2020 has been a lot of things. On the positive side, it has been a truly outstanding year for reading. Not only have I read some amazing books, I’ve also found a whole beautiful bookish community, taken my book blog “public,” and had so many really special interactions with bookish folk that have meant the world to me, especially in these difficult times.
I don’t do resolutions anymore, but here are a few intentions for next year. Shifting to intentions rather than goals has been a bit of a work-in-progress for me over the last few years – the idea is that I track and reflect rather than set immovable targets. So while I intend to do the following, there’s no pressure, and I’ll keep coming back to these and adjusting them as necessary.
1. Read Fewer Books
Don’t panic, bookish friends, this doesn’t mean spending less time reading! I set myself a goal (I know, I know, it is a hard habit to break!) of reading 100 books in 2020, really just to see if I could, and in a lot of ways it spurred me on and helped me develop some good reading habits, like reading every day, having a fiction and a non-fiction book on the go, keeping track of my reading and loosely planning my reading for the month ahead.
But it did also make me rush through books at times, and created an artificial sense of pressure. It was doable, but sometimes I wanted a bit of time to just sit with my thoughts on the book I’d just finished before diving into the next one, and there wasn’t really time for that when I had to get through eight or nine books a month. It also, I will admit, put me off picking up heftier tomes!
So for 2021, no targets, no pressure to read a set number of books – I’ll read my blog tour and proofs/author request commitments each month and then whatever else I fancy!
2. Read More Literature in Translation
I love translated literature, and did not read as much in 2020 as I would have liked. There are quite a few folk on Book Twitter who give wonderful recommendations, and I’ve started noting some down for starters. I’m keen to check out Charco’s list of Latin American literature, and I’ve actually just won 3 Orenda books by Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen.
3. Support Indie Publishers
I’ve said this before, but discovering fab indie presses has been one of the biggest joys of getting involved with Book Twitter. I’ve got some firm favourites now, whose books never disappoint (I’m looking at you: Bluemoose, Influx, Dead Ink, Comma and Louise Walters!) and I’d love to keep exploring and find new indies to add to my list.
I used to reread books a lot, but I didn’t have a single reread in 2020 (except possibly Rebecca, which I don’t remember reading before, but I may have done, as I am getting old enough to have read books decades ago and not realise I’ve already read them!). So many books deliver up hidden treasures on rereading, or hit us differently depending on our situation each time we read them. I’m not going to worry about “the new” so much next year – if I fancy picking up an old favourite, I shall!
5. Hit the Backlists
As well as reading some fantastic 2020 debuts, I’ve discovered some new-to-me writers this year who have published previous works that I haven’t read. There is both comfort and excitement in picking up a book by a writer you know you enjoy, and I’m looking forward to deepening my reading of writers such as Heidi James, Sharon Duggal, Brit Bennett, Helen Cullen, and so many more.
6. Mix it up
One thing I’ve really enjoyed about my reading this year is how eclectic it has been. I’ve read lots of different genres, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, and I’ve picked up books I wouldn’t necessarily have been immediately drawn to. I am definitely going to keep this approach, as it’s led to some wonderful surprises. I can sometimes get stuck in a bit of a literary/historical fiction rut, just because I know that’s what I like, but when I push myself out of my comfort zone, I often come across some real gems.
7. Have Fun
I love writing reviews. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it! But I did get myself into a bit of a pressured situation this year where I felt like I had to write a full review of every book I read. If it’s not an ARC/author request/blog tour, if it is just a book I have bought or borrowed, I’m going to relax the pressure to do a full review. I often find I want to anyway, as I love sharing my views on books (in case you hadn’t noticed!) but book blogging is my hobby, not my job, and I need to keep it relaxed and fun!
8. Do More Readalongs
Speaking of fun, I have absolutely loved doing buddy reads and readalongs this year! It is so lovely to chat about a book with a group of bookish friends, to laugh and speculate wildly and get frustrated with fictional characters together! More please.
9. Read African Literature
African literature usually features really heavily in my reading, but I don’t seem to have read much at all in 2020. So I need to do something about that! I’m going to start by ordering some of the Caine Prize anthologies – I have read a few, and they are such an excellent place to find great writers.
I used to have a New Years Resolution every year to “write first draft of my novel”. It haunted me, and I felt rubbish each year that passed without me writing that draft. In 2019, I did manage to complete a full draft, but this year I just haven’t had the writing mojo. Which is fine. I’m not going to promise myself that I’ll finish the book in 2021, or even set myself a specific novel-related goal: all I want to do next year is find my way back to writing, because it is such an important part of my life, and I miss it. I do feel ready – I feel as if all the reading I have done this year has provided fuel for my writing fire!
Have you got any bookish intentions for next year? I’d love to hear about them! Wishing you all an excellent year of reading in 2021!