March Reading Wrap-up and Q1 Goal Check-in

I read four books in March. Two were tomes (> 500 pages), but only one of those was actually during Tome Topple. I read a super hyped new release. I finished reading a writing craft book that I have been reading on and off since January, and I did a whole lot of critique / beta reading for fellow writers. Not bad for one month.

Here’s what I read (that I can tell you about) in March:

  • Story Genius by Lisa Cron — I have been recommending this book to all my writer friends. It’s exactly the craft book I needed in my life right now. I read it on Kindle, but I think I need to get a paperback copy for easier reference. If you’re a writer who wants practical advice on how to really connect your plot to your character, get your hands on this book.
  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore — I was expecting to love this long awaited addition to the Graceling series, and I did. No surprise. This book is full of whimsical world-building which is a bit of a departure from the other books in the series. That my turn some folks off, but I enjoyed it. As an example, my favorite character in this book might have been the telepathic fox, who is one of the main POV characters.
  • Lore by Alexandra Bracken — This one was all over BookTube because it was in pretty much all the book subscription boxes in January, I think. Also, I think that the author writes other books that are very popular, even though I hadn’t heard of her before. This is the first book I’ve read by her. I was really impressed with the pacing. It’s definitely a page turner. Lots of action. That’s good because you don’t want to stop too long to look at the plot. Or dig too deep on the characters. I enjoyed it, but now I’m sending it to some young reader friends because that is who this is meant for, and I think they might really love it.
  • Master of One by by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett — Why isn’t all of BookTube talking about this book? Seriously. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in except for what it says on the cover. A heist story with fae and sorcerers. Turns out this is sort of like Six of Crows crossed with Throne of Glass, but gay. Is that over-selling it? I don’t know. There’s a slow burn grumpy/sunshine romance arc between a master thief from the city slums and the beautiful fae prince he wakes from a long magical sleep. There are magical creatures created by the fae who are telepathically bonded with their humans. There’s an evil sorcerer and an evil queen. And… it’s great. If any of this sounds good to you, please go read this book. I want more in this world and publishing will only give it to me if you all go read this one.

See what I mean? Not a bad reading month. Right?

Since March is also the end of the first quarter of the year, it’s time to check in on my reading stats and see how I’m doing vs. the goals I set for myself at the start of this year.

Goal #1 was to read a total of 52 books this year. So far I have read 13 books, which is exactly 25% of my goal. Looks like I nailed this one.

Goal #2 was all about author demographics. I wanted to read 12 books by Black authors, 12 books by other authors of color, and 12 books by queer authors this year. To be on track for this one I need to have read at least 3 of each. So far I’ve read 5 books by Black authors, but only 1 book by a non-Black author of color. And I’ve read 7 books by queer authors (or that featured queer main characters). NOTE: This is all calculated with the usual caveat that this is based on how the author identifies online, if that information is available.

Overall, not bad, but I need to step it up my reading of books by non-Black authors of color.

Oh! And I started drawing in (and color-coding) the books on my “Books Read in 2021” spread. So far it’s mostly sci-fi and fantasy with a couple of contemporaries and one mystery novel in there. The hearts on the spines are for books that are also romances. I’ve decided to do two months at a time so that I can get the books spaced properly on the shelves. That means I’m going to wait until April is over before I draw in the books I read in March.

Isn’t this all so delightfully overcomplicating my reading hobby? Yes. Yes, it is.

Is it worth it? Hmmm. I don’t know? Maybe? It’s mostly still fun. I’m not hating it, yet. I do like having a (relatively) private place to gather my thoughts about what I’m reading before sharing them with the rest of the world.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not I want to make any changes to my journal. So far the answer is no, but we’ll see. As I think I said in my post about setting up April, I am losing some of the spontaneity in my reading. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but I’m feeling like rebelling against it at the moment. I’m also currently in a bit of a slump, so that may have something to do with why I’m questioning all my reading life choices this week.

