the year in books :: reflections


Thanks to the Year in Books project, I am ending the year far richer than I began it. Last January, having read woefully few books in the preceding, sleep-deprived months, I was desperate to kick-start my reading habit. Twelve months on, I’ve read these twelve books, and several more besides. I’ve connected with a whole community of fellow bibliophiles and discovered new authors. I’ve found space in my life for thinking, talking, writing and dreaming about books.

Looking ahead into 2015, I’m delighted to hear that so many of you are happy to continue with the project, and also that several others are keen to join us. If you’re thinking of it, please do, we’d love to have you on board! I have a couple of thoughts on the project going forwards, and I would be interested to hear what you think.

The premise of The Year in Books is that we read a book a month (at least). It’s not a conventional book club, so we don’t all read the same book. At the start of the month, we blog about the book that we are intending to read, and, if we want to, write a few words (thoughts, comments, a review of sorts) about the previous month’s book. I publish my post on the 3rd of each month, with a linkup at the bottom so that you can connect up your posts. All of this, I intend to keen the same next year.

I have a couple of suggestions to make to you. Firstly, I wondered how you would feel about having just one month in which those of us who wanted to had a go at all reading the same book. Of course it would be entirely optional, but it might be an interesting change, and a way to open up a dialogue about our reading. Secondly, with this in mind, I’ve been chatting to a couple of people about the possibility of an interactive #theyearinbooks discussion. Twitter seems the most logical place for this, so I am floating the idea of a monthly #theyearinbooks Twitter chat. Do you use Twitter? Would this appeal to you? Do let me know your thoughts on both suggestions in the comments.

In terms of my own reading, I have two further intentions. Firstly, I am planning to start a Year in Books notebook, in which to note every single book that I read this coming year. At the back, I intend to jot down an ongoing ‘to read’ wish list (which be extremely long, no doubt!). Secondly, I have made the decision not to buy any of next year’s books online. It’s all too easy to slip into the Amazon habit, and I would rather support independent bookshops,  my local charity shops -which have excellent book selections, or, of course the library.

Over the Christmas period, I’m reading the brilliantly radical How to be Free, as recommended by Sabrina. I’ll be back on 3rd January, with my first book choice for the Year in Books 2015. I do hope that you’ll join me.

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  • Hi Laura, I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas x

    I’m so pleased to have followed the success of The Year in Books, it’s a fab idea but one I was hopeless at keeping up with! I’m reapplying myself this year and definitely joining in.

    Regarding buying books online; one thing I did do this year was to buy more at our wonderful local bookshop (many of which I’m still to read!). However I work in a different town with no lovely bookshop so can’t always shop there. I don’t know if you’ve discovered the great Hive Books online? They operate a discounted service online at (@hivebooks I think) but you can nominate your local bookshop to receive a small er enrage of each book purchase you make. You can also get your book delivered to a bookshop of your choice.

    If time is of the essence it’s a very helpful option instead of Amazon and through following them on twitter so many independent booksellers are part of the network. Just an idea.

    Take care and happy reading xx

  • The year in books for me has helped me to focus my reading, discover new books and make new friends. Spending so much time reading academic journals as I retrain, this has been a wonderful excuse to escape and discover other books.
    I love the idea of us reading the same book for one of the months in 2015, perhaps after March when my dissertation will be handed in?!
    A monthly Twitter chat is also a fab idea. It would be lovely to spend some time chatting about the books we have enjoyed each month.
    Thank you so much Laura for starting a year in books it has made 2014 richer and reminded me how much I love to read and discover new books. Wishing you a very happy new year and may 2015 bring you even more time to read xx

    • Thanks so much, Zoe, I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed it. Mid-year works for me for the collaborative choice. Happy new year to you too, and speak soon in 2015 xx

  • Hello, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and am hoping to join in with the year in books in 2015. I don’t currently use Twitter and am not sure if I’d have the time to join in with a monthly chat – it really depends on what I’m doing when the chat is happening.

  • I’m glad your book club has been so successful and has spread so well. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your selections, and also lots of the others’ who have joined in. I’m not on Twitter, but I shall carry on reading your book posts here and making notes of books that I fancy reading too. I discovered a fantastic author this year (Barbara Kingsolver) thanks to your Year in Books, so thank you Laura. And I absolutely love your idea of not buying your books online, I like to support the other three ways you mention too. Here’s to a New Year full of all of the wonder and magic that books can bring. CJ xx

  • Although full of good intentions to read more last year (and the year before that, and the one before that …) I failed woefully to do so. So I could do with all the encouragement your scheme offers. I like the idea of all reading the same book one month and tweeting about it (I’m @justgai). I also applaud your decision to boycott Amazon in favour of local independent booksellers, and suggest also using your local library. When I was a member of a book group I would reserve a copy of the book we were reading which worked very well.

