January: How Are My Goals Going So Far?

The first month of 2018 has flown by already, and I think it’s time for a bit of reflection. I haven’t really touched upon the personal goals I set myself for 2018, and I am not even going to talk about all of them in this blog post; I will be mentioning quite a number, however, and they are all non-bookish ones!

If you’re serious about sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions, I think January is crucial – if you can’t stick to it in the first month of the year, what hope is there for the remaining eleven? So don’t worry, I’m not going to be doing these every month, but I thought that as it is now the end of January, I would reflect on my progress so far! I am considering doing a monthly round up of this kind more often, one which focuses on things that happened in my personal life each month, so let me know if you think that would be interesting!

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I went to see at the Winter Lights in Canary Wharf on the weekend. It was such a nice atmosphere, and the lights were, unsurprisingly, stunning.

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My Favourite Kinds of Blog Posts

Two things I wish I did more are: write blog posts, and read blog posts. Since the start of 2018, I have been making more of an effort to scroll through my Twitter feed and WordPress Reader to read the content other bloggers have put out, but sadly since going back to school, I have had to revert back to two posts a week (as a maximum). Nonetheless, today I thought I would share the three types of blog posts I most love to read and write, and for each kind of blog post, I will also include links to my own blog posts, as well as links to some other blog posts. Honestly, this blog post could have been a mile long, but I decided to keep it down to three, as I thought this would lose some of its significance if I went on to list every type of blog post under the sun!

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2017 -> 2018

Happy New Year everyone – it’s time to look back on 2017! Now, I am completely aware that I am a little late for this, but it took me a while to decide what format I wanted to do it in. I eventually decided just to combine all the things I need for a 2017 wrap up; I kind of want to briefly touch upon everything, so that is what I’ve done! Below, in order you have: 2017 resolutions, favourites, highlights (both bookish and not) and my 2018 resolutions. Enjoy!

2017 resolutions: a review

  1. Go to YALC 2017 – I did this! It was fantastic and I had the most amazing time! You can read about the amazing time I had here!
  2. Complete some Reading Challenges – last year, I took part in the Beat the Backlist Challenge, and I set myself fifteen books to read that were released before 2017. It took me until early December, but I did finish this! I also set my own personal reading goal on Goodreads as 100 books, which I met on the December 31st at about 4pm, so very last minute!
  3. Diversify my reading – ‘diversify’ meaning I wanted to expand the genres I read to more than YA, and I definitely completed this challenge, reading way more classics and contemporary fiction than I ever have before! This has also been super helpful in terms of English A Level, which I started in September.
  4. Do NaNoWriMo – this did not happen. At all. I did not even attempt NaNoWriMo at any point last year. I really did not have the time or motivation for this in 2017, and I think this is a goal I will have to put aside for the time being.
  5. Continue building my Blogging Empire! – (and yes, I find this phrasing cringey. I was being sarcastic/overdramatic, but still. ugh) I did manage to blog every week throughout 2017, including through my GCSEs, which I am very proud of! I am hoping to do the same in 2018!

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Why DON’T people read? | discussion

We all have our own reasons to explain our love of reading, and it really is one of my favourite things to discuss – after all, what could be better than talking about our shared adoration of Harry Potter, or sharing our favourite childhood books? But outside of this amazing community, we all have friends and family who do not share this love of reading. In fact, I have heard from so many people that the reason they turned to blogging was because they had nobody to talk to about books in real life – that was certainly the case for me. So, today I thought I’d discuss something a little harder for us to relate to – why people don’t read.

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I’m actually gutted to have to admit this, but the primary reason I heard for why people don’t read is the internet. And most specifically, YouTube. Lots of my friends told me that they read a lot more when they were younger, and can link the age they discovered social media to when their love of reading ended. Of course, it can also be to do with a lack of time. Until recently, I found it so difficult to understand how some people simply didn’t have time to read, but the new school year has led to my free time diminishing hugely, and I have found myself really short of time to pick up a book. Often, I sacrifice sleep for reading time. For many people, reading is not what they feel like doing last thing at night when they’re ready to fall asleep, and if that’s the only time they have spare, then they just won’t read.

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Keeping a healthy reading attitude

Since starting Sixth Form, I have found myself with far less time to blog than I would like – if I’m lucky, I’ll have up to an hour before I go to bed for free time. And then it becomes a choice between blogging or reading, because there’s honestly no time for me to do both and get a decent night’s sleep. Since I’m taking English Literature A Level, and want to do lots of extra reading for this subject, this means I’ve had to change my reading patterns quite a bit over the last month or so.

I have talked a bit about the classics I’ve been reading over the past few months on this blog, but I haven’t talked much about how I’ve balanced it with my other reading – until recently, I read almost exclusively YA, so this was quite a change. I know that a lot of people drift away from YA when ‘expand’ their reading, but I’ve never felt the need to choose between the two.

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Reading goals: productive or limiting?| discussion

Hello, lovely readers – it feels as if I’ve been very absent on this blog, and on Twitter the past couple of weeks. That is because, due to my outstanding organisation skills, all of my holiday work was left until the very last minute (and I am now back at school, starting A Levels. But more on that in another post, maybe?). But now I’m back, writing another discussion post!

