My 2019 Resolutions

As you may have seen from my final quarterly check-in of my 2018 resolutions, I did pretty ok at my somewhat ambitious yearly goals last year.

As always, I tend to do better at the reading goals than I do at anything else, partly because reading is always (and has always been) a priority of mine so I’ve never had to really work at those kind of resolutions. Even so, I still like making them because the process of deciding on them and actually checking in on how I’m doing at various points in the year actually really helps me to work out what I want to do with my year. Of course, it’s life so priorities shift throughout the year and I don’t expect any resolutions I make at the start of a year to have all been completed by the time we come to the end of a year, but it’s still nice to have something to aim for, isn’t it?

In that spirit, here are my 2019 goals…

lifegoals.gif
(I’m just kidding… mostly.)

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #4

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, throughout 2018 I have been doing check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, at the end of June I posted my second check-in, and my third check-in came at the beginning of October. Today’s post is my fourth and final quarterly check-in and will, ultimately, also deliberate on whether I completed my goals and aims for 2018 or not.

(If you need/want an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here before diving in to see how I did below.)

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in I’d read 63 books and I mentioned that I was hoping to get to 75 by the end of 2018. well, I surpassed that. I’m quite proud of myself for that. Presuming I finish off the book I’m currently reading tonight before that arbitrary ticking over of the clock from 11.59pm on 31st December 2018 to 12.00am on 1st January 2019 then I will have read 83 books in 2018 and will be rather pleased with myself for that.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: Completed
Progress on this slowed considerably in the third quarter of 2018, and I had many challenges left. December dawning weirdly motivated me to keep going because I was behind but not insurmountably so, if I just sat down and worked out what I needed to read to complete the challenge. As I sit and type this post up, it’s New Year’s Eve and I have one book left to finish the challenge of “a gothic novel”. About 120 pages stand between me and saying I completed Around the Year in 52 Books so I’m going to optimistically say I’ve completed this resolution and hope that, by doing so, I haven’t damned myself.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failed
As mentioned at my last check-in, I didn’t even think about finishing any series and that tradition carried on into the rest of 2018 too. It just wasn’t a priority for me anymore and, do you know what? I think I’m ok with that.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failed
It’s becoming a joke right now but, nope, I still haven’t finished War and Peace. It’s getting faintly a little ridiculous now. I just can’t decide if I’m going to need to start afresh or at least read a length summary of the first five volumes before I can finally read the sixth part of the book – not wanting to face up to this possibility is what has definitely put me off picking up Tolstoy’s brick again. I also didn’t read another Russian classic but, hey, I read a huge French classic in the form of The Count of Monte Cristo so does that count?

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Discussion | The Pressure of Reading Challenges

It’s that time of year, folks, when we look back at our very optimistic reading goals for the year and cry a bit about how little of the year is left and how many reading challenges we still have yet to complete.

This year, I decided to ditch the overly ambitious goals and just participate in one big yearly reading challenge – Around the Year in 52 Books. Set up as it is, participants need to have a reading pace of roughly a book a week and since I tend to average higher than that, I always think Around the Year is a pretty manageable reading project that still has some challenging prompts. However, I also always find myself in this same position every year I take part: it gets to the final month and the year and my monthly TBR just becomes a set of “required reading” simply in order to finish a reading project. That makes December’s reading often a very odd set of books and doesn’t leave much room for deviation or mood reading or even taking part in a lot of the fun readathons that are going on. That’s no way to see out the end of a year, is it?

Reading shouldn’t be about pressure. Regardless of our own personal reasons for reading – whether it’s purely entertainment or an exercise in empathy or educational as we learn about subjects or viewpoints that aren’t our own – reading ought to be a hobby that is an escape from any other pressures in life. It shouldn’t dominate your free time if you don’t want it to and, for my money at least, it shouldn’t make you feel like you’ve been transported back to school and you’ve just been handed a list of set texts for that term. But that’s what December always feels like for me because of the pressure of finishing reading challenges.

At heart, I’m a completionist, and I can’t deny that part of this is related to anxiety. I like having things finished and completed; the prospect of having almost completed something actually makes me feel worse about myself. In what might be quite a twisted logic, I’d actually prefer to have definitely failed spectacularly to complete something rather than almost got there. So I’d rather have only completed half the challenges of a reading project than be two off having done so. Like I said, the logic is flawed, but it’s kind of how my brain operates.

(This is also why NaNoWriMo this year kind of gutted me… but I’m sure there will be more on that in a later post.)

