The Verdict on My 2013 Reading & Writing Resolutions

Last year, I outlined some reading and writing goals. Here’s how I ended up doing.

READING

150 books total.

Blew right past this one! I actually revised my goal upward in a friendly challenge with a teen from the library. I’m at 190 so far, and plan to binge read over the holidays to make it to our goal of 200.

5 newly published books each month.

I didn’t keep track of this by the month the second have of the year. Those monthly “check-ins” kind of fell by the wayside, as did my posts talking about the new releases I was excited about reading that month. I do think I’ll do something similar next year to spotlight books I’m buying for my library’s collection with a focus on under the radar or lesser-known new releases. Still, since I shelved books by year of release on Goodreads I know I read at least 60 books released during 2013. A few were nonfiction or adult fiction, but most were young adult fiction. A couple I DNFed, but still took a big enough bite out of it to get a good feel of it. Most of these I was excited about, but I also read a lot of books that I’m professionally curious about but wouldn’t read if I wasn’t a librarian. I’m going to try and continue this for 2014.

10 books off NPR’s Top 100 Teen Novels list.

This was a round about way to go about filling in reading holes in backlist titles. I’ve only been a serious YA reader for the past few years, so there are lots of books that I hadn’t read that are extremely popular and touchstone books in YA. While I don’t need to have read these books to recommend them—they mostly circulate well—it is helpful to have actually read them to be able to make educated comparisons. Last year I had only read 25% of them, and didn’t think that was a very good showing for a YA librarian. 

This year I did knock out a few more, though not quite ten. But I read five in the Vampire Academy series.

  • Looking for Alaska
  • Feed
  • Discworld Tiffany Aching
  • Abhorsen Trilogy Old Kingdom Trilogy
  • Vampire Academy
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Next year I want to fill some more obvious holes, like Sarah Dessen and Tamora Pierce. Because so many of the books are not actually young adult and so many are older books that don’t have the same kind of touchstone appeal to Real Actual Teens, once I hit 50% for the list I’ll feel comfortable will my familiarity with this set of titles, which skews very white and mainstream. There are so many other great books out there I want to be able to introduce to new readers.

The Hub Reading Challenge

Though it wasn’t part of my resolution, I also participated in the The Hub Reading Challenge, which means I read 25 books off the 2013 YALSA award list. This definitely got me out of my comfort zone and reading genres and formats that I wouldn’t otherwise check out and I had a chance to read a lot of 2012 books I’d missed. It was a great experience and I definitely plan on doing it again this year.

Read Deeply in One Sub-Genre/Specific Topic

This wasn’t on my original list, but it was a very helpful excercise. I also hadn’t planned on doing Classics Retold at the beginning of the year, but it really added to my reading experience this year. I got to delve into a previous unexplored theme, Norse Mythology, and really become an expert on it. As a bonus, I got to read other people’s round ups of other retellings, so it really added a new dimension to my reader’s advisory skills. I hope to be part of a similar project in 2013.

12 Adult novels.

I more than surpassed this. Since in 2012 I was really focusing on getting more familiar with young adult fiction because I started working with teens in the library, I hardly read any adult fiction. I did not have that problem this year.

Urban Fantasy

I read six books in the Chicagoland Vampires, All five in the Fever series, and five in the Kate Daniels series. And it was a lot of fun! I also read one in the Moon Called series. And I can’t forget the conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sigh. (It cracks me up that my most read post (by far) is my review of Dead Ever After. I’ll continue reading more urban fantasy next year, because it’s my fun and fluffy standby when I just want a quick, entertaining read.

Romance

I also read about a half dozen romance novels, a few Regency and a few paranormal along with one contemporary. I still don’t feel confident that I can really advise readers on what to read from the romance section, but at least I have some understanding of what’s out there and what my taste is. This isn’t a genre I ever plan to become an expert in. There’s just so much out there and I don’t have enough personal interest to explore at that level.

I also read some gay romances, which I really did like, and is something I want to explore more in the future.

Chulito was an interesting look at a population I don’t often read about, and I adore JH Trumble (thanks to Estelle from Rather Be Reading for turning my on to her work!)

New Adult

Mostly for this article I wrote for NoveList and also out of curiosity I read a stack of New Adult fiction. I’m really disappointed in the quality and variety of this category.

“Literary” Novels

I managed to fit in a few other random adult novels by authors I love. I read Infinite Jest, which was a big check mark off my list. I never would have finished if I hadn’t had conquered it with Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks, Flannery from Readventurer, and my friend Maggie!

I read two short story collections: This is How You Lose Her and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. I read two books by authors I’ve previously loved: Sisterland and While I’m Falling. I read two books I’d consider literary urban fantasy: Dreams and Shadows and Palimpsest.

So even though most of my reading was YA, I think I rounded out my reading with some other choices. I also started reading middle grade and picture books for storytime, so that’s great.

12 non-fiction books.

Though my selection ended up being more pop culture than I’d anticipated, I did read a variety of nonfiction this year. In 2013 I want to make it more feminist focused and read some memoirs and biographies. I also read a lot of nonfiction targeted to tweens and teens when I was putting together nonfiction read-alikes for fans of popular YA novels for my series at The Hub and a few articles I did for NoveList, and plan to keep that up.

Books on writing.

I didn’t read a damn one, even though I put together a reading list for NaNoWriMo. Oh well.

Audiobooks. 

I certainly managed to meet this goal, thanks to my early morning commutes for that ill-fated high school library internship as part of my MLS program. I listened to a bunch of middle grade, nonfiction, adult fiction, and YA for this, and now am actually sad I won’t have as much listening time. Perhaps when it warms up, I can spend 40 minutes walking the few miles to work and get my audiobook and exercise time in that way.

WRITING

As far as writing goes…well I didn’t really complete any of my goals. Granted, I had met some halfway and had a few accomplishments I hadn’t started out with, like getting a paid writing gig and entering a fiction writing contest, so I am not at all disappointed with myself as far as my progress in my writing. My priorities have shifted a lot this year, that’s okay. Writing will always be a part of my life.

I’m still having fun blogging, so it’s something I’m going to continue (I’ll stop when it becomes a chore).

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It’s crazy how much has changed in just a year! New kitten, new job, grad school…what a year it’s been. If you set reading and writing goals, how did you fare? 

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3 thoughts on “The Verdict on My 2013 Reading & Writing Resolutions

  1. Congratulations on setting such ambitious goals and pursuing them!
    I sometimes joke that we need more people in “creative reading” programs than “creative writing,” which is overflowing.
    Good critics have been an important part of the literary stream, and you seem well on your way in that direction.
    Here’s to more great reading!

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