What to Expect from Sarah’s Book Shelves in 2018

What to Expect from Sarah's Book Shelves in 2018

2017 was a bit of an underwhelming reading year for me. I read some great books (see my Best Books of 2017), but there weren’t as many of them as in previous years and they certainly weren’t the books I expected to be great. This got me reflecting on how to really live my best reading life…on how to get better at picking books that I’ll like and making the most of my reading community. And, things started to look up as I tried out some new methods later in the year. This turnaround helped shape my thinking about where to take Sarah’s Book Shelves in 2018…

Live Your Best Reading Life…

Next year, my primary focus will be on helping you live your best reading life…by sharing some real tools to help you pick better books, by helping you make the most of your reading community, and by sharing the same fantastic book recommendations you’ve always gotten.

Get better at picking the right books for you

Picking the right books for your personal taste is absolutely key to enjoying your reading…and it’s hard to do! Some books may sound like they’re right up your alley, but the pieces don’t actually come together well. Publishers may describe a book in a way that appeals to you, only for you to find that the book is actually nothing like the description. And, on and on…

And, everyone’s reading taste is different. Rather than just sharing my own reading on this blog (don’t worry, I’m not going to stop doing this), I’m also going to help you learn how to choose books that are most likely to appeal to you.

Many of my favorite books of 2017 were recommended to me by trusted sources…and were not the books publishers touted as the “must reads” of the year. I realized the source of the recommendation is way more important than the book itself.

New Tools to Help You Pick Better Books

  • “Rock Your Reading” Tracking Spreadsheet – will enable you to easily figure out who your Go-To and No-Go Book Recommendation Sources are throughout the year (plus, will help you track a bunch of other good stuff…including summary charts that automatically populate as you enter your books). Available for purchase in January.
  • Go-To Recommendation Sources Blog Post Series – I’ll be using my “Rock Your Reading” Tracker to find my Go-To and No-Go Recommendation Sources throughout the year and will share my best and worst sources every quarter.
  • Personalized Book Recommendations for Patreon supporters – I’m planning to start a Patreon page to enable you to support the blog financially…and you’ll get some rewards as a thank you for your support! One of these will be Personalized Book Recommendations similar to the free trial of this service that I ran last Spring.
  • Find Your Go-To and No-Go Best Books of the Year lists – free, downloadable tool to help you figure out which Best Books of 2017 lists are most compatible with your reading taste (already available here).

Make the most of your reading community

One of the biggest joys blogging about books has given me is a huge community of people who love to read and talk books. Many of you interact with me here in the comments section, on social media, or via email. But, until now, you haven’t had easy opportunities to interact with each other. Your fellow Sarah’s Book Shelves readers are a goldmine for great book recommendations since you all have reading tastes that landed you in the same place!

So, I’m going to help you all talk books and get to know each other better!

Ways to Make the Most of Your Reading Community

  • Reader Survey – in January, I’m posting a survey for Sarah’s Book Shelves readers. This will help me get to know you better as a group, which I’m dying to do! And, I’ll share the combined results in a blog post so you can get a collective sense of who your fellow blog readers are.
  • Private Facebook Group for Patreon Supporters – another reward from the Patreon page I mentioned earlier will be access to a private Facebook group where you can talk to other blog readers, share book recommendations, and hear some unfiltered book talk from me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’m thinking for 2018! Does it sound appealing? Is there anything you were hoping for, but don’t see here? Anything on here you’re not really interested in?

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  1. renee wrote:

    This all sounds fantastic Sarah! You’ve been busy coming up with some really interesting changes for your blog. I love the idea of connecting readers of your blog, that sounds so fun to be able to interact and find others with similar reading tastes. I’d never heard of Patreon but that sounds awesome for generating some income and providing unique rewards for subscribers. I can’t wait to hear how that goes for you. I haven’t joined Facebook and that’s something I’m debating about doing for my blog in the new year.

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thanks! We’ll see how it goes! Facebook isn’t my top social media traffic source, but it is #2 and I feel like it (and Instagram) are where people in my age group hang out.

      Posted 12.29.17 Reply
  2. Good luck with all your plans! It sound like you’ll be busy.

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:


      Posted 12.29.17 Reply
  3. Carrie wrote:

    sounds like some awesome things are in store! I totally agree about choosing the RIGHT books to read. When i’m in a rut with reading a lot of times it’s because I’ve gotten lazy with choosing what books to read.

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:


      Posted 12.29.17 Reply
  4. I’ll be interested to see the “RYR” tracking sheet. Record-keeping (and therefore, remembering) books that I have read is *ahem* not one of my strong suits.

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Haha! There’s no way I’d remember what I read unless I kept records!

      Posted 12.29.17 Reply
  5. Tara wrote:

    AHHHH! This is so excited, Sarah!!!

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
    • Tara wrote:

      Um, actually that was supposed to be exciting. LOL!

      Posted 12.21.17 Reply
  6. Sounds like you have some great stuff cookin’! I love your approach to book recommendations. I’ve never thought to track the sources of my best recommendations. 2017 was kind of a bum reading year for me too, and I’m determined that that will not happen in 2018. I’m really going to focus on reading for pleasure, even if that means reading fewer new releases, more nonfiction (my fav!), and DNFing books that aren’t working for me.

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
  7. Hi Sarah – I’ve been traveling all day, so have just read this! I’m excited for your changes in 2018. I know I want to be better at picking books so anything that helps will be awesome. I played with the spreadsheet yesterday, but between packing and a few other things, I didn’t get very far on it. I also love the idea of a reading community to encourage others. You’re always so inspiring to me.

    Hope your holidays are wonderful!

    Posted 12.21.17 Reply
  8. Beth F wrote:

    Sounds like some big changes! I’ll be looking out for your further thoughts.

    Posted 12.22.17 Reply
  9. I love the rock your reading spreadsheet idea! i’m definitely looking forward to your 2018 plans. Have a wonderful holiday!

    Posted 12.22.17 Reply
  10. Heather Hicks wrote:

    I actually had a great reading year! It ebbed and flowed though but over all I did well. Finishing my 2017 with a thriller by Michele Khoury, michelekhoury.com for her info. It’s called Busted, and it’s intense and the characters are phenomenal, a great way to end my year!!

    Posted 12.22.17 Reply
  11. This all sounds great! And the spreadsheet was a lot of fun 🙂

    Posted 12.24.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Glad to hear it!

      Posted 12.29.17 Reply
  12. Jan wrote:

    I’m not a blogger but I love your blog. I downloaded the spreadsheet and my results were surprising too. I was one of the lucