December Reading Plans

November is always a busy blogging month what with co-hosting Novellas in November and making small contributions to several other challenges: Nonfiction November, German Literature Month, and Margaret Atwood Reading Month.

In the final month of the year, my ambitions are always split:

I want to get to as many 2022 releases as possible … but I also want to dip a toe into the 2023 offerings.

I need to work on my review copy backlog … but I also want to relax and read some cosy wintry or holiday-themed stuff.

I want to get to the library books I’ve had out for ages … but I also want to spend some time reading from my shelves.

And that’s not even to mention my second year of McKitterick Prize judging (my manuscript longlist is due at the end of January).

My set-aside shelves (yes, literal shelves plural) are beyond ridiculous, and I have another partial shelf of review books not yet started. I do feel bad that I’ve accepted so many 2022 books for review and not read them, let alone reviewed them. But books are patient, and I’m going to cut myself some slack given that my year has contained two of the most stressful events possible (buying and moving into a house, and the death of a close family member).

I’m not even going to show you my preposterous backlog, because my WordPress media library is at capacity. “Looks like you have used 3.0 GB of your 3.0 GB upload limit (99%).” I’ll have to work on deleting lots of old images later on this month so that I can post photos of my best-of stacks towards the end of the year.

So, for December I’ll work a bit on all of the above. My one final challenge to self is “Diverse December” – not official since 2020, when Naomi Frisby spearheaded it, but worth doing anyway. This is the second year that I’ve specifically monitored my reading of BIPOC authors. Last year, I managed 18.5%. I have no idea where I stand now, but would like to see a higher total.

I’ll start with a December review book, A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times by Meron Hadero, and see how I go from there. I was a lucky recipient of a proof copy of The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor, one of my new favourite authors; it doesn’t come out until May 23 in the USA and June 22 in the UK, but I will also see if I can read it early. Another potential 2023 release I have by a BIPOC author is Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling, a debut dystopian novel about climate refugees, which arrived unsolicited last month.

Among the other tempting options on my dedicated BIPOC-author shelf:

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Diamond Hill by Kit Fan

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel

The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez

Names of the Women by Jeet Thayil

What are your year-end bookish plans? Happy December reading!

23 responses

  1. Good luck with your backlog, Rebecca, I’m impressed that it fazes you only a little! My plans were to “read only what I want to” in December, and that’s progressing fairly given that I read slowly… A Penelope Fitzgerald novel for the BBC at 100, the last of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence, Hopefully Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather in time for Christmas – stuff like that, anyway!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a lovely, and modest goal. (My husband rereads Hogfather each Christmas.) If I told most people how many books we’re talking about in this backlog, they’d be appalled…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you must’ve mentioned the Hogfather tradition in your household recently, which will’ve spurred me on to order a copy… 🙂


  2. Absolutely, you have had a difficult year and I don’t think you need to worry about any backlog! My December plans are to finish up my 2022 ARCs (only two left, both actually work-related, so I can tackle them during working hours) and finish up my backlog (as you know, I don’t like having v many unread books about, and I don’t count 2023 ARCs, so luckily it is only 4 books at the moment, and 2 of them are your fault as they were in your parcel ;)) so I can read fun Christmas things over the holiday period.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, sorry not sorry! So my c. 80 part-read and must-be-read books would really stress you out. That’s great that you can relax and enjoy your holiday reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I plan to read fiction after reading so much nonfiction during Nonfiction in November. I am almost burnt out on nonfiction, honestly. Perhaps I will participate in Novellas in November next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read a lot of nonfiction as a matter of course, but I can see how you might like to escape into fiction now!


  4. There’s no need for any guilt over unread or unreviewed books!
    I didn’t realise Nunez was BIPOC?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine you’re in a similar position, though maybe not quite as bad 😉

      She’s mixed-race — her father was Chinese-Panamanian. (The heritage of her protagonist in A Feather on the Breath of God.)


  5. Why not just relax and enjoy the festive season? read only what appeals. That’s my strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds grand. I’m sure I can do that plus fit in a few from my review backlog 🙂


  6. I read The Late Americans this week and found myself both talking and thinking about it a lot, and A Fine Balance is a favourite of mine. Hope you enjoy whatever you pick!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear that!

      I’ve meant to read more Mistry after Family Matters. I seem to be on a bit of an India kick what with Heat and Dust and then Everything the Light Touches.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lucky you to get the ARC of the new Brandon Taylor. I do so enjoy his writing and look forward to his new novel in 2023. Best of luck with your plans! I don’t really have December reading “plans” but will start fresh in January – with Winter’s Tale as my #1 plan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope we both enjoy Winter’s Tale, and the new Brandon Taylor (eventually)!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I enter December much like you, having been focused on November challenges (and I still have a novella to review….). Rather than trying to read 2022 releases, or look ahead to 2023, my aim is to finish reading challenges – this December my efforts go toward the Nonfiction Reader challenge (I still have three categories to tick off). Additionally, most of December blogging time gets sucked up by compiling the “Best of the Best’ lists (which is well underway).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, your annual labour of love 🙂 I always enjoy seeing the results!


  9. I just noticed how similar the covers of A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times and The Late Americans are: the same font, in white, over a slightly abstract background!


  10. This sounds so much like my own state of mind (and books)! What to focus on next?? But do, definitely, cut yourself some slack. And I’ll do the same. 🙂

    I’ll be interested in hearing about Leave the World Behind. I had that out for the maximum amount of time and returned it with the intention of taking it out again. But then it got lost, and hasn’t been found yet! A sign I shouldn’t read it? Or maybe I should request it from another library? My life is full of drama. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A bit of this and that should see me through to the end of the year.

      My copy of Leave the World Behind came from a neighbour’s giveaway box. This was not too long after the book came out. They posted a photo of Facebook and I immediately marched over to get myself a free hardback!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like you have lots of great books to choose from and I wish you lots of luck with your December reading goals!

    A Fine Balance is one of my favorite books of all time!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think you should cut yourself some slack, too. I have A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times as well and hope to get to it soon. I’m into my Dean Street December challenge which has lovely, gentle, kind reads in it, something I need when things are a bit tricky in life, as they are at the moment. I’m also being diverse to balance those, reading a super book about Africans in London at the moment. I keep figures as I go along and am at 29.6% BIPOC at the moment, with a few joint productions between White and BIPOC people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Impressive! I’d be happy with roughly 25%.

      It does feel like a time for comfort reads.

      Liked by 1 person

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