So reading challenges, even when they’re meant to be fun and when I pick a relatively low-key one, cause a strange sense of pressure for me around this time of year. As the dark nights have well and truly settled in and there’s a mad scramble to buy gifts for one’s nearest and dearest, December is definitely the last time of year when you need added pressure in your life. And yet, with a culture of goal setting and reflection, it comes as little surprise that December actually ends up being pretty pressured and stressful for some people, even if “all” they’re focusing on is finishing up their reading goals for the year.

This year, I’m trying not to be quite so put out when I don’t reach my reading challenge goals. It’s pretty unlikely I will complete Around the Year in 52 Books because of the number of slightly tricky challenges I have left and the fact I’m not really feeling like reading every book I’d need to read in order to finish the project. But do you know what? I’m trying to work on that being ok, I really am. Because the world’s not going to stop spinning just because I missed a couple of reading challenges from my yearly goals and I’m still pretty damn pleased with the amazing books I did read this year.

Have you taken part in any reading challenges this year? How are you doing? Like me, do you feel the pressure (self-inflicted though it might be) to complete something once you’ve pledged to do it and then find yourself deflated when you don’t? Chat to me in the comments!


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30 Before 30

I have a love/hate relationship with anything that resembles a ‘bucket list’ or ‘X before X’ list. I love the idea of optimistic goal setting but the realist (read: pessimist) in me knows that I likely won’t get to accomplish every goal I set myself due to lack of confidence, lack of money, or lack of opportunity – or all of the above. It’s because of this mindset that I have quite a fraught relationship with anything in this vein of list-making, particularly because it also strikes a strangely sensitive chord in me when it comes to travel-related goals which so often take up lists such as this.

You see, I have been to very few places in my life – growing up we just didn’t have the kind of disposable income that allowed for holidays to far-flung destinations; what we did have was the money to have a bloody good time going on a family holiday to a caravan site somewhere on the Spanish coast. Again largely because of money, I didn’t go on any school trips to places outside the UK either (no Easter skiing holiday or history trip to Auschwitz for me). I’ve never really felt particularly deprived because of this, I’ve just been very aware that I haven’t been to a lot of places that other people might have. But it’s because of this that I don’t even know where to start with places I want to see in my life.

So, you see, bucket lists and 30 before 30 lists spin me to all different kinds of personal places – and not necessarily in the way they intend. Even so, I’ve decided (probably quite foolishly considering I’m 25 at the time of writing this list, and 26 is fast approaching) to construct a list because God loves a trier, right? There’s a mix of low key goals or challenges here and there are some that are more dependent on me having the financial means and (to be honest) the annual leave left to complete them. However, I hope it’s a nice mix of doable and then the more challenging things to accomplish.

As I composed this list at the start of 2018 (yes it has taken me this long to decide what I really think of 30 Before 30 type lists, it’s a wonder I ever achieve anything at that rate), I’ll be already marking off anything I’ve achieved so far this year in 2018. I hope to document each challenge in some way on this blog, whether that’s through a blog post series explaining why I want to do each item on my list and/or through a blog post of me recounting my trip to the given destination or the skill I wanted to acquire etc. Either way, I hope you will stick with me on my journey to complete this 30 Before 30 list which might just help to change my initial perception/hesitation on the entire idea of them too!

  1. Visit 10 National Trust/English Heritage sites/national parks
  2. Visit Chatsworth House
  3. Visit Greenwich
  4. Visit Versailles
  5. Visit Paris catacombs
  6. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral
  7. Visit Sagrada Familia
  8. Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
  9. Visit Wales
  10. Walk on Main Street USA
  11. See a Shakespeare play at the Globe
  12. Attend the Championships at Wimbledon
  13. Eat a croissant in France
  14. Eat a paella in Spain
  15. Eat pasta/pizza in Italy
  16. Read War and Peace
  17. Read Les Misérables
  18. Read all of Jane Austen’s novels
  19. Read a novel in Spanish
  20. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays
  21. Complete a ‘Classics Club’ list (reading 50 classics)
  22. Host a readathon/readalong
  23. ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in a month)
  24. Do a ‘blog every day’ challenge
  25. Knit a full garment (e.g. scarf/hat)
  26. Learn how to drive
  27. Own a MacBook
  28. Learn how to bake bread
  29. Learn a ballroom dance
  30. Attend a spinning class

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and at the end of June I posted my second check-in.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Even though the fact we’re now in October scares me a little a lot, let’s not panic about the encroaching end-of-the-year feeling and instead let’s see how I did with my resolutions in the months of July, August, and September.

