READING GOALS for 2018: The Most Exciting Things

Hello, hello, hello! We're a full five days (what?? how??) into 2018 and I have finished one book already! Ha! Granted, it was less than 100 pages long, BUT STILL. It's an excellent intro for today's goal-setting post, which is all about my READING GOALS for 2018! Honestly I think this is the post I'm most excited about writing this year! Haha. Listen, I just love reading, okay???

Anyway, this year I want to do a lot with books. I have so many goals, so I'm just gonna jump right in!

Read at least 52 books

This is my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for the year. Last year, I ambitiously set a goal of 65 books, which I downsized to 50 in September when Goodreads showed me 13 books behind. I just barely managed to actually hit that goal (what!) and so I upped it this year. This goal equals reading one book a week, which I consider inherently manageable. I highly doubt I'll always be "on schedule," because I read about four books at a time and often they sync up with each other (a few days ago, I was at 15% of all four books...ha!) but I should make it. The actual goal is to surpass it, but that'll just be a bonus if it happens.

Read outside my comfort zone

Last year and in 2016, I mostly read young adult (YA) books, because these books are my Linus' blanket. They comfort me, they make me happy, they soothe me. Toward the end of last year, though, I started reading some nonfiction as well, and found that it's also wonderful. In 2018, I want to expand that. I want to read all sorts of nonfiction: essay collections, memoirs, biographies, history books...I also want to read poetry collections, theology books, and select literary fiction titles. I want to expand!

Re-read some old favorites

Last year I decided I would never in my life have time to re-read books. This year, I've decided that I just need a little structure to make it work (more about the structure next). This is purely because I want to go back to when reading was something I did for fun, not a task, and a lot of the books I read otherwise are for work as an interviewer, blogger or author. These are just for fun.

Stick to my reading structure

I read (at least) four books at a time, and my reading structure is as follows: 

  1. An ARC (advance review copy) that has been sent to me by a publisher: this is because I have a lot of them sent to me to review, blog about, and interview authors for.
  2. A published YA novel: because, duh, they're my favorites and there are still so many books that I don't get ARCs of.
  3. A nonfiction/adult title: kind of self-explanatory, ya know?
  4. A re-read: a favorite of mine that I'm reading for the second time.

I read in 30-minute chunks and sprinkle my reading throughout out the day, during downtime (when I'm working) or after completing two other tasks. Poetry collections, theology books and literary fiction books will be filed under "tasks" and I'll read 30 minutes of them every couple of days, aka they're not in the official rotation. 

Become a real BookTuber

I dabbled in 2017 with some bookish vlogs, but this year I want to become a real BookTuber. I want to do at least two bookish videos per month. If you're interested, follow my channel or check out one of my first "Fab Book Friday" videos here:

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What are your 2018 reading goals? Leave them in the comments and let's discuss!

I Will Fail My Goodreads Reading Challenge, But Survive the Year

At the beginning of this year, I set an ambitious Goodreads reading goal: I was going to consume 65 books in 2017. Somehow, despite the fact that I epically failed to read even 50 in 2016, I was convinced I would make it work. Around the time I was getting ready to leave New York, I edited that goal, downsizing to 50.

Well...as of today, I'm...at least seven books behind that revised goal. And there's a very low chance that I'll meet even that.

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For an assiduously competitive person, this might seem like a travesty of the highest degree. In fact, for a while, it was. On top of all my other failures this year, I can't even manage to read enough? Good grief. What kind of writer, book blogger, fan am I that I can only read 43 books in a year? The worst!

Or so I thought. Until I realized, you know what? So I've only read 43 books this year. So stinking what? I've had success this year, too!

That success has looked nothing like I would have hoped in January. Back then, my goals included being promoted at the pizzeria, querying and getting an agent (and mayhaps even a book deal) for Saving Grace, probably finding a boyfriend, going back to grad school and being a part of the #resistance. I anticipated a smooth year, as much as it could be given the political topsy-turviness of everything, in my own personal life.

Instead?

