It's a new year! Time to set some goals for myself! However, I am going to be much more laid back this year - or at least, I'm going to try to be. I usually set myself some pretty ambitious goals, but I'm discovering that having two little kids is finally catching up to me. I just don't have the amount of reading time that I used to, especially since their napping schedules don't match anymore. I try to remind myself that this is just for a season of my life and I will soon be reading as much as ever, but it's hard when all I want to do is escape for an hour and read. Someday!
So yes, this was also one of my plans last year, and I didn't complete it. I made the bingo card in August 2017 and read 6 books off it by that December. In 2018, I read another 13. That means I have 6 left to go. I'm hoping to read one book a month and have the bingo card completed by the end of June. But if it takes me longer than that, then that's okay!
I have a long-term goal to read all of the Newbery winners (and hopefully all of the Honor books). I'm chipping away at this little by little. Each year, I read one decade of winners (this year, I'm reading the 1960s). I read all of the books that win in the current year, which will be announced on January 28 this year. And I read at least one year of Honor books (2013 this year). It'll take me a while, but I'll read them all eventually!
For the past two years, I've set myself a goal of having at least 50% of the books I read be ones I own. I achieved that goal both years, but it has been occasionally stressful - especially towards the end of the year when it's coming down to the wire. I'm trying to eliminate stress from my reading this year, but I still want to make sure I'm reading my own books. So I'm aiming for 33% of the books I read being ones I own. That's one book I own for every two library books. That should be doable and pressure-free. And hopefully I can end up with a higher percentage than that!
You've probably gotten the gist from the rest of my post, but I'm making this an official goal this year. No pressure to read all the books. No shame for not fulfilling reading challenges. No guilt for taking my time or reading only a couple books a month. My reading time is shorter than ever, which is why I want to be able to enjoy every bit of it!
It's surprising how fast a year can go by with a new baby in the house! (Especially when those sleep-deprived days seem to last forever!) But 2018 is officially over, and it's time to take a look at my reading for the year. I read way more than I thought I would be able to, and audiobooks really helped with that. I also read a few e-books, which is a method of reading I never thought I would like. But I have to admit that being able to pull up a book on my phone when I'm nursing or in those few moments when the two-year-old is playing contentedly by himself has been really nice. E-books might just become a more regular part of my reading life in this next year. . .
My Top Reads of 2018
Favorite fiction books: The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay & Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac (So I like bookish love stories. What can I say?)
Favorite nonfiction books: Mail Obsession by Mark Mason & West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Favorite children's books: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser & Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Favorite series: The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (I have her next trilogy sitting on my shelf, ready to read. But they're quite thick, so I just need to find the time somehow!)
Last January, I posted about my personal goals for my reading in 2018. It's time to look back and see how I did.
Finish My Classics Club List - Complete!
My five-year deadline was the end of August 2018. I was really hoping to finish my list before my daughter arrived in June. With planning and persistence, I finished my last book (Daniel Deronda by George Eliot) on May 3!! I wrote a post about my Classics Club journey with plenty of fun stats, if you'd like to read more about it.
Finish my TBR Bingo - Still in Progress
I created my TBR Bingo card in August 2017. At the beginning of 2018, I still had 19 books to read. I made great progress during the year, and I'm now down to 6. Maybe by the end of this year?
Read My Own Books - Success!
I made a goal that 50% of the books I read would be books I own. I (just barely) succeeded in reaching this goal in 2017, so I knew it was possible. This year, I didn't count audiobooks and ebooks, since the only way I could access those was through my library and that seemed to unfairly tip my number towards library books. So just counting physical books, 52% of the books I read this year were books I owned. Yay!
The first three months of the year are over already! That means it's time to take stock of my reading thus far and my reading challenge progress. Since I have a new baby arriving in June, I've been trying to really work on my reading challenges in the first part of this year. Let's see if I'm making as much progress as I think I am!
Books read: 45
Pages read: 12,949
Male authors: 47%
Female authors: 53%
Books I own: 46%
From the library: 54%
Favorite fiction book this quarter: The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett
Favorite nonfiction book this quarter: Mail Obsession: A Journey Round Britain By Postcode by Mark Mason
Reading Challenge Progress
Mount TBR 10/36
Litsy Passport 2/6 countries
Newbery 26/45 points
Picture Book 42/104 categories
Middle Grade Well. . . I've read 16 middle grade books so far this year, but I haven't assigned them to categories yet. And since each book can count towards two categories, I guess you could say I have 32 out of 104 categories complete!
