My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the third of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in or my second quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of July, August, and September, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: Completed
I’ve definitely smashed through this challenge this year, to the point that I’m considering whether or not to up it to at least 75 books, or maybe 100 if I’m feeling especially industrious.  I’m currently sitting pretty at 67 though so I’ve upped my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 75.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing-ish
I’m getting better at writing reviews in general, even for books I was just so-so on but these reviews are rarely ever written on time. I like to leave a little bit of time between finishing a book and reviewing it, to let it really sink it etc. (and also because I’m lazy), but it’s just a joke sometimes. Must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
I’m really trying to get into a proper weekly schedule and, for the most part, I think I’m getting there. I’m now aiming to have 4-5 posts a week up, and these are usually a mixture of tags, weekly memes, discussions, TBRs, and reviews – I’d like to have more reviews and discussions and less tags but I’m happy-ish with the direction my blog is headed in. Actually scheduling ahead of time really helps me to read more of other people’s blogs and leave comments – I’m now trying to write my posts for the week ahead on a weekend but that doesn’t always happen.

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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the second of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of April, May, and June, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’m sitting pretty at 46 books which Goodreads informs me is 20 books ahead of schedule. Let us take a moment to bask once more in the glow of that meaningless and arbitrary accolade, shall we? Back in Quarterly Check-in #1 I was wondering whether to up my Goodreads goal to 75 books but I’ve decided now not to do that. Whilst I’m sure it’s an achievable number, I want to concentrate on reading some longer books over the summer and I don’t want to constantly be thinking in the back of my head about my Goodreads goal – so at 52 books it shall stay!

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
Let me explain something – if I dislike a book, I find it infinitely easier to write a review explaining why me and the book didn’t get along very well. A recent case in point is Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. When it comes to a book I liked, if I loved it I will be high and delirious on the buzz of all the feelings and I will then happily skip onto reading my next book, forgetting to write a review. Skip forward a few weeks and then I have a moment of realisation that I never did write that gushing review about that book I loved. At that point I start to feel that perhaps too much time has passed for me to properly convey my adoration so the review remains unwritten. This is a silly cycle to get trapped into and I must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
For a while back there I was on something of a roll with posting to a vaguely regular schedule. And I wouldn’t say I’m failing this goal because I do still post a decent enough amount of things every week – it’s just that in recent days and weeks I’m feeling a bit disheartened about the quality of my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love participating in weekly memes and all that jazz but I do find myself settling on doing posts like this because they’re “easy posts” for me to write and don’t require huge amounts of thought on my part. I’d like to have more discussion posts and reviews and interesting content. Truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve been truly 100% happy with any of my posts and I constantly struggle to find the right tone for my blog given my academic literature background but desire to appeal also to a more popular audience. (Maybe that in itself is worth a blog post to unpack some of those feelings – would that be of interest to anyone?)

4. Read at least 4 classics

Verdict: Completed!
Guys, guys, guys, I’ve actually completed a goal – yay! I’ve read Hard Times by Charles Dickens, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, Howards End by E.M. Forster, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Ok, ok, so Atwood probably counts a modern classic at a push, but it’s still considering a classic so I’m completely allowing myself this one. I didn’t even have to think “ugh maybe I should read a classic”, I just found myself picking up A Room with a View and then that led to me realising I found Forster’s style very readable and then I followed it up with Howards End and voila, here we are. It feels good to actually have something completed and so early in the year – but I suspect that’s because this was an easily quantifiable goal and I set the bar pretty low… even so, I’ll take it!

5. Be mindful of Reading Challenges and actually complete them!

Verdict: On Track
In terms of the Goodreads Challenge and the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge, I’m on track. For Around the Year we’re at week 27 and I’m at 36 out of 52 books which is not too bad at all. As for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, I’m no longer failing it quite as spectacularly as I was at my first quarterly check-in – I’ve now completed 8 out of 24 challenges which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t brilliant but it’s definitely better than I was doing. Must keep these challenges more in the back of my head as they will definitely require some tailored TBRs for me. And finally as far as Mount TBR goes, I’ve achieved Pike’s Peak (yay!) and am now aiming for Mount Blanc which means another 12 books – I got this, guys.

