The most ridiculous meet-me-in-the-middle reading goal of 2018 that I hope I don’t regret!

Here’s Why . . .

I noticed that each year I write goals for Grab the Lapels, and those goals aren’t well-planned. I swear to read more black women, more LGBT writers, more graphic novels, books from other continents, books about fat women, books I own, more memoirs, more short story collections. And to some extent, I achieve these goals. But I don’t really have actual numbers that I want to achieve, which I realized after reading Fiction Fan’s “New Year’s Resolutions” post. Thus, my end-of-the-year post is pretty squiffy: “I think I may have achieved some bookish-type things and reading?” That’s how I sound.

Also, I bought a lot of books in 2017. The moment I saw those books, I loved them. The problem is I feel guilty that I have other books I own and haven’t read, so I end up feeling bad about whatever I read, like I’m wasting time, money, books, life, who knows. Getting organized always helps me reduce my anxiety!

anxiety
Image from Buzzfeed.

I have some vague goals for my reading:

  1. Keep reading fat female characters — because I want/need to.
  2. Read books by black women — because I love Black lit and have studied it a lot. Many books I buy are by black women!
  3. Read books I bought — because I have a TBR pile that’s scaring my husband.
  4. Have some room for flexibility — because I’m in a book club, and also because some books I need to read to help me get through a situation/emotion.

The Plan . . .

I’m actually good at sticking to plans, so here’s what’s what: my goal is to read/review one book per week. This is a reasonable goal given that I’m teaching three college courses (two of those in a correctional facility) and leading 8 capstone projects.

But I can’t read just any books.

  1. A book from the fat fiction list.
  2. The oldest book added on my Goodreads TBR shelf.
  3. The newest book added on my Goodreads TRB shelf.
  4. A random book (book club, mood fits, etc.)

I made a big spread sheet to get myself organized, meaning the books are all picked. The only rule I imposed is that I wouldn’t use any books by men that I added, and I wouldn’t use books in a series. If I did, the series would be spread out for months. All the books from Goodreads that I added were from the pile of books I own. If I’m reading the oldest and newest books I added, eventually I’m going to meet in the middle of my TBR pile!

challenges

I may also do other reviews if I end up reading more than one book per week. That often happens in the summer when I’m not as busy. But I’ll start each month with a post introducing the four books so you know what’s coming. After a poll/conversation on Twitter that I started, I decided I’ll also be adding short bookish posts about what I’m up to and your posts that made an impact on me. In addition, I want to add my thoughts about you. For instance, I was reading a Smithsonian Magazine article about Russia and wanted to tell Fiction Fan, but didn’t. Or legal issues that I want to gab with Amal about! Or some new fantasy series I’m reading and want to get Alicia’s perspective. There are just a few examples; I have so many! One post (a book review) a week suffices, but just, so I’m getting more social in 2018!

Wish Me Luck!

salute.gif
Image from the film School of Rock.
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71 comments

  1. It sounds to me as though you have a sane plan for your reading this year. I give you credit for thinking about your goals and putting together some sort of structure, even if you don’t have specific numbers in mind. I look forward to what you do with the blog this year. – Happy New Year!

    • My college, partnered with the University of Notre Dame, began offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in 2013. These kinds of programs are always in danger because it depends on if the current administration is into Pell grants for inmates or not. Bill Clinton destroyed Pell grants, but Barack Obama brought some back. I’m not feeling great about Trump, but we shall see. I have a very hard time fully answering why I wanted to get into teaching in prison. It’s very challenging and stressful, but the students are also more dedicated than any I’ve met at a conventional college campus. One of the more interesting points is that I have to be creative about how I teach; I had to work to get a chalkboard in the room, and there are only a few computers, which not everyone can get to all the time.

  2. I really like the idea of picking from the oldest on the TBR and the newest and so meeting in the middle. I’m always trying to read books that have been in my TBR a long time (years!) but then feel like I’m missing out in newer reads. Good luck!

  3. Hurrah! A spreadsheet! Everyone should have a bookish spreadsheet! (And thanks for the link. 🙂 ) I find setting specific goals helps me put some kind of structure to my reading but, like you, I like to leave a bit of room for flexibility too. Hope you have fun with your new goals, and I like the sound of your non-review posts too.

    Tell me, what are capstone projects?

