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.
BOOKS I HOPE TO READ IN 2023:
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.)
May-July: Doctor Zhivago (daily pace to be determined)
September-November: Anna Karenina (daily pace to be determined)
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!
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!
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.)
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
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.