Personal Reading Goals
Finish Classics Club List Just one and 1/3 books to go!
TBR Bingo 9/25 (This needs work.)
Read My Own Books 46% (Goal is 50%)
Cue the never-ending chorus - I need to read more books I own! Only 46% of the books I've read this year have been books I've owned, and I really need to keep that percentage over 50%. I haven't dug the hole too deep yet, so here's my chance to swing the balance the other way!
I am a proud Michigander (or Michiganian, but I prefer the former), and I recently discovered even more reasons to be proud of my state and its residents. Over the past couple of weeks, I've found out that these three authors live in Michigan, which just makes me like them even more. I thought I would share my discoveries here on Smiling Shelves. Even if you don't live in Michigan, it's still fun to find out more about the lives of real-life authors.
Lynn Austin is one of my favorite Christian authors. She writes Biblical fiction and historical fiction. I love escaping into one of her books, while feeling refreshed in my spiritual life as well. Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a new friend on Litsy (@TheHeartlandBookFairy), who told me that Lynn Austin lives on the west side of Michigan by the city of Holland. I had already decided that I needed to read all of Austin's books, but now I think I have to own them all, too!
My son loves The Pout-Pout Fish. Last week, I decided to look up some information about the author, Deborah Diesen, just for fun. And surprise! She lives in Michigan, outside of Lansing. She also has an amazing blog where she highlights other authors from Michigan. What's better than spreading author love?
And Deborah Diesen's website that I just mentioned is how I found the third author I'm highlighting today - Annie Spence, who just published Dear Fahrenheit 451. I haven't read that book yet, but I've been hearing lots of good things about it in the blogosphere. It was already on my TBR, but discovering that Spence lives in Michigan bumped it to the top of my list!
Do you know of any authors that live in your state? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!
Last week, I shared how I had spent some time reorganizing my bookshelves. I included lots of pictures, if you are interested in checking out that post.
Once I was done with that project, I realized I wasn't quite finished with what I wanted to do with my books. Two years ago for Christmas, my in-laws gave me a four-drawer card catalogue. It's been a wonderful decoration in my library since then, but I was ready to make it useful.
So I catalogued my library.
I created a spreadsheet with four categories:
Then I had my amazing husband use his fancy knowledge of Microsoft Office to turn my spreadsheet into a set of alphabetized note cards for each category.
And once they were all printed out (which took a surprisingly long time), I put them in my card catalogue! The left side is for fiction, the top drawer being my read books and the bottom being my unread books. The right side is for nonfiction. My goal is to move all of the cards from the bottom drawers into the top, although I know that's going to be pretty much unachievable, since I'm sure I'll be adding new books to them.
And in case you're curious (and because I love data), here are the categories as they stood when I completed printing on February 12.
That means that I have a total of 979 books. I have read 56% of the fiction books and 30% of the nonfiction books. Over all, I've read 47% of my books. I was really hoping it would turn out to be at least more than 50% read, but now I have my first goal to aim for!
Have you ever catalogued your books in any way? I'd love to hear about your method!
I've known for quite a while that my personal library needed a major overhaul. I decided to finally tackle that this year. I started by going through all my shelves and purging books that I would never read or that I had read and didn't need to keep. I ended up giving three boxes of books to the used bookstore by my mom's house, six boxes to Goodwill, and I added a stack to my Little Free Library stash. I have to admit that I was pretty proud of this, because in the past, I found it incredibly hard to get rid of any books. I guess you just have to be in the right mood!
After purging, I decided to reorganize. I don't go all-in and alphabetize all my books or anything. That would be an insanely big project, especially with a one-year-old following behind me to undo everything I did. But I tried to loosely group books by genre or subject. And I just love the way it all turned out, so I wanted to share it here with all you fellow book nerds!
This is the shelf of my favorite books and authors, everything from C.S. Lewis to Adriana Trigiani. Not too much changed on this shelf in my reorganization process. I did demote a few books and moved them to a different shelf, and there was a stack that got promoted to this shelf. But other than that, it's the same. My favorites don't change too much. :)
This shelf got cleared off completely, and the vast majority of the books were given away. Now it's my middle grade and young adult shelf! This is the set of shelves right next to my comfy chair. I love glancing up at it as I read. Middle grade books are the best. My only problem is that it's already full. . .
The top half of this bookshelf holds my collection of travel narratives. Yeah, I have a lot. I love traveling, both in real life and vicariously. I organized these by country/continent, which means that I now know that the majority of my travel books are set in France, Italy, and the U.K. Hmm, the three European places I've been to the most. Coincidence?