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in, I was on-track to complete this goal at 45 books and I am very happy to report that I have smashed this goal and I’m now sitting pretty on 63 books read in 2018. I’m really hoping I can get to at least 75 books by the end of the year but let’s see how it goes, shall we?

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
So, at my last check-in for the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge I had 18 challenges remaining and now I have 15 left to go so it’s safe to say I’ve completely neglected this reading challenge in the last quarter. As we head into the fourth and final quarter, I’ll need to re-focus on this goal if I hope to finish it this year. It would be a shame not to.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failing
So, since my last check-in, I’m not sure I even thought about finishing any series. I really need to get back on this reading challenge too. I’d really like to think I could at least finish off the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting off finally finishing the fourth book since it was published so I’m not holding out too much hope.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Sooo I still haven’t finished War and Peace or another Russian classic, but I have read The Count of Monte Cristo if that at all counts. I don’t think it does but, even so, let’s all take a moment to celebrate the fact I actually managed to finish a huge (French) classic instead!

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and here we are today with my second quarterly check-in for the months of April, May, and June.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing now we’re halfway through the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I stand at 45 out of 52 books read for 2018 so, unless something major happens, I should comfortably make my goal to read 52 books. Depending how industrious I’m feeling I may even up the challenge goal/resolution once I get to 52.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
At my last check-in, every single book I’d read at that point in 2018 had also completed one of the Around the Year challenges. That isn’t the case now since I’ve been doing some readalongs and readathons that don’t necessarily tally with the challenges. However, I’ve also had a pretty good quarter in terms of the number of books I’ve read so I’ve made good progress nevertheless with the Around the Year challenges. I’ve now ticked off most of the easy ones and have 18 challenges remaining so, with some forward planning, I should be able to complete this goal too.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: On Track
Although I haven’t actively been participating in Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge (I feel so guilty about this), I have subconsciously been trying to force myself to get to sequels and finish off series, or at least get as up-to-date with them as I can. Case in point: I recently finally read the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and am planning to pick up the newest book A Reaper at the Gates this month. I also only have one Winner’s trilogy book left, which is progress so… I’d consider this kind of a win?

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Well I still haven’t finished War and Peace. Believe me, I know… I know it’s getting ridiculous now. However, in this quarter I have re-read all my weekly posts from during the War and Peace Newbies Readalong, so I’ve refreshed my memory of the plot and am ready to tackle the last 200 or so pages of Tolstoy’s tome this month in fact. After that I think I might try to finally make it through all the pages of Anna Karenina, again, I’ve tried multiple times but I always stall for some unknown reason, but that likely won’t be until near the end of 2018 since I have other readalongs and readathons planned over the summer/autumn.

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Feature | Bookish Savings Jar: An Update

Do you remember back in January when I floated the idea of the Bookish Savings Jar, the tactic that would solve not only my re-reading problem but also my book buying problem? Well since I seem to be checking in with my resolutions for this year lately, I thought I might as well do an update for how my Bookish Savings Jar is going so far.

tl;dr version: it’s going pretty well! But if you’re curious as to how well it’s going, keep reading!

Let’s remind ourselves of the 3 simple rules for dating my teenage daughter:

  • For every book read, £1 must be surrendered to the jar.
  • For every book that is reread, an additional £1 supplement must be surrendered to the jar.
  • For every book purchased, £1 must be surrendered to the jar.*

* Exceptions: eARCs and audiobooks do not incur charge, since they’re not adding to my physical TBR.

As of 19th January, I had surrendered £17. And as of today, 26th March? (Oo, the suspense is killing me…)

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

Last year I did quite well with my yearly resolutions, I think, in part, because I regularly “checked in” with them and had a look at how I was doing. Since it worked so well (not to blow my own trumpet) in 2017, I’ve decided to carry on that tradition into 2018 so this is the first of my Quarterly Check-in posts. I’ll have a look at each of my 2018 Resolutions and see how I’ve fared in the months of January, February, and March.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing three months into the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I’ve managed to read 17 books already this year which Goodreads informs me is 6 books ahead of schedule – go me! If I carry on at this pace all year (which seems unlikely given some exciting holidays planned and a desire to read more classics), I should easily surpass my 52 books target. Fingers crossed?

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
As it stands, every single book I have read thus far in 2018 also completes one of the challenges for the Around the Year Reading Challenge. This is because I’ve been mindful of what books I’m choosing to read and, mostly, because the Reading Challenge is quite adaptable. That being said, once I start whittling the challenges down I am sure it will get harder to match a book to a challenge and I will instead find myself doing it vice versa, i.e. I’ll be picking a book to read that matches a challenge rather than finding which challenge matches the book I’ve just read!

