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Thursday, January 20, 2022

A peek at one of my fiction shelves.

I’ve always been an avid reader, and I know I’m in good company on this blog. Ask for a book recommendation and you’ll get it in spades! But for some reason, while a lot of people found themselves with more time to read during the pandemic, I took that extra time to read and research true crime, mostly in the form of archived newspaper articles, as I worked to launch that passion project. Once it got off the ground, I found that after my work editing and writing for magazines and producing the podcast, there was little time left to read. Or maybe my brain was tired, along with my eyes. Instead, in the evenings I would spend any spare time I had mindlessly watching TV. 

Last year I tried to get back into reading more. First, I challenged myself to begin reading more diverse books. I’m happy to report I’ve made progress on that. Each of my family members bought me a book for Christmas, and I wondered if they were gently trying to nudge me back into my beloved pasttime. Then I started thinking about all the books I’ve bought over the past few years that I haven’t read (raise your hand if you can relate). Because I’m the type of person who needs accountability, I decided to put the Goodreads app back on my phone. I had to laugh because my profile picture on there was me with my two kids when they were both maybe 5 and 7? They are teenagers now, so it was obvious I hadn’t logged on in quite a while. I signed up for the 2022 Reading Challenge and mulled over how many books I wanted to target for reading. Since I tend to read more over the summer and during holiday breaks, I tried to factor that in. When I said 40, my husband tried to pragmatically step in. “That’s like three a month! Do you think you have time to do all that with your other projects?” This is coming from someone who doesn’t like to read fiction in his spare time, so I waved him off. I typed the goal of 40, knowing I can adjust if it starts to look like I overestimated how much I could read. (By the way, I’ve already read two books this month, one was new, and the other was a re-read of a book I hadn’t picked up in a few years). 

Then I tried to think of what I had read last year so I could keep a digital record of it on Goodreads. Off the top of my head, I logged in 11 books, but I’m sure I probably read a few more than that. I then went through a few genres I enjoy reading on the app and selected several “want to read” so I have a running list of books I can either purchase or request from the library. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a virtual true crime book club with my podcast, with a combination of true crime and mystery/suspense/thrillers, so I selected some options for that. Today I signed up to be an Amazon affiliate so that when I write book reviews for my blog or send out recommendations in my e-newsletter I can potentially earn a small commission. 

Last but not least, I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing book reviews for everything I read and posting to my blog, Amazon, and Goodreads. I know how much authors rely on these reviews, and knowing I will potentially sell my own books in the future, I want to support authors whenever I can. 

Have you set any reading goals for the year? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and magazine editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--You are so right. People who don't write don't know how wonderful reviews are to the author. It means somebody read their stuff. It means they have an audience.

Thanks for the review of MY book... and when yours is published (2022? 2023?) I will gladly review YOUR book.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

My reading goal? Do I dare admit that I frequently read 200 books a year?

Now, hear me out! That includes:
Picture books
Early readers
Graphic novels
MG and YA novels
nonfiction for adults

I probably manage 4+ YA and adult titles/month but that's because I always have a print book and an audio book. I read before bed. I listen while I do dishes, fold laundry, water plants, excavate various sections of the house, etc.

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--Of course, you're welcome for the review! I'm just sorry it took me so long to get to it!

Sue--I can see you reading that many books in a year, especially as a writer for hire and when you're researching. I spend so much time listening to podcasts while exercising and doing chores. You just inspired me to download the app from my library that will allow me to listen to audiobooks on my phone. I'm starting one today!

Cathy C. Hall said...

I've done the Goodreads Challenge for YEARS, Renee, and I think 40 is a very respectable number (said the woman who changed 40 to 36 last December). :-)

When I was reading a LOT of picture books, I sometimes counted them but often forgot to put them all in there and like Sue, I would zip through a dozen chapter books in a month. But I'm impressed with anyone who can listen to a book or podcast while doing something other than walking.

To be fair, the majority of my reading is in whatever genre I'm writing at the time and I'm reading as well as picking parts of the book apart. Anyway, I've recently gone back to writing adult and so now I'm reading mysteries and on one level it's pure enjoyment (except when it's bad and then I quit reading) and on another level, I'm still reading for tips and such. But mostly I'm reading because I love a character (or lots of characters) and I love getting lost in another place, especially when it's an unfamiliar setting.

Um...what did you ask? Did I answer it? Yes, reading! Do It! :-)

Nadya Booyse said...

After my kids were born I really struggled to get back into reading. It didn't go too well. Then I found Goodreads, set a reading goal, and that spurred something in me. For the most part though, I don't set reading goals because I find that too soon it can become a chore, although I do agree that they are a great way to find your way back to something you love(d).

I don't often write reviews unless the book is only 5 star ratings and I feel someone could benefit form my 2 or3 star review or vice versa - that's how I navigate reviews: I find the 3 star review because they usually have more insight into why it was mediocre.

In any case: happy you're back to reading more often again! Enjoy x

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee, I love the idea of starting a true crime book club to go with your podcast!! Natural fit, and so much fun! I can see you discussing the book on your podcast. I'd totally join. :) Consider joining's affiliate program as well to support local indie bookstores.

You've encouraged me to read more this year. My partner doesn't read and streams at night, so I usually join in (just finished binge-watching Ozark!), but one of my goals is to cut down on screen time and read. Are we connected on Goodreads? I can't remember, but I'll see you over there! :)

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