2023 | Thoughts on a Bookish Year

I have a confession: I haven’t had any interest in reading in the last week or so. The Winter Solstice has been creeping in and I’ve been honoring my desire to slow down. This week’s to-do list is massive and I’ve been balancing that with my need for rest, so reading has taken a backseat. I’ve managed some finished books (I’ve kept my Goodreads profile up to date) and will update you with my usual monthly summary in early January, but today I’m looking ahead. This post includes some thoughts about my reading life next year along with what worked in 2022. I’ll preface this entire post by saying that this is what I think I want to read and it’s highly likely that I’ll abandon all of these plans almost immediately. But it’s fun to dream, right?

Two Changes With Big Impacts:

I Stopped Keeping Count
One of the best changes I’ve made in the last couple of years is to stop counting my total number of books. I can make a competition out of almost anything and this was a small tweak that made a world of difference to me. One of my goals this year was to read BIG books and I can say that I tackled that goal with an excited fury and read so many books that I would have avoided in the past. Reading isn’t about the numbers but about feeding your desire to read more. And this year was a total success by that rubric!

I Created A Monthly TBR
Another positive change in 2022 was to utilize my planner for my TBR. Instead of losing books to the abyss of Goodreads, I tried assigning books a month in which to be read. When I turned the page to another set of months, then I could decide which unread titles were a whim and which I wanted to carry with me for a future effort. It worked out really well and I’m going to try to continue this practice in 2023. If I find it’s no longer working, then it’s easy enough to abandon.

My 2023 Moleskine planner arrived earlier this week and I’m anxious to start setting up my TBR. I’ve spent weeks (months?) thinking about next year’s reading focus and have come up with a few categories to keep me on track. I’ve been scribbling down titles in my commonplace book, thinking about where they fit into the year. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to sit down with my new planner this week to start mapping it out.


Russian Literature:

I tried to read one chapter a day of War and Peace a few years ago and gave up around March, at about 400 pages. Reading so little each day left me confused about the characters and what was happening. When I read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell earlier this year, there were scenes that felt distinctly familiar and War and Peace-like. It made me consider making 2023 the year that I finally read some classic Russian literature. I made a brief comment about that in a post and Sarah responded that she’d like to read War and Peace and Doctor Zhivago, so I came up with the schedule I have listed below.

I’ll try to read these like my other slow & steady reads this year and set up a daily page goal. For example: my edition of War and Peace is 1215 pages. 1215 pages/90 days =13.5 pages per day. I’ll bump that up to 20 pages/day so that I have a buffer, because I will absolutely miss some days.

January-March: War and Peace (20 pages a day. This pace would have me finished in 60 days but it’s very unlikely I’ll stay on track.)
April: Break/Catch-up
May-July: Doctor Zhivago (daily pace to be determined)
August: Break/Catch-up
September-November: Anna Karenina (daily pace to be determined)
December: Break/Catch-up

And somewhere in there I want to throw in The Romanov Sisters, which has been on my bookshelf for years, sadly unread. I will be completely honest: I will very likely abandon this goal early on in the year. I just want to try!

Toni Morrison:

A small group of Fiction Matters members are interested in a year of Toni Morrison. We came up with a schedule for next year and here it is. I made this little graphic to keep myself on track and it pasted it into my notebook. You’re welcome to do the same and join me if there’s a title that you’d also like to tackle.

We are mostly reading in order of publication. The exceptions include The Source of Self-Regard and the Beloved series. We originally had Recitatif scheduled for May, but it’s a short story and someone suggested including The Source of Self Regard, a collection of her essays, speeches, and meditations. So we substituted the book of essays for the short story, but I might consider reading both.

And we chose to push Beloved to October because many of us read it this October and it’s a great book for the spooky season. Then it worked out perfectly to put the other books in the Beloved series in the following months. It’s like it was meant to be! We can thank the spirit of Toni Morrison for making it work out so perfectly.

Also: Toni Morrison and I share a birthday, so I like to think of her guiding my literary spirit. I’m hoping this year will root me more firmly in that belief!

Wendell Berry:

I kick myself every time I go a year without reading more Wendell Berry. I have a small stack of his books on my shelf as well as a collection of e-books that have become available as Kindle deals over the years. My plan is to read three books by him in 2023. Here’s my initial plan:

February: A Place on Earth (I own a physical copy)
May: What Are People For? (I own this on Kindle)
November: Jayber Crow (I own a physical copy and sometimes claim this as my favorite book of all of time. I’m looking forward to rereading it.)