  • Hi, I love the idea of your book club. I support the purchase of books from independnt book shops or charity shops, and I too will create a ‘books’ notebook. I think everyone reading the same book for one month of the year is a good idea! I am on Twitter so would find that useful. D

  • I’d love to join in this year (especially as the stocking present of a mini reading light now enables reading in bed without waking the baby, hoorah!)

    I also love the idea of reading the same book one month — it’s so nice to hear other people’s thoughts on something you’ve also read and often opens up whole new ways of thinking about books.

    Hope you’re enjoying How to be Free. I — quite genuinely — think it has revolutionised my life, ha ha. Or at least how I think about my life, which is almost the same thing. I’m appreciating all sorts of things I hadn’t appreciated before and, perhaps even more importantly, not agonising over things I used to agonise over… (Am mid writing a book review for my blog, actually, so I think I will make that my first #theyearinbooks post for Jan.)


  • Hi Laura, I’m happy that you’ll be continuing The Year in Books into 2015. I had fallen out of the habit of reading regularly and this was the nudge that I needed. December wasn’t too productive on the reading front for me but I’ll be back on it in January. Good for you for actively looking for alternatives to using Amazon. I’m not on Twitter or Instagram but will carry on following here instead. Happy New Year to you and your family. xx

  • This sounds good. I am on twitter and I like the idea of a reading journal, not something I’ve ever thought of before. I think it’d probably be good to have a month where we can all read the same book if we choose to. I take it the post format is staying the same as for 2014 then. I’ll look forward to joining in again 🙂 I’ve got a Year in Books review sort of post to come in the next few days, then I’ll start thinking about my January choice!

  • Love the fact, Laura, that you’re continuing with this, brilliant. I don’t really use twitter but will follow you here, as always. The same book one month is a great way of connecting with others and their thoughts.

    When you wrote about The Snow Child, I had to read it, and for me, was one of the best books I have read this year, along with Life after Life, Burial Rites and Precious Bane.

    I also have stopped filling my amazon basket and almost totally rely on our little mobile library van once a month, which never fails to reserve my chosen books.

    Wishing you the warmest wishes for the coming year,

  • I’ve watched from afar and dipped in a little with this but am definitely in properly for 2015. I miss reading for fun so much. I’m on twitter but pretty rubbish about using it, maybe this will be the push I need. So, looking forward to joining you. Happy new year. 🙂

  • One thing I’ve decided to do more of in 2015 is read, so I’ll be joining in for sure – looking forward to it. (I’m reading The Miniaturist at the moment, which is excellent, and I thoroughly recommend it!)

  • I am not on twitter, but I am on Instagram (@hannahcorson) and Goodreads (Hannah Corson) 🙂
    I was super sad to find that I missed the year last year, and have started recording more of my book reading habits and thoughts on Goodreads and have toyed with the idea of blogging book reviews as well. I would love to link up with you if you are still going to continue this. Thanks Laura! 🙂

  • i will join you again! And yes to the Twitter chat. My reading list is already (erratically) underway. And a resounding ‘Let’s do it!’ To the independent booksellers & libraries theme. See you in Zjanuary 🙂

  • Hello! Serendipity is a wonderful thing. I LOVE reading, enough to choose Eng. lit and lang at uni. However, 4 kids and a growing jewellery business has meant that reading for pleasure has become a very rare treat and I feel kind of starved! I was just thinking how I would love to make time to read more regularly, and then stumbled upon your blog via IG. How perfect – a lovely new blog discovered but also a project to get me back with my head in a book or two at last. I am on twitter (@B_wildacre) and IG (Belinda@wildacre), and am really looking forward to joining in, if I may?

    Happy New Year! x

  • Exciting developments! I did so well the first half of the year and then let it slip but I have done a round up of all the books I read last year I am raring to go. This really encouraged me to take time out to read.

  • Well, I’m not on Twitter or any other social media sites and have no intention of joining them, so won’t take part in the interactive monthly book read. And shall bow out of the ‘Year in Books’ too as I have so many unread books to wade through, so many I had to buy a small bookcase to keep them in as they overflowed the bedside cupboard and were in piles all over the place. Plus I want to re-read some of the hundreds and hundreds of books I have on my shelves prior to getting rid of them, so don’t need the distraction of looking at what other folk have been reading, even though it has given me some excellent new reading material this year! Good luck with it all, and if I’m still around and you keep going into 2016, then I may join you again.
    All the best.

  • Laura, Thank you from me too, I’ve loved participating in A Year in Books, getting back into my reading and hearing about others people’s views on their choices. I am so pleased that you’ve decided to continue it and love the idea of one month’s joint read. With best wishes, Emma

  • I dipped my toe in just a bit this year but I am hoping and planning to be all in for 2015. I spent an hour wandering around my local bookstore yesterday and plan to buy local too. I am building my list this weekend. I also like the group read and Twitter discussion idea. Thanks for doing this.