When I started this blog, I never figured I’d stick with it to review almost 300 books in four years. Maybe because I didn’t think I’d keep it up for five years. But here we are, another year down—what is the fourth-year anniversary gift, anyways? I’m actually pretty proud of this one, especially in light of so many bloggers who have burnt out, slowed down, or stopped altogether. I’ll be even more proud next year (fifth is the the wood anniversary, as you all obviously know), barring stress or serious injury or loss of internet.
When I got started in 2011, I was coming off a long run of Neil Gaiman and China Mieville and wanted to tear into the many classics I’d picked up in college. (I have a book addiction, okay, and tended to assault the SF&F section of used bookstores with the “I’m too busy to read it now but I’ll probably enjoy it sometime in the next XX years” mentality.) Very little of what I read was digitized, and what there was cost an arm and a leg, so buying ebooks didn’t even cross my mind. There weren’t a lot of people blogging about classic SF—it’s still rather niche but back then it was in its infancy, though of course Joachim Boaz was already around and was a featured “WordPress Spotlight” or something for an Alex Schomburg art post right after I started posting. There were a good deal more blogs devoted to noir, in the wake of Hard Case Crime’s emergence, and a few really good ones dedicated to pulp magazines, and many of both have gone silent for one reason or another.
There are many great blogs out there that have lasted far longer than mine, and are going a lot stronger than mine, but I’ve seen staggering number of bloggers bow out, drop out, decline to the post-a-month. Blogging takes a surprising amount of effort, as there’s a good chance said blogger is holding down a real job with real deadlines and real responsibilities that pays a lot better than “would you write a review of this book if I gave you a free copy?”
Maybe it’s because I’ve never lost sight of my goals; to whit, I don’t have any. I don’t do this for (internet) fame and success; I don’t blog for the hits or follows, to watch numbers tick up incrementally. I’m objectively terrible at marketing it—I had Twitter for years before I really used it; I split my audience by reading multiple genres; the majority of my choices are classics (eeew, crusty old stuff) and will probably get to last year’s shortlist darlings by 2020. I request the ARC’s I want to read, and have probably burned some bridges by ignoring/declining some buzz-worthy titles and hip publishers. I don’t bother to plan my reads too far in advance, either—just far enough to avoid decision paralysis, since what I’m in the mood for is apt to change. My day job is all big data and analytics, so this stuff—tag clouds, trend-lines, referrers, all the gooey underlying data that make up the charts and graphs that form a viz—would be a cinch. But that’s not what I’m interested in for a hobby. It’s an outlet.
This isn’t to say I don’t like looking up and finding that I’ve surpassed some views milestone, just that I don’t really pay attention to them. Nor that I don’t appreciate people who comment, Like, +1, or Retweet my posts—I’d like to thank all my readers for that support, even if you’re an infrequent reader who never hits the social media buttons (I know who you are). I want to thank you because I don’t always have time to respond to every comment, and don’t always have something worth saying when you write a cool post on your own site. I think I’m more proud that some of my stuff gets the reaction that it does because I’m so apathetic to self-promotion and “number of views/follows” goalposts, because it gives that response more of a meaning. I’d rather have the community than the 40,000-views-per-day, if you know what I mean.
So, in terms of 2015, I’m halfway through the year and have burned through my reading goal—I lowballed my goal at 60 books and I’m already closing on 45, and I don’t think it’d be too hard a stretch to make 75. (80 I think is still pushing it, if only because I have several weeks coming up where I know I’ll read little-to-nothing.) I formed a “to-read” list in January, read 20 books off of it, and then got sidetracked. I’ve tried to stick to my 2015 Readsolutions but I know I’ve slipped on reading books by female authors, even though I’ve read over twice as many as I did last year (20, give or take a couple of anthologies).
Books that I can confirm will be read and reviewed in the last half of this year:
- A pair of translated ’70s SF books with “ice” in the title. I’ve actually been reading them this week on my vacation, but no promises in terms of speed or efficiency for a review
- A pair of recent-ish neo-noir crime stories; I’m not specifying which in case I change my mind again
- China Mieville’s new collection Three Moments from an Explosion—I snagged an ARC which I’ve picked away at; while I can’t say much until it’s released, Mieville fans should stand up and take note of this one
- Alan Dean Foster’s Midworld, to compare with Hothouse
- A favorite by Clifford Simak
- My first Barry Malzberg
- Depending on how I’m feeling, I have a pair of British Library Spy Classics I’d like to have a go at
- A metric ton of Jack Vance, spanning multiple genres… September may turn into the unofficial Jack Vance Month
- And a couple of horror anthologies for October—including one aptly-named collection of Bradbury’s early work that I’d like to do something special for