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3rd January
2014
written by Steph

Well, there’s no way around it. This blog has been on life support for so long that it was time to make a choice: either zap it and see if I could kick start its heart once more, or pull the plug.

After some soul-searching and late night tossing & turning, I’ve come to a decision…

The blog lives on!

I never meant to neglect this site as badly as I have done, but I suppose no one ever starts these kinds of endeavors with that intention. The truth is that I’ve been channeling all of my energies into our other site, 20 Years Hence, where I document the travel adventures we’ve been having while gallivanting through Asia and it’s left me little time for anything else. In between writing over there AND all the traveling we have been doing to fuel that writing, I’ve barely read anything, which is part of why I’ve not updated here. I stopped following many of the bookish sites I used to turn to daily because I was so overwhelmed with keeping abreast of what’s happening in the travel world. Plus, we travel light and I’ve been mostly limited to reading on my iPad, which… is better than not having anything at all, but I find it a lot harder to sink into that transcendent state of reading bliss that I so effortlessly slip into when I’ve got a paper book in my hands. When I did manage to read a book, I was generally so tired mentally speaking that I didn’t even bother to log it in my trusty Excel books spreadsheet that keeps track of my reads, although I did still use GoodReads to track them… that’s how I know that last year I apparently read 20 books (remember when I used to read 70+?!?). Most of those, however, were in an official capacity as I do still review for BookPage (thank goodness for egalleys!)… if not for that, I shudder to think how tiny that number might be.

A confession: For a long time, I was so busy with this new adventure, this new life, that I didn’t miss reading. My days felt full as they were and I didn’t want to spend my time escaping to anywhere else. But the longer we’ve traveled, the more I began to miss curling up with a good book and engaging my mind through the act of reading. Sometimes you have to lose a good thing to realize how much it means to you, and in my case, my drop in reading has only helped me appreciate how vital it is to me. It restores me, it keeps my mind active, it makes me a better writer, it inspires and enlightens me, and above all else, it makes me happy. More than that, I realized how much I missed the act of talking about what I was reading, the way blogging about books had helped me really engage and think deeply about the books I picked up. On the rare occasions I did read this past year, my brain felt fuzzy and unfocused, like I wasn’t really engaging with what I was reading, and I’d often finish books only to forget about them immediately with no insights into themes or meaning. In essence, I was in the reading slump to end all reading slumps.

Although Tony & I are still traveling, we’re slowing down our pace and are basing ourselves in Vietnam for a few months so that we can work on other projects. When we settled into the apartment we’ll call home for the next three months, I realized the thing I was most excited about was having the time and opportunity to get back to reading and dive into some books. My mental malaise and the exhaustion I was feeling towards reading has been replaced by enthusiasm and excitement anew. I’m looking forward to rekindling this long lost love affair with both books and writing.

What’s done is done and I can’t go back and make up for lost time, so instead I’m just going to start fresh. No run downs on what I did read while away (Ok, if you must know, the best books I read last year were: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, and The People in Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. All three were excellent, five-star reads. The worst books are probably not worth remembering. ) and no more excuses on why I didn’t write about it here. I’m letting it lie and moving on.

I never really had a former reviewing policy before my hiatus and I won’t institute one now. In fact, I’m looking forward to having a place where I can write unfettered and openly, without any agenda other than to record whatever thoughts I happen to have about the things I read. In books, all things are possible and I’m embracing that in my approach. I hope there are still some people out there who might be interested in what I have to say, but if not, I’m still going to do it for myself and for posterity. I miss my in-depth reading log and a place where writing has always been fun. I can’t promise I’ll always (if ever) have brilliant things to share about what I read, but I’ll give it my best shot and we’ll see what happens.

If you’re one of our faithful readers from way back who never unsubscribed from our RSS feed and you’re reading this, thanks for sticking around. I missed you too.

16 Comments

  1. YEA!!! I’m so glad to read this news. I love your other blog, but I really respect your reading opinions, too. In fact, I have to go look up your top three books as I haven’t heard of them.

    Welcome back!

  2. Happy New Year Steph! I’m glad you’re still committed to the blog. I’ve missed it! The past year I’ve been mostly a lurker and want to get back to blogging as well this year.

    Any idea of when you’ll be in Europe? You still haven’t changed your mind about visiting Belgium, I hope.

  3. 01/03/2014

    Hurray! So glad to hear a peep from you. I lost track of what you guys were up to during my own year+ of travel, so I’m pleased to get the update. I’ll have to check out your other blog…! Sounds like you’re living a pretty amazing life. I look forward to hearing more. Cheers!

