A Year of Reading Randomly

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I seem to start every January deciding that this will be the Year of Reading Randomly … what I want and when I want, unconstricted by outside influences. Reading for pleasure, in fact, not reading under pressure. This for example was what I put for my 2021 reading goals on the page ‘So many books‘:

I’ve subscribed again to the Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year, pledging to read at least 66 books in 2021. This will be regardless of whether they are first-time reads, rereads, library books or whatever.

And that’s it. I’ve decided that this year I shall read for pleasure. If I join in any reading event it will probably be last-minute and on a whim!

And yet every December this wannabe Epicurean finds that such hedonistic intentions have rapidly fallen by the wayside. Not only have I joined in reading events at the last minute but I’ve also signalled my intentions to participate well in advance — and even gone into details!

I could say it’s all the fault of you lovely bloggers of the bookish fraternities and sororities coming up with readalongs and reading months, and author-based events, but I’d be disingenuous. The fact is …

… once I see something shiny and attractive with words I get excited and even obsessive about it. I’ve even been inveigled — not unwillingly, I have to admit! — into helping run one or two of these, namely Witch Week and now Narniathon21. So I can only blame myself because no one is forcing me to getting involved.

But, to show you the depths of my foolishness, here are the memes I committed to, to a greater or lesser extent, this year:

  1. January. Vintage SciFi Month, Back to the Classics Challenge 2021, European Reading Challenge 2021.
  2. February. 21 TBR Books in 2021.*
  3. March. Dewithon, March Magics, Begorrathon.
  4. April. 1936 Club, Talking Tolkien.*
  5. May. Wyrd & Wonder.
  6. June. 20 Books of Summer–>
  7. July. 20 Books of Summer–>
  8. August. Book Lovers Day, Reading Robertson Davies, 20 Books of Summer.
  9. September. Readers Imbibing Peril XVI, World Kid Lit Month.
  10. October. Witch Week, 1976 Club.
  11. November. Novellas in November, SciFiMonth.
  12. December. Library Checkout. Narniathon21.*

You can see how easy it was for me to get sucked into each of these events — and I even thought up three of them (marked with an asterisk)! Some I joined in with reading just one book or two in the selected category, others I went for with near abandon. With a handful I made miserable progress — classics, SciFiMonth in particular — but heyho, you can’t win them all, especially if they were included on a whim. As for the Goodreads Reading Challenge I’m now in the region of eighty books instead of the *ahem* modest 66 originally set.

Another aspect of my obsessiveness I’ve noticed is posting: this blog has been managing, on average, a post every other day for many months. It’s been really enjoyable, and creative, and satisfying, but I really do have to revise this schedule as it’s just not sustainable in the long run.

And now an apology. As if to redress my completing so many books and memes I find I’ve been neglecting bloggers’ posts over the last week or so. I have a partial excuse: my other love is live music and with recent rehearsals and performances with an orchestra, a vocal ensemble and a choral society, plus preparations for Advent and Christmas services and supporting the music department of the local high school I’m afraid likes and comments from me have been less than forthcoming.

I hope for normal service to be resumed very soon: I know many of you will be looking back on the last year and I’m looking forward to seeing how you managed bookwise and how you’ve otherwise coped with another year of ups and downs.

Oh, and today is the feast of St Nicholas, the original of Santa Claus, a dead ringer for Father Christmas who, remember, appears in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Which reminds me, #Narniathon is running

39 thoughts on “A Year of Reading Randomly

    1. Depends what you mean by trashy, Gert, certainly the odd title has been quite frivolous but I’ve not read that many really ‘heavy’ books. Still, all those books won’t read themselves so I do what I can to justify their place on my shelves!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very kind, Sandra, I’m just glad to share my pleasure in reading around with whoever appreciates it! And yes, a light from a certain lamppost is beckoning, a beacon in the hastening darkness…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. jjlothin