Japanese Literature:

Dolce Bellezza is hosting a Japanese Literature challenge again this year and I hope to informally participate. I love books that touch on Japanese culture and only read a couple this year. Here’s a few that are on my radar for 2023:

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki (this will make me a Ruth Ozeki fiction completist)
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
The Wind Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Muratata
Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi

Erdrich-Along Continues and Possibly Morphs into a Kingsolver-Along?

This year’s Erdrich-Along is being extended into the beginning of the year with two more titles:

February: The Night Watchman
March: Bingo Palace

There’s also some discussion of reading some Kingsolver titles together, including:

Demon Copperhead (I will probably NOT reread this!)
The Poisonwood Bible
Flight Behavior
Prodigal Summer

There’s no schedule yet, other than reading Prodigal Summer during the summer. But I’m excited about the possibility of reading more Barbara Kingsolver in 2023.

Buddy Reads, Book Club Picks, and Prizes:

+ One of my close friends and I will be reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown at the beginning of the year (as soon as we finish When You Greet Me I Bow).

+ I hope to continue my membership with Fiction Matters and participate in the group reads and spontaneous buddy reads within that community.

+ The Women’s Prize for Fiction will release their long list on 3/8 (International Women’s Day) and I always love reading as many of their titles as I can.

+ The Booker Prize long list will be announced in July. 2022 is the first year I jumped into their long list and I had so much fun

Those prize lists kept me quite busy in 2022 and we’ll see if I’m up for them in 2023. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be in a different headspace when those lists come out and they’ll simply be a blip on my radar. Despite how this post looks, I really am going to be flexible with my reading life in 2023!

I’ve been working on this post for over a week and have decided that this is good enough. There are so many more tweaks that I’d like to make to this plan, but this is how it stands now. Do you have any reading plans in 2023? Are you interested in reading anything with me? I’d love to hear about all of your bookish desires and goals for next year! I’m planning to be back on Friday with a stitching update. Until then – take good care.


23 thoughts on “2023 | Thoughts on a Bookish Year

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  1. Such good books! I have read all of Toni Morrison and see a few titles I would love to reread. I also shifted to using a planner notebook to list books I want to read and who mentioned those books because I always forget. I look forward to your bookish post Katie – thanks for taking the time to write them.


    1. Wow – I am amazed that you’ve read all of Toni Morrison! Including the person who recommended books is such a good idea — and a practice that I cannot seem to keep up with. Happy reading, Juliann!


  2. I am contemplating so curious reading “challenges” as well in 2023 which I think I will start with a re-read of A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. I want to delve more into short stories with a different approach… I loved the “class” that A Swim was and it changed how I think about short stories.

    AND!! I am hoping for more Pilcher Read Alongs! I so loved Winter Solstice!


    1. I love this idea, Kat! I should try to finish A Swim the Pond in the Rain. I started it in 2021 (?) and never finished it! And we’ll have to come up with another Pilcher plan in 2023!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for reminding me of our Russian Big Books reading schedule. I just bought Kindle versions of all three books so I’ll be ready! Obviously those are part of my reading plans for next year, as are the rest of the Erdrich books and the Kingsolver books. I also want to make an effort to read many of the physical books I’ve bought but not yet read. I’ll have to make a list of those when I’m home and I can get them all out!

    I still do keep track of how many books I read (but only passively — Goodreads does it for me), but my general goal is to read more GOOD books. The total is irrelevant; I’m interested in quality over quantity.


    1. Wow – reading the Bible in the year is such a commitment! I’m anxious to see how it goes for you 🙂 And thanks for the encouragement for War and Peace — I am going to need it!!


  4. I am rather in awe of the planning you put into your reading. I am pretty random with my books. I have good book titles jotted in multiple places, and I just choose list and request a few etc! Occasionally some organisation will produce a list and I will go for that. My aim now is to read some books I actually own for a change, rather than go to the library. Good luck with the Russian novels. I do like Anna Karenina quite a lot. Also like Toni Morrison. Enjoy your Christmas reading.


    1. Reading books we own seems to be a challenge for so many of us! The library makes borrowing so tempting 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement with Anna Karenina – it is intimidating but wonderful to know that people actually enjoyed it!


