2023 Reading Review: Books Challenges and More

2023 was my biggest reading year ever. I read 125 books out of the 52 book original goal. A lot of these were shorter books like graphic novels, children, middle grade, and audiobooks. I have been able to increase my reading in a few ways this year and continue to prioritize it as my main hobby. My mental health was not the best for most of 2023. I believe reading especially lighter things helped me.

This is a long post reflecting on books and my reading this past year.

Book Tech, Tracking, and Ratings

I began to use Libby for both ebooks and audiobooks. My library does limit it to 20 items checked out or on hold so I will still use other methods. It’s been great exploring this option and the limited CloudLibrary selection my local library has. I am planning on increasing both audiobook and ebook reading in the future.

I also started to use Storygraph regularly and consistently. I really like the data and visuals it provides. I like the mood tags and the content warnings too. Using it and going to my book club made me reflect on the star ratings I give to books. I now give higher ratings especially on GoodReads. My default is to give 3 stars. I grade things more on 4 or round up to 4 especially if it’s a genre or book that doesn’t get as much attention. I am trying to give more 5 stars now. Sometimes, I overthink the ratings and often go back to change them to usually being higher. I started writing the ratings here on the book blog but I think I’ll pause that and use my gut for the book tracking sites.

I don’t publish my book reviews widely on social media. This is a public blog but was always intended as a way for me to track my reading and challenges. I only know a couple of people who regularly reads this blog and I feel liberated to do what I want here because the readership is low or intimate. I was tempted to start a bookstagram account, but I really don’t think I could maintain the pace of an account like that. Most of this blog’s posts are written when I have time and then scheduled for publishing.

Reading multiple books

For most of my life, I have found it difficult to have more than one book on the go because I like reading a book in a couple sessions. This is the first year where I achieved some balance.

When I started listening to more nonfiction audiobooks, I began to treat them like podcasts which meant I allowed myself to go in and out of them and space out a little bit. This was perfect during the work week, walks, or chores because I didn’t need to use my brain as much. Even some fictional audiobooks (like the ACOTAR graphic audio series) have been good to wind in and out.

I tried to have a bedtime book with moderate success. I’ve never been able to read before bed because I find reading too engrossing. I can only read before bed with very particular books. Either a slow and gentle nonfiction, short stories, or a children’s book. I did do some bedtime reading in the summer, but now I mostly listen to podcasts and knit before bed.

I found out that I can read a lot of print graphic novels, middle grade, and children’s books during the work week. After or during a work day, I don’t want to be engrossed in most novels. I want to be immersed for hours when reading so the weekends or vacation is when I can do most of my longer reads.

Reading What I Own, Decluttering, and Dumping

I have been running out of physical bookshelf space the last couple years. I have also been on declutterring a lot of things from my parents home and my own home. I discovered that I had duplicates of books. I gave away or donated easily over 30 books this year. They were books which I had read, had duplicates, or I didn’t want to read anymore.

I started a Read What I Own Challenge and tracked them. The main goal was to read books and then get rid of most of them. I did include books from my husband’s collection e.g. Tintin. I included books that I started this year or before and didn’t finish. I did not include books that I gave away without reading them at all. I also included books that I either listened to on audiobook or ebook but had the print version on the shelves. That became one of my strategies to start a book because it was more convenient for me to listen or e-read. I tagged all the books I read or attempted to read as “from-TBR-2023” and there were 33 in total. Four of these were Did Not Finish out of the five DNF books I had total from 2023. I have been much better about dumping books now. Removing the DNF, 23% completed 2023 books that were on my physical TBR stacks. That’s decent and I hope to increase it in 2024.

Classics and Boxall Challenge

I wanted to read more classics as well and set a goal of reading 5 books from the Boxall challenge at the start of 2023. I completed four which was fine. I have not been reading as many classics or literary fiction because they tend to be darker and more depressing. I did not have the head space for a lot of it but I will continue to slowly read more of the classics in my collection.

More ebooks and audiobooks

With my decision to declutter physical books, I resolved that I would move towards more digital content to free up shelf space in the next couple of years. I will always love physical books, but I’m not a big rereader or someone who needs to have hundreds of books. I will be more mindful of the physical books I acquire and try to consume more through digital means. 28% of the total reading I did this year was from digital content. Equally 14% ebook and 14% was audiobooks.

The Reading Glasses 2023 Challenge

Reading Glasses is a podcast on the Maximum Fun network which hosts a couple of podcasts I like including my favourite Judge John Hodgman. I went through the whole back catalogue in the summer and loved that it is a podcast about reading and it has hosts who read genre fiction as well. They have an annual reading challenge and I was able to complete it easily with tracking on Storygraph.

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