Don’t worry, though. I think I may have found the cure for my slump on my Kindle, and I plan to go test that theory as soon as I’m done with this post.

Are you using a reading journal to track your reading? How’s it going? Are you still enjoying it? What would you change about your process, if anything?

Setting up April in my Reading Journal

Over the weekend, I got out my markers and my washi to make a new spread in my reading journal for the upcoming month. I decided to go with a “spring” theme for April. As you can see from the photo below, things got a little busy and chaotic on the page. It’s not my favorite of the spreads I’ve done so far, but I like it well enough.

Just a cover page and a list to fill in with books read in April.

The biggest change for this month is that I’m not making a TBR for April. I’ve been feeling like I want a little more spontaneity in my reading life. I need the flexibility of being able to just pick up whatever book I happen to feel like reading in that moment, regardless of what’s currently at the tippy top of my TBR.

April is going to be a heavy writing and editing month for me. I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and using that focus to help me finish and polish a Modern Fae novella that I started writing just before the pandemic began, then set aside so I could focus on Rogue Assassins and Hunter of the Fae. Now it’s time to finish that novella and get it out there so that folks who’ve been enjoying my series can start speculating on what this new information and these new characters might mean for book five. (Bwahahaha…)

I expect that this more intense focus on writing is going to mean that I gravitate towards shorter and lighter reads in April. Probably, if I had to guess, more contemporary romance and sci-fi, because I find it’s a nice break from having my brain immersed in my fantasy worlds. But I’m resisting the urge to make a plan.

The six books nominated for the 2021 Nebula Award for best novel.

Even though I’m not making a TBR for April, I did want to do a spread for the 2021 Nebula nominees for best novel. I’ve read two of these so far (Network Effect by Martha Wells, and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia). I have all the rest on my Kindle, and I intend to read them all (or as many as I can) by the award ceremony in June. So, I added this spread to remind me to get to these sooner, rather than later. In fact, if you look closely at the photo, you’ll notice that I wrote “April TBR” under Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk. So, maybe I not so great at this whole not having a TBR thing.

Do you prefer to set yourself a TBR each month? Or do you read based on whatever you feel like in that moment? Are you planning on reading the Nebula best novel nominees? Or have you already read them? If so, which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

My (Belated) Tome Topple TBR

This round of Tome Topple is already in progress. It started on the 15th of March and goes through the 28th of March. (If you are unfamiliar with Tome Topple, you can find out more information here.)

I have every intention of participating, and I had this whole blog post drafted and ready to go, talking about my TBR. Then, as it has a tendency to do, life happened. I still plan to participate in this round of Tome Topple, but as I posted over on Instagram, my TBR for this round is down to one book.

If you remember, there were two tomes on my March TBR. I finished one of them earlier this month (Winterkeep), because it was our Camp Book Club pick for this month. That leaves one tome remaining, Master of One by by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett.

I put Master of One on my March TBR because it’s one of my “21 for 2021” books I want to read this year. If I finish reading it before the end of Tome Topple, I can count it as “reading one tome.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for checking off any of the eight other (completely optional) reading prompts. But hey, I’m fine with that. Realistically, I’m only going to have time to read one tome this round, and not just because I’m starting late.

Just for fun, I did go through and think about what other books on my TBR would fit for each of the remaining prompts. There are some prompts that I will definitely would not be checking off this round, even if I did have more time. Those are:

  • Tome that’s been on your TBR the longest — In order for me to check off this prompt, I’d have to read The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, but that’s not going to happen. I’m not planning on reading this book until the third book has an official release date.
  • An audiobook — Since I’m not really going anywhere, I’m not really listening to a lot of audiobooks at the moment. Especially not tome-length audiobooks. Eventually I’ll get back into audiobooks, but it’s not going to be this month.
  • Tome from a genre you don’t usually read — Literary fiction is probably the genre I read the least often. I have several literary fiction tomes on my TBR, but I’m not in the mood for that sort of thing right now, which is probably why this is a genre that I don’t usually read.
  • Tome that you started during a different round of tome topple but didn’t finish — Since I finally finished reading Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds, I currently do not have a book that fits this prompt.
  • Tome on your shelf with the most pages — The longest two books on my TBR at the moment are both by Neal Stephenson. The longer of the two is Reamde. I still do want to read this book, I’m just not going to get through it this month.

