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Wrapping Up 2020: How'd My Reading/Blogging Go This Year

 It feels weird writing a year end post, which is probably why we're almost a week into the new year and I still haven't posted one yet. 2020 was such a hard year for the world and a weird one for me personally, and it still feels far from over. From a reading perspective, there were parts of the year that were super strong and others where I hardly picked up a book. I started the year working at a bookstore which, contrary to popular belief, made me read less than usual. I had a good run during lockdown and through the summer (though that certainly had ups and downs too), and then I started my first semester of college. That created a serious reading slump, though it wasn't like I stopped reading! In one class alone, I had 1,000 pages of reading saved in my class notebook. All the academic reading replaced my fun books, and there were moments where I honestly thought I hated reading. I wondered what was wrong with me and if I was just done with that part of my life. Over break, I've learned that's definitely not true, but not having the time to read anything I enjoyed seriously had me questioning my whole reader identity. 

I set out every year with the goal to read 100 books. That's still my 2021 goal, even though I failed to meet that this year. I've been tracking my reading in a spreadsheet since 2017. While in 2017/2018 I easily glided past that 100 book mark to read about 120 a year, it's been in slow decline. In 2019, I finished 88 books and in 2020, I only got through 74. 

Still, there are stats in my reading list that I'm really proud of. I read more own voices LGBTQIA books and books by authors of color than the year before, though I read less books about mental illness. I didn't see as many books this year directly dealing with mental illness as a theme as years prior, and I also think that I had more trouble handling darker subject matter this year. It definitely stayed lighter, and I indulged in more rom-coms. 30% of the YA I read had LGBTQIA characters and another 30% featured characters of color. I'm honestly surprised both of these aren't higher, especially because I feel like almost all the books I read this year were queer, but looking through, it makes sense how it balanced out. I try to choose and boost inclusive and diverse books when possible, but I'm also a mood reader and follow a lot of whims, so I never know what the breakdown will be. Still, I read more inclusively than ever and about more experiences different from my own, which is always my goal. I want to promote as many own voices books as possible every year. 

I read 48 YA books that were all contemporary. I've wanted to branch out genre-wise more into fantasy, but this year, I didn't end up feeling like pushing myself. It's turned into a 2021 goal. The other books I read were nonfiction ranging from nutrition to fast fashion to biographies to books on music and politics. It was so much fun to learn about a broad range of topics and immerse myself in them. Beyond that, I also finished 2 poetry books and a graphic novel. I'd made it a goal to read books in different formats outside of YA, and those were two categories I was looking forward to exploring. I can't wait to read more of both going forward. 

Speaking of formats, let's talk about where I got my books this year. I'm really proud of myself for not buying a ton of books this year. I bought maybe 10, if that? And that's including the 3 different copies I got of I Would Leave Me If I Could. While I've gotten my book impulsiveness under control, that has not yet extended to Halsey projects. Moving on... I got 28 books from the library, either borrowed virtually or through curbside pick up. It's been so so sad not being able to browse through the library for a whole year. I get so much inspiration through browsing that I'm going to blame some of my lack of reading on not being able to go sit in the library. During lockdown, I got really into audiobooks to fill the space because my usual slue of 50 podcasts all took hiatuses. I wound up finishing 14 which helped my reading numbers. I haven't been listening to as many audiobooks lately, but I guess I should get back into it again. I really only like audiobooks narrated by the author, though, which makes it harder. As far as ARCs, I read 21 of them this year. The vast majority of these are eARCs. I'm so grateful to get ARCs as a blogger, both because it's fun to read things early and easier to promote but mostly because they give me enough books for free to keep the blog running. I do have to say that I've gotten better at filing library requests for books I know I'll want and keeping my ARC requesting to a reasonable amount. It takes a few months for library requests to come in, but if you have a good library, I can't recommend this enough. 

