2015 Reading and Blogging Goals

Be the Internet You Want to See

That sounds like a sappy affirmation. But since the only behavior I can change is my own (what’s a better time for clichés than a New Year’s resolution post?) I aim to stop bemoaning the state of the bookternet and start providing more of what I’d like to read. I’ve certainly said my share of things I regretted online. I’d like to do less of that. To which end:

  • I am so sick of subtweeting. I will not do it, and I will not respond to it. (This will be hard for me). This year, for the first time, my feed saw plenty of people I generally like and admire subtweeting at each other, and also subtweeting about how their mutual followers should be calling the other one out. I’d love it if people addressed each other directly on the substance of their disagreements instead of subjecting the rest of us to this, but I’m not expecting that. Here’s the only thing I will say about this phenomenon (since I don’t want to sub-blog either): I don’t see every tweet, post or comment by the people I follow; often I don’t know what someone is supposed to have done or said. I don’t always agree with the people I follow. Sometimes I think everyone’s partly right and partly wrong. Sometimes a line you think was crossed is not my line. Sometimes I think you’re the one who’s wrong. Sometimes I don’t know the context well enough to have an opinion and don’t have time or interest in finding out. Therefore, I’m staying out.
  • The exception: There were a few cases where I thought someone was factually wrong about an issue but I chose not to say anything. I’m going to try to be more courageous about responding to those in the future (conflict is very hard for me) when it’s someone I actually “know.” I will do so directly and privately and not via subtweet.
  • I am going to Look Away and Not Weigh In on kerfuffles and for the most part on more serious conflicts, too. There are a lot of issues where I think nothing I say would have any effect besides upsetting me. There are also things I think are really important to talk about, but where we seem unable, right now, to have a productive conversation. I’m mostly staying away from those, too, unless I think the specific conversation is useful and that I have something valuable to contribute that hasn’t already been said by others. It is very, very hard not to get sucked in when something blows up in my social media world, so some days I may need to stay away altogether.
  • OK, that was the negative part. Here’s the positive: more in depth posts on individual books. I miss these kinds of discussions and I think they can be more helpful than general posts for addressing issues in the romance genre. Plus, I like digging in and close reading, and I haven’t been doing enough of it.

More Shared Reading Experiences

Many people have noted how fragmented Romanceland feels these days. I definitely felt like an outsider this year, because I read so little romance and even less of what everyone else was reading. It was fun to read something like A Bollywood Affair and have lots of other people to discuss it with.

I started this goal off right: I’m reading Lavender Parker’s Flower in the Desert with some Twitter friends (OK, they’re mostly ahead of me, but still!). Ridley tweeted the 70s-style cover after Jill Sorenson included the book in her diverse reading post; it’s a 99⊄ novella, so next thing you know, several of us had bought it.

I also joined the TBR Challenge SuperWendy organizes–a Romanceland institution. It should inspire me to read more romance and feel more a part of Romanceland book conversations again, even though no one’s reading the same books. (The great thing about older books is that usually someone has read it and will comment).

More Books by Authors of Color

This was a goal for me last year, but I didn’t want to attach a specific measure to it. Yeah. I read about eight. (I did slightly better counting books about people of color by white authors, but that wasn’t the goal). So this year my goal is at least two books a month by authors of color. If I read the same number of print books as last year, that would be about a third of my reading. (Given my usual choices of audio–classics and specific favorite authors–it’s harder to diversify there, but I’ll try).

I’m starting this goal off right, too, thanks to the Lavender Parker read-along and the fact that I have Charles M. Blow’s memoir out from the library.

I particularly want these books to be across all genres I read, because I think it’s easy to only read certain kinds of books by people of color: e.g. immigrant stories. I read a couple of great articles this year about having to tell stories for Western tastes and I’m hoping to find more variety.

There are so many things I’m looking forward to reading this year. My main goal? Keeping it that way!

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20 Responses to 2015 Reading and Blogging Goals

  1. Ridley says:

    You’ll have to pry subtweeting from my cold, dead hands.

    Flower in the Desert ended up being the first book I’ve read since early September and I really enjoyed it, spurts and all. Now I want to read another book. Such a grand feeling.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      It is a grand feeling! I’m enjoying it.

