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!
So much to process in this post.... I don't do reviews on Goodreads, just the date I finished it and how many stars (and I really wish they allowed half stars!). I can't imagine doing 2 versions of every review. But, I guess I could just copy-paste my blog review into Goodreads.ReplyDelete
I have a (mostly) love and hate relationship with my TBR books shelves. I can't seem to stop myself from buying more books even though the shelves of the unread are close to overflowing. I think I won't fight it any more and I will just accept that this is the way I am.
I keep a list on Goodreads and in Google Keep of books I want to read so that it's there when I go to the library or shopping.
Half stars on Goodreads would definitely be nice! My ratings here on my blog don't even use stars, but they're not working well either—maybe one day, we'll come up with a better scale! And yeah—I was definitely WAY overconfident in my blogging abilities when I thought I would write a second review.Delete
I think that's definitely fair to just keep buying more books—it can be just as frustrating to NOT buy things you want as it can be to have too much!
And that's a good way of keeping track of things! Keeping a list in Notes would have worked better for me before picture books—the problem is that I'm more willing to try picture books because they're shorter, so if I don't like them, it's not much time wasted. But then I have an absolutely massive list of picture books that I couldn't sort through until now! Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen!
I love getting myself organized at the end of the year. Sounds like you have made some great changes that will make your reading life more enjoyable. Bravo on the book organization on your physical shelves and your new plan for Goodreads and your blog. Wishing you the best of luck. I need to go to Goodreads and do some updating.ReplyDelete
Here's to a happy and healthy 2022- with lots of awesome reading too! :)
I definitely hope they'll make my reading life more enjoyable, and I hope you have a good time getting stuff organized around now as well! And I think keeping up with Goodreads in addition to blogging is definitely tough for pretty much everyone. Have a happy and healthy and book-filled 2022 as well, and thanks so much for stopping by, Jess!Delete
So, I was trying to keep up with reading your blog through my email over the break, but I never made it over to comment. But I'm sooooo excited that you're on Goodreads!! And yes, while I do enjoy commenting through blogs and keeping up with the weekly running lists, I also like how GR allows me to see all my "friends" reviews listed at the top of all the reviews when I go check out potential books to add to my list. I don't have to sort through the long lists of reviews to see what my companions think. It's so very helpful!! A number of us are connected on other social media platforms, like FB and Twitter. But for a quick peek at specific book thoughts, GR can be extremely helpful! Now, if only Goodreads could quickly reference which of all my libraries carry the book in question!! LOLReplyDelete
Glad to hear you're finding a more comfortable format. I didn't INTEND to permanently change my blog post format. I did it out of necessity over the November/December months, while things were insane. But I found that I'm less anxious about sitting down to write my #imwayr posts. Now I can just jot 3-5 sentences OR I can sometimes share 2-3 paragraphs if I just so happen to need to gush. But I think I'll aim more for 3-5 sentences and leave longer reviews for separate pages that I link to. I like that, on Netgalley, you can enter multiple links. So yeah.
Also, I'm so thrilled for you getting your own domain name. So convenient! I bought my millermemo domain name over 20 years ago and it has migrated through various web hosts over the years. I could have connected it to my blogger blog loooong before I migrated over to Wordpress. But I finally connected it here about two years ago. It's really simplified things for me. For example, all my 1st and 2nd grade students from 2001, forward, were using my web address back in the day. And now they can still find me no matter where I go. So nice.
Now *I* blithered a lot! 😳 (I even went back and deleted stuff - like an entire paragraph!! Does this mean I do not win the efficient commenter award, today? 🥺) Did I even talk about book hoarding? Or your amazing book shelf set-up? Or changes in my reading life for 2022?? 😔 Noooooo...
Don't worry about blithering at all—this blog is a place for rambling of all kinds, and it's really interesting to see all of your thoughts! I remember you encouraging me to get on Goodreads a while back, and I'm glad to be there now (and in a less-disastrous way than I was from July to December). I really like the place where Goodreads shows your friends' reviews as well—and yes, it would be AMAZING if it actually connected with libraries, but since it's owned by Amazon, maybe they don't want you getting books somewhere else. (Or maybe Goodreads just hasn't been updated in a long time—the website is definitely a little archaic!)Delete
I know exactly what you mean, where your new post format wasn't originally your plan but just felt so much less stressful that you stuck with it! I tried out my new format for just one upcoming review, and then I realized I was dreading writing another review, so I thought, "Why not just reuse this format?" It's nice to know that, if I'm just not that invested in a book, I can simply write a shorter review!
Thank you about the domain name! And that's so neat that you've had your domain name for that long—I can see how it would be nice to keep it, since people from a while back still remember it! It makes my blog feel more like an actual "website," so to speak, so I'm very fond of it. Thanks so much for stopping by, Shaye!
I love the start of the new year for this reason - looking back, making changes, and starting the new year off fresh! Your changes sound great (and thanks for the kind shout out!). Love your bookshelves - much more organized and nice-looking than mine!ReplyDelete
I do the same on Goodreads - a short sum-up of my review taken from the longer review - and I cut and paste the same little blurb into Twitter, Goodreads, my blog's Facebook page, and my Bookshop page. Like you, I want readers to go to my blog to read the full review.
As for domain names, I DID buy simplified names for my blogs years ago - I buy all my domain names on register4Less - but I was unable to get them to point to my blogs! i even engaged Help but they couldn't figure it out either - said Blogger was weird. basically! So, I guess doing it all within Google is a good idea. And I see that your new domain name is also included on specific post names. Yup, gotta finally figure that out somehow!
Happy New Year!
Thank you—and trust me, my bookshelves used to be a completely disorganized mess, so I can absolutely understand that!Delete
And that makes sense about how you do Goodreads and other social media. For me, I feel like my reviews don't make a ton of sense out of context, because I refer to bloggers who recommend things, other books I'm comparing to, etc., and seeing all that out of the context of my blog seems like it would be weird.
And that's weird that even your registrar couldn't help you connect your domain names to Blogger! If you can't connect them to Blogger from the current registrar, it might be worth actually transferring them to Google Domains and paying through them instead, since their integration with Blogger is super-easy to set up! And once the domain name is connected, Blogger automatically sets all the posts to use it, not just the homepage (probably the one thing on Blogger that is actually as easy as it should be!).
Happy new year as well, and thanks so much for stopping by, Sue!