Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Hello, 2017

Hello all, and Happy New Year. I’ve taken a bit of a back seat when it comes to writing book reviews recently. I’m still reading of course, but the end of 2016 fell into a bit of a slump for me.  I wasn’t sure why at the time but as the months have progressed and one year fell in to another, I think I’ve figured out why my reading has been falling flat of late. Now that 2017 is here, I’m hoping I can rectify that and fall back in love with my favourite pastime.

Throughout November I was MIA from the blogging world (and from the real world) since I was taking part I NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an online writing program which takes place every year during the month of November. The idea is to get people writing, solidly, for a least a month and try to complete at least 50,000 words of their story. Trust me, it was hard work and I nearly cracked a few times trying to reach that goal before December kicked in, but I did it and I’m so glad I did. This was my first NaNo and I managed to write just over 50,000 words of a story I’ve been trying to work on for over a year. Before November I just kept writing and rewriting the same paragraphs over and over, trying to get them perfect when I reality what I really needed was to switch off my inner editor and get on with the story. It’s full of typos and by no means is it perfect, but I can say I‘ve written 50,000 words of a novel, which is more than I’ve ever written before. I’m proud of myself and can honestly say that although it was tough going, I loved it, and I’m hoping to continue writing throughout the year.

So my November was a bit of a right off (no pun intended) when it came to reading; NaNo took up much of my time and any reading I did manage to get done was to give me a break from looking at my laptop screen. Then December rolled around and Christmas was around the corner and after such a hectic November, writing was something I was a bit of respite from. So I did my shopping, enjoyed my Christmas, and stepped back from blogging and writing for the remaining weeks of the year.

But January has well and truly started now and as cliché as it may sound, I’m a believer in clean slates and starting afresh for the New Year. There’s just something very motivating about making changes and resolutions, and although I’m not one for making resolutions that involve going to the gym, or eating less chocolate, I’ve had a few ideas for changes in my reading. As I said, my reading fell a bit flat towards the end of last year and I found myself reading things for the sake of it: books that had been on my shelves for years and I'd lost interest in, books I was told I should read, and books I just had no interest in picking up. I read 43/40 books in 2016 but I realised it was a pretty mediocre reading year since less than a handful of books from last year grabbed me fiercely - and two of those were re-reads. So I’ve decided to make some changes, and here we go:

Books are sentimental to me and I’m a sucker for buying them in the prettiest editions I can find, but when all is said and done, if I don’t like a book I won’t keep it. I have book clear out fairly regularly, maybe three, four times a year, and I always feel so much better for it. I hate looking at my shelves and thinking, ‘why is that there?’ and wishing I had space for more books when actually my shelves have been crammed with books I didn’t enjoy. If I don’t think they deserve to be there, I get rid. The same goes for books I’ve had on my TBR shelf for years and never gotten around to reading. If I’ve had it five years and it still hasn’t been read, the likelihood is it never will because I’m just not interested enough, and that’s okay. Many of the books I set myself to read last year never got touched because I simply don’t care about them enough, so a lot of those I’ve said a permanent goodbye too. Reading tastes change over the years and instead of having a load of books waiting to be read and weighing heavily on my shoulder, I’ve removed them and sent them to a better home. I want to be excited to read all of my books and no longer want to read something just because I feel obligated too.

If you were to ask me who my favourite author was I would say either Daphne du Maurier or Kate Quinn, depending on what mood I was in, but beyond that I don’t have any particular favourite authors. I realised recently that I’ve read very few books written by the same author, so it’s been years since I’ve found a new favourite author because I simply haven’t read enough of a single author’s work to say I enjoy them completely. I tend to read a book I like, and then move on to something completely different. There are a lot of books out there that I want to read and I'm trying to get to them all as quickly as I can, but whilst doing that I’ve noticed that I’ve been neglecting my own tastes. Thereby I’m setting myself a goal this year to read more work of authors I’ve enjoyed but haven’t read a lot of. A few of those being: Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, and Angela Carter.

On the same vein, I want to read some new authors. I’m always reading new people, who are new to me and not necessarily debut published writers, but like I said, I’m guilty of reading one book and them picking up something totally different. This year I want to find some new authors I enjoy and read more than just one of their books, in the hope that I can maybe find one or two new favourite writers.

Novels are my most popular choice of literature, but there are many different mediums out there and I want to spice up the kind of stories I read. I want to read more short stories, graphic novels, and poetry and expand my reading a bit more; maybe read some middle grade or picture books to see how stories translate in different formats. I’m going to try more non-fiction and actively try to read books that are by authors of colour or deal with LGBTQ+ issues.

I know it sounds like I’m giving myself a lot to achieve in one year, but this is something I hope to carry on beyond 2017 to help shape me in to the kind of reader I want to become. This is just the year I want to start and some of these goals may not get touched on just yet, but I’m going to give it a try. Hopefully, 2017 will be a more successful reading year than the last.
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