Looking at your overall 2018 aspirations from last year’s post, did you accomplish everything you set out to? What do you regret not accomplishing?
Ardis: My main goals going into 2018 were regularity and diversity. While it’s clear I didn’t do well when it comes to reading and posting reviews regularly, I did enjoy introducing more varied fare into my reading docket. Overall, I feel happy with my accomplishments but not like I knocked it out of any parks.
Byron: I had to pull up last year’s post to even remember what my aspirations were! It looks like I was interested in reading more nonfiction, more classics, more NetGalley ARCs and more of my backlog of TBR books. I did read more nonfiction and put a small dent into my TBR backlog. I decided that ARCs are just not-for-me, so that aspiration was unmet. I didn’t read as many classics as I would have liked.
Looking at those same aspirations, how well did your aspirations for 2018 match your reading experience this year? Where were they off the mark?
Ardis: Part of the plan I took into 2018 was to improve my overall reading/reviewing process through repetition and by testing different techniques (particularly in note-taking). I didn’t post with the regularity I intended, but I was able to test out the changes I wanted to make. Over the course of my reading year, I’ve developed an overall process I’m really quite pleased by.
Of course, I’m still disappointed I didn’t hit my posting stride like I wanted; but that’s a goal for 2019 now!
Byron: I was pretty “off” this year. I didn’t post with the regularity that I had in the past, going from one-review-a-week to one-every-two-weeks. I am also behind on my goodreads goal, and it will take a significant final push for me to make it.
Did you have a stand-out favorite of the books you read in 2018?
Ardis: I don’t think I do, actually. 2017 was such an epic year for reading, 2018 kind of paled in comparison. There were some excellent books, and Madeline Miller’s “Circe” and Becky Chambers’ “Record of a Spaceborn Few” belong on that list, as well as “Revenger” by Alastair Reynolds, “The Wrong Stars” by Tim Pratt, and “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean.
Byron: “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” “A Man Called Ove,” “Circe,” and “Pachinko” were my favorites of the books I’ve read this year. So far. Oh, and everything I read by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon).
What authors (discovered this year) will you be keeping a close eye on in the future?
Ardis: V. E. Schwab, Tim Pratt, Naomi Novik, Madeline Miller, Fonda Lee, … The truth is that the list of authors I’m now keeping an eye on is has grown by leaps and bounds this year.
Byron: Madeline Miller (I read all her existing stuff and I want more) and Tom Wolfe (I only read one of his books and now I want to read the rest).
Did any books you read this year surprise you (for good or for ill)?
Ardis: I encountered a number of books throughout 2018 that had a certain surreal sense that really didn’t sit well with me. “The Stars are Legion” is an obvious one, as are Jeff VanderMeer’s works. But “Bannerless” and “Spoonbenders” surprised me with it, too. For me, that repeating surprise is one of the themes of my reading year.
Byron: I expected to like some books more than I did, but my guess is that my expectations — based upon previous books by the author or by critical acclaim — were too high. “Manhattan Beach,” “River of Teeth,” and “The Black Tides of Heaven” are some examples of that.
How did you select books to read this year? How are you planning to change that for the coming year?
Ardis: Byron and I still keep an eye on the new releases each month, though we prefer different sources. I still check Amazon’s Best Books of the Month list, but have added both UnboundWorlds.com and the Barnes and Noble SFF blog. Between that and a few book clubs, I’m happy with my plan.
At the end of this year I did add a subscription to the Best Books of the Month club, and I think that’ll close any gaps I may still have for 2019.
Byron: I have four bookcases of unread books, an unread kindle collection, and an unread iBook collection. I randomly pull stuff from those to see if anything fits my mood. I also check Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, and a few other sources to see if anything coming out is blowing up the literary world. I also look at past award winners/current nominees for suggestions to add to the TBR. I’m not really planning on changing anything with regards to those sources, but I am going to focus a bit differently.
How did you incorporate reading and reviewing (and this blog) into the rest of your life in 2018? Are there any things about that balance that you plan to change for the future?
Ardis: I really struggled to prioritize reading and reviewing this year, which I’m committed to changing in 2019. I have a few other hobbies, and I spent the year flitting between them without making headway in any direction.
Byron: I had a real struggle with balancing this hobby with some newer, shinier ones. I tried tackling some longer, epic books that have been sitting on my shelf for forever, but then I’d get anxious because I didn’t want to go more than a couple of weeks without posting SOMETHING. This coming year, I’m going to try again to tackle those longer reads, and instead of posting reviews, I’ll post other kinds of articles.
Did any of the books you read this year have a profound emotional impact on you?
Ardis: If I leave aside the recurring surrealist surprises that kept finding me all year, I read a number of space ship/pirate sff fiction this year that really grabbed my lasting attention, but unlike last year none of it struck my emotions that notably.
“The Unseen World” by Liz Moore is, however, the most beautiful, evocative, and emotional book I encountered this year. For that reason, it deserves special mention.
Byron: Not really? “A Man Called Ove” and “Pachinko” probably had the most profound emotional impact. And I guess you could throw “Feed” on that list, as it did have me crying in my bathroom.
Do you have any specific reading goals for 2019?
Ardis: Regularity and diversity are still the headlines for my reading year. I’m hoping I can actually keep to a posting schedule throughout the year (for more than 3 weeks at a time), and I’d like to read more historical nonfiction.
Byron: Instead of a Goodreads goal of 52 books (a book a week!) that I’ve attempted for three years straight, I’m going to scale back to 12 books (a book a month) and try to tackle some much larger and/or more difficult works.
Did you meet your Goodreads Challenge for 2018? Will you be setting one for 2019?
Ardis: I went for the standard 52 for this year’s Goodreads Challenge, and I did much better than last year. I’m absolutely doing the challenge again in 2019, but I haven’t yet decided whether I want to increase my goal. I’ll probably leave that decision down to the wire.
Byron: I don’t know if I’m going to meet the challenge this year. I hope so, but it’s going to come down to the wire.
What did you learn by writing for this blog?
Ardis: Like – about myself? I think I learned I actually have to back up my goals with hard work and real action (instead of just well-wishing) if I want to achieve them. It’s a harsh truth, but I think I’m ready to learn it.
Byron: That when I sit down to write, it always takes me a lot longer than I expect it to take. I should plan accordingly.
What goals do you want to set for reading, reviewing, and this blog for 2019?
Ardis: If I have to set one goal, it’s the oft-mentioned regular posting schedule. However, I’m low-key all about writing more non-review posts: lists, reflections, and posts about my process.
(Careful readers may recognize a lot of these goals from last year’s post. I acknowledge their point, and thank them for their time.)
Byron: A few more different kinds of articles and more consistent posting are my goals for 2019.