6. Explore more TV shows/films

Verdict: Failing
Unless you count watching far too many episodes of Police Interceptors as “progress” then, yeah, I’m failing this quite spectacularly. Case in point: yesterday when stuck on a train journey I chose to re-watch Ed Byrne’s Different Class rather than watch The Circle which I had not seen and wanted to. I ALWAYS choose re-watching for the sake of nostalgia/assured enjoyment and I need to stop doing this and let myself explore some new TV and film.

PERSONAL GOALS

 

1. Exercise more regularly

Verdict: Failing
So I changed jobs during quarter 2 which has meant that my walk to/from work has shortened considerably. However, that 10 minute (as opposed to 20 minute) walk in on a morning is now uphill and at speed because I panic about being late. And the downhill walk on the way to the station to get home is also at speed because otherwise I’d miss a train by like 2 minutes and have to wait for the next one. All of this is a way of procrastinating talking about what I really should be talking about… the gym. Ha hahahahaha ha ha. yeah, no, the gym is taking my money for no reason at all since I couldn’t tell you the last time I went. A combination of sheer laziness, lack of motivation, and near-constant blisters on the back of my feet making wearing my gym shoes uncomfortable have all meant I haven’t been in a while. It’s gonna hurt when I do but I know I need to work on my fitness. Sigh.

Also, if any of you happen to know of any beginners yoga videos online can you hook me up? I’m not so much about the mind-clearing and meditation aspects of it but I really need to improve my core strength, stability, and flexibility so I’d greatly appreciate any recommendations.

2. Experiment and find a skincare routine that works

Verdict: On Track
I’m still loving the St Ive’s face scrub in my morning shower but I’m yet to find a day cream that I really like. I continue to use No. 7 but I’m still vaguely suspicious that, despite its claims, it’s not actually the best thing for my sensitive skin. Will report back more later.

3. Travel more

Verdict: On Track
Ok so technically I haven’t been anywhere much since my last check-in (aside from tagging along with Liz and her parents on a lovely day trip to the Lake District which remains stunning by the way) but I do have a pretty damn exciting holiday planned – I’m going to Washington DC and New York! This is all down to Liz being amazed and getting flights but yeah we’re popping over to Washington for a few days to see all the sights and then we’re on a train to NYC for a couple of days and seeing Phantom on Broadway. I’m so ridiculously excited I can’t even begin to explain. Also, if you have recs for places to eat and/or things to do in DC or NYC, please let me know!

4. Allow myself to write more

Verdict: Failing
As I stated in my previous check-in: “I need to let myself write more, whether that is working on that novel I abandoned during NaNoWriMo or trying to get inspiration for some kind of new project. Or maybe I should just allow myself to write more reviews, for a start.” Nothing has changed since and I agree with that previous statement.

Overall

As we stand at the mid-way point of the year, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on a lot of my goals. I’m on-track mostly with my blogging and reading related goals, it’s just my “real life” and personal ones that could do with some much needed attention. That’s pretty par for the course for my life in general, to be perfectly honest. As the weather gets better though, my excuses for the exercise and travel goals really don’t really hold much weight and I will hopefully be trying to address these in the coming months.

Did you make New Years’ Resolutions or goals for this year?
How are you doing at achieving them?


