I’m off to a slow start in 2021: sure, I got my tracking spreadsheets roughed out before new year, but I’m yet to finish a book and I’ve only written half the blog posts I had in mind. So far, 2021 looks a lot like 2020. Time to take stock and reset? I think so.
I’ve claimed to be very light touch in my reading and blogging goals the past few years, but somehow have ended up feeling either pressured or guilty (or both) keeping up with them anyway. I really enjoyed my bonus challenge in 2019 (Dancing with Fantasy and SciFi); in 2020, my bonus challenges fell by the wayside and it still felt like A Lot. 2020, eh.
My 2020 reading was far more genre-biased than usual: 54% fantasy – and to my surprise, these were mostly set in our world, rather than secondary worlds (thanks in part to my rereads of the Lychford novellas and the Dominion of the Fallen).
I only classed a third of my reading as SF, with the balance being made up of horror and non-SF. While I would usually make a comment at this point about trying to even the balance this year, one look at the list of upcoming releases I’m most excited for shows that it too is fantasy-biased. Apparently I’ve retreated to my comfort zone (I can’t imagine why) and you know what? I’m fine with that for 2021.
I always keep an eye on who I’m reading, and I’m very happy to note that a third of the books I read were by authors of colour, just as a(n overlapping) third were by openly LGBTQIA authors. I’m still lagging on authors resident outside the UK or US – while I’ll keep monitoring this in 2021, I’m not making it a specific goal.
…because I’m not setting any reading goals for 2021. No, not even a Goodreads challenge or a Game of Books goal. I’m just going to read and see where I end up.
I do have a reading aspiration: to read more of what I already own. Only 17.5% of my 2020 reads classed as off the shelf (vs broadly 25% each of ARCs, new acquisitions and rereads). No goals means no goals (so no specific targets for this), but I’m only adopting challenges that support this aspiration.
The biggest difference this year is that I’ve stepped back from the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards for 2021 (although I will be cheering the panel on from the sidelines and hopefully rejoining them next year). As this dominates at least half my reading most years (between reading the nominees and trying to read enough new releases to nominate for the following year), this should mean I have a lot of freedom to read whatever I fancy in 2021.
That means my only commitments are the ARCs I’ve requested and the Read As Thou Wilt read-along (although I’m sure many more read-alongs will follow).
Challenges are my downfall. I initially love how they help shape my reading, then resent them when I put off the difficult categories to the end (I know, I know, that’s on me). I always promise myself they’re just for fun, and end up taking them far too seriously too. Guess what? I’m probably going to make all the same mistakes this year.
Contrition of a Bad SF Fan
Last year, I put together a Backlist Bingo card to help guide me towards older SFF works that I’ve never read, with the intention to focus specifically on female-authored SFFH. I never even got started on this with everything else going on in 2020, although I belatedly realised this morning that I accidentally ticked one box (The Haunting of Hill House completed the Horror prompt).
So: I’m going to try again this year as it dovetails neatly with my ‘read what I own’ aspiration – I’ve got plenty of backlist books on my shelf! I’ll be primarily but not exclusively targeting books written by women and published before 2000, but my guiding star is that I’m not allowed to buy a book to meet a prompt. That said, I will apply an age limit: the book must be older than this blog.
Fancy joining in? You’re very welcome! You can go for a bingo (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) or try to fill out the whole card (each read can only be used for one prompt). You are also absolutely free to come up with your own definition for what counts as ‘backlist’. Tag me in by linking back to this post on your progress updates and I’ll host a giveaway again at the end of the year (open internationally via Wordery, or Bookshop.org if the winner is UK-based).
I have once again joined the #BookSpin challenge on Litsy, which is also aimed at reading down our shelves. This challenge is about crossing books off our TBR – so a DNF is just as valid as completing the read. The idea is to nominate 20 books each month (you can re-use unread titles or switch everything out each month as you prefer) and TheAromaOfBooks picks a number to select the monthly read. My January BookSpin nominees:
…the BookSpin for January is 20 – so I’ve been trying to read Woman On The Edge Of Time, which doubles as a Vintage SciFiMonth read! Sadly, I’m really struggling to get into it, so it may well be a DNF for now – although I’d like to give it another go at some point.
I tried to get cute last year – there was no overlap between my BookSpin list, my Backlist Bingo list, my Subjective Chaos list and my ARCs, so needless to say I only completed 2 BookSpins (hey, still better than my Backlist Bingo!). This year, I’ll be nominating different books each month and everything will overlap, so one read can progress several challenges.
The Great Series Read Project
Last but not least, I will continue to chip away at my ever-evolving Great Series Read Project. This is a lovely project started by Caitlin at Realms of My Mind to encourage us not to neglect the series that we’ve started but never finished. It is by its nature a never-ending project, as new series jump onto the list as quickly as old ones are completed!
In 2020, I completed Daevabad, Dominion of the Fallen, Witches of Lychford and the Books of Ambha (although no, I haven’t reviewed all of them yet); and progressed several others.
In 2021, I’d like to complete The Broken Earth, Embers of War and The Poppy War trilogies; and the Spellslinger series – and maybe The Expanse, release dates permitting (…and unless I decide to reread from the top, in which case Leviathan will Fall when I get that far).
That said, no pressure here – if I don’t complete any series this year, there’s always next year.
My 2020 goals were simply to write more reviews – even if it was only a gut response on Goodreads. I did far better in the end: excluding rereads, I managed to review all but 8 reads here on the blog (and 2 of those will be reviewed in due course).
For 2021, I aim to publish 2-3 times per week; to review every read (whether in full here or in short-form on Goodreads and StoryGraph); and to host the usual round of events for Wyrd and Wonder and SciFiMonth, starting with our new SciFiMonth booster shot of #AllSystemsRead over Easter weekend.
What are your plans for 2021?