2021 Resolutions

Let me preface this post by saying I’m hesitant to make any resolutions this year. While I did a pretty good job of obtaining my 2020 goals, hindsight also warns me to saunter into the year rather than dive in head first. Last year taught me to take it easy and not put too much pressure on myself. But I’m also one for self-improvement, so I can’t help but make a few resolutions in this year, which will certainly be better than last … right? RIGHT??

Although I don’t have any crazy projects on the horizon like I did in 2020 or literary goals just spewing out of me, there are a few things I’d like to accomplish this year. Let’s take a look.

New books that I’ve yet to read!
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Ranked: Reads in 2020

Nobody could have predicted where 2020 would take us or, rather, not take us. All this time at home, though, hasn’t been all bad, and books were — once again — a constant companion. I’m incredibly thankful for the characters who became friends and the narratives that granted me an escape, and of course, I’m forever grateful for the authors whose creative minds told stories and enabled my imagination.

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty and see how all 30 books rank for me in the year 2020 (with my super cool artwork I created on Canva).

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2020 Resolution Review

I’ve had an interesting year of reading. There have been a few lows and some definite highs. I’ve read blissful and entertaining books, as well as downright depressing ones. The full year has been a whirlwind, but I did manage to get in some solid reading. Let’s take a closer look at my stats as of Dec. 26, 2020:

  • Read 10,230 pages from 30 books — Goodreads for the win again — compared with 10,904 pages across 31 books the year before (though I’m trying to finish one more before Jan. 1, which would put me at my goal for the year).
  • Averaged 341 pages per book.
  • Explored 14 different genres with three new ones on BLLshort stories, essays, and environmental fiction.
  • Dug into two authors twice — Jojo Moyes and Jasmine Guillory — and read 22 authors for the first time in my literary life.

The above stats do include one book that I’ve finished but haven’t yet reviewed (coming January 2021). Once, I include that one, my average flameworthiness for the year will be 3.9 flames, just higher than 2019. Now let’s take a look at the individual rankings:

  • Read my first one-flame book with The Book of Lost Friends.
  • Flipped through one two-flame book, which is a huge improvement from 2019’s five.
  • Finished six three-flame books, which matches last year’s total.
  • Enjoyed 14 four-flame books, which is more than 2019’s 11.
  • Indulged in seven five-flame amazing reads, which is two less than last year.

Anybody else love stats and data and totally nerding out on it, especially when it’s related to books? Nope? Just me? Well OK then. In that case, it’s time for the most important part of my 2020 bibliophile review: assessing my resolutions that I set for myself back in January. Did I hold myself accountable and obtain my goals?

Here are some of my most-liked photos on Instagram for the year.
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Thankful

Nobody will ever forget 2020; it’s one for the history books unfortunately. Yes, things have been a garbage fire, but — with everything — there’s always a silver lining. For example, in 2020, I finally decided to go to therapy and invest in my mental health; being quarantined together has been the ultimate validation that Kyle and I are true partners and can get through anything together; and the world has even given the environment a break — albeit a small one.

With so much self-reflection, it’s impossible to not reflect on all of the positives in 2020. One bright spot is that all this time at home has given me a new appreciation for books and allowed me to see new literary themes that bibliophiles and the world over need. With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to express my literary gratitude to the books, the authors, and the readers who made a difference this year.

Some stellar book photography from and of yours truly plus one heck of a design.
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Toe to Toe: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Let me repeat my favorite mantra: literature changes lives. Pick a few of my reviews at random, and my point will be proven. Mary Ann Shaffer must have also strongly believed that when she started writing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Say what? What about potatoes?

I know I know. It’s a very odd title, but does it grab your attention and reel you in? Of course, and that’s why it’s a great title. That’s what great books deserve, and that’s exactly what Shaffer’s novel is.

I read this novel at the beginning of the pandemic (apologies for the delay!), and it easily earned four flames. It was moving, funny, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and just a great story. It’s also a movie on Netflix that came out in 2018. Many people have recommended this book to me, including my friend Danielle, who I watched this movie with virtually (#coronavirus). After indulging in this adventure yet again — as well as Michiel Huisman who dreamily plays Dawsey Adam — I decided to take the movie and book toe to toe.