    You are doing a noble job, Chris, in singling out some real gems for your blog audience so that those of us who are incapable of keeping up with your output (input?!) can jump straight to them – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I may have mentioned once or thrice before, JJ, it’s a public service I offer, free and gratis at the point of drlivery: I feel like a jeweller pointing out the merits and demerits of those gems, precious or, semi-precious as they may be! If you’re pleased, I’m pleased too. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – that’s a LOT of reading! 😎

    “And yet every December this wannabe Epicurean finds that such hedonistic intentions have rapidly fallen by the wayside. Not only have I joined in reading events at the last minute but I’ve also signalled my intentions to participate well in advance — and even gone into details!”

    Hmmm, I don’t see why joining these events should mean you’re not reading for pleasure. I think perhaps you enjoy both the reading and the challenge. So picking up a single book just because you want to is reading for pleasure right enough, but so is taking part in a gazillion reading challenges throughout the year! Just my opinion – you do seem to really enjoy both. 😊

    Hope you enjoy all of your advent music! Don’t worry about the blog – I’m sure we’ll all be here when you get back!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am like the player in the dumb show to your Queen Gertrude who’s been critiqued with a “Methinks the lady doth protest too much,” Jo! Of course I’m over-icing the cake in this post when, in your words, I’m enjoying both the reading and the challenge — but I was curious about how many ‘challenges’ I’d jumped at and thus surprised myself.

      I also totted up the musical events I’m involved in these last two months of the year: two orchestral concerts (movie music is the theme), a 40th anniversary choral concert (Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi), seasonal music (from Byrd to Arvo Pärt), two nine lessons and carols services and a school mini-concert to accompany at. After 18 months without live music it’s been both a delight and hard work! 🙂 I too hope you get a chance to enjoy whatever live events you fancy attending before year’s end.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We should all have such problems! (In fact, given your readership, we probably do.) But now I can tell myself that I’m doing you a favor by not posting on my blog. One less thing to feel guilty about neglecting = a negative plus.

    I envy only your musical endeavors. Anyone contributing to live musical performance must place high on Santa’s ‘nice’ list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very thoughtful, Lizzie, for not posting so as to ease the burden of my guilt! Seriously though, I’ve valued your likes here and on Twitter and the dreaded FB, and I know you’ve been stuck into NaNoWriMo the last 30 or so days so you have an inbuilt excuse for your temporary (?) absence from blogging! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some nice challenges there, and I feel your pain… I always tell myself I will follow my reading mojo and modds, but I get suckered into the events and run some myself. As for the posting, I tend to do this three times a week – and I do read fast, so I am constantly behind with the reviewing. I need to cut myself more slack next year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I envy your capacity, Karen, to (a) read fast combined with (b) an ability to retain what you’ve just read at speed! I sometimes feel like Camilleri’s detective Montalbano in respect of food, enjoying a meal at leisure and without distractions so as to savour every mouthful and the flavours offered — for me it’s the same with reading, especially when the prose is good. But it does hold me up…

      As for posting, we often seem to leapfrog each other in terms of frequency, except you kindly read and retweet my posts while I’m still doing some post-publication editing to correct glaring errors!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I applaud both your noble intentions and your pathetic inability to resist reading challenges and events! We all walk between this Scylla and Charybdis of the reading life, and glean what we can from the wreckage of our unrealistic or self-deluding plans. Fortunately, one way or another the result is usually a lot of great reading. I call that a win.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah, I like your metaphor of walking between the Scylla and Charybdis of the reading life, Lory, though knowing my ineptitude I fear that my wrecks may sink without trace into a figurative Straits of Messina! But, yes, lots of reading, and ultimately a win-win whenever other bloggers enter the conversation. Thanks. 😊

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    1. I daren’t even contemplate looking or engaging in the bookish memes on Instagram, Laurie, the blogosphere and Twitter are already over-facing! And let’s not talk about New Year resolutions. Not yet, anyway! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It is difficult to fit in reading, writing posts and keeping up with everyone else’s posts, but so long as it doesn’t start to feel like too much pressure then it’s fun! I’ve been avoiding challenges and events most of the year because I have so many long-terms reading projects on the go that constantly get neglected, but the temptation can be hard to resist…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that temptation! But then I, perhaps we, need fun distractions to take our minds off all the crap going on in the world, some of it supposedly done in our name.