    • A capstone is typically a project at the end of a degree that makes the student bring all their learning and experiences together. At my college, that means the student must talk about their service learning (required work in the community), internship (everyone must do one), their global studies (most students end up abroad for a few weeks; my college has them go places where a lot of people live in poverty — cities in Peru, Ghana, India — instead of the typical posh semester-in-Paris study abroad I see), and then their academic experiences on the campus. It’s a 30 minute presentation in front of a panel that judges the capstone. I would be preparing students for that presentation.

  4. Is it terrible that I think vague goals are the best goals? As someone who will push herself to make sure a goal is met after committing to it, vague goals help me give myself a little freedom. I have an upcoming goals post and like you will probably make it a little vague. I can only imagine how big your TBR pile is that it is scaring your husband. Is it taller than you yet? I’d love to discuss some more fantasy with you! Hoping you have a wonderful 2018!

    • It IS taller than me. I have a certain bookshelf for TBR books. Above the shelf is a picture of gummi bears. I always said the pile of books ON TOP of the shelf would never go above the gummi bear picture. Well, in 2017 it did 😬

      • Yikes. Well, if it make you feel better, the two smaller shelves I use for my TBR books are completely full and I always believed I would read enough of my own books (and hold off on the book buying) for this to never happen. My last quarter book haul post goes up tomorrow and it’s pretty shameful >_<

  5. I would like to start off by saying I am loving the new blog layout & design! I’m sure you redid it ages ago, but I’m just now seeing it. Kuddos to you!

    Ok, now that I’m done ogling your blog… I love your plan to accomplish your “vague reading goals.” It seems totally doable to read & review 4 books a month & to take each book from one of your categories! I’m doing something similar where I plan to read (at least) 3 review books, 2 book club books, and 1 physical TBR book every month. I am in a similar situation where my physical TBR has gotten totally out of control… like I’ve ran out of room to hold my books out of control. No worries though! I plan on ordering a new bookcase soon 🙂 Think my husband will notice?

    Good luck in 2018!

    • I only changed my blog layout a few weeks ago because I noticed the look I was using didn’t support widgets on the homepage. If you want to be sneaky about the books you buy, you could head toward ebooks; no one sees those 😂

  6. I love your plan and look forward to reading your posts and enlightening thoughts. Thank you! 🙂 And,Happy New Year!

  7. Oh my gosh, this level of planning and goal setting has me gasping for air even though I know the level of specificity is what the gurus advocate for anyone making a plan or setting goals. If it works for you then Go for it. I know I wouldn’t be able to do this because I don’t like the idea of reading to an agenda. This year I think I’m going to avoid any project which involves making a list of books to read. I’m useles at following them through.

    • I guess I was trying to take my random goals and figure out a way to make them happen, so this worked for me! Being organized on Goodreads actually did most of the work for me. I used to add books willy nilly on that site, but it becomes useless after a point if one doesn’t have a plan for how to track books on Goodreads. Are you not doing the 20 Books of Summer this year? I don’t plan too. It’s a bit much. Plus, I usually do challenges to get closer to another blogger, but Cathy has so many people who partake in the challenge that I actually see less of her in the summer!

      • I plead guilty as charged to the offence of having a completely disorganised Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf….. I did figure out a way to add a did not finish shelf which meant my stats for the number of books read in each year were not getting screwed up. I’m going to skip 20 books of summer this year and in fact pretty much all challenges. More on this soon 🙂

        • There are several libraries I have access to in the area, so I made a shelf for each. I mark books that I own, and I have a Kindle and Nook shelf. Finally, if a book didn’t at the library and I haven’t bought it, I have a to buy-shelf I put it in. Although it initially took time to organize, I like organizing things and have since been able to easily use the system. I can’t wait to see what you are up to, Karen!

          • I like the To Buy idea. I had the standard To Read shelf but realised last year it was a mash up of books I already had and those I wanted to buy so created a new Owned but Unread shelf. I also add categories to indicate the nationality of the author but often forget to include those. Lisa at ANZ lit lovers introduced me to the idea of using the private notes field to add info on where I had read about the book since I was always forgetting if it had been recommended to me or I saw it in a newspaper review.

              • I like to do that too but found I couldnt remember who it was recommended the book. Now I have no excuses except if it was something I added to Goodreads many years ago since my brain cannot retain that amount of info.
                You prompted me to clean up my shelves so I spent an hour or so this morning creating one which is truely a wishlist (ie I would like to read the book but don’t have it) and ones I want to read and already have the book. They were all mushed together before. Thank you for setting a good example 🙂

  8. My mum used to teach elementary and high school maths in a men’s prison and it was one of her favourite jobs that she’s ever had–she loved it so much and still talks about going back to it some time. How do you find teaching in a correctional facility? (I would love to do it but people who are incarcerated are hardly going to be able to train as nurses).