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failing
I am definitely failing quite supremely at this because I haven’t given it a moment’s thought after impulsively signing up for Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge back in December. I’m feeling very guilty about my complete lack of participation so I hope to get back on the horse, so to speak, and concentrate on finishing off some of those books in a series.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Until earlier this week, I hadn’t even thought about picking up War and Peace again, even though I know every week is a ticking clock of me retaining any memory of what happened in the first 1000ish pages of this behemoth of a book. I only have about 300 pages left to read so I really need to get to it, it’s not even funny anymore. I won’t let myself move onto another Russian classic either until I’ve defeated this one so I really need to make this a priority – I’ve said I will in my recent Spring TBR post so I’m pretty much duty bound to now.

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Feature | The Bookish Savings Jar

Whilst taking part in my very first #SundayYA Twitter chat, I stumbled across a brilliant idea via Charlie (@charlieinabook), originally courtesy of Aoife (@prettyPPD) and Steph (@eenalol) , whereby you put £1 in a jar for every book read. ‘My oh my,’ I thought, ‘even if I only just about reached my Goodreads goal, that would be fifty-two whole English pounds extra to spend!’ You can imagine my delight; I love saving money and forgetting about it so you end up with a nice little pot of surprise at the end of the year.

Of course, this being me, I’m never be satisfied with not being a little bit of a masochist too so I decided to make it harder for myself. Thus the Bookish Savings Jar was born. Capitalised letters mean business. Do you see the jar? Does it look scary? Maybe I should decorate it accordingly…

bsj

This seemingly innocuous little jar is going to be my windfall come the end of the year (/when I go to Disney World because, let’s be real, I’ll probably use this money anyway to pay off the bills I will rack up when I’m there). The reason for this? Observe the 3 simple rules of the Bookish Savings Jar:

  • For every book read, £1 must be surrendered to the jar.
  • For every book that is reread, an additional £1 supplement must be surrendered to the jar.
  • For every book purchased, £1 must be surrendered to the jar.*

* Exceptions: eARCs and audiobooks do not incur charge, since they’re not adding to my physical TBR. (May revise this ruling if my audiobook buying goes off the charts!)

Reading these rules, you may well think I was trying to read less this year, since it seems as though I’m basically punishing/fining myself for reading. I did worry if that would be the case, whether I’d purposely not read as many books or else not read shorter books or graphic novels and instead opt for long tomes like War and Peace and A Dance with Dragons because then I could put off the inevitable £1 surrendering until a much later date. However, based on January’s progress thus far, I can safely say I needn’t have worried about that being the case at all. As of 19th January, this is how the humble jar looks:

Purchased: Artemis Fowl series (8 books)  = £8
Purchased: Down and Out in Paris and London = £1
Purchased: Fragile Things = £1
Purchased: Saga, Volume 8 = £1
Read: The Wicked Cometh = £1
Re-read: Princess Diaries, Take Two = £2
Read: The Winner’s Crime = £1
Read: The Fandom = £1
Read: Sourdough = £1

Already, I stand at a healthy £17 for and we’re only 19 days into the year. Imagine if I kept up this pace and averaged £20 a month – that would be £240 for the year which is definitely nothing to be sniffed at. I already save a portion of my monthly paycheck (I set it up so that it leaves my current account and pings into my savings account on pay day, before I’ve even had a chance to check my balance) but this will make a nice little bonus pot of money that I fully intend to spend on fun treats. A little reward at the end of the year. A fund with which to ‘treat ma self’, you might say… Let’s see how it fares over the coming months, shall we?

Do you have any savings tactics related to reading? Or maybe you have a plan to help you limit your book buying this year? Let me know in a comment, I’m curious!

Also, would you guys be interested in hearing how the savings jar is going periodically, each month maybe, in my wrap up posts? Let me know!


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My 2018 Resolutions

Yep, as you can see from the title of this, this is one of those posts – an overly optimistic goal-setting for the year ahead in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

For the first time in years, I had a pretty good year in 2017 in terms of resolution fulfilling. I finally stopped just saying I’d do things and actually did them. This was all in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth was and a just do it attitude. I think this was the secret to this year’s success, along with a healthy realisation that life is too fucking short and you can’t take it with you, this is it, this is life, so if you have the chance to live it and to do something, do it, before you can’t.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Realising it and enacting it are two very different things though… and in that spirit, I’m going to continue into 2018 and hope that the upcoming year is as successful. Let’s get to these resolutions and goals which, I warn you, are probably far too numerous… buckle in, guys!

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