  4. 01/04/2014

    I think I made a keening noise when I saw this post pop up on my RSS reader. It’s so good to hear from you, and I’m glad you’ve decided to keep the blog.

    Congratulations, too, on your exciting year of wandering all over the place and being caught up in Real Life to read—and on how your break from reading only makes the reunion sweeter, haha. Can’t wait to hear more from you, on books or otherwise.

  5. 01/04/2014

    What a fantastic surprise! I missed reading your thoughts and can’t wait to see what you two have been up to. Welcome back!

  6. 01/04/2014

    I haven’t blogged about books in about 18 months, but I’m looking forward to (sorta) doing it again, from the perspective of a writer, as that’s my highest priority this year: to get my writing in order! :) Glad to see you here again!

  7. 01/04/2014

    @ jenn: Before writing this post, I looked through some of my old reviews and I was just struck by how much fun we all used to have here talking about books in the comments. Writing about travel is rewarding in its own ways, but it feels good to get back to what, in a way, I consider my first love! ;)
     

    @Alex: Happy New Year to you too! I’ve lurked around a few of my favorite book blogs in this past year (including yours!), but because my own reading has been so abysmal, I never felt I had anything to contribute to the conversation… hopefully, this is a turning point for both of us!

    As for Belgium, we’ve put our Europe plans on hold for a variety of reasons BUT rest assured, whenever we make it to your neck of the woods, we’ll certainly plan to pop by for a visit!
     

    @Sarah: It’s the best way to fritter away time (apart from blogging, of course!), but traveling sure is a time suck, isn’t it? I look forward to catching up with your own adventures as well!
     
    @Sasha: Aw, your comment made me smile! It’s kind of incredible what happens when we lose the things we take for granted and how it can really throw us for a loop. I’ve always considered myself to be a reader, so the past year without substantially devoting myself to books has been enlightening to say the least. I really didn’t miss it at first because we were so busy, but I’ve definitely felt a yearning for books of late that I just can’t deny. Same goes for writing for fun. Lately on the other site I’ve felt like every post has been like pulling teeth, and I’ve never struggled to put words to the page in that way before. I’m really looking forward to having an alternate space to nurture both of these loves!
     

    @Amanda: I was on the fringes of it all so I can’t say for sure, but it does seem like this past year has been kind of “slump-o-riffic” for most book bloggers that I follow. Whether it’s a drop off in reading altogether, or just a drop off in writing, well… life happens and we just do the best we can, I think. I know your own priorities have shifted, but I always like to read about what you’re up to, so I hope 2014 can be more rewarding for both of us when it comes to blogging.

  8. 01/04/2014

    Nice to have you back in the book blogging fold.

  9. Lu
    01/05/2014

    I am SO excited to see you guys here. I’ve been reading and totally enjoying and being pretty jealous of everything on 20 Years Hence, but I miss your oh so smart book talk, too. Looking forward to it. :)

  10. 01/07/2014

    @ Thomas: Thanks! It feels good to be back!
     
    @ Lu: I’m excited to be back and get back up to speed with the book blogging world. It’s been fun writing about travel, but I approach that differently than I did book reviews. Plus, I miss reading and talking about books with y’all!

  11. Yay! I had a few weeks off blogging over Christmas/New Year so missed this post. I just came back to check the ToB post and spotted it. I’m so pleased that you’re coming back to blogging. I look forward to seeing your wonderful bookish posts again :-)

  12. 01/10/2014

    Thanks for your enthusiastic comment, Jackie! It feels good to be back and chatting about books again. I feel as though my brain has been hibernating and now it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get the cogs turning once more. :D

  13. 01/15/2014

    Let me just add to all the yays: Yay!!! I like your travel blog and all, but books are way cooler. :-P

  14. 01/16/2014

    Thanks, Alison. I don’t know if I fully agree that books are way cooler… but they are AT LEAST AS COOL as traveling so I think this is a win for all of us!

  15. 01/28/2014

    Hiiiii! So happy to see you back here! I’m planning to read Shantaram soon, can’t wait. I’ve been in the same place as you, but not because of traveling, only because of work, but last year I read so few books, and most of them my kids’ books, it was pathetic. This year I plan on reading more, just like we used to before.. see you around again xx

  16. 02/11/2014

    @ claire: Yay yay yay! So good to hear from you and I’m glad to see that 2014 is the year for you to restart your own blog! My reading was pathetic last year, but I’m already doing much better this year and it feels good! I think my reviewing is really rusty here, but I know I’ve just got to keep at it!

    Also, you will love Shantaram. It will break your heart and then put it back together, better than before.

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