The bottom two shelves hold books about books and such.
These shelves are only sort of organized. The top shelf is all my books about music (yup, music geek here). Then I have pretty, old-looking books. Then most (but not all) of the remaining books are nonfiction.
Other than the pretty, old-looking books mentioned above, these shelves hold my classics, along with some other assorted books and series that had no other place. The hole in the middle shelf is where my son pulled books from to amuse himself during this photo shoot. :)
This is my Christian fiction section. My husband actually added a third shelf to this set of bookshelves for me, and it's still crammed full. You can barely see it, but on the second shelf, there are two horizontal books above the rest. It's the only spot in my library where that happened. Also this and the middle grade section are the spots where I'm in the most trouble if I buy new books. There is no more room, but these are the sections I'm most likely buy books for!
And finally, these two shelves are mostly fiction, sorted by author as much as possible. This is where my new acquisitions go, if they don't have an already designated section.
So there's my library! It was so much fun to spend hours organizing it. My little guy and I would spend about an hour or so after lunch up there every day moving things around. Now he likes to stand in the middle of the room, spin in circles, and say, "Books, books, books!" :)
This wasn't quite the end of my project, either. Once everything was organized, I cataloged it all. Hee hee. I'll save that project, along with its glorious statistics, for another post!
I don't often plan out my reading for a month, but I'm trying to make as much progress on my challenges and Classics Club list as I can in the first half of the year. So at the beginning of February, I found myself with a stack of books that I wanted to read during the month. I'm a bit worried about finishing it all, but I certainly hope to! I thought I would share it here for a little encouragement. :)
It would have been great if this was a leap year - I could really use an extra day this month!
What books are you hoping to read in the month of February?
I've always considered myself a book monogamist, finishing one book before I started another. But I've recently branched out - once on purpose, once not so much.
On purpose, I have four books currently in progress:
And then this happened.
This past weekend was the 24 in 48 Readathon. As Sunday evening approached, I found myself in a bit of a dilemma. I was reading a nonfiction book, but I knew that wouldn't keep me awake as the hours progressed. So I picked up a Newbery Honor book. But that turned out to be a creepy story, and I didn't want to read it before bed. I decided to pick another book off my shelves, and ended up with a Christian fiction book which was perfect to finish up the readathon with.
Well, that was all fine and good for a readathon. But when Monday morning arrived, I found myself in a bit of a panic. I now had three main books going, and I didn't know what to do. Should I focus on one until it was finished, then move on to the next? Should I take turns and make progress with all three of them? It was actually stressing me out.
I ended up deciding to finish one at time, starting with the fastest, which was Doll Bones by Holly Black, my Newbery Honor read. I finished that one Tuesday morning and was amazed at the instant sense of relief I felt. I now only had two main books I was in the middle of. That seemed a bit more manageable.
This reaction of mine to reading multiple books surprised me, and I wondered how everyone else handled such situations. Do you read multiple books at a time on purpose? How do you decide which one to pick up at any given moment? Or are you typically a book monogamist, sticking with one book at a time? I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts in the comments!
Last year, I made some general reading goals for myself, in addition to participating in way too many reading challenges. I'm really going to make an effort to cut back on reading challenges this year (we'll see how that goes), but I love the way my personal goals worked out for me last year - so I'm going to try that again! Here are my reading plans for 2018.
Finish My Classics Club List
My deadline is the end of August, and it will be here before I know it! With the discovery of the Serial Reader app, I made a lot of progress on my list last year. But I still have a little ways to go, and I would really love to finish by my goal date. You can check out my full list here, but these are the books I have left to read in the next eight months:
Finish My TBR Bingo
Inspired by posts on Litsy, I made a TBR Bingo card for myself back in August. I had a goal of reading ten books from it by the end of the year. I read six. I really want to read them all, so I cleared off a designated shelf to put them on, so that I can grab one easily and be constantly reminded to read them. I've already got one under my belt this year. Seven down, eighteen to go!
Read My Own Books
In 2016, only 26% of the books I read were ones I owned. In 2017, I set a goal to increase that to 50% and I succeeded with 51%! I feel the urge to challenge myself even more, but it was hard enough to achieve that percentage, so I'm going to stick with 50% again this year - and hope I blow past it!
So those are my goals for 2018. Let the reading begin!
My name is Julie, and I own a lot of books. As in, they are stacked on the floor because I've run out of room on the shelves. And those shelves? There are so many books on them that they smile -- not sag; smile. This blog will cover book reviews and all manner of other bookish things.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.