There are definitely books I would love to read for the other three prompts (and a few that would allow me to check off more than one of those three prompts). Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to have time to get to any of them this month. We’ll see… If I did have time, here are some of my options:

  • A seasonally colored tome — This would be spring colors for me. So, green? The book on my TBR that best fits this prompt is Jade City by Fonda Lee, which I really want to read, but am not sure I want to read it more than I want to read some of the other books on my TBR right now. Maybe. We’ll see.
  • A tome from a series you haven’t read in a while — I could go in one of two directions with this prompt. One would be picking up Empire of Storms (book five in the Throne of Glass series). The other option would be The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera. It’s been almost six years since I read Queen of Shadows (book four in the Throne of Glass series) and almost three years since I read The Tiger’s Daughter (the first book in the Ascendant series). Both of those books are on my “21 for 2021” books that I wanted to read this year.
  • Read a tome written by a BIPOC author — Both Jade City and The Phoenix Empress would count for this prompt, but I have several other books on my TBR that would also work. The one that I think I want to read most right now is Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. If, for some reason, I find myself with more time available to read, this is probably going to be the next book I pick up after I finish Master of One.

Are you participating in Tome Topple this round? If so, what’s on your TBR?

February reading wrap-up

The shortest month of the year is over. I wish I had something more interesting to say about the past month, but…meh. We’ve been living with this pandemic and staying at home for a year now. I’m getting a little sick of it, and I’m not going to qualify for a vaccine anytime soon. So, I mostly have more staying at home to look forward to. At least I have good books to read and plenty of ideas for stories I want to write.

I may have gone a bit overboard with the hearts…

Here’s what I read in February:

  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots — I expected to like this book, and I did! I love a data geek heroine and a fresh take on the superhero trope. If you’ve ever thought that maybe superheroes were more trouble than they’re worth, you should definitely check out this book
  • Fumbled by Alexa Martin — I didn’t feel like watching the Super Bowl, so I picked up this NFL romance novel instead. I read the first book in the series (Intercepted) last year and really enjoyed it. I think I liked this one even more. It’s a second chance romance featuring a pretty awesome single mom. Her son’s dad is her high school ex-boyfriend who now plays for the NFL. I love how he is 100% into her from the start (and his son, too, once he finds out the kid exists). I read the whole thing in almost one sitting.
  • How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole — Another data geek heroine! Two in one month! What luck! I love Shanti, but her man was just okay. It takes him a long time to pull his head out of his butt. Possibly a bit too long. But, I devoured this in a couple of days, so I think that means I liked it.
  • The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow — I read this one for the Tade Thompson prompt in the Blackathon readathon. Once again I really liked the heroine, but wasn’t a big fan of the hero. This time it wasn’t because he kept messing up. Morris (or M0Rr1S) is an alien, but one of the good ones. He’s 100% into the heroine from the start of the story. The fact that he’s so into her is kind of why there is a story in the first place. And it’s a fun story. There’s a road trip across a post-alien invasion (read: dystopian) United States. Both characters are completely crazy for music and books. Teenage me would have really liked this book. Adult me was kind of annoyed by how gushy Morris is about his insta-love. And I didn’t like the aliens’ “leetspeak” names. But that’s just me being old.
  • The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull — This was the SFF group read for the Blackathon readathon. This is a sort of “first contact” story that is set in the Virgin Islands. I had never heard of the book before, and I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for this readathon. I’m really glad I read it, though. The alien civilization is unique. The struggle with aliens living among humans on a populated island where everyone pretty much already knows everyone else is definitely believable. I definitely recommend checking this out. Especially if you like first contact stories, or if you’re a sci-fi fan who lives or has lived in the Virgin Islands. I’ve never been there, but the setting is definitely an important aspect of the story, and it made me want to go visit. You know, when we can travel again. Sigh.

