What Notes in the Margin Will Be Up to This Year

Instead of laying out an elaborate reading and blogging plan for 2024, I’m going to tell you what I’ll be focusing on. 

It seems that, at the end of every year, I look back on whatever reading and writing goals I had set at the beginning of the year and document, in excruciating detail, how I came up short. I’ve finally realized that this approach sets me up for feelings of anxiety and failure that increase as the year progresses. Last fall I undertook a different outlook: I chose to focus on exploring a topic rather than meeting numeric goals.

That approach worked out well for me. Here are my reading statistics for 2023, according to Goodreads:

  • 18,223 pages read (up from 15,637 in 2022)
  • 53 books read (up from 44 in 2022)
  • average book length: 343 pages (about the same as in 2022)
  • my average rating: 3.9 (also about the same as in 2022)

Even though I wasn’t aiming for any particular number of books or pages read, I was heartened to see that my more laid-back approach didn’t affect those numbers. But this approach did affect how I felt about both myself and my reading experiences: Instead of looking at all I didn’t accomplish, I appreciated all I did achieve. I ended 2023 energized and encouraged. Therefore, I’m going to take the same approach in 2024.

The topic I’ve been focusing on for the last several months and will continue to focus on this year is Life Stories in Literature. Ever since Gone Girl opened my eyes to various aspects of life stories in fiction, I’ve been seeing them everywhere. Last fall I started reading some related nonfiction and realized that this topic threads through both literature and popular culture. I look forward to continuing to explore this area and seeing where it takes me.

Therefore, I’m not setting specific goals for individual tasks in 2024. Also, I’m giving up all the challenges and memes except these two:

(1) 6 Degrees of Separation

This is a monthly meme hosted by Kate, an Australian book blogger, on her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. You can read about the meme here. Take a look at the description and see if you’d like to join in.

(2) The 2024 Discussion Challenge

Thanks to these two bloggers for sponsoring the annual Blog Discussion Challenge:

A cartoon with a stack of books between a bluebird and a fox. Text: 2024 Discussion Challenge

I’m keeping these two because they help me to think about the books I read and allow me to engage with the book-blogging community.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

2 thoughts on “What Notes in the Margin Will Be Up to This Year”

  1. My discussion post next week is actually going to be about book tracking anxiety so I really appreciate hearing something similar from someone who reads so many books in a year. I joined the discussion challenge as a way to meet people, build community, and think more about books than as something to review and share. I look forward to reading more post form you throughout the year!

    Black Librarian Blogging

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks for reading and posting! I’m hoping to engage more with fellow book bloggers this year, so I look forward to seeing your posts. I have several friends who are librarians, and most of them are really struggling with what’s going on across the U.S., so I’ll especially appreciating what you librarians have to say.

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