  5. Ooh, so excited for YOUR reading… that’s kind of weird, huh? Thinking and planning about reading is almost as fun as actually doing it. I’m interested in reading (and re-reading) more Kingsolver in 2023. I tried to read Anna Karenina and made it about 300 pages before abandoning it. It’s not a bad book, but I wasn’t in the headspace to be invested for that long. One thing I do need to work on is trying to race through books or starting new ones constantly – fixating on the next thing rather than actually enjoying current reads!


    1. Not weird at all!! I hear you about racing through books. One of my goals this year was to SLOW DOWN. I’m not sure how well I did, but my strategy of picking “slow and steady” books seemed to help. I will be working on that in 2023 too. I love your reading plans and can’t wait to follow along next year!


  6. That looks like a well-considered, realistic and exciting plan. I read Anna Karenina this year and instead of finding it the struggle I thought it would be, I ended up rationing myself to four chapters a day as I didn’t want it to end. I’m also going to be reading War and Peace from January to March – I’ll decide on my pace once I see how I’m getting on. Like you, I want to be more intentional about my reading and take my time. I’ll be starting Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell next week and have been saving it for this time all year as a Christmas treat to myself after loving Piranesi. Good luck with your reading in 2023 and I look forward to finding how you get on.


    1. Wow – I am so encouraged by your experience with Anna Karenina – thank you! Let’s be sure to connect with our W&P progress in the new year!! And JS&MN will be an excellent Christmas treat to yourself — what a lovely time of year to curl up with this massive book!! Enjoy your holidays and here’s to a wonderful 2023!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Good luck with all of your plans for 2023! You’ve got some great reading to look forward to. I’ve a few ideas myself and will write a post about them sometime in the next couple of weeks. Of course, being a hardcore mood reader, my plans are very loose!


  8. You have a very thoughtful plan. Like you, I plan my reading and then read about 75% of what is on the list. Whenever I read Toni Morrison, I think I should read more of her work. I found The Source of Self-Regard to be very thoughtful and thought provoking.


  9. I love your enthusiasm for exploring, connecting and enjoying through reading! also wow for the big books and the Japanese novels. I have a few Wendell Berry books on my shelf and might join in … I’ve only read The Timbered Choir and Jayber Crow. More to come in early 2023 about Kingsolver.


  10. I’d like to join you in reading Toni Morrison’s works and I may read along with Wendell Berry as well, I love his writing!
    I loved Dr. Zhivago!!! I first read it when I was a teenager after seeing the movie and having a crush on Omar Sharif. On that first read I was swept away by the romance and skimmed over the more difficult sections about the philosophy of the revolution, art, and the meaning of life. I re-read it in 2019 and because I understood those more difficult parts, the novel had more depth and meaning to me, but I was still swept away by the romance. As I read it the second time, I had all the images from the movie in my mind! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I might even consider another re-read!


  11. I have such a passion for Russian literature! I almost had enough for a minor in college, as I took as many classes as I could I just finished Anna Karenina, for the 900th time, (so to speak), and it never disappoints. In fact, like truly spectacular literature, I am enriched each time I reread it. I am embarking on War and Peace this year, hopefully to finish it rather than abandoning halfway through like last time.

    I’m so glad you’re joining in the Japanese literature challenge! You have lovely books chosen, from your list above. I was utterly charmed by Convenience Store Woman. And, of course, Murakami….☺️


  12. What a rich post, Katie! Anna K is my favorite Russian read… I hope you enjoy it, too!
    I also abandoned my GR lists and went straight to paper. This year, I can tell must from my unnumbered book journal that I read way less than last year. That was part intention (I wanted to feel less race-to-the-finish and more Just Enjoy). And it was part circumstantial.
    I’ve started considering how I want to ‘do’ next year. And I think I’m going to pass on all ReadAlongs. And that’s b/c I just feel I am a slow reader with not TONS of time to devote. So I want to read what I feel drawn to at the time…follow my curiosity. While I was over the moon about Little No Horse, for example, Sentence is a bit of a slog for me. I’ll finish–b/c I’m an Upholder. But I do think my personality is such that that kind of reading can feel burdensome vs. fulfilling. I’ll participate in Read With Us when I’m jazzed or curious–but will pass otherwise.
    I love your overview for your year; it’s inspiring and interesting! It will be fun to read along on your posts as the year progresses.


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