time, and I couldn’t put it down.

2018 RELEASES!

  • Hull Metal Girls – Emily Shrutskie
  • Playing With Matches – Hannah Orenstein
  • Space Opera – Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang
  • The Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Fated Sky – Mary Robinette Kowal
  • A Knife in the Fog – Bradley Harper

I didn’t seem to read as much YA last year as I’ve done in previous years (even though I bought a lot, but that’s neither here nor there >.>), but Emily Shrutskie’s Hull Metal Girls was one of the best sci-fi YA titles I’ve read in years, and I found myself wanting so much more once I had finished reading it. I ventured more into the romance genre in 2018 (also more on that later!) and I really loved Playing With Matches by Hannah Orenstein, and I can’t wait for her next one! Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera was the most fun sci-fi read of 2018 because it’s a mash of Eurovision and Douglas Adams and all sorts of goodness. R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War is the start to what looks to be an amazing fantasy series, and I was blown away that it’s a DEBUT because it’s just that well-written. If you like space and women in space programs and alternate histories and haven’t read Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Lady Astronauts yet, what are you waiting for? Bradley Harper wrote an incredibly engaging historical mystery with Margaret Harkness, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jack the Ripper, and it’s another one of those incredible debuts! I can’t wait for the next installment!

BACKLIST!

  • The Refrigerator Monologues – Catherynne M. Valente
  • Villette – Charlotte Bronte
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series – Jenny Han
  • Eve’s Hollywood – Eve Babitz

I really just want to read everything Valente has ever written, and The Refrigerator Monologues is an homage to all of those female characters fridged in superhero comics (and apparently it’s going to be made into a mini series by Amazon!!). I wanted to read more classics last year, and aside from the 80 Little Black Classics that Penguin Classics put out a few years ago, the one that stuck with me the most was Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series had been on my radar since its initial release, but the Netflix movie kicked my want to read them into high gear and I enjoyed them all. I read Eve Babitz’s Eve’s Hollywood after finding the book at Strand in NYC, and I fell in love with her. I’m making it my mission to read more of her work in the upcoming months.

What were your favorite reads of 2018?

New Look, New(ish) Direction

After thinking about it for a while, I realized that one of the reasons that I’ve felt stuck in posting regularly here on the blog, posting on social media, and even reading was that I’ve been reading a lot of books that don’t always fit with the original idea I had in mind when I started this blog and the corresponding social media accounts. Most of the reviews I post here are of books I enjoy the most and those are often science fiction and fantasy for a range of audiences, but on my social media accounts, I’ve drifted away from my preferred genres a little bit — classics, science fiction, and fantasy.

That led to a redesign and a refocus! I still have some tweaking to do with images and information here on the blog, and I’ll be changing a few things on my social media accounts in the coming days to coordinate with the style here. I also have some reading plans for the next few years that I’ll be posting here along with potential challenges for myself and others to participate in because sometimes it’s more fun to read with other people! I’ll be reading more SFF, posting more about SFF (either in review format or general thoughts about the genres today, both mixed in with some general criticism [because that literary side of my brain never fully shuts off]), and honing in on a clearer blog focus. It’s been a little all over the place for a while, and even if my reading can be all over the place for a while, I want this blog and my social media to have that focus!

NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK!

… says she three months into the year.

So, about a month ago, I started realizing that I am not motivated to update my blog because of the theme/design of it and at the time didn’t have the energy and motivation (ha) to look for ways to update it. A week or so ago, I started looking into WP themes, and after feeling a little meh about the free ones I found and frustrated at the pretty ones I liked that ran for more than thirty bucks (I don’t have that kind of money to spend), I found one I liked on sale from HipsterTheme on etsy for six dollars! It’s a minimalist theme by itself, so I started looking up clip art on etsy (because I had no idea how many blogging resources were there), and I found this blush pink floral clip art set from ShhMakerDesign that I absolutely loved, and everything seemed to come together from there!

I updated the navigation so it was easier to find things (as much as I loved my who/what/where/when/why set up from before, it’s not transparent to anyone who isn’t me), updated a little bit of my info, and added a few more widgets on the sidebar. Subscribe! Follow me on social media! I still need to figure out Bloglovin’ and figure out if I need to make myself a set posting schedule or just aim for 3-4 posts a week.

Thank you for visiting!

January/February Wrap Up

I should have made posts like this at the end of January and at the end of February, but better late than never! I also pretty much failed at blogging during the month of February, so I’m going to do better in March and beyond! Several of the books listed below will have reviews posted later in the month.

I read ten books in January and ten books in February for a total of twenty books read to my yearly goal of 100! Most of the books I read I gave a rating of 3 stars or higher. The few 5 star ratings include Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.

MEMOIRS

  • The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher
  • Spaceman – Mike Massimino

YOUNG ADULT

  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • Heartless – Marissa Meyer
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Martians Abroad – Carrie Vaughn

ADULT FICTION

  • Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
  • Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
  • Human Acts – Han Kang

MYSTERY

  • The White Cottage Mystery – Margery Allingham
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
  • A Perilous Undertaking – Deanna Raybourn

SF/FANTASY

  • A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
  • The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
  • The Best American SF/F 2017 – ed. John Joseph Adams & Karen Joy Fowler
  • The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

CLASSICS

  • Passing – Nella Larsen

MYTHOLOGY

  • Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

DNF

  • Carve the Mark – Veronica Roth