    This is an impressive level of planning and a clever idea to try and make your reading meet in the middle of your TBR-I shall be interested to see how you find it!

    • I find that the hardest part is always working with the correctional officers. Some of them do things differently or have different rules, so I’m always trying to figure out what they want and do that because the C.O. is there for my safety. The students themselves are like a room full of your most attentive students at any college, but are likely to have the same excuses and complaints as any other college student, too!

      Actually, a lot of prisons need nurses to work in the facility. Some places teach hygiene and basic health, too, so a nurse would be good in that role. Ask your mom and see what she can find out.

  9. I don’t need to wish you good luck – sounds like everything is under control already. Looking forward to the new format, ie. Review posts and ‘discussion’ posts.

    • Thanks, Bill! Surely, every time I watch an episode of World’s Deadliest Animals I will think of you and ask how you’ve survived in Australia and is it because you have a truck to run the scariest creatures over.

  10. I really like the Meet in the Middle TBR plan! That’s a great idea. My goal is to read the book I’ve had on my Goodreads TBR the longest – a Jane Austen (Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon) that’s been on there since 2008! 🙂

    • I was conflicted: if I had to read old books, wouldn’t I fail because I want to read new books I bought? Or what if something strikes me just right? This seemed like the best solution!

  11. This is a wonderful plan! It’s squishy enough that you won’t feel stifled by it, but also strict enough that you will have some measurable results at the end of the year. I don’t think this is ridiculous at all.

    I struggle with blog goals because I’m inconsistent with my tracking and the time I spend on my blog. I hope that you can find a solid stride for your reading, reviewing, and posting. Plus, I’m really excited to hear about some of the more personal aspects! I am with you on that. There are a few times I’ve read something and thought, “Oh wow. I wish Melanie was here to chat about this with me.” There are so many unique voices in this community; unique voices with VERY different life experiences than my own. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

    Good luck. *returns hilariously awkward salute*

  12. Ooh, I really like the idea of reading the oldest then the newest book on the TBR. I might even copy that! Because I buy lovely new books and then don’t get to read them for 11 months …

  13. Oh yay, I love that you’re planning to get more social! That’s one of my favourite aspects of this blogging thing, but often feel frustrated that I don’t have as much time for it as I would like. I always want to read and comment on other bloggers’ posts, but also don’t want to completely neglect my own – I find it hard to balance.
    Anyway, good luck with your plans!

    • I agree with you. There are times when I catch myself spending more time blog hopping than reading. I really tried to get that under control in 2017 when I stopped following all the blogs that don’t comment on my posts. Not necessarily every single post, because I know life happens, but at least regularly enough that I feel like I’m developing a relationship with the person.

  14. I’ll admit it. I clicked on this post because I saw a cat reading a book. You got me! 😉

    But, seriously, good luck with your 2018 reading goals! It seems like you have a great year of reading ahead!

  15. Good luck with your 2018 goals!! I’m also hoping to get through some of my own book stacks this year too. I’m such a mood reader that I can’t plan out what I’m going to read – I have to go off what I feel like reading. So, I’m totally impressed that you can plan your reading all out! That’s really cool! 🙂 Best of luck in 2018!

    • Thanks so much, Ami! So far, I’ve felt good about always knowing what to read next so I don’t have that weird lull where I’m not reading anything because I can’t decide or I’m not already involved in a book. It has caused small problems with authors who want to send me a new book; I don’t have space to fit them in.

  16. Love the oldest newest thing: And, of course, the meeting in the middle bit. I work with a version of that too. There’s my 20something project, for reading the books which have been unread on my own shelves for more than twenty years. And I also have had a rule for the past two years (in the third year now) where I had to finish reading all the books that I had purchased in a year before I could purchase books the following year; I only have a few left to read from 2017! (But I have hundreds of unread ones from before I started to work on this! Lest I sound like I’ve got everything all figured out. Nope.) Good luck with your 2018 plans!

    • Wow! That’s quite a collection. I have logged every book I own last weekend. If it’s a physical book, I dusted it and reorganized my shelves. All the TBR were labeled and put in a huge tote so they aren’t collecting dust. It was an eye-opening project that helped me think about my buying tendencies in my life at this point.

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