I also started reading David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, but didn’t have enough time to finish it before the end of this very short month. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria (where the author is from), and I am really enjoying it so far. More on that in next month’s recap, after I finish reading it. 🙂

That’s it for February. Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Are there any you’d recommend to me based on what I read and liked? Let me know in the comments.

Oh, and the next round of Tome Topple was just announced. It’s starting on the 15th of March, so there may have to be some adjustments to my March TBR. Stay tuned for more on that, coming soon…

March Reading Journal Set-up and TBR

The reading journal experiment continues! This month I couldn’t find anything I wanted to use to decorate my cover page. I was going to go with a shamrock and/or rainbow and pot of gold theme in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, but my rainbow turned into a shooting star after I remembered that I had this Pacific green stars and moon washi tape in my stash. I decided to go with a green and purple star-studded theme instead. Here’s how it turned out…

My niblings could probably draw a better shooting star than that, but whatever.

As usual, I featured the covers of the books that are currently at the top of my TBR pile on my March cover page. As with the past two months, I may or may not end up reading all of these books this month. These are the ones that I am most inclined to pick up next.

  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore — Given how much I loved the first three books in the Graceling Realm series, I think it’s probably not surprising that this one is at the top of my TBR. Luckily, it’s also my little book club’s selection for this month. So I get to read it and then talk about it with friends.
  • Spaceside by Michael Mammay — I’ve been trying to get to this book for months but other things keep getting stacked on top of it for one reason or another. But I have the third (and last?) book in this series, now. So no excuses. This is happening. I really want to read this book this month.
  • More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn — This is another one that I’ve had for a while and really want to read, but haven’t been able to prioritize. If it’s anything like her first book, I will probably devour it in a couple of days then kick myself for waiting so long to read it.
  • Lore by Alexandra Bracken — I got this in last month’s Fairy Loot subscription box. I’ve read a few reviews, and I think I’m probably not going to enjoy this book. However, I want to give it a try so I can send it on its way quickly if I’m not into it. This is my vote for “most likely to DNF” of the bunch…
  • Master of One by by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett — This is another book I received in my Fairy Loot box. However, I am intrigued by the description on this one and looking forward to reading it. Then again, I haven’t read any reviews of this one, or seen anyone talking about it online, so who knows.
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong — This is another Fairy Loot special edition hardcover. I have seen a lot of people talking about this book, but haven’t heard anything from anyone who has actually read it, yet. I listened to an interview with the author on a podcast, recently, and the book sounds interesting. So, I’ve bumped this one up on my TBR.

I should have my “what I read in February” post up very soon. In the meantime, tell me in the comments if you have read any of these and what you thought. I’ll probably start with Winterkeep, but let me know which one you think I should read first.

January Reading Wrap-Up

I read four books in January, two that I really enjoyed and two that were good but not as good as I’d hoped they’d be. Can you guess which are which?

The January Outbox page in my reading journal…

Here’s what I read in January:

  • Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas — I love these characters and this story world so much. This was easily my favorite book I read in January. There’s not much I can say here without spoiling earlier books in the series, so I’m probably going to leave it at that. But there better be more coming soon because I need more Charlotte Holmes and friends in my life.
  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — I FINALLY finished this book. It was a bit of a slog, but I was determined to complete the series because I liked the first two books. This one moved really slowly, though. The story didn’t feel like it really got started until (small spoiler) Eunice returns near the middle of the book. My biggest frustration was that the relationships between the characters felt really wooden (I didn’t care as much as I probably should have when bad or good stuff happened to them, except one part at the very end) and the pacing seemed off. The story was good, but not my favorite of his books.
  • Deadly Education by Naomi Novik — I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did, especially after the first chapter was basically one big world-building info dump. There is a lot of info-dumping throughout, but I think it all works because it’s always discussed and revealed in a way that directly connects it to the main (POV) character’s goals, worries, and other feelings. There has been some (a lot) of discussion in the reviews about cultural inaccuracies and problematic racial depictions in the book. While I appreciate that the author was trying to create a diverse world, I think too much of that came at the expense of leaning on (potentially harmful) stereotypes, and that’s especially frustrating in a book where the main theme is about reckoning with privilege within the school, and in the wider magical world. The author has responded to the criticism with an apology, and I believe that the paragraph that was most often cited as being harmful has been removed from later copies of the book (mine still had it). So I think she’s listening. I’m curious to see what changes in the next book.
  • Stormsong by C. L. Polk — I liked this book, but I didn’t like it as much as the first one in the series. That said, I am definitely planning on reading the last book in the series, which comes out this month. The world and atmosphere is still so good, the plot is well paced to keep you turning pages, but I just wasn’t a fan of the main (POV) character in this story. She’s going through a journey in this book where she’s discovering her privilege and learning that she has a responsibility to help others, and that’s great, but I’m always more partial to following the story of the underdog. The first book was from Miles’s POV (her brother, who ditched all the problematic stuff that she embraced), and that may be why I liked that one better. Oddly, Grace’s love interest in this book is someone from their class who (like Miles) ditched everything to go her own way. I probably would have liked this book better if she was the main character instead of Grace, but that probably wouldn’t have worked for the plot. Anyway, book three looks like it’s Robin’s story, so we’re back to an underdog again. I’m excited for that.

In other news, my reading journal is still going strong. I’m enjoying having a place to dump all my disorganized thoughts about what I’m reading. The month title pages and TBRs as well as the month summary pages have also become fun craft projects. I never did much collage in my actual bullet journal. So it’s fun to try that in my reading journal.

I’ve already finished reading my first book of February (Hench). So today I get to pick something new to read. Out of nowhere I got this urge to re-read These Broken Stars, but I think I’m going to hold off on that and pick up one of the books on my Blackathon TBR instead.

What are you reading and enjoying this month?

Setting up for February in my Reading Journal

Well the reading journal is still alive and kicking at the end of January. So I made my cover page for February and pasted in my TBR for this month.

It’s very colorful.

The books I’m planning to read this month are:

  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots — This is our “Camp Book Club” pick for this month because we all liked the premise which is supposed to be a different take on the standard superhero story.
  • The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull — This is the group read for the sci-fi and fantasy section of the Blackathon readathon organized by Bowties & Books.
  • The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow — I’m also reading this one for Blackathon. This one is for the Tade Thompson prompt.
  • David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — I’m not entirely sure if this one works for the Rita Woods prompt in Blackathon, but it’s also on my 21 for 2021 list, and I really want to read it.
  • The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera — I am not sure if there’s going to be another round of Tome Topple this month or not, but if there is, I’m planning on starting with this book, which is also on my 21 for 2021 list.
I still need to pick a book for the Octavia Butler prompt…

What’s on your TBR for February? Are you participating in Blackathon or any other readathons this month?

December Reading Wrap-Up

I’m going to keep this post short because I’m working on my end of the year wrap-up with all my reading stats and whatnot. But before I can post that one, let’s recap what I read and bought in the final month of 2020.

