Blogging Discussion: Mid-Year Check In

How is it mid-June already?! I always find the first half of the year goes more quickly than the latter half, but this year has been on another level, filled with traveling and visitors and  a new school year that started in April. 32 days until the last day of classes, and only 64 days until I go home. It concerns me a little that I’ve been in Japan for over 10 months, and it still hasn’t sunk in. I hope when I get home it doesn’t feel too much like a dream! While my year in Japan is almost up, my blogging year is only at halfway point. Time to check in, see how I’m doing, and what I should focus on in the remainder of the year.

  • 8 posts/month (twice a week, ideally one review and one other)
    • I’ve been keeping up with this one fairly well! If not quite twice a week, I have managed at least 8 post each month (February’s shorter… it can borrow a post from January and call it even ;P). May was a shaky month, and June isn’t off to a good start, though I have scheduled two posts per week all through June and July! I just need to write them… (I’ll be on hiatus again in August, as I’ll be traveling and moving back to Canada.) I’m struggling to focus on writing posts because I’m trying to be very active and to embrace opportunities I could only have in Japan – primarily I’m busy planning trips and going on them 🙂 Blogging will always be available to me, but I doubt I’ll ever live in Japan again!
    • While I’ve reviewed nearly every book I’ve read this year, I haven’t done as many ‘other’ posts as I’d like to. It’s easier for me to fall back on reviews than to think of something different to write…ah, aren’t I lazy?! I like writing reviews – that’s my main purpose here – but I’ll have to try to give more attention to posts like article reviews and responses. Once I get started on those posts, I do enjoy writing them and the thinking they require.
    • I kicked off a monthly feature in April called Family Reads, where a family member choose a book for us to read and discuss. I’m really pleased with how it’s going, though since I’ve only written two so far, I’m still settling into the format. April and May were done with Mom, but we’ll see my sister in June and my father in July.
  • Improve writing style
    • Hm, well… I think overall I’m improving, but there are still more times than I’d like there to be when I slack off and don’t articulate as clearly or precisely as I could (wow, this sentence exemplifies that.) I should be more ruthless when editing from my writing. Shape up, Reno!
  • Events
    •  24-Hour Read-a-thon: My participation in the April Read-a-thon this year was hindered by attendance at an out-of-town concert. I didn’t prepare as I usually do, but I managed to read for 6.5 hours. I also hosted a mini-challenge for the first time. I loved reading everyone’s responses. 
    • Armchair BEA: Last year I fully participated in this event and had a blast. This year I could only partially participate, again hindered by a weekend trip. However, the prompts gave me the opportunity to address some thoughts I hadn’t written about before (defining diversity + social media + character chatter), and I was able to participate in one of the Twitter parties.
  • Challenges
    • Re-read: 5/12. On track. There are some books I really want to read but I have them at home. I think I’ll be able to manage more than 12.
    • TBR Pile: 5/12. On track. I’ve tried two books that really weren’t for me, so I better enjoy the remaining!
    • Foodies: 3/4 to 8. Ah, this fraction is different…pretty much on track? 😛 I’ve really enjoyed the three books I’ve read so far and I’ve learnt a lot. I’m looking forward to reading more!
    • CBC Books: 3/12. This one’s been a bit tricky because I haven’t been able to get all the books through the library and I wasn’t interested enough to buy them ^^; When I’m back in Canada it’ll be much easier to access physical copies, so hopefully I’ll join in a few more reads towards the end of the year.
    • Indigenous authors: 2/5. Eh, I’m a bit embarrassed at having set that number so low… Shouldn’t be a problem to surpass it! I have a few titles on hold now.
    • Tolkien: 2/6. On track. I’m going to read On Fairy Stories this month and I really should start The Silmarillion but I want to give it my full attention so maybe I won’t start until September but I also want to start The Lord of the Rings but I want to read my lovely hard copy which I don’t have in Japan but I do have a hard copy of The Silmarillion so the conclusion is – I really should start The Silmarillion! But I also want to read a couple books about the pilgrimage I’m doing in Japan and those need my full attention AUGHHHHH I need an extra hour in the day to devote to THE SILMARILLION! /rant
    • Japan: 0/12 – Hahahaha I put it at 12, that’s a bit silly. I thought I would read 12 books about Japan since I arrived last August but nope…right now I’m just hoping to finish a big book on Mt. Koya before I leave. If I make it through three books for this personal challenge, I’ll be satisfied (the Koyasan book, finish Shackles of the Past, and another book on Japanese religion).

This year I’ve noticed a number of bloggers pondering the question of quality vs. quantity when it comes to the books we read. (I think Shannon’s post really got me thinking about this.) I’m reading many books (37, ‘one book ahead’ of my GoodReads goal), but are they any good? How do I find those exceptional gems? I think the only way is to read a lot of books! It’s hard for me to tell in advance what’s going to be an exceptional story or just an okay one. Let’s take a look at my 2015 challenge details:

  • I’ve read 8 ★★★★★ books. However, 5 of them were rereads! I’m very selective about giving out this rating, so if I read five 5-star (new to me) books in a year, I think that’s great. I do wonder if there’s any way I can increase that number, though, short of being less selective.
  • I’ve read 14 ★★★★ books. These are all books I thought were generally great and I enjoyed reading them. I’d happily recommend them and some of them I will probably reread in the future.
  • I’ve read 11 ★★★ books. This is the rating level I struggle with. 3 stars means it was good and fine, but there are many books I liked better. What I would love is to read less 3 stars and more 4 stars…but again, is it possible to tell which is which without reading the whole book? Hrm. 
  • I’ve read 4 ★★ books. Generally, if a book is 1 or 2 stars, I won’t finish it. The four books I’ve read this year were A) on my TBR list for ages and I finally got around to it (If I Stay), B) read as a last-minute pick for Family reads (The Sisters Brothers), C) second in a trilogy I’m committed to (Authority) and D) I wanted to know it ended (Emancipation Day)
  • No ★ books! I plan to never read a one star book again 😛 Mostly they came from mandatory school reading.

How is your reading going this year? Are you keeping up with any challenges, goals or resolutions? 

  • Oooh, this post is so detailed! I admire that you've manage to post so frequently. And I can't believe you've been in Japan for almost a whole year already! Amazing.

  • Thank-you! I'm quite pleased with myself as well, haha. I think blogging was very helpful during my low times here – it was something familiar I could work on when I was feeling overwhelmed by Japanese life. Though I can't believe a year is almost up, either! I hate things ending, so even though I'm looking forward to going home and eating all my favourite foods, I know it might be a bit tough.

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