      I used to think of subtweeting as fun snark. Now I am inclined to see it as having 3 main purposes: venting anger (which I can do without involving Twitter), hurting someone, or rallying the troops against someone/something (neither of which I want to engage in). That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to using Twitter for criticism. I just don’t see subtweeting as effective criticism anymore.

  2. laurakcurtis says:

    This all looks great to me, Liz! I try not to subtweet, but it is hard. This year I won’t have nearly as much free time as I have had in the past, so I am hoping to maximize its quality. I look forward to reading your posts and having in-depth conversations about books. If I have any available brainpower for in-depth ANYTHING!

  3. KeiraSoleore says:

    I wanted to thank you for your friendship this year. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you.

    I tweeted about my thoughts, but for discussion sake, I thought I’d put them here, too.

    I started stepping over rabbit holes last year after they became a bit too much for me (read: Hale). In general, I am conflict averse, so I read some and kept myself informed, and yes, I did tweet some, too, but overall, I was mum. This helped me tremendously to keep my stress levels low and also to retain perspective. This is important for me. It’s also important for me to be a friend rather than a fan of someone I admire. So I try hard not to blindly take sides.

    Subtweeting is not really my thing, so can’t say much to that. I deplore backbiting so have a poor opinion of those who subtweet in order to do backbiting.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Aw, thank you Keira. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, too, and your attitude makes you one of my role-models. I’m glad you joined in the Flower in the Desert reading!

  4. Jorrie Spencer says:

    Love your post and the idea of more in-depth posts on individual books. I look forward to them! Subtweeting drives me bonkers so I really try not to do it myself.

    I often have some reading goals at the beginning of the new year, but I’m coming up empty now. Well, except for trying to empty out my digital TBR pile because it has begun to weigh on me. I sometimes think it’s unfair to the book, to open it simply because I need to know if I want to keep it or discard it. But in fact a number of books have hooked me this way, showing that there was a reason I acquired the book in the first place.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      My TBR is really burdensome to me now. The paper one is not SO bad, partly because I don’t add much to it anymore, but the digital one is ridiculous. I don’t even really know what’s in there. Some of it I’m sure I no longer want to read, like romances I bought because of buzz before I really understood my own tastes. But I know there are great things in there, too. Like, why do I keep putting off Susanna Kearsley? What am I “saving” her for? Inspired by you, just before Christmas I read two books that had been languishing on my iPad, and really enjoyed both.

      • Jorrie Spencer says:

        I’m pleased I inspired you! I actually had to get past the idea that I needed to be excited about a book to start reading it. Of course, that can be fun, and it’s important for me to do that sometimes. But other times the gap between purchase (when the buzz was generally strongest) and reading is too large. I can’t remember why I even bought it, or whatever had my interest piqued is now long gone. And I’m okay with reading a few pages and deciding the book isn’t for me and deleting it. The upside is being hooked into a story when you aren’t expecting it, of course.

  5. Sunita says:

    I swore when I came back to Twitter after my 2013 hiatus that I wouldn’t subtweet, but I don’t think I lasted even a month. There’s something about the platform that makes it very difficult to avoid if you’re the type of person who is inclined that way (which, sadly, I am). But it does seem to have morphed from something that is either funny or annoying but tolerable into a more frequently aggressive, hostile type of tweet (and I think my subtweeting was like this on too many occasions).

    I’m really enjoying reading more non-romance books, and I think it’s having a good effect on my romance reading as well. I’m reading another Fiona Harper single-title at the moment and having a great time with it. In terms of goals, I plan to read more books by authors who are writing about the times they live in, what we might call contemporaneous fiction. And, unusually for me, I’m going to read more biographies. And definitely blog about them!

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      I’ve still got that Marx bio waiting for our next Big Fat Book month! The broader reading is definitely reinvigorating romance for me, so I’m going to keep that up. I might finally live up to my blog’s tagline. 😉

      I definitely have been more and more tempted–though I don’t always do it–to subtweet in ways that make Twitter less pleasant and fun for me when other people do it. Why would I do that? It does bring out my meanest side. Sometimes what I want to subtweet is something I think deserves critique, but my subtweet, which is not actually an *argument* (they kind of work like rhetorical questions, really) is not a form of critique. I think it will be easier for me to stop if I just say I am NOT doing it at all than if I try to say I won’t do it in certain ways.