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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

I have a horrible tendency of setting New Year’s Resolutions and then promptly forgetting about them completely until 1st January of the following year when I start setting new ones for the year ahead. Obviously that defeats the entire point of having goals to begin with, so I’ve decided to do quarterly ‘check-ins’ with my goals and progress, partly to keep me accountable but mostly to force me to remember to actively work towards achieving resolutions rather than having them become utterly pointless. This is the first check-in, so I’ll do a quick look at each of my 2017 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 2017 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing…

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’ve read 26 books and Goodreads informs me that I am well on track to completing the arbitrary 52 books goal I set myself as I am 14 books ahead of schedule. Thank you, Goodreads, that’s very good to know, I shall bask in the glow of that meaningless accolade. I know my own reading pace, and I know it fluctuates, so setting a book a week seemed like a manageable goal, and I have previously achieved it. Maybe I can even get to 75 books this year – is that too ambitious? We’ll see how I’m feeling when I get to Quarterly Check-in #2.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
I really need to  buck up my ideas when it comes to writing reviews. Sometimes, it’s much easier to write a review for a book you hated – does anyone else ever feel that? My A Court of Thorns and Roses review just spewed out onto the page/screen so easily, whereas trying to explain why I love Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy is a bit harder and so I keep putting it off which is silly because of course I want to gush about the books I love, that’s part of the whole point of this blog in the first place. Must do better.

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My 2017 Resolutions

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over… and a new one just begun… 

Ok, ok, relax, I promise I will stop singing before I really get started! But, if it wasn’t obvious from that introductory lyric, or from the title, this is my Resolutions post. Yes, that’s right everyone, once again I pretend that I’m actually going to work productively towards improving various aspects of my life.

(I’m not even going to talk about my 2016 resolutions; let us just say I achieved very few of them. I will do better this year. I’m determined.)

I like resolutions. Even if they’re never fulfilled, it’s good to aim for the stars, then even if you fall a little short, at least you’ve still aimed for something higher than just the same old same old.

That being said, I’ve said this before and not done anything about it – I am a serial re-watcher and re-reader. There’s always something comforting about re-experiencing something with which you’re very familiar – you already know you love it, you know how it ends, and there are no nasty hidden surprises along the way. Books, films, tv shows, life… I’m very happy to get comfy in this comfort zone of mine and never let myself experience the new in the wide world outside of the bubble. (There’s a reason why I have this Vampire Weekend lyric on my About page – “You know I love the past ’cause I hate suspense”.)

Being comfy is… fine… but it also means you don’t get to discover new things and, potentially, new favourites which you’d then want to re-experience to your heart’s content. I want to change that so badly. So I need to stop saying I’ll watch/read/do more in the future and just fucking do it. (Pardon the French!) A lot of my 2017 Resolutions below are in the spirit of this attitude, so let’s just get right to it…

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2016 Bookish Resolutions

Confession time: I completely forgot that I had made a 2015 Bookish Resolutions post. I’m not sure exactly when that post – and the resolutions contained therein –  disappeared from my conciousness but, as can be seen from how many I actually completed, I really didn’t stick the plans I set for myself in 2015. Let us briefly review those “best laid plans” …

  1. Stay on top of required reading – ACHIEVED (I graduated MA with Distinction this year so I must have done something right!)
  2. Write TBRs that are actually manageable, realistic, and appealing. – SEMI-ACHIEVED (only since I stopped writing official TBRs altogether)
  3. Write a review, even just a sentence or two, no matter how incoherent/flaily, for every single book/play/poem I read this year. – SEMI-ACHIEVED (I wrote a lot more reviews that I had previously but not for every single book)
  4. Give everything I read some kind of rating. – ACHIEVED (It was a fairly simple goal though!)
  5. Make blog posts/videos more regularly. – ACHIEVED (I’m certainly blogging more than I used to)
  6. Have more structure to the blog posts/videos. – SEMI-ACHIEVED (I have started to participate more in readathons and weekly memes such as Top 5 Wednesday and Friday Reads. I still like to make more thoughtful discussion-based posts, however.)
  7. Be more mindful of what I am reading, using Book Riot and Reading Challenge for guidance – SEMI-ACHIEVED (42/50 on the Popsugar Reading Challenge and 15/24 on Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge)

As for the extra text-specific goals I set myself? I failed… every single one of them. I hoped to right many a wrong by reading in their entirety (rather than piecemeal sections to pass a class) Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Hugo’s Les Misérables, and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Likewise I hoped to tackle as many Dickens’ novels as is possible. I did not do that. I had to read A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist for a Victorian Literature and Other Media class I took in Lent term but I don’t think I should count those since I had to complete them.

