Back to a former future

Towards the end of 2021 I did a little musing about the coming year, and mentioned a few authors and books I was considering on my wishlist for 2022. As we near the end of this year I shall indulge in a bit of reflection, considering what I actually read compared to what I listed.

First of all, I’m glad I managed to mark the birth of two authors in 1922, Sam Youd – better known under his pseudonym John Christopher – and Kurt Vonnegut with reads of, respectively, The Winter Swan and Cat’s Cradle. Regrettably I never got round to reading any authors who were born in 1972. Nor any titles published either a hundred or fifty years ago – except, I think, for Margery Williams’s The Velveteen Rabbit (1922). Oh, and the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic (1972) . . .

But I did get round to enjoying writings from elsewhere in those two decades, thanks to several memes such as Novellas in November. The 1920s included Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, H P Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, Margery Williams’s The Velveteen Rabbit, and Muriel Jaeger’s The Question Mark; the 1970s have featured most of The Dark is Rising sequence, Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, and Jan Mark’s Thunder and Lightnings, among others. And of course loads of other stuff.

© C A Lovegrove

For this year I aimed to at least reach parity between female and male authors, and I’m pleased that when I get to the end of December with my planned reads I’ll actually have completed more titles by women writers than by men. As for countries these authors hail from they include Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, United States and, of course, Wales – a fair smattering from around the globe though not as much variety as I’d hoped for.

Nevertheless I’m a klutz when it comes to specific reading challenges such as Classics Club, Back to the Classics or the European Reading Challenge. I don’t know why I even consider them except maybe to feel guilty – blame my Catholic upbringing – or to flagrantly ignore them. However one commitment I’m faithful to is the Goodreads Reading Challenge, in which I set myself a sensible, achievable annual target; this year I’ve comfortably passed my intention to read and review 60 titles, and have already passed the 70 mark.

Nevertheless, I’m much better with what I think of as prompts, with no prescriptive titles, numbers or multiple categories – Vintage SciFi Month, Nordic FINDS, March Magics, Begorrathon, Dewithon, 20 Books of Summer, Readers Imbibing Peril, SciFiMonth or Novellas in November for example.

And of course the memes I’m directly involved in I assiduously cleave to – primarily Witch Week (co-hosted with Lizzie Ross) and the one-off Narniathon, and my open-ended themes like Talking Tolkien and the Library of Brief Narratives, this last focused on short story collections (which sadly I’ve rather neglected this year).

Wait, what’s this, though? Another shiny meme?!? Hmm…

But it’s all about the books, isn’t it? And reading for pleasure, of course. And connecting with other bookbloggers. And living other lives vicariously and visiting other worlds and inhabiting different time periods. And … Well, you get the picture.

Next year I shall be restructuring this blog a bit, removing ephemeral posts and redirecting some pieces elsewhere; but never fear, this blog will always be about the books and the bloggers and – as the strapline says – exploring the world of ideas through books.

So, have you started to think about next year? Do you have plans you intend to stick to, or do you take pot luck, go with the flow, take things as they come? Or – heaven forbid – do you have a little devil on your shoulder whispering must-reads in your ear?

Image borrowed from research by

36 thoughts on “Back to a former future

  1. I’m not ready for next year. Plans will have to shape themselves as they go along! It’s been so great sharing the readalongs with you and others this year, I wonder what will come up to take their place. I do want to do more “reading around the world” so perhaps that will be more of a focus. Congrats on all that you have accomplished, and I am glad you will remain with us after restructuring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, series readalongs with one book a month, that’s been both manageable and fun! I too wonder what would do: I want to reread Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series of four but also I fancy reading more of Le Guin’s Hainish titles as well as rereading the ones I’ve previously enjoyed; as for voyaging vicariously around the world that’s always on my wishlist. Hmm…

      Restructuring for me will be mostly clearing out redundant posts and files, rethinking pages, maybe even switching WP themes (though I quite like the Lovecraft theme I’m currently using). Also, I’m thinking of shifting my non-fiction Arthurian reviews to my Pendragonry blog . . . but it’s all pie in the sky at the moment!


        1. Oooh, I’ve had a look at the contents of those two volumes and though I have a good half or more of the novels and short stories it’s the commentary and notes the LoA includes that I see as a real bonus (as I found with The Complete Malafrena).