As far as blogging, I had my ups and downs this year, but overall, I'm pretty proud of myself. I've always taken the blog super seriously, like it was my job, since I was 13. I've learned this year that this blog is for fun and it always will be. You can't really monetize book blogging (which I have plenty of frustrated words about). I've never done it for the money (clearly), but in a world that demands money to function, it's made me realize that it's not sustainable to give it 40+ hours a week for nothing in return. I took a step back this year and stopped being so hard on myself about how many times a week I post. I did content scheduling through lockdown when I could make it my only job, but as school started, I let that go. I tried to post once a week, and I wrote when I was inspired. I think that made me a better blogger with better quality work. 

I realized at the end of the summer, I started resenting how much work I was putting in. So I quit. I quit blogging for a bit, and I quit worrying about it. And then I came back because I read books I loved so much all I wanted to do was scream about them. I started taking fancy photos again for bookstagram and aimlessly scrolling through that account. I wanted to be engaged, and I realized I should put out less and only share what I absolutely believed in. I stopped caring about growth and likes, so I stopped getting frustrated when it wasn't growing at the rate I wanted it to. And, somehow, this blog has grown more this year with me leaving it to its own devices than it ever has before. I get 10,000 views some months. It's not a huge number compared to some blogs, but it's a record for me. More than 150,000 people have read my posts. It's been fulfilling and made me happy. And then I got out of school and had so much time to read and write posts, and I've published basically ever other day. I feel happy and energized because I listened to my brain and did what felt right. 

This isn't my job. Sorry for repeating that, but that realization is so incredibly freeing. It takes all the hours of a job, and I treat it like my little business, but nothing happens if I miss a week. Everything is fine. Younger me thought if I took a week off the whole thing would implode. I used to get so anxious. I wrote posts I didn't care about to have posts. I get why I did it back then. I wanted to prove I could, but I've run this blog successfully with all the blood, sweat, and tears needed for almost 4 years. I've earned the space, and I think this is a better blog for me only making it a space for what I believe in and what makes my heart happy. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to feel right. I'm proud of myself for getting there. So sorry if it's annoying to get content off of a schedule or inconsistently. I'm doing everything wrong to grow a blog, but I'm doing what's right for me. That's what matters. In 2021, I want to focus more on doing what's right for me. Oddly, taking my music blog, Music, Musings, and Me, more seriously taught me that. I can only write articles there when there's news or new songs, so it's always sporadic, and that's okay. And the posts when I'm bursting with excitement always perform best. It's my hobby, and it taught me how to make this a hobby once again. I love it again now. 

Also, I just didn't have time to be so scheduled and precious. I started putting out 2 YouTube videos a week in July, ran a second blog, drafted and edited my fourth novel, and had 4 college classes on zoom to juggle. I thrive and deteriorate on being overwhelmed, but it did help me organize my priorities. In a way, I feel like I've done what I wanted to do with the blog. I'm only still here cause I enjoy it. 2021 might get even more hectic because I'm seriously considering relaunching my podcast (though, do I really need another project? Knowing me, the answer is probably yes). 

This has gone on for a while, so I'm going to start wrapping it up with some goals for 2021 for reading and the blog. I'm not a huge resolution or goal person. I feel like if you want to make a change, why wait for an arbitrary date, but I do have a few intentions for the year. I want to read 100 books, though I doubt that'll happen. If I get over 55, I'll be happy. I want to promote as many LGBTQIA books from as many identities as possible. I want to keep reading as inclusively and diversely as possible. I want to support as many 2021 debuts as possible. I want to bring back my interview series more. I feel like this year everyone was a little too overwhelmed to ask people to spend more time answering my questions. For the blog, I'm hoping to post weekly or twice a week. I want to do more book tags and maybe collaborations with other bloggers, because I've never done that. Mostly, I want to just keep having fun with it and allowing the blog to grow with me.

I didn't get super personal in this wrap up. I usually talk more about what's going on with my life, but since I've already written so much, I'll refer you to a video I just put out if you're interested. I wrote a letter to myself addressing everything (non book related) I've done this year, what I learned, and how I've grown. Click the link here or watch it below. I'm also adding my December Favorites if you're not caught up on that series. 


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