While I’m not a big one for restricting myself too much with my reading I do have some goals for shaping my bookish pursuits
A stronger focus on Australian Authors
There are a couple of factors influencing me to read more Australian authors:
- I am one of the…gang? posse? army? (what is the collective noun for a group of passionate readers?) of people now sharing responsibility for administering the Australian Women Writers Challenge (no prizes for guessing which genre I am responsible for) so I feel obliged to keep up with my Aussie reading.
- I am also very fortunate to have the chance to be a judge for one of Australia’s writing awards in 2013. Happily I think of this as a privilege not a chore and am even now honing my excuses for things not done. “Sorry boss I meant to read that 400 page study last night but I was obliged to finish the latest novel by ;” and “oh I know it looks like I’m just lolling about reading instead of doing the housework but actually I’m undertaking very important judging work, please don’t disturb me again”. I can’t wait.
A change to my reviewing format
My role as a judge has given me the impetus to do something I have been pondering for a while…stop giving star ratings to my reviews. I really can’t give ratings to any books which are eligible for the award and, because I don’t particularly want everyone to know which category of which award I am judging, I’ve decided to stop putting the star ratings on all my reviews. To be honest I’m glad I had this push as I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with giving books such public grades. They are entirely subjective and are often taken out of context. I know the reviews themselves are subjective too but at least they allow for me to explain my thoughts whereas with star ratings people tend to focus on nothing but the number without any context. Some of these people take a very dim view of anything less than a 5-star rave, believing that a 3 or even 4 star review is somehow negative In my mind that has never been the case but people obviously place their own interpretation on things. Now they’ll have to read my words if they want to get cross with me.
A change in book acquisition habits
The books I buy will be from Australian book shops. I’ve actually been moving this way for a year or so but will be more strict about it this year. To be totally honest I view this as a mixture of charity (giving money to a worthy cause), selfishness (I want to be able to browse a bookshop once in a while) and stupidity (it really is daft to pay double what I need to for each book). But I like going to book shops and at least if I shop locally I won’t feel so guilty when the last book store shuts its doors. I’ll still buy eBooks when I can too (there are now some decent local options for those of us not wedded to the kindle) as I really don’t have oodles of room for physical book storage in my new house.
The exception to this rule is that the audio books which provide the basis for whatever semblance of sanity I cling to will still be bought from Audible US as there simply isn’t an Australian equivalent for downloadable audio, not even an overpriced one, and I am not prepared to go without my audio books simply because no one in Australia offers this kind of service.
I might also make the odd exception for a book that looks like never being published in Australia that I really want to read (this tends to happen with translated fiction from smaller publishers). Of course if Australian publishing houses made it easier for people other than book sellers to find out what is due to be published in coming months I could make more informed decisions on this issue. You’d think some of them were guarding the codes for the world’s nuclear weapons by the way they keep this information hidden away.
Because books here are so expensive, and because my personal economy is in danger of plunging off its own fiscal cliff, I won’t be buying a lot of books though so the library will be my new best friend. Thankfully all the libraries in my state have recently made it easy for us to order books from any of them and I have already commenced utilising this excellent service in earnest by placing loads of holds and setting up a couple of lists so that I can keep up a steady stream of library books coming into the house.
As was the case last year I am only signing up for a single challenge – The Australian Women Writers Challenge mentioned earlier. In some ways this has spoiled me for all other challenges as it turned out, for me, to be a lot more fulfilling than just counting numbers which is what most other reading challenges of my experience have involved. It genuinely challenged me to read outside my comfort zone and think clearly about my reactions to some of the books I read as well as providing a myriad of opportunities for engagement with other readers. I realise that even if I wanted to load myself down with a swag of other reading challenges as I did in previous years they would all feel a bit dull by comparison.
Without the benefit of challenges though I will keep an eye on my virtual travelling and will aim to read as many titles eligible for the CWA Dagger Award for translated crime fiction as I can get my hands on.
What about you? Do you love reading challenges or are you a read-by-whim kind of person? Any particular goals for 2013’s reading?