Sunday, January 01, 2023

Happy New Year Blather for 2023

This year marks the eleventh year of posting at least one book review every day. I read 851 in 2022, and also managed to delete all of my Goodreads books, which were close to 10,000 books, so I don't know  how many I've read in that time. 

I am grateful for my lovely friends on social media, because of whom I kept spreadsheet. I was able to complete my Goodreads Challenge, which is tremendously motivating to me. Did the spread sheets work quite how I wanted them to? Well, it was easier to compute the statistics above, but got a bit murky about how many fiction vs. nonfiction books I read, how many were fantasy, etc. In the end, I... didn't care. 

2022 had its challenges, which made me realize that I can no longer do everything I used to. My father died, my daughter Picky Reader is getting married in May, and I've had several unimportant but annoying health issues. I need to focus my purpose so that the most important things get done. 

In my school library, I feel like I spent more time and effort preparing to cover other classes for teacher who were absent than I did teaching research. The pandemic unraveled a carefully knit system; when students aren't in the building or are dissuaded from traveling around in the building, and teachers are struggling to make up for lost time, research isn't the most important focus. I'm not going to push teachers. My bottom line for my job has always been "Get the right book to the right child at the right time." 

My bottom line for life is "Make the world a better place." Right now, that means covering classes,  spending an inordinate amount of time listening to fellow teachers' and students' problems and trying to make them feel better, and standing in the hallway and encouraging students to behave in appropriate ways so that we don't have injuries. I do still get books to kids.

In order to do this I have to carefully manage my budget. I read all the books before I buy them. I bought a fraction of the books I read this year. Getting books free for reviewing, whether from publishers or Young Adult Books Central, is tremendously helpful. I buy books that my students want to read, not necessarily award winners. I may not buy as many graphic novels as they want, because they are expensive and fall apart in an annoying fashion, but concentrate on buying horror stories, sports books, humorous books, more realistic fiction than fantasy, and limited nonfiction. My own preference is to read nonfiction and I do suggest it often, but it's expensive and hard to move. If students or teachers request things, I will buy them, and I have endless conversations with students about what they want to read. 

My job is not to sell books for publishers. It's not even to make authors feel good about themselves. This is why Twitter makes me itchy. I started my blog in order to help other teachers and librarians know what books are out there. I used to be much  more forthright about what books I wasn't buying and why, but with social media, I have to be careful not to offend authors. I read a LOT of books. Most of them get three stars on Goodreads. Something has to knock my socks off to get more. It doesn't mean that the book won't be good for somebody. Maybe just not my students. 

So, 2023. I plan to read all the middle grade books, review them in a helpful but circumspect fashion, and get the ones I buy into the hands of readers while also keeping my school running smoothly. To do this, I need to manage my expectations and understand my limitations. Part of this plan is to spend January through May reading nonstop so that I can quilt and knit in the summer and not feel guilty. Needlework makes me happy, and everyone needs a break from time to time. 

Whew. Enough blather. Wishing everyone a hopeful and helpful New Year, and time to figure out what your priorities are so that you can be both productive AND happy. 


  1. Wishing you a very happy 2023 too!

  2. And Happy New Year to you! Quite the accomplishment in what you do both in reading, reviewing, and helping so many at your school. Best of luck as you pursue new goals for 2023.

  3. Happy New Year! and continued sympathy for the GR disaster, and so exciting about your daughter getting married!