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A Year in Reading (Challenges and Reading Plans)


Happy New Year, all! It feels really weird saying 'last year' to mean the last 12 months rather than 2009. Time sure does fly like crazy! One of the best parts of any new year is starting on a fresh slate and making plans for the next 12 months. I tend to make a lot of far-fetched and ambitious plans, that all fizzle out within a month. This year, I'm going to try not making any plans, except to listen to serendipity more often.

Challenges

At the beginning of this year, I signed up for a few challenges, but eventually got rid of all but one. The Graphic Novels Challenge is possibly the only challenge I ever finished in my two years of blogging. I don't plan to do the challenge again in 2012, because I've been automatically reading more graphic books lately and know that I will be reading a lot more in future. I had signed up to read 10 graphic books this year, and eventually read 20. I have my full list of graphic books I read here, in case you are interested in checking it out.

So far, I've signed up for two challenges in 2012. At the moment, I plan to stay with just the two - I've realized that I genuinely suck at challenges. For some reason, once a book makes a to-read list, it loses all its pull and motivation, making me not want to read it anymore. Serendipity is still my favorite source for books, and I've found some truly wonderful books that way last year.

The first challenge I joined is The League of Extraordinary Gentle- Men of la - Book Challenge, which Zohar @ Man of la Book is hosting. I've already read a couple of the books, so all I need now is an incentive to read a book from a list. The other challenge is the Middle East Reading Challenge, hosted by Helen of Helen's Book Blog for the second time. I only read one book towards this challenge the first time round, but this time, I'm hoping to do better.
    Reading Plans

    At the beginning of last year, I started keeping a PIE list, in which I mention all the titles that I keep hoping to read someday, but the someday never really comes. I had hoped to read at least 5 books from the list, but I only managed 4. I did start the fifth one a few days before the end of 2011, but have not finished it yet. This year, I'm again hoping to read 5 from the list. Here's the four I read:

    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

    This year, I've decided not to plan for the whole year. I know perfectly well how seasonal my interests are, and I hate making plans and not feeling up to seeing them through. I'd rather make quarterly plans - that way I can easily make and break lists and choose something different to focus on every few months. I'm still not sure yet what I want to do for the first quarter, since right now I'm reading sporadically based on which book is nearest to me. It will be a while before I get back to routine, so I'll wait until then before I decide what I want to do this year. Still, chances are it'll be one of these - read some of the much-awaited 2012 ARCs waiting in my shelves back in Virginia, read a few of the 2011 releases that I didn't get to read last year, or get a head-start on Helen's Middle East Challenge! We'll see which one will pull me more when I get back.

    Other than that, I'm looking forward to being less planned and more impulsive about choosing the books I read. I've found that most of the books I loved have been what I picked without planning to. I do want some structure and will be planning my reads a bit (it would be hard to get a book from the library without some advance list-making), but I don't want to stress out looking at a list.

    I've been happy with the ARCs I accepted last year. I made a decision a year ago to be more picky, and so far, it's been easy deciding what books I was willing to accept. Moreover, if I didn't get to a book, it didn't worry me like it did earlier.

    So that's pretty much my plan, or rather a lack of it, for this year. Let's see how it goes!


    Comments

    Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said…
    I'm so with you on challenges. They are totally like homework.
    bermudaonion (Kathy) said…
    I'm not doing challenges this year either - they're just too much pressure for me right now.  I'm taking fewer review copies and committing less often to dates.  I already have so many books I want to read.
    zibilee said…
    There are a lot of great challenges out there, but for some reason, I just can't join any. I just have a problem sticking to them, and always feel so bad when I fail. This year, my reading is going to be a lot less structured and more impulsive. I have already started down this path, and I am loving it. It's so good for my reading soul to be able to pick up whatever I want to and just read according to whim!
    Tea Time with Marce said…
    I was choosy when picking ARC's or taking review requests also, definitely made it a better year of reading without feeling overwhelmed.
    Helen Murdoch said…
    Sounds like your plans for the new year are good and attainable. I am glad you're doing the Middle East Challenge, remember you only have to read one to complete it (I am all for the no-pressure method). Happy New Year!
    Great plans! I totally support stress-free in terms of reading & blogging. Good luck in 2012!
    softdrink said…
    I've always been an impulsive reader...I just need to be less impulsive about the buying!

    Good luck with your reading plans!
    christa @ mental foodie said…
    I am definitely an impulsive / mood reader, hence why I can't always finish the books I borrow from the library, and why I always have to have a large pile to choose from! I'm definitely becoming pickier with ARC... have a great reading year! http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/
    Peppermint PhD. said…
    Planning the entire year would be way too much structure for me.  I would probably rebel :/  When I first put myself out there for ARC's I was amazed and quickly overwhelmed how quickly books arrived on my doorstep...many without me requesting them first.  I put a stop to that all together for a year.  I'm being very very selective now and a few have started trickling back in...but only at my request.  
    Cass R said…
    Good luck with your challenges/reading what you want! I love the feeling at the beginning of the year when all the books are so nicely waiting for you to read them! haha.
    Happy New Year! I hope this year is going to be awesome for you & me! :)
    Good luck with the challenges!
    I'm so terrible with challenges and planned readings. I find I enjoy the books the most that were a spontaneous pick. Good luck with your reading journey in 2012.
    BuriedInPrint BuriedInPrint said…
    "To listen to serendipity": I like the sounds of that! 

    I hope the mix of directed and whimsical reading works out well for you for 2012. I do understand how making a book into a target can take the shine off of it; I really have to make sure that doesn't happen for me this year either!
    Athira / Aths said…
    Crazy that we punish ourselves like that, right?
    Athira / Aths said…
    It's going to be tough doing that, but I'm determined too. I want to read a book that I really want to read, while also leaving room for the occasional surprises.
    Athira / Aths said…
    That's just my idea of perfect reading! I really want to remove the boundaries and rules that I impose on my reading and just go with the flow.
    Athira / Aths said…
    That's just what I hope to do too. The less pressure, the better.
    Athira / Aths said…
    It's funny how removing the challenges makes the plans more attainable - I need to do that more often and only focus on challenges/goals that I'm really in the mood for.
    Athira / Aths said…
    Lol! That's a plan for another year!
    Athira / Aths said…
    It's so much better reading that way than forcing yourself to get through a book simply because of a commitment. It doesn't add to the reading experience anyways.
    Athira / Aths said…
    I tightened my ARC valve as well last year and have been pretty impressed with how I fared in that department. Still, the pile is higher than I can read through them at a decent pace, so I hope to be stricter about accepting review books.
    Athira / Aths said…
    Isn't that just bliss? A whole year ahead and all the books sitting there excitedly! :) 
    Athira / Aths said…
    Thank you! I hope you have a great year too! :) 
    Athira / Aths said…
    Thank you! I hope to be more impulsive about my reading!
    Athira / Aths said…
    That's just what I hope to achieve too! Let's see how it goes. I hope you achieve your goal as well.

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