So I think we can all agree 2015’s Bookish Resolutions was a mixed bag of success and failure. However, because I never learn, I’ve decided to jump on this bandwagon once again and set myself some (hopefully) manageable reading goals for 2016. I’ve stopped making life resolutions because I never ever stick to them, so with those I might as well not bother – the reading ones, however, are sometimes accidentally achieved, so with that cynical mindset onwards to 2016…

  1. Read 52 books this year – it only works out as 1 per week so not too difficult
  2. Read at least 1 non-fiction book a month – I don’t read enough non-fiction but I’ve found a liking for it recently
  3. Get caught up with more series / finish series – this might be difficult to achieve with the likes of A Song of Ice and Fire but god loves a trier, right?
  4. Write a review for every single book I read – no matter how long or short, profound or ridiculous, the review is, I must write one for every book
  5. Keep a book journal – this should help enormously with resolution #4
  6. Read at least 4 of my longer “project books” – high contenders include Anna Karenina, Moby Dick, War and Peace, Les Misérables, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Goldfinch, and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell 
  7. Write more thoughtful blog posts – the weekly memes are nice and all and certainly useful jumping-off points if I need to hammer out a quick post late on a Friday night when I’m tired, but I can fall into the trap of mindlessly fulfilling the bare minimum of posts and I’d like to be more creative and thoughtful about posts and reviews this year, even if that means taking my time over them

I shall leave it at seven since that seems a nice magical number. I’m aware a lot of these are vague and difficult to measure but the book-specific resolutions really don’t seem to work for me so hopefully I’ll be more likely to actually keep these ones in mind as I’m choosing what to read in 2016.


How about you – have you set some 2016 bookish resolutions, what are they? How did your 2015 resolutions fare? Do you think resolutions are a waste of time since no one (read: I) reviews them until December when they realise they’ve accomplished none of them? Comment below!

2015 Bookish Resolutions

Well 2014 has come and gone – where the hell has it gone? seriously, I want a do-over – and though now might be the time for reflection, it is also the time to look onwards and maybe upwards. The cynic in me cannot allow me to be as optimistic and peppy about the dawn of a new year (it’s just time passing, guys, it’s just 23:59 flicking over to 00:00, it’s happened so many times before), I’m still going to whack out some book-related resolutions for 2015. Brought to you by foolhardy optimism and too-much-chocolate-consumed-in-the-past-week, here is my handily numbered 2015 bookish goals:

  1. Stay on top of required reading. Do NOT procrastinate by binge reading things such as the Anna and the French Kiss series and then find yourself unhealthily crying your way through reading some Renaissance play at 11pm the night before class. DO NOT.
  2. Write TBRs that are actually manageable, realistic, and appealing. Try to be mindful about each of these things
  3. Write a review, even just a sentence or two, no matter how incoherent/flaily, for every single book/play/poem I read this year. Bonus points if it’s coherent, bonus points if it’s a video or in a wrap-up post, but at the very least on Goodreads.
  4. Give everything I read some kind of rating, whether that’s in number of stars out of 5, out of 10 (with ridiculous .25 and .75 options when I just can’t settle between 3.5 and 4 out of 5). If possible, do this as soon as possible after reading.
  5. Make blog posts/videos more regularly. And tied into this…
  6. Have more structure to the blog posts/videos. Along with TBRs, monthly wrap-ups, try to organise sections better i.e. in lieu of reading (life, general chatter posts), monthly favourites, bookish discussions etc. etc.
  7. Be more mindful of what I am reading – quality over quantity here because 5 shitty quality YA books is not better than 1 well-written novel, despite what my Goodreads Challenge might think. To structure this goal I’m going to use the likes of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and this 2015 Reading Challenge.

