Thursday Thoughts: A new year, and a new(ish) reading life!
It's about to be 2022, and because I've been on break, I've made a few changes in my reading life that I hope to continue throughout the year! I figured I'd share a little bit about them in a post together.
Updates on my book-hoarding
It's been about a year since I finally collected the many, many books I had scattered around the house and put them into a single set of bookcases in my room (which you can see here). Well, they look pretty empty in those photos, but after a year of purchasing more books than is perhaps reasonable, they had gotten pretty cramped!
So I took some time a couple of weeks ago to sort through everything once again, and I ended up donating five bags of books to my local public library, leaving me with much more space (even after I put away the Christmas books I got!). Here's a photo of what my shelves look like now, Christmas books included (and primarily on the third shelf in the middle):
It's a much-better system, and it's actually quite organized (to me, at least). Although about half of those books are currently unread (cue screams of terror), at least now I can actually see what I have, which will make it easier to find things to read in the new year!
Updates on Goodreads
If you aren't aware, I created an account on Goodreads over the summer, but it sat mostly untouched the last few months as I focused on my blog. So I took some time to organize things, and now I'm really happy with the results! So what did I do?
Well, first of all, I replaced my extremely-archaic-and-disorganized Apple Notes list of books I needed to read with a much-more-organized list in my Goodreads shelves! I have shelves in Goodreads that I set as exclusive so only one can be set at any given time—there's a "considering," "need-to-buy" (or "need-to-borrow" for picture books, which I get from the library), and "waiting-in-bookcase" for every age range that I read. And then I also created a non-exclusive shelf for every single blogger whose recommendations I've written down on my list.
The result of that is, when I see something I want to read, rather than writing down the title and author and blogger's name (and then forgetting what it is or writing it down several times because I forget where I wrote it last), I just go over to Goodreads and mark it as "considering" or "need-to-buy" and then click on the bloggers' names so I can remember them. It's a much faster process, and it also gives you all a bit of an inside look into my book selection process if you look at my profile!
Another thing I did is follow all of the bloggers I read who also have accounts on Goodreads. I personally prefer to interact with other bloggers on their actual blogs, but I figured giving everyone a follow was a nice way to show my support!
And I changed up the way I write reviews on Goodreads. I originally created my Goodreads account so I could post shorter reviews and then link back to my main blog, which I hoped would make my blog accessible to more readers who weren't necessarily familiar with MMGM or #IMWAYR. (Blogger itself has no discoverability features at all, so my blog was basically sitting in the ether unless you found it through one of those groups.)
The problem is, I realized it is immensely difficult to write extra reviews just to post on Goodreads, and I ended up avoiding it as much as I could. So my new plan (which I've already tried out with a few books I reviewed in months past) is to simply quote an important section from the review (usually the conclusion) and then link back to the review. That way, the reviews are still reasonably helpful, they're not an inordinate amount of extra work to create, and my actual blog is still discoverable through the platform!
Updates on my blog
To finish the changes off, I've actually made a few edits to the way my blog works as well!
The first thing I did is buy a custom domain for my blog! That means, rather than my blog being located at completelyfullbookshelf.blogspot.com (which was a free subdomain of blogspot.com that Blogger gave me), it is now located at completelyfullbookshelf.com (without the "blogspot" part). I never did this because I always assumed these domains cost a ton of money and weren't worth the hassle—and then I looked on Google Domains (the provider that Blogger links to, since Blogger is also owned by Google), and I discovered that my domain would only cost $12 per year, which is way cheaper than I expected! So I decided to buy it, and linking it to my blog wasn't super-complicated either—if you're curious, I can give you some tips in the comments. But it's an inexpensive way to make my blog look slightly fancier and more professional, which brings me a lot of joy!
Another thing I changed is the way my Favorites page works—this is where I catalog my favorite books, and I used to write blurbs separate from the reviews to explain why the books were my favorites. As we established with Goodreads, though, I simply do not have the energy to write things beyond my actual reviews, so rather than have a weird mix of short blurbs, long blurbs, and no blurbs at all, I just deleted the blurbs and made a much simpler page that is easier to update! You can view it here (I actually made a few changes to the books as well!).
And the last major change I'm making is a slight update to the way I write my reviews. I've been on a break from reviews, but I've still been writing posts to publish when I get back, and for one review, I had tried out a slightly-shorter format broken into many more paragraphs (like these Thursday Thoughts posts are). But I wasn't planning to reuse that format ever again, even though I was kind of dreading having to write my next good-old-wall-of-text review.
But! Then fellow #IMWAYR blogger Sue Jackson at Book by Book (who is totally awesome, by the way) decided to change her blog post format to be shorter for the new year as well, and she explained that the new format would be less stressful to deal with every week. And as I thought about that, I realized that, although writing long reviews doesn't stress me out as much as you might imagine (I actually really enjoy it, because I get to process the books more as I review them), trying to organize everything into a rigidly-outlined set of paragraphs actually made things feel more disorganized, and it made the posts so visually overwhelming that I could barely read them—I imagine my readers felt somewhat similarly at times!
So I'm going to be beta-testing my slightly-shorter review format in 2022, because the new structure requires less pre-planning on my part but seems to actually be easier to read (at least, it is to me), while still hopefully containing the amount of information and thoughts you expect from me. My first two reviews of 2022 were already written in my old format, but starting with post #3, you'll be seeing my new format—I hope you like it! And if you don't, I'll be monitoring things and seeing if it's not working, and I may consider returning to the tried-and-true way of doing things.
Wow, I blithered a lot in this post! (Concision has never been my strong suit.) Basically, I wanted to
brag about discuss the things I am doing to make my reading life a little bit easier in 2022. Rather than agonizing about where my books are, or when I'm going to write this or that review, or when I'm going to put up a blurb on Goodreads, I want to actually focus on reading books and thinking about them! So I hope the changes I made recently will help me focus on that, rather than focusing on things irrelevant to my actual goals.
Are you making any changes in your reading life for 2022? Bookshelves, online platforms, methods of blogging? Let me know in the comments below! And here's an updated Thursday Thoughts schedule:
- 1/6: Reviews revisited (January – June 2021)
- 1/13: Possibly an extra Thursday Thoughts post, if I can come up with a topic!