I have begun 2022 by focusing on reviews rather than on how I’d like to spend the reading year ahead of me. As the first week of the year winds down, it’s time to check in on my 2021 reading (and blogging) and set some goals for 2022.
I didn’t set goals in 2021 – no Goodreads challenge target, no specific numbers of books to read – I just had a general intention to read more books already on my shelf. I failed at this, reading just 8 books off the shelf in the end. Instead, ARCs dominated my reading, followed by new acquisitions. I’m not going to feel bad about that; I’m always happy to champion new books!
I kept it light on reading challenges: I always have the Great Series Read Project and BookSpin ticking away, but there is no pressure to achieve goals in either. The one goal-based challenge I said I would take on (my own Contrition of a Bad SF Fan backlist challenge) I never even started. I’m not going to beat myself up about that; 2021 was enough in plenty of other ways.
My author mix remained healthy with just under half my reads by female authors, another 12% by trans or nonbinary authors, and a third by authors of colour and/or openly LGBTQIA authors. I can still improve on the number of works in translation or works by authors resident outside the US / UK / Canada.
In terms of genre diet, half my reads were fantasy, although unlike the previous year these stories were more likely set in secondary worlds. However, the fantasy was nearly balanced out by space opera and speculative fiction this year (which surprises me; I didn’t actually realise this). I read no books outside SFFH and very little horror in 2021 – I find horror stressful, not distracting or entertaining or cathartic, and I avoided stressful reads last year.
2022 Reading Goals
While I enjoyed target-free reading in 2021, I am setting targets for 2022 – primarily to help me reset my reading-adjacent habits. Specifically, I am ditching Goodreads as I find it so slow and frustrating to use (and I resent supporting Amazon). Instead, I’ll be using Storygraph as my primary tracking tool and setting goals to push me into updating it regularly until using it becomes second nature. If you’d like to connect on Storygraph, you can find me as imyril.
I’m setting my goals at a very achievable 60 books / 20,000 pages, because I loved finishing 2021 without feeling I needed to go cram in however many more reads to hit an arbitrary target. I won’t increase the goals if/when I hit them early.
My biggest goal for 2022 is – once again – to read books I already own. I can do this. I want to do this. I’m going to do this. I’m setting a secondary goal to specifically read some of the anthologies on my shelf. I’m much better at buying these than reading them – time to address that.
I started 2021 by declaring that I would be sitting out the year’s Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards and enjoying a year of commitment-free reading on a whim. That didn’t happen (and I requested all those ARCs for even more commitments!) – and this year, I shan’t even try to resist the call of chaos. However, the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards will be my only firm commitment. I will once again be declining any review-based blog tours, although some read-alongs and casual buddy reads will surely feature (and I will inevitably request a few ARCs at some point, although I’ll be keeping these to a minimum in 2022. Honest).
This year, I’m signing up to lots of overlapping challenges as I like the idea of using prompts to help me choose what to read next. I may ditch half or all of these challenges by Easter, but I’m setting out full of misplaced bravery and going all in. I’m perfectly happy for one read to satisfy multiple challenges; my only constraint is that I’m not allowed to buy any books to complete a challenge – these are all intended to help me read what I own.
#TidyTheTBR with Runalong Womble
Conveniently for my 2022 goal, the greatest booktempter is here to help us read books we already own (rather than buy new ones, for once) with monthly themes, simple vs stretch goals and minimal stress. Read a book a month or tackle multiple prompts in a sprint to tidy up your TBR and make way for – ahem – some more books. The only constraints our friendly Womble is imposing are that the books need to have been acquired before Jan 1 2022, and not ARCs! I’ll be aiming for a book a month, but tracking my progress across the year (hooray for catch up if needed). Any stretch goals achieved will be happy accidents.
Bookish Valhalla Adult SFF Backlist Challenge (#ASFBB22)
The team at Bookish Valhalla are hosting a year-long challenge to celebrate adult SFFH published before 2022 (including ARCs and rereads). As a book blogger, it’s easy to end up focused on recent releases, so this challenge shows some love to older reads and provides another monthly thematic prompt to help me pick my next read.
There’s Always Room For One More Backlist Challenge (aka Contrition of a Bad SF Fan)
Two years ago, I designed my own challenge – complete with a bingo card! – to nudge me into reading midlist, backlist and classic SF. For the past two years, I’ve done absolutely nothing about it. So, third time lucky?
I’ll be playing for a bingo, making my minimum goal just 4 reads with a stretch goal of 16. I originally intended to read only books written by women for this challenge, but I’m not sure I own 16 so I may relax that condition to complete the card (if I get that far. Let’s face it, I should be so lucky). My only inflexible constraint is that any book read for this challenge must be older than this blog.
The Great Series Read Project
Caitlin at Realms of My Mind set up the Great Series Read Project to help us focus on series that we love, but somehow haven’t got round to finishing. This challenge isn’t time-bound (and is possibly never-ending, as I add series to my list as often as I complete them).
I have a lot of series on my shelf to complete, so reading what I already own should incidentally create the opportunity to make significant progress in my Great Series Read Project. Will it? We’ll see. In 2020, I completed 4 series; in 2021, I only completed 2. For 2022, I’m setting a goal of 3.
Last but not least, I will sometimes join in with #BookSpin on Litsy, a monthly challenge aimed at crossing books off our TBR where a DNF is as valid as completing the read. Nominate 20 books each month (re-using unread titles or switching everything out each month as you prefer) and TheAromaOfBooks picks a number to select the monthly read(s) and hosts a giveaway across the year. I never join in every month, but BookSpin drove half of my off the shelf reads last year so will definitely feature again in 2022 (although I won’t be participating in January).
My 2020 blogging goal was simply to write more reviews; in 2021 I aimed to review every read somewhere. In the end, I didn’t quite achieve the latter, although I did publish more reviews here than in 2020 and ended the year with only a handful of reads unreviewed (half of which I have hoovered up this week). My review backlog currently sits at 5 reads.
My other 2021 blogging goal was to publish 2-3 times per week, which I achieved as an aggregate target with over 140 across the year, if not as a weekly goal (there were only 5 posts in July in total).
No big changes here – I’m fairly happy with my posting (ir)regularity and the state of my backlog. My blogging goal for 2022 remains posting twice per week at a minimum (except when I don’t); and to never let my review backlog hit double digits. I’ll be introducing a new series of posts to support my goal of reading anthologies: Bite-size Reads, a fortnightly round-up where I share my thoughts on the stories from my current anthology in progress. I’ll also be hosting the usual round of community events with milestone outings for Wyrd and Wonder (which turns 5 this year) and SciFiMonth (which turns 10!)
While I don’t pay a huge amount of attention to blog stats, the numbers are tantalisingly close to milestones for me to include a wishlist item: I’d be thrilled if I hit 1000 subscribers this year, and achieved 30,000 views and/or 15,000 visitors.
Whatever the numbers say at the end of the year, I’ll still be warm and fuzzy that so many of you seem to enjoy what I’m doing (in some cases to the extent of nominating me for a blogger award) – thank you so much for your support and friendship.
What are your plans for 2022?