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TBF: The Lies That Bind

Since we were sprightly little teenagers, my cousin Kaitlyn Wibbenmeyer and I have bonded over our shared love of books. And in particular, we’ve been fond of (re: obsessed) with one author in particular: Emily Giffin. So I knew when Giffin’s latest novel, The Lies That Bind, was released early this year, Kaitlyn and I would have to discuss. And boy, did we have a lot to say.

In the latest episode of The Biblio Files, Kaitlyn and I chat about Giffin’s amazing and relatable characters; how she brought 9/11 into her fictional tale in such a sensitive yet powerful way; and how her writing has matured and improved over the years. (Yes, somehow it’s possible to keep getting better when you are already so good.) We even make the claim that The Lies That Bind has set a new Giffin standard. And yes, we fangirled … hard. We left our love for Emily Giffin on this recording, and we are not afraid to admit it.

(We’re currently accepting applications for the EG fan club as we speak.)

Listen to our conversation about The Lies That Bind on your preferred podcast platform. Don’t forget to share and subscribe and to also visit Anchor where you can become a supporter of The Biblio Files. Enjoy!

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TBF: An Interview with John Vercher

When I started The Biblio Files in February, I made a goal to interview one author in the first year. Thanks to the amazing book Three-Fifths and its author, John Vercher, I’ve reached that milestone.

In the first author interview of this podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with John about everything from racism in America and the unfortunate circumstances that make his book “timeless” and to his complex characters and their heartbreaking ending. We had a fascinating and enlightening conversation, and I’m excited for his future work to hit the bookshelves.

You can listen to our conversation wherever you consume podcasts or via Anchor, the platform I use to publish every episode. While on Anchor, you can also subscribe to and support The Biblio Files. Check it out now!

John Vercher
Source: John Vercher
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TBF: Normal People TV Show

You may remember that I was not a fan of the book Normal People, but, as discussed in the an episode of The Biblio Files, my friend Layne Coffman was. Interestingly enough, I liked the show immensely more (you should check out the toe-to-toe matchup), and we both had many thoughts on it. So Layne and I decided we needed one more conversation about Normal People.

In this new episode of The Biblio Files, her husband, Nick, joins us as we regale our fierce opinions on this now-Emmy-nominated TV show. Tune in as we compare both forms of media, discuss the show’s thirstiness, and opine on a second season.

Check it out now on your preferred podcast platform or on Anchor where I publish all of my episodes. And don’t forget to subscribe, share, and support!

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Toe to Toe: Normal People

I’ll admit I felt nervous when I began the limited TV series Normal People. With the book garnering only three flames, I had little confidence that I would enjoy the show. I had to watch it though, right? I mean this is the hottest thing happening in TV at the moment — figuratively and literally. (I saw one headline that said it is the thirstiest thing we need right now.)

So I threw out my reservations about the adaptation. I tried to forget my negative thoughts toward the novel and the depressed feelings it evoked from me. I tried to not be swayed by my past experiences, which tell me that books are always better than their adapted screen versions. I took Normal People — TV versus book — toe to toe.

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TBF: Normal People

So Normal People wasn’t one of my favorite book of the past few years; really, it wasn’t even close. But it did provide a lot of great content to discuss. It only made sense, then, that I’d discuss it on The Biblio Files with one of my best friends and the woman who bought the book for me: Layne Coffman.

In this episode, Layne and I chat about a lot of topics, including the light Normal People sheds on mental health, my weird feelings about existentialism, the mark of a good book, and even our first kisses. That’s right: It gets deep on this episode. (Don’t worry; I promise it’s completely relevant to the book and associated conversation.)

Click on this link to listen to this episode or search for The Biblio Files on your go-to podcast platform. If you do the latter, make sure you still check out my Anchor profile to learn how you can support your favorite bibliophile.

PSA: This episode contains explicit language and obnoxious laughter that no amount of editing could subside. This is just who we are.

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