I have a few more very specific goals essentially centred on finally getting through particular texts which I didn’t finish and you’ll notice a theme with these – they’re all ridiculously long and difficult:

  • Actually read Spenser’s Faerie Queene all the way through instead of just enough to pass a class
  • Revisit Milton’s Paradise Lost which received the same treatment as above in second year
  • Um maybe read Hugo’s Les Misérables – though let’s keep that one quiet because I wrote my dissertation on it and completely read it cover to cover *cough*
  • Finish Anna Karenina – I actually really enjoyed what I did read and it broke my heart a little to move it to my ‘started but didn’t finish’ shelf on Goodreads. Let’s see if I can change that in 2015!
  • Tackle as many Dickens’ novels as is possible. I have the complete set now, all pretty in Vintage editions, I have no excuse.

Like I said, these bookish goals/resolutions/promises-sure-to-be-broken are more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules (I couldn’t resist that reference) but I hope to help structure more thoughtful reading through these guidelines. Most importantly, in 2015, I want to shape my reading practices to include books that I really want to be reading/writing about rather than just trying to keep on top of the mountain of booktube recommended reads which have been stellar reads but shouldn’t completely rule my to-read lists quite as much they do!

What are your ‘resolutions’ for the upcoming year? Do you like to make New Years’ Resolutions in general or do you find them more of a hindrance than a help? Let me know in the comments below!

Resolutions

Aaaah 2012, the year I have looked forward to for 2 very particular reasons- Sherlock series 2 and The Hobbit Part 1. Yes, that really is it. Not the Olympics. Sorry, I’m not a fan, regardless of whether the best athletes in the world will happen to be walking around London this year. Yes I am a miserable cynic who reckons that, on the whole, it will be shit.

With a new year comes a new start for many as people make resolutions to watch their weight, exercise more, read more etc. etc. I would like to talk about why I don’t like to call these things ‘resolutions’ on account of the fact that as soon as you say that, you’re more than likely doomed to fail to complete it. Or at least, I definitely am. Over the last few years I have made countless attempts at resolutions from the likes of ‘cut out crap foods’, ‘lose weight’, ‘try to eat healthier’ (every permutation of that sentiment, believe me) to ‘read more proper books’ to ‘do work as soon as it is set, not the night/hour before it is due’. Generally, it’s safe to say that I failed A LOT on every single one of them. I often wonder whether it is just the fact that when you attach a word of significance to something, it adds pressure to you to do it – whether this pressure actually aids of hinders my efforts isn’t up for debate. Undoubtedly, it hinders it.

That being said, I’m going to make a ‘concerted effort’ I shall call it, to enact some changes. Not ‘resolutions’, noooo, that word is henceforth banished! I hope to do the following this year:

  1. Organise my time better – to ensure work isn’t always done the night before it’s due and I still have time to do the things I like.
  2. Watch more new films – I tend to obsess over old favourites but I ought to remember that every ‘old favourite’ was once a ‘new film’ to me. Same goes for TV shows and books.*
  3. Try to be more optimistic/less anxious – do not think of what can go wrong in any given situation, instead just do it and see what happens.*

*This, I think, is worth reflection. Because it’s not just about books/films/tv shows, it reveals something deeper about my character I reckon. I am, by nature, someone who likes to be settled. Any new situation causes me to be anxious, to think of everything that could go wrong about it and, because of that, I shy away from new things/people/experiences. It’s not healthy for me, it means I get stuck in a rut. I wish I wasn’t like that. I think it’s a self-esteem thing, I worry that I will fail or not enjoy something so, to save myself that negative reaction, I just don’t take the plunge. Clearly, that isn’t good. I need to let go of the anxieties I create. I need to… live more. As Oscar Wilde said (in one of my favourite quotes in the sidebar): “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that’s all.”