Reading Wrap-Up (2018)

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I’ve always considered myself to be a rather voracious reader. A devourer of books, if you will. It’s never been unusual for me to read several books a week, to plow through them and then eagerly pick up the next one. I’ve read well over a hundred books a year in the past.

I’m sad to say that 2018 was not that year for me.

Well, what happened? Did I not read at all? Did I abandon books altogether? Did I just not find anything interesting to read? It’s actually none of the above.

I read quite a few books this year, but I didn’t track a single one. I usually keep a running list of books I’ve read and how I’d rate them through the GoodReads Challenge. This year, though, I never made the commitment. So there was no way for me to see if I reached some magical number of books. Or to examine what genre I read from the most. But, I’m not unhappy about it.

What I did read this year was done for the simple pleasure of reading. If I wanted to read a historical romance novel, I read one. If I wanted to read something contemporary, I read one. If I wanted to get lost in a bit of strange poetry, I read those, too. For the first time in a long time, I allowed the books to speak to me. I reached for what I felt like in the moment and if I wasn’t enjoying a book I just put it down for another time. No judgment. No guilt. I didn’t read anything heavy or groundbreaking to my views of the world. I didn’t grab much from the ‘hot off the presses’ section of any bookstore or library. But, I sure did enjoy some happily ever after stories, a few books that made me giggle, some crazy books with my children while snuggled on the couch, and at least one book that made every other craft book about writing look childish in comparison.

 

It wasn’t a stellar year for reading by some standards, but it was a good reading year for me. And, frankly, it was just what I needed.

So, what about 2019? Is it time to set a goal? Maybe so, but the last thing I ever want is for reading to feel like a job. So instead of giving myself a bookish number to reach or a specific goal to achieve, I’m simply going to challenge myself to this:

Read something new…

A new genre. A new author. A new series.

And when I come back at the end of 2019, I’ll be happy to share what newness I found in the literary world.

 

 

How Do You Measure of a Year? In Books, Of Course!

The last few days while everyone else was sharing their reflections on their year in reading, I was scrambling to complete my Goodreads goal and editing podcast episodes (*cue confetti* *have a nap waiting in the wings*). I don’t like to review a year until I’m in the new year, anyway.

As you’ll see in my stats, my reading for the challenge was heavily weighted one way. While I enjoyed the books I read and look forward to reading more of the same in 2019, I want to make sure I read more of other genres I love this year. I’ll share my new reading goals in a separate post. On the positive side, I upped the number of books I wanted to read in 2018 by 15 books, and I met my goal! Without further ado, here’s my year in books *:

Books read: 65

Library books finished: 3

Read What You Own Books (that I know I owned before 2018): 6

Review/Launch Team Books: 7

Fiction: 58

Non-Fiction: 7

Romance: 54

-Romantic Suspense: 14

-Contemporary Romance: 38

-Historical Romance: 2

Non-Romantic Fiction: 4

Memoir/Autobiography: 6

These stats provide a good snapshot of my year, but for a more accurate picture, I wanted to spotlight some notable books.My affiliate links are included.

First book finished*: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham
This was a quick, fun read that reeked of 90’s romance tropes. If you can appreciate it for what it is–trope soup, limited POV, and 90s level of understanding of masculinity/femininity/happily ever after–it’s a fast and funny book.

Last book read: Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

I really ended the year on a high note. I LOVED this book! This book combines many elements of my favorite reads: Zora Neale Hurston; Anthropological/Ethnographical study; a personal story told in the subject’s voice; a snapshot of an interesting time in history, etc. This story is an important one, and I’m thankful it has finally been published and disseminated.

Better Than Expected: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

This book had some pretty harsh reviews, but I like Anne Tyler and retellings of classics are some of my favorite stories, so I decided to give this one a try. If you’re a fan of Taming of the Shrew or Ten Things I Hate About You, you might like this retelling set between academia and daycare.

FOMO Reads of 2018: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I heard these two books recommended several times on What Should I Read Next. I caved to FOMO and read both, and I’m glad I did! Both of these books lived up to the hype. Eleanor is funny and endearing, and Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir is gripping and reflective in an engaging way. I highly recommend both.

Best Book for Book Lovers: I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel

If you love all things books and reading, you must read this book! Anne beautifully portrays many of the joys and dilemmas of the reading life. This book is a beautiful celebration of all the things I love about literature.

Series I enjoyed this year:

The Precinct Series by Julie Miller

I read many books in this series in 2016, but I read the backlist and became current on this series in 2018. If you love romantic suspense, seeing your favorite characters in several different books, mini-series within a larger series, and heroes/heroines with real world conflicts and complications, then I highly recommend this series.

Mirror Lake Series by Kathryn Springer
This inspirational romance series was wonderful. The characters were realistic and made me root for them. Springer made the town and its inhabitants come alive, and the conflicts were just as realistic. If you’re a fan of inspirational romances set in a small close knit town involving a core group of characters, then give this six book series a try.
Get in My Kindle picks I’ve Read: Butterface by Avery Flynn and I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel (I also listened to the audiobook of Remember God by Annie F. Downs, but I’m not counting this as I plan to read the physical copy)


I’ve read a few of Avery Flynn’s other books, and Butterface had the humor and heart I’ve come to expect from her. If you like hot romantic comedies (and the heat level is pretty high on this one), you might like this first book in The Hartigans series. Book two, Muffin Top, is also out now, and book three, Tomboy, will release February 18, 2019.

