Looking back, looking ahead (January update)

As January already draws to a close – no, I don’t know where it went – I’ve been thinking about the first year of this blog, 2014, and what 2015 holds for me.

In retrospect it seems that 2014 was the year of writing book reviews. I had two reviews published (here and here), and submitted three more. I’d recommend all of the books I read:

The review of Transcending Racial Barriers is unfortunately in a limbo state; I submitted it by the requested deadline (July 2014) and despite a follow up email in September, I’ve heard nothing from the journal. I found the book excellent reading, so I almost don’t mind that the review hasn’t been published.

One of my non-academic goals last year was to read (at least) 75 books, a goal I am happy to say that I met. On top of that, I challenged myself to write a review for each of those books. The result is a new site, http://bookreviews.skriletz.net. Reviews are published every couple of days until I get caught up (which is going to take a while). Please stop by or subscribe to the RSS feed! In terms of genre, my tastes primarily are for fantasy, historical mystery, and science fiction, with the occasional non-fiction or historical fiction in there also. As I wrote the reviews I noticed a definite evolution in my writing style; having a one paragraph summary, without spoilers, is harder than I expected. Some of the early reviews link to a plot summary while the later ones have a summary I wrote for the review. I’ll be continuing to write reviews this year as part of an ongoing effort to write more consistently.

The later months of 2014 also brought some realizations about this blog. The Monday Music feature entries were unexpectedly challenging to write, partly because I do not currently have access to one of the best music history & theory resources (Oxford Music Online; I could have online access if I wanted to pay a not-insignificant monthly or yearly fee). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is one of the best reference sources, both in print and online, and I didn’t know just how much I relied on it as a starting point until I went to write the Monday Music posts. Not only did I have to find satisfactory replacement reference material for myself, I wanted to be able to provide good quality, reputable sources for my readers. In short, it simply took up too much time. There is still so much wonderful music out there that I’d like to talk about – and I will, as time allows.

(As a side note, I’ve never thought of the Internet as quite such a rabbit hole or a time-devouring monster until I was researching and writing the Monday Music posts, particularly when trying to find performances of the pieces. I spent many more hours than I should have watching YouTube videos of Julia Lezhneva and Cecilia Bartoli. Then again, as ways to spend time unwisely go, maybe those aren’t so bad.)

So, what about 2015?

Over the next few months, I’ll be revisiting a section of my Master’s thesis and revising it for publication. This means I’m diving back into studies of Buddhism in the United States, as well as adding on some new readings in ethnic studies. I envision most of my upcoming posts will reflect my research and writing processes. Last year I wrote several book reviews specifically for this site; I may take the opportunity with a new research project to offer either structured reviews or more informal reflections on the books and articles I’m reading.

On my immediate reading list are Edward Said’s Orientalism and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I’m not entirely sure how Orientalism didn’t make it onto my thesis research reading list, so I’m taking the opportunity to correct that now!

Looking for some interesting online reads? Here’s some food for thought:

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