Outbox

I read four books in December. They were:

  • Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner — I already posted about how this was one of my top five reads of 2020. This was an excellent end to a series that I love. I really hope, based on the ending of this book, that we get a spin-off series.
  • Strange Love by Ann Aguirre — The characters in this book are fantastic, especially the talking dog. I am really looking forward to reading more in this series and more books by this author.
  • Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — This was exactly the sort of action-packed, sci-fi romp that I’ve come to expect (and enjoy) from this author pair. I liked this book more than the first in the series and will definitely be checking out the next (and final?) installment.
  • Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian — I received this in my Fairy Loot subscription box forever ago, so it’s not exactly the sort of book I’d normally pick up, at least not based on the description. It was enjoyable, but a little too much gore for me. I’ve passed it on to a YA reader in my life who might enjoy it more than I did.

Inbox

I bought two books this month: Colonyside by Michael Mammay, which I think is the final book his military sci-fi series, and Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett, which I knew very little about before it arrived in my Fairy Loot subscription box.

Currently Reading

I didn’t finish Poseidon’s Wake before the end of the year, but I’m still enjoying it and continuing to make slow progress through it. But the day after New Years was particularly grey and stormy, and I was really feeling like reading a cozy mystery. So, I started Murder on Cold Street. Also, per my usual tradition, I’m starting off the year by reading a writing craft book. This year I picked up Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere).

More coming soon… Until then, happy reading!

Top 5 Books I Read in 2020

I’m working on my December reading wrap up, and calculating my 2020 reading stats. While I do that, I thought I’d share my top five favorite books I read in 2020.

My favorite books read in 2020 were (in no particular order):

I’ve already gushed about all of these in previous blog posts, so if you haven’t read those, go check out my monthly reading recaps.

Genre-wise, these books represent a little bit of everything that I like to read: contemporary (Such a Fun Age), contemporary fantasy (Sweep of the Blade), secondary world fantasy (Return of the Thief and Race the Sands), and sci-fi (Network Effect), but I think it’s a little unusual that they are all adult fiction. I have to go back and look, but I feel like previous years’ lists must have included at least one or two young adult books.

Another odd thing they have in common is that all but one of these books were published in 2020 (Sweep of the Blade was published in mid-2019). Technically, Such a Fun Age was published on the last day of 2019, but I’m counting it as a 2020 book. This was a little surprising, because I don’t usually read so many new releases.

And finally (and possibly most unusual for me), all of these books feature parent-child and/or caregiver-child relationships that play very important roles in these stories. Sweep of the Blade and Race the Sands both have badass mothers as main characters. The main character in Such a Fun Age is a nanny. Murderbot is put in charge of protecting a surly teen (Dr. Mensa’s daughter) in Network Effect. And The King of Attolia takes on a new, very young attendant in Return of the Thief.

Did any of these make it onto your favorites list? If not, what was your favorite read from 2020?

Starting a Reading Journal for 2021

A little while back I asked for advice on what I should do to streamline my reading tracking for 2021. After posting that, I spent some time thinking about why I track reading metrics, and what metrics, if any, were most important to me. My hope was that, if I could reduce the amount of data I want to keep track of, maybe I could eliminate the spreadsheet, at least.

Then, because I knew that journaling about what I was reading was important to me and something I definitely wanted to add, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos where folks showed off how they set up their reading journals. Turns out that there are a LOT of really inspiring reading journals out there.

Many of these reading journals have extensive artistic collage layouts with lots of washi and stickers, and most include some sort of tracker for “days read.” I’m not sure how artsy I’m going to get with my reading journal, but I did decide to incorporate a few of the more popular spreads, with my own personal twist, of course.

My plan is to use Goodreads as my book database since I’ve already got all my shelves set up so I know what I own and haven’t read yet and if it’s on my Kindle or on my bookshelf. I also use it to keep track of what books I have on hold at the library, and what’s on my TBR. Plus, it’s easy to sort things by number of pages or title or author or whatever. But… I don’t review stuff there.

That’s where the reading journal is going to come in.

Step one: I took a plain (not dotted) Leuchtturm that I had in my stash of blank notebooks, and started covering it with bookish stickers.

Next I took my list of ideas from the YouTube videos I watched and started laying them out in pencil. Once I was happy with what I had, I started inking things in and adding color.