  6. meoskop says:

    The Charles Blow book is interesting, but I lost respect for him. Glad I read it as it helped me nail down why he sometimes put my back up and allowed me to move on.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      I really don’t know much about him, though I’m sure I have read some of his op-eds at the New York Times. I like to read a few books off best non-fiction lists every year. It helps diversify my reading in one way or another (and some have been great).

  7. My goals are to more carefully assess who is speaking, what their agenda is and what they are saying, before supporting or criticising them. And to ignore the spiteful trolls.

    I believe in speaking out. I don’t mind copping a price for that. I do mind finding out after the fact I’ve been played like a fish.

    I don’t like subtweeting either (mainly because it drives me wild with curiosity 😉 ). But on the other hand, some people’s tweets (ie mine) are being so carefully picked over right now, it’s hard to have the conversations you want to have without someone sealioning you.

    I also want to stop talking about author wank, to authors, and about book promo. So over the whole book selling thing. Let’s read!

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      The difficulty of assessing context on Twitter and knowing where someone you don’t follow is coming from/what their agenda is–that’s something I’ve become more aware of this year, and part of why I’m more reluctant to speak up or join in. There are people who sound good on the surface who clearly have agendas of one kind or another that I’m not interested in supporting, and a lot of people who are most interested in building a platform for themselves, which I’m also not interested in supporting. (A platform should be something you gain along the way because you’re saying important things). And, as a friend said to me yesterday, it’s hard to remember people on Twitter are people, not just a basket with a few ideas in it, because we don’t see all of most people on Twitter. I try to remember that, too.

      It reminds me some of an experience at work where my efforts to ensure a group got a fair, correct process were hampered because they consistently provided me false information. Not really on purpose, I think, but they had a very biased/partial picture of the situation, which I didn’t realize at first. So I often felt like an ass after I’d represented their concerns and been shot down. It taught me to ask more questions and try to gain a fuller picture, and not assume the first view is the right one.

      Amen to your last point! Complaining about author behavior and promo mostly just ends up giving it even more space in our online world, and it already has waaaay more than it deserves. Books, books, and more books!

  8. Rohan says:

    These are really excellent goals: inspired by you, I’m also going to work hard to “be the internet I want to see.” I have already been focusing on not weighing in on Twitter: what makes it difficult sometimes is the sense that people might read things into your silence that you don’t mean, but really, it’s about choosing which conversations to have where, with whom, and under what conditions (or in what medium). Twitter especially can feel like a bit of a minefield — though in general I feel as if it is not as fraught a place for me as it can be for others, I especially agree about the risks of subtweeting, which feels sly and amusing until you realize it’s really passive-aggressive and often uncharitable: as you say, an open query (it needn’t be a challenge) can be a better way to deal with disagreements or objections. I can’t say I wont *ever* succumb to the temptation again … but a man’s reach must exceed his grasp, right, especially when making resolutions?

    Probably my favorite internet thing is how many good, thoughtful readers write all kinds of interesting posts about interesting books. So my main goal (besides keeping up my own blog) is to be sure to show up in people’s comments regularly, to help sustain the conversations I’m in this for in the first place.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      or what’s a heaven for? I’m pretty sure my reach will exceed my grasp, as usual.

      I was so thrilled when I found online book discussions. It seems odd, since my job is talking about books–though in the last several years that has been a much smaller part of it, because of other roles–but I don’t get much general, non-professional book talk in my life. I rarely just get a chance to talk to friends and family about what they have been reading. I don’t want to lose the joy I found in these conversations.

  9. SuperWendy says:

    I usually have to get a full head of steam before I’ll weigh in on a kerfuffle, which means I tend to not comment on about 95% of them. But 2014 was epic, and not in a good way. The Hale thing alone had me spun around in various stages of rage for a couple of weeks. And honestly, I cannot remember the last time I felt like that. Probably never.

    I’m glad you’ve signed on for the TBR Challenge! It really is great because we’re all, generally, talking about “old” books and depending on the titles, good discussions can crop up. My personal goal this year is to focus solely on print books for the TBR Challenge (hat tip to Willaful). I really have to get it under control. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m hoping for some DNFs to cull it down even more.

  10. sonomalass says:

    I am sad to think we will lose the #restorativeporkjelly hashtag, but I applaud your goals. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about blogging yet, although I did sign up for TBR Challenge again. I posted to my blog only 16 times last year, and seven of those were for the challenge.

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