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I’ve been thinking recently about reading slumps, and how having a TBR for each month may help prevent one. I know that, for me, a reading slump can often be brought on by not knowing what to read next – that is, what I feel like reading, what I should be reading, and so on. There’s too much choice, and that makes it feel like there is no choice at all. Therefore, by having a TBR every month, you can decide beforehand and then continue on from there. I also think that, if you set yourself a goal, you may strive harder to read the books you have set out to read, especially if you’ve blogged about it at the start of the month.

On the other hand, you may decide that you really don’t feel like reading a book on your monthly TBR, which could maybe lead to you not reading at all! If you’re struggling to read them all, wouldn’t that be stressful, and at the end of the month, kind of demoralising?

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Why YA?

Note: this was one of my English coursework pieces for GCSEs, and I thought I’d publish it on here now that results day is over (and also I got full marks for this so yeah).

YA literature. What is it? It’s astonishing how many people have no idea what I’m talking about when I say I’m a YA fan. YA (Young Adult) literature is aimed at anyone aged from twelve up to their early twenties, although it often reaches a wider audience. It is the bridge between literature for children and for adults, and whilst its readers understand the importance of YA fiction, many would barely consider it ‘proper’ literature. It’s topical, it’s accessible, and in my opinion it gets people reading more than any other genre. So why is it belittled by so much of the literary world?

Reading is important. This is a fact that is almost universally acknowledged by society; it helps to build our vocabulary and literary skills, to broaden our imaginations, and to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. For these reasons, children are encouraged to read from the moment they are physically able to, and rightly so. However, the very people who preach about the importance of reading to children throughout their childhood look down on the widest, most relevant genre in literature for teenagers, which is most likely to inspire them to read.

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a thing about belonging

I just got back from holidaying abroad, and I recently spent five days in a beautiful hotel resort with some family friends. I’ve been to this place eight times before; we visit almost annually. The first times I went, I was about seven years old, and I now look forward to this trip all year round. As well as it being my favourite place in the world, I also love the group we go with; there’s eleven of us, five adults and six children. We have started a tradition, and there’s just something about tradition that’s so . . . warming, if that makes sense.

A group of us all climbing into bed early in the morning, with our rooibos teas and coffees; this has gone on year after year, with us growing too big for just one double bed, but squeezing in nonetheless. Sitting on the beach as the sun set, with wine for the adults and cool drinks for the young’uns (a very big deal to child-me, who was usually limited to water and orange squash). And every year, we would collect cowries on the beach, as many as we could find. I think we were told as children that cowries were rare, and from that moment on they were like gold to us. But now, the value comes from the tradition. Tradition and words spoken to young, spongy minds. That’s what causes us, fully grown almost-adults, to scour the beach for tiny shells that we know will be lost as soon as we’re home. I have found nine cowries this holiday.

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is it worth finishing a bad book? | discussion

Reading books, reviewing books, blogging about books – books take up a huge amount of our time. As readers we consume plot after plot, filling our heads with new stories on a regular basis. But how often do we find ourselves reading something dull? Or farfetched, or poorly written, or just bad?

Honestly, this doesn’t happen to me as much as it used to, as since starting this blog I pay much more attention to the books I’m choosing to read. And when it does, before I even worry about whether to review the book or not, and how many stars to give it, I have to think about if I even want to finish reading.

On the one hand, it is important to read books you don’t like so much – it helps shape your tastes as a reader, and in future you’ll know what genres and plots to steer away from. To a degree, it also depends on the book, and where it came from; if you’re a blogger, maybe you requested the book for review, and so feel obligated to finish it. Or maybe a friend gave it to you to read, and you want to see it through to the end for their sake. If a book is problematic, it may be worth finishing it so that you can voice your opinion in a review (although, is always the option of a DNF review). And if it’s a ‘marmite’ book, personally I would want to read it, if only to form my own opinion. There’s also another plus, one that’s quite simple: it will count towards your Goodreads total – because if you’ve made a start, surely it’d be a waste of time to give up?

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Does blogging change you as a reader? | discussion

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Ever since I was old enough to pick up a book and understand the words on the page, I have been reading. Starting with Biff and ChipThe Rainbow Fairies and Harry Potter, I have felt my reading develop throughout my life. I started my blog in October 2016 – not even a year ago, but the way in which I read has already been transformed completely.

Firstly, I read a lot more. For about a year or so prior to starting my blog, my reading had slowed down a fair amount. I still always had a book on the go, but I just did not prioritise reading. Now, however, I try to give myself at least an hour to read every day, preferably more. This is because there is just so much to read – books I requested and need to read in order to review them, books I have marked down for various reading challenges or events, and of course, the books on my ever-growing TBR. And on top of that are those random books that I pick up, and then buy/borrow, books that I’ve never heard of before and that don’t fit into any of the above categories, but still demand to be read. So yeah. Lots more reading gets done now. And running a blog, and having a community to share my opinions with makes reading feel rewarding in an entirely new way.

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