          Possibly a readathon to start on 22nd January, the fifth anniversary of her death? So, I might do that: I’ll compose an introductory post or two in early January and perhaps suggest the novels in rough chronological order, with options for including the short stories later. What do you think?

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Great, Lizzie, good to know! I’m scheduling a year-long read then, starting in January with the novels in publication order, with the option of the short stories after. Hashtags #LoveHain and #UKLGsf, and schedule to be posted around 2nd or 3rd January.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with the book bingo. I’m going to have a go at the new card too. I love how open to interpretation it is. Will also be setting a (very) low Goodreads target, and probably trying to get through more backlist books but other than that it’ll probably be more of whatever catches my eye at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m hoping, and indeed expecting, that each picture prompt in the Book Bingo will easily be applicable to the range of titles I tend to read. I think it’s sensible that we both set lowish Goodreads targets as it’s fun approaching the end point comfortably and with time to spare as well as having something achievable in a world, and a period, where it’s so easy to feel a failure. Ditto reading whatever catches you fancy – why beat ourselves up ploughing through stuff we absolutely don’t get on with?!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think events and prompts and projects are better than challenges – the latter can make reading into a battle which is never good because it should be about enjoying the books! I’ve started to turn my mind to next year and I suspect things will stay much the same – a few events, the reading clubs and whatever else takes my fancy! Look forward to following you next year after the restructure!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve enjoyed the year-related ‘Clubs’ you’ve jointly promoted, Karen, even if it’s only to dig out at least one classic, ancient or modern, so I’ll definitely look out for your 2023 choices! But yes, events and prompts sit better with us than those challenges, targets, goals, mission statements and what-have-you that suck the joy out of reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. That still sounds like a good year of reading, even if you didn’t manage to read everything you’d hoped to. Well done for passing your Goodreads target! I haven’t made many plans for next year yet, but I’m sure I’ll join in with some of the prompts and events that are taking place and I’m hoping to finally finish my Classics Club list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Helen, the Classics Club list, I’ll see if I can whittle mine down significantly next year – or else ‘cheat’ by substituting more amenable titles! But I’d rather not . . .

      Still, I’m impressed with your mix of classics and historical fiction plus whatever takes your fancy. I really ought to let my guard down and look at a couple more historical fiction pieces in 2023 than I wont to do – not a few of those you review do appeal at the time you post them.


    1. An entirely sensible approach, Jeanne, and one I followed at the start of my blogging ‘journey’ – most years I think of returning to it, only to be diverted (both figuratively and literally) by shiny memes and tempting anniversaries!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m never organised enough to fit my reading and reviewing into the time-specific prompt-type challenges, but do much better at the longer-term challenges like the Classics Club, so more or less the complete opposite to you! Those must-reads do whisper in my ear but I get better at ignoring them as I age – now I tend to look for books that my brain or heart says I must read rather than books the world tells me I must read. Still at the planning stage for next year’s challenges…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all have our approaches to reading, and yours is very familiar to me because it’s one I used to follow. I suppose I use more prompts these days to extend my genre experience more, to the detriment of long-term projects like Classics Club. Getting the balance better is the plan for 2023! But good luck with your own planning. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s an interesting new angle for a book bingo card – I can see how it would appeal.

    No plans as such for 2023 yet. Part of me just wants to be very free to read whatever I fancy and yet another part of me gets enthused by reading events and what you call prompts. I will have only one challenge next year – the classics club one which I treat very lightly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A sensible approach – I wish I had the same sense! But then I try not to let any lack of achieving bother me so that’s all good then… Good luck with your classics – I think I may get to knocking a few off my list next year too. 🙂


  7. I’ll be doing my usual challenges – using Nordic FINDS to finish a big book of Icelandic sagas; Reading Ireland and Dewithon; 20 Books of Summer; Novellas in November, AusReadingMonth and Nonfiction November. Maybe I’ll run my own Dean Street December again but I’m not doing a yearly challenge myself for the first time in over a decade – I will have one or two Larry McMurtrys left to read (it was one but my December one is huge and I don’t want to rush it) and then I want to concentrate on reading my TBR. Happy 2023 reading yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many of these feel me, Liz, except for AusReadingMonth and the McMurtry meme; I hadn’t heard of the Dean Street month either. I’ve a couple of sagas to reread for Nordic FINDS so I’ll be interested to read your commentaries. Buona Fortuna for 2023!


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