Happy New Year! (It’s still just about early enough to write that, right?)

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I don’t set strict reading goals for the year – I did after I first started the blog, but I haven’t done for a while now, as I’ve realised that they just become something for me to get stressed about. I do, however, like to look over what I’ve read in the previous year, and think about whether there is something I want to read more of in the upcoming year – what I want to prioritise, in other words. I did do a Plans and Priorities post last year, after not having done one in 2020 (thank goodness), so how did I do?

  1. More science fiction. I’m always very careful not to set numbers for these priorities, because that is the quickest way to make it feel like homework – but tehcnically I achieved this. I read five and reviewed four science fiction novels last year – still nowhere near my usual level, but a marginal improvement on four books and three reviews in 2020. I think this will be a much easier thing to accomplish this year, since I imagine I will be charging through the Vorkosigan Saga series in pretty short order!
  2. Progress on my In Lieu of Travel challenge. Yes, I read a few more books for this – though still almost all for Russia, with one entry for China. Finding books about Mongolia – especially present-day rather than medieval Mongolia – is proving rather challenging.
  3. More cookbook reviews. I did, technically, no cookbook reviews at all (though I think that The Whale and the Cupcake should count at least a bit). However, I have a project for this year that – if successful – will definitely deal with this. See below!
  4. Progress on my new Classics Club list
    I mean, define progress. I read and reviewed seven Classics Club books in total, when I said I wanted to read eight by September. However, one of them was Anna Karenina, which definitely counts as at least two. Right? Right.

And what do I want to accomplish this year? I will be carrying on with the two challenges I already have underway (Classics Club and In Lieu of Travel), but there are a few other things I’d like to work on this year too:

  1. Cook through Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower
    The people have spoken, and by the people I mean mostly me, because I accidentally submitted several votes in my own poll. (There were other votes for this book too, though!) I’ll be cooking through Gill Meller’s Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower this year. It arrived just before the New Year and it looks extremely promising. I’ll try to do a little round-up post every month or so of what I’ve enjoyed cooking, any out-and-out disasters etc.
  2. More non-fiction
    I haven’t really had the sustained attention span necessary to read lots of non-fiction the past couple of years. On top of that, my normal favourite topics – health research and medical history – were suddenly everywhere in rather dramatic fashion. This somewhat diminished my desire to read about them for pleasure. However, with (hopefully) a bit more normality on the way, I’d like to start reading more non-fiction again.
  3. More historical fiction
    Historical fiction is a genre I tend to impulse buy and then never actually read, even though there are some historical fiction novels up there among my forever favourite books. Not many, but the Gilead series by Marilynne Robinson and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis both have historical fiction elements. I have many books on my shelves that I’m still excited about, but I end up not reading them because they tend to be chunky and intimidating. This is silly, because I am currently reading a Trollope novel the size of a brick and enjoying it very much.

Making non-book plans in a world where everything is still changing all the time seems unwise, but I have a few anyway. I would like to finish decorating the two rooms in my flat that are mostly-but-not-quite done, and make a start on a third; I would like to go on holiday somewhere – really anywhere – other than Hampshire; I would like to go to a fancy restaurant, something I used to do as an occasional treat but haven’t managed since before the pandemic. Most of all, I would like to see one of my best friends, whom I haven’t seen since 2019. (Eight hours on the midnight train to Glasgow is a much less fun prospect now that masks are involved). I feel like all of these things should be managable – let’s see how it turns out!