I started with a title page that also serves as a key for my “year in review” bookshelf on the next pages.

I divided the two pages into three “shelves.” My plan is to draw books on these shelves in clumps that correspond to the months of the year, starting in the upper left where you can see that I wrote “January” on the black strip that serves as the top of the shelf. If you look closely, you can see that I’ve penciled in some books on the shelf as placeholders.

Once January is over, I’ll go draw in the appropriate number of book spines in some combination of horizontal and vertical, leaving space for February on the same half of the page. Depending on how many books I read in January, I may just hold off on drawing these in until after February. I’ll add the titles to the spines and then color them in according to genre, adding a little red heart on the spine if the book is also a romance.

Once that was set up, I spent some time drawing a grid to track my reading stats, and making a page for my 2021 reading goals.

My plan is to capture my reading stats each month and then enter the data here. In general, I decided that I wanted to track the following things:

  • Total books read (goal is at least 52, or one per week on average)
  • How many books I read that were published in 2021
  • How many Indie published books I read
  • How many books I read in each format (audio, ebook, and paper)
  • How many books I read that I own vs. that are from the library
  • How many books I read that are written by Black authors and/or other non-white (goal is 12 by Black authors and 12 by other non-white authors)
  • How many books I read with LGBTQ+ main character(s) and/or written by an LGBTQ+ author (goal is 12 books) — Note: I decided not to just make this about the author demographics because, while I strive to prioritize Own Voices books, an author’s sexuality is none of my business.
  • And finally… how many books I read that are YA vs. Adult

I know, it’s still a lot to keep track of and maybe in 2022 I’ll decide to streamline it more. I tried to only keep the metrics I wanted to set goals for, but a couple more (like YA vs. Adult and Indie pub books) snuck in there. I couldn’t help it. I like data.

Underneath my very short list of goals, I added a “21 in 2021” book cover collage. These are the books that I’ve been meaning to get to for way too long. They either get buried on my Kindle, or I’ve walked past them on my bookshelf so many times that I’ve forgotten they’re there. I tried to pick only the ones that I am most excited to read and not focus on stuff that I feel guilty for not reading.

You may also notice that there are only twenty covers pasted in right now. I’m still debating on what book gets that final slot. It somewhat depends on what book(s) I manage to finish before the end of 2020. If you have a book you want to make a strong case for, let me know in the comments.

Finally, I added one more spread for the year before diving into my monthly pages.

I couldn’t resist adding the 2021 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks. I am not going to be actively participating in that challenge this year, but I wanted to add the prompts just for fun. If I do happen to read a book or two that check any of those boxes, I’m planning to write in the page number that corresponds to my notes on that book.

I left the opposite page blank to be filled in with books that I buy in 2021. I’m not sure if I’ll do another cover collage or if I’ll just make a list of titles and authors. I may start off by writing a list in pencil and then going back and adding covers in batches, once I have enough that it makes sense to print them out.

After that, I started a spread for January.

This one is still in-progress. I got a little crafty and used bits of a cute wrapping paper to dress it up a bit. I’m still working on my TBR. Again, it kind of depends on what book(s) I manage to finish before the New Year. I’m thinking of this like a bullet journal, but for reading. So that would make this my month cover page and goals page.

The two pages after this will include a list of what I read in January, plus my January book stats (kind of like a “month at a glance” spread if this were a bullet journal). That will be followed by entries for each book I read with at least a page of notes (and favorite quotes, etc.) from each (sort of like “daily pages” in a bullet journal).

Is this a lot more work than keeping track of my reading in a spreadsheet? Maybe…. But it’s also more fun. Plus, I am attempting to move to using a “regular planner” in 2021, so this will fill the bullet journalling hole in my life.

What do you think? Do you keep a reading journal? If you do, is it artsy? Or do you keep it pretty minimalist? Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas for me in the comments.

Happy reading!