The books I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2019:

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
You can read my post on this book here.
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
Read my reasons for looking forward to this The Next Right Thing here.

MY BOOK!!!!!
121418_SS Front CoverI’ve been holding this news in for months! If you’re an email subscriber, you might have heard about this book already, but I wanted to officially announce it to my By Her Shelf readers. The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces, my first poetry collection, will be releasing this month! If you’re a fan of poetry, this book is a must have for your collection. More details to come soon!

*Note: I don’t track my progress/read status for every book I read through Goodreads. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I don’t want to share what I’m reading. This post was created using my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics. It’s by no means definitive, but it’s mostly accurate.

End of Year Wrap Up (Alex of CatFairy Books)

Happy Holidays, Shelfies! I hope everyone has been enjoying this season with their families, friends, or adventuring on their own, both through books and in “real life.” Today is the first year end review wrap up post. Up first is contributor Alex of Catfairy Books sharing what she’s read and loved in 2018, and what her goals are for her reading life in 2019. 

Life Update…
I know that this is so typical to say but my mind cannot FATHOM that 2018 is already coming to a close! I would say that 2018 brought so many changes in my life! I started a new grade level (I am an elementary teacher for those of you that don’t know.) and I started working as a college adjunct which was scary for me at the time!

And I have actually managed to write 13,000 words to my novel! This is a huge accomplishment for me since I have been ignoring my WIP for about two to three years now! I am excited to say that it is a YA magical realism novel with latinx rep. My excitement for this novel has no words because I finally feel like I have figured out the missing piece to the puzzle to bring my novel into workable fruition!

Number of Books Read
I have read 33 books this year so far! This has been the year of audiobooks for me! I have gone through sooooo many books due to the fact that I have been consuming most of them through audio. The number of books that I have read through audiobook is 20 books out of the 33 I have read in total! Out of those 20 books that I have listened to there are some that I have combined with reading the physical book as well. Children of Blood and Bone was one book where I actually needed to read the physical book because it’s typically hard for me to digest fantasy books. Although I still combined COBAB through physical and audio due to lack of time and the fact that I was a few weeks away from meeting her in person! EEEK! For those of you that are reluctant to audiobooks, I urge you to give it a try! They are so many books out there now with some AMAZING narration that can just bring the book to life sometimes more than actually reading it physically! Sometimes books have music and different voices! The best audiobooks I have read are definitely the Harry Potter ones! Jim Dale is the king when it comes to narration!

My Year of Books for 2018
My goal for 2018 was rolling along rather nicely due to transitioning to mostly audiobooks with my busy schedule and then October happened! The month of October was pure INSANITY FOR ME! Along with teaching full time, being a college adjunct, I also enrolled myself for an all-day workshop for three Saturdays in order to have an intern for the new school year! The month of October was the hardest month for me and October is my favorite month of the whole year! So it was a major bummer because I am the queen of Halloween and I always look forward to all things spooky!

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via GIPHY

Then came November and November was the time for NaNoWriMo which was just another disaster. I was focusing on my WIP and I DNFed so many books that month it’s not even funny!

Although…there are still 11 days away and I am currently listening to The Afterlife of Holly Black and plan to finish a Hallmark fluffy romance. And I plan to add in some poetry and picture books to my list because that counts as reading too! (First-grade teacher life…don’t judge.) So your girl is going to have 50 books achieved before the year is over!

Goals for Next Year 2019
My goal for next year is to read the same amount of books that I always pledge to read every year which is 50 books! I wanted to increase to 60 books but I am honestly not focused on reading challenges as much. My main reading challenge is to push myself to read more recently released books more than backlisted books. I am the queen of backlisted books and I can never get caught up to the recently released books! Also, I want to continue to read more diverse books since I have read some amazing ones like The Poet X, Analee, in Real Life, and The Hate U Give. And I want to read more books on Netgalley since I have never really given Netgalley a real chance and it would be great to reach out to publishers more for recently released books.

Book reviews have also been a challenge for me this year and my goal is to write at least two book reviews a month. One of my favorite things to write is book reviews and I make my book reviews extremely interactive and over the top with book playlists, book castings, pop culture references, and gifs. I love writing book reviews and delving really deep into the review but it typically takes me about two days to finish a book review. I want to put an end to pressuring myself to always write one book review a week because it’s just not realistic to my life frankly.

The year 2019 is going to be the year where I am going to focus more on the essentials and not add unnecessary stress to my plate if it’s not serving me. I have even finally figured out ways to simplify my blogging schedule and plan to schedule in three posts a week instead of five posts a week which wasn’t working out for me. I am not setting my blog posts to specific days anymore because it just adds too much pressure for me.

BookTube and book blogs have added so much unnecessary pressure to my reading like never before and this is the year where I am tired of comparing myself to other people. Compared to many people in the world reading 30 something books is quite an accomplishment and for the first time in a few years, I am finally ok with that! Let’s take away the stress of reading and start to just enjoy the act of reading for 2019!