Welcome to 2023

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

Happy new year! 2022 was a bitch, frankly, so here’s hoping for better times in 2023. I’ve lined up two significant challenges at home and work, so blogging will likely take a back seat (or be at best sporadic) – but let’s start with a look back at the year that was and a look ahead at what to expect.

Reading Habits

I’ve ducked setting reading goals for the past two years, and left myself with an intention to read backlist books off my shelf. No goal works for me – I find having a goal becomes a source of artificial pressure and not having a goal doesn’t reduce how much I read, it just increases my freedom as I do so. 2023 will likewise be more or less goal-free.

In 2022, I finished 75 books (plus 7 DNFs) – although strictly speaking, I failed at my goal of reading off the shelf as I managed just 12; of the rest, 35 were ARCs and 15 were borrowed (yay, libraries). The best I can say is that some of the ARCs had been on the shelf a long time, and only 10 reads were books bought in 2022 (which should not be taken to understand I only bought 10 books in 2022…). For 2023, I would like to keep reading off the shelf and reducing the tower of aged ARCs, with particular focus on those from last year and those over 5 years old (I know, I know). No specific goals though – just aspirations!

I finished 4 series in my Great Series Read Project in 2022, and I’m setting a target of completing another 3 in 2023. I’ve got a bunch of series with one left to read, but this is also likely to require rereads (oh what a shame) – so I’m starting the year by revisiting The Obsidian Tower so I can devour the rest of the Rooks and Ruin trilogy.

2022 was another year where my SF vs fantasy reading was broadly even; the big surprise was how much I enjoyed a few horror reads. In 2023, I plan to include both horror (again, only a handful) and some non-genre reads in my reading diet, having apparently read only genre in 2022.

I continued to enjoy a varied authorial mix in terms of gender (35% male, 46% female, 11% trans & nonbinary with the balance being collaborations), ethnicity (29% BIPOC authors) and sexual orientation (25% LGBTQIA authors).

2022 was the first time I’ve tracked the source of my reads and while it was actually less skewed than I expected – just over half (59%) from the various imprints of the market-dominating big 5 publishing houses vs 39% small & independent publishers and 2 self-published titles – this has cemented my interest in looking beyond the big labels in 2023. If I’m likely to blog less, I’d like my posts to promote works and publishers who don’t already enjoy big marketing budgets.

Reading Challenges

I didn’t take my 2022 reading challenges very seriously, and I don’t intend to this year either. I’m sticking to challenges that are fun rather than directive – mood reading is definitely going to be the way to go in 2023. Consequently, my picks are BookForager’s Picture Prompt Bingo, A Dance With Books 2023 SFF Title Challenge and Runalong Womble’s TBR Reduction challenge.

My stretch goal is the 12 in 2023 challenge – 12 titles recommended by 12 friends to read over the next 12 months. My friends being who they are (eclectic readers and fabulous beans), half the recs sit outside my comfort zones and will push me in new directions. There’s middle grade. There’s romance. There’s even a book that has a goddamn figure in a wafty hooded cloak, which is like my purest red flag for fiction I will roll my eyes through. It’s all good – I’m game – although I will be prioritising the one(!) already on my shelf and those I can borrow rather than buy in the first instance. I may also have to alternate ones I’m excited about with ones that intimidate me just to make sure the latter don’t mug me at year’s end…

The Vagrant – Peter Newman (Arwen) | Vita Nostra – Marina & Sergey Dyachenko (Aquavenatus) | This Is Where We Talk Things Out – Caitlin Marceau (Jessticulates) | Lessons In Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus (Sahi) | Bannerless – Carrie Vaughn (Elena) | A Numbers Game  – RJ Darker (Timy) | Titanshade – Dan Stout (Lauren) | A Strange & Stubborn Endurance – Foz Meadows (Dan F) | Sabriel – Garth Nix (Elena) | The Honjin Murders – Seishi Yokomizo (Rehan) | The Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi (Dan S) | The Library At Mount Char – Scott Hawkins (Sarah)

All of which sounds like a lot of challenges – okay, fair, it is a lot of challenges – but I shall be approaching them with a lacksadaisical attitude and check in quarterly (not monthly) to see how I’m getting on.

Reading Commitments

I shall be minimising my commitments again this year as I’m taking on work and life challenges instead. I can see 2023 being big on rereads, with some buddy reads and those series to revisit, and I’m happy with that; a stressful year is always easier in the company of a well-loved book. I will participate in this year’s Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards on a limited basis and I will minimise the number of ARCs I request / review, prioritising titles published by smaller presses. Don’t expect any blog tours, although there may be the occasional cover reveal for a title I’m super excited about and I hope to host a few authors for interviews and guest posts.

Blogging Goals

My blogging goal for 2022 was to post at least twice a week (which I didn’t achieve consistently, but exceeded in aggregate with over 150 posts this year) and to keep my backlog below double digits (ahahahaha, yes well, moving right along). I introduced my new series of Bite-size Reads, where I review the short stories in my current anthology read, although I didn’t manage to make this a fortnightly occurrence as I only read 3 anthologies across the year. I do love this approach to anthologies though, so expect to see Bite-size Reads return next year; there are plenty more anthologies on my shelves.

My goal for 2023 will be to post once or twice a week and if I achieve 100 posts across the year I will have done very well indeed. Instead, I shall be funnelling most of my spare time and energy into a very challenging building renovation (which I may or may not blog about; it’s tempting to document the process, but I’m not sure I want to do so publicly), so book reviewing and blogging in general will take a back seat. 

I’ll also be thinking very carefully about where I engage on social media with the birdsite spitting feathers. I more or less loathe Instagram, I’m not going anywhere near TikTok, I’ve never got the hang of Tumblr (although it’s the most tempting to figure out) and the various Twitter alternates all look set to be(come) as problematic as Twitter given various issues of ownership, security, and funding. While I’ve grabbed an account under the usual name on Mastodon, I haven’t really used it. For the most part, I’m just hanging out on Discords. When I figure out what I’m doing, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, if you see an imyril out there it’s a good (although not guaranteed) chance it’s me, especially if they’re talking about books.

What are your plans for 2023?