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  7. Lovely to have musical stuff to do! I blogged too much in November and am enjoying cutting down a bit … I try to only do challenges from what’s on my TBR, though there is sometimes some judicious falling upon a book in a charity shop when I have something coming up. This year, as usual, I’ve done Kaggsy and Simon’s two weeks, um, erm, and 1976; I think I did Dewithon though I don’t always manage; 20 Books of Summer; Novellas in November, Nonfiction November and AusReading month; plus my own Anne Tyler challenge. I expect it will be more of the same next year, although I’m adding Annabookbel’s Nordic challenge as I have loads of books to match that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve yet to try Anne Tyler — sometime, maybe — but like you I have a number of Nordic titles to choose from for January, which I’m looking forward to though I now seem to have completely negated the point of this post! Perhaps I’ll start, in February… In the meantime I really should cut down my own visits to charity shops, as the bookpiles are getting out of hand!

      Might the 1936 Club have been the other event run by Kaggsy and Simon that you took part in?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I stand no chance of keeping up with the amount everyone reads and the challenges, but I did enjoy your post which made me laugh, and your comment about Montalbano (above) is the biggest enticement to give Camilleri a read! Have a lovely musical christmas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was bought a load of Montalbano novels a few years ago but only read the first two or three, Jane, so I think it’s way past time I went and got stuck back into them! Being on the autistic spectrum I fully understand his need to have no distractions while he’s enjoying his food. 🙂 Anyway, it sounds as though you’re complying with the simple principle of only reading what you choose to read, a highly commendable decision!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You certainly have a lot on your plate!
    In my earlier years of blogging, I would also commit to a crazy number of challenges and request many review copies for book tours, etc.

    As I grow older, I’m getting “wiser” and more focusing on my own TBRs.
    I see you are hitting 10 years of blogging next year, so maybe it will slowly but surely get easier for you to read randomly. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Older, but I misdoubt wiser as the years! I probably regard challenges / memes as a smorgasbord of prompts, ways to help shape my reading menu, and rather than piling everything on my plate I try to help myself to a taste of each. Having said which, I rather went for Novellas in November in a big way! Luckily no indigestion has resulted so far. 🙂

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  10. I’m belatedly catching up, Chris. Real life has rather got in the way of reading my favourite blogs recently. My new year resolution regarding reading was similar to yours, namely reading for pleasure rather than pressure. It didn’t last long, I’m afraid. Narniathon21 is definitely pleasure so I’m going to be finishing on a high! I’m hoping, other commitments allowing, to join in with The Snow Spider readalong on Twitter too.

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  11. Had to chuckle over this because it so neatly reflects my own experience. I tried one year to do what I called a Year of Naked Reading (a fancy term for reading without a plan) but couldn’t keep to it because of so many other distractions.

    You prompted me to go looking at my own plan for 2021 and I find I said I would do the European lit challenge and 4-6 other reading challenges/months even if it was just one book per reading event. Just done a count and I did 7. The days of reading completely spontaneously I’m afraid belong to the days pre-blogging when there were not so many temptations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we’re spoilt for choice and perhaps choose to be spoilt! Here’s what I intend to do in 2022: other than the odd one or two readalongs, memes, events or what-have-you (Witch Week, Narniathon) that I have to do — because I’m hosting them — I shall be a retrospective reader. That is, I shall claim I’m doing an event at the point of delivery, not flag it up in advance so that I can fall flat on my face when I fail to join in or complete it!

      But then, I suspect this project — like your 2021 plan — is doomed to failure…

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