I quit the pizzeria, have put Saving Grace on the back burner, found exactly zero boyfriends, left New York City and, with it, my dreams of grad school, and after participating in the Women's March in January, mostly fell silent about political issues.

There's a very good reason that sums up why pretty much all of those things happened: my mental health took a deep dive to the bottom of the proverbial ocean. 

In early April, I contemplated killing myself at work (and then again at home, and then again on the subway), which directly led to quitting a few weeks later.

At the same time, I was rejected from two writing contests and decided to temporarily shelve Saving Grace; it wasn't working, and I couldn't figure out why.

In late June, after a few months of a peaceful mental state, my depression flared up again, and I was hospitalized in early July, after spending a fraught 4th of July on top of a building — not the safest of places for someone in my mental state!

In September, things got so bad that I quit my job, moved away from New York City, and then in October came to Italy to rest for a few months.

In the meantime? In the meantime I broke into two new publications which I love, Ravishly and LitReactor, which have been great homes for my writing on various topics. I finished drafting and editing a new novel, Allie Mae Doesn't Get the Guy in This One. It's the book of my heart. I developed relationships with various publicists and have been receiving ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of highly anticipated books, interviewing authors I'm obsessed with, and seeing those interviews published. I began a vlog which then turned into a YouTube channel where I have a mental health series and one about books. I began Bookstagramming (see my #selfieswithbooks below) and became Twitter "friends" with some of the aforementioned authors I'm obsessed with.

And also, I went on two dates. No big whoop, right, except they were the first two dates of my life and therefore are majorly monumental. I made amazing friends at both my jobs, with men and women whom I will forever treasure in my heart. I had hard conversations with people who loved me and still feel like they love me and I love them. I got to see my best friend in another play. I met some amazing kids all over the world and now they're rooted in my heart. I fell in and out of love countless times.

In short? This year, I accomplished a Whole Heck of a Lot. It might not seem like it, if you look at the things I set out to accomplish, but I'm choosing not to look at it that way and instead think about the ways in which I crushed 2017

But I also need to think about the ways 2017 crushed me, and how I survived it.

  1. I was hospitalized. I keep coming back to that as a big deal, because it is. I don't take going to the hospital lightly. The two previous times I only went because health professionals recommended it. This time, it was because I was convulsing on the floor at church, unable to keep the unending stream of negative thoughts from consuming me. Things were Bad. 
  2. Things got so bad I had to leave New York. This is also not something to be underestimated. I was never going to leave New York. It just wasn't in the cards. It's a real sign of how negative my mental health was that I actually did leave. But it's worth noting that I left on my own two feet, not in a body bag. I got out while I still could. I chose to leave. That empowers me.
  3. I quit the pizzeria. Yeah, like, what, why is this making the list? Guys, I loved the pizzeria with a passion. I loved my coworkers, my customers, the work itself. I still cry when I think about the fact that I quit. But that's how bad my mental health was, that I couldn't handle the fast pace and high stress of it. 
  4. I stopped participating in the #resistance. By this I mean, I didn't call my Senators or Representatives during the entire health care debate. I desperately wanted to, because I have both a mental illness and a pre-existing condition and I believed the health bill would have been destructive to me, but my fingers felt like lead and I couldn't move them to take the phone. Phone anxiety is very real, and very Me. I hate myself for not engaging as I should have. But I have sent emails about net neutrality, the tax bill, and more...and I'm planning to do more in 2018.

That's just a few examples of how this year was a hard year. There are ways in which it gutted me, destroyed me, trampled me, consumed me...and yet.

And yet I'm still here. 

So in the end, did 2017 vanquish me, or did I vanquish 2017?

Yes. Absolutely. 100%. 

I know my posts have been hard lately, especially my latest, on the Mental Health tab, and it's true, I am going through a hard time. Still. My mind is dark, and I'm not sure how to move forward. I think, though, that looking back at how I've already survived? Is a good plan.

How did 2017 hurt you, and how are you defeating it? Leave a note in the comments!