Starting 2016 A Little Late This Year

Happy 2016!  I’ve never been a consistent reviewer and, true to form, it’s been some time since I last posted. But while I’ve been taking the last couple months off I haven’t been entirely relaxing. Completely the opposite, in fact.  I’ve been working on submissions outside of this blog – something I want to do more of in the future and which will (by necessity) change the content of the posts you’ll find here.

Are you surprised?  Does any of this sound familiar?  I’ve noticed a lot of posts lately, by some of my favorite bloggers, saying much the same thing.  Bloggers burned out by the daily grind of keeping up a blog, finding it difficult to balance their online & offline lives or just wanting to focus more on submitting their work to places that might pay. Many of these blogs, like mine, came online around 2009 – which leads me to wonder why we all seem to be feeling the same way at the same time. A case of the seven  year itch perhaps?

Displaying 20160119_064006.jpg
Emma, who has eaten so many of the books reviewed on this blog that there was really no choice but to make her a mascot.

Submitting reviews while still creating content here is obviously going to create some challenges.  My posts are still going to be about books and translations – this will remain a literary blog – so the reviews aren’t going away.  Mostly because I’ve never been much of a personal essayist. I’m not a particularly private person, it isn’t that, but my private life isn’t particularly interesting. And I really love writing reviews.  Yet there’s no denying that this blog has grown stale – probably for you as much as for me. That’s something I hope to change going forward.

If all goes as planned 2016 is going to be a busy year. And for my first official post of the New Year let’s start with Reading & Writing Goals of 2016.

I always sign up for the GoodReads Reading Challenge. Even though after 3 years of trying I still haven’t hit my goal. This year I’m going for 60 books and I’m already 3 books behind! But part of my reading goals for 2o16 is to actually spend more time reading. Doesn’t everyone feel like they have less and less time these days?  To combat the hyper-acceleration of modern life (yep, I went there!) I’m working on a major restructuring of how I live. More about that later this week.  (Here’s a hint: a certain Japanese book is part of my plan).  Back to Goodreads –  who else is taking part  in the challenge and how many books have you set as your goal? Let me know in the comments.

What’s on the reading list?  Translations, of course.  But also some non-fiction. Last year there was no plan – no rhyme or reason as to what I was reading. And I prefer to have a plan.  I was discussing the blog with a friend and she brought up a series on gardening books I did the first year of the blog.  Those are some of my favorite posts because I was able to explore a single subject in-depth.  In hindsight two factors made that series possible.  First, I wasn’t getting as many review copies back then.  More often than not the mail tends to dictate what I read now.  This isn’t a bad thing – I’m definitely NOT complaining. I’ve been introduced to authors and publishers and books from all over the world – and am hugely grateful for the education and the opportunities that have resulted.  But last year I was reading by the seat of my pants.  Which leads to the second factor – planning. Series like the one on gardening take some advance planning.  There needs to be more of that here in 2016.  The goal is that every month is going to have a unifying theme and/or focus.  Not necessarily reading books from a single country or a region for a month.  I’m thinking of more abstract ideas –  sometimes it will be a personal writing challenge I set myself, or a type of book, a specific subject or idea. I’ve got a few things planned but am always open to suggestions.

Lastly, expect more experimentation. The majority of posts on this blog have been straightforward reviews of translations.  And you’ll still find those here.  But there will also be more nonfiction, more interviews, more opinions and news pieces (I’ve become a bit obsessed with traditional journalism over the last few months)…  and maybe my version of creative writing.  We’ll see.  The real goal this year is to mix things up a little.

Goodbye to 2012 and Hello! to 2013

To state the blatantly obvious:  December has been a slow month at BookSexy Review.  I’m not a huge fan of end of year lists, so have been embracing the downtime to recharge and re-examine.  2012 was the best of times and the worst of times… at least in my reading/blogging life.   Here are some of the highs and the lows:

The BEST – The 2012 Goodreads Reading Challenge. The Challenge is reminiscent of the Summer Reading Contests at the public library when I was a kid.  I don’t know if they still have them, but every summer you’d sign up and the librarian would track your reading for three months.  At the end your name would be entered into a drawing for a prize – I remember one year it was a plush raven.  Even without the possibility of winning a stuffed animal, there’s something eminently satisfying about marking a book “finished” and watching the bar increase as you draw closer to your goal.  Or measuring your progress against your friends.   Or just comparing your list of read books to the previous years.  Biblio-geekiness combined with competition…  I’ve already entered my goal for 2013.

The WORST – Epic failure to reach my goal for the 2012 Goodreads Reading Challenge.  I read more books than last year, but still failed to reach my (unknowingly) over-ambitious quota.  Even more tragic was losing a side bet with Lori at TNBBC’s Blog.  She buried me and later this month I expect to face the consequences…  Brace yourselves, readers, because it won’t be pretty.

The BEST – Book Bloggers.  2012 was a stellar year when it came to connecting with other book bloggers.  Between Book Expo and the bookish community I’ve met through Twitter – there are some talented bloggers out there doing incredible work for the love of reading.  This is by no means a complete list, but TNBBC, PickyGirl, Kimbofo/Reading Matters, Levi Asher, Gav & Simon from The Readers, MookseandtheGripes, Stu/Winstonsdad, RobAroundBooks, AmyReads, the InsatiableBooksluts, Alix, Biblibio, Lisa/ANZLitLover – you all made my year richer and I can’t wait to see what everyone will be up to in 2013.

The BEST – Small Presses, Those Bloggers Again & Translations.  The majority of the books I read this year – at least 90% – have been either translations or International authors.  Despite the infamous 3% Problem, I had a suprisingly easy time of it.  The credit goes to many of the bloggers listed above (particularly to the bloggers in Australia, Scotland & England who tipped me off to books that were still finding their way into America) and to small & university presses willing to take a chance on authors who don’t write in English.

The WORST – Actually, I’ve got nothing.  Thankfully, there’s been more BEST than WORST to remember.  Well, maybe that Philippe Claudel book.  The more I think about it the more it irks me.  Walter Moers’ had a great quote about Waiting for Godot (disguised as an Ugglian play in The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books) which could just as easily be applied to The Investigation“The theme of the play may be despair at the futility of existence, but wouldn’t it be possible to handle the subject in a somewhat more entertaining and less redundant way?  And, to be honest, hasn’t this outlook on the world become a bit long in tooth these days – if a world outlook can be said to have teeth?… It’s possible that at the time of its premier…the play possessed a certain philosophical potency, but isn’t it also possible that this has dissipated over the years?…”

The BEST – I was all over the internet this year!  Well, all over my small, modest, bookish niche of the internet.  I contributed my first review to the legendary blog LitKicks, took part in an episode The Readers Summer Book Club (my first podcast!), hosted a Walter Moers Blog Tour, was mentioned on Harriet: the Poetry Foundation’s blog and was invited to take part in Triple Choice Tuesday at Reading Matters.  It was fun escaping from my little blog fiefdom and I’m looking forward to doing more of it in 2013.

The BEST –  BookSexy Review readers.  Thank you for all your comments and support in 2012.  I was able to read and review so many incredible books this year (and some not so incredible, let’s be honest).  Hopefully I did them all justice and you found something here to add to your own bookshelves.  Happy New Year, everyone!   May your 2013 be filled with peace, happiness and lots of reading!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine