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?

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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.

Do you, uh, Goodread(s)?

Like a lot of people, I’m on Goodreads.  And thanks to Goodreads I’ve learned some unexpected things about myself.

For example:  I’m a biblio-polygamist.  Uh-huh. *Nods sadly* I, too, find it shocking.

According to GoodReads (and I have no reason to doubt them) I’m “Currently Reading” seven books.  SEVEN BOOKS!  All at once!  I obviously have commitment issues I wasn’t aware of.  Or A.D.D.  Or some kind of sleep disorder.  The possibilities are endless.  So if you’ve been wondering about the lack of posts and reviews last month… well there you have it.

Anywhere, here’s a few things to keep everyone busy while I’m playing catch up.

  • TNBBC on GoodReads is hosting a fantastic conversation with Alan Heathcock about his short story collection VOLT.  He’ll be answering questions and talking about his work for  the month of November.  VOLT is on the top of my “Currently Reading” pile.  It’s dark and creepy and emotionally devastating.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
  • Speaking of Lori over at TNBBC – she’s a huge supporter of Better World Books Getting a headstart on your holiday shopping?  This organization donates a book to a community in need for every book you purchase.  That’s 2 gifts for the price of 1 (Gosh you’re generous!). And then there’s the whole good karma thing.   Just follow this link to start shopping!
  • Read all about the Review Haiku at BOOKRIOT.  This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this – the Village Voice used to run film review haikus (usually for bad films).  They may still do.  It’s been years since I read the paper.  There’s just something about the 5-7-5 formula that lends itself to snarkiness, to paraphrase Amanda Nelson.  Here’s a link to her post. I highly recommend her haiku review for The Giver. Hilarious.
  • And KevinfromCanada has posted the results of the Shadow Gillar Prize.  And the winner is… not telling.  Go over to his blog and check it out.  Kimbofo at Reading Matters & Trevor at The Mookse and the Gripes (two of my favorite blogs) participated on the jury, so you can read more about the shadow jury & the selection process in their older posts.
  • And, please, use the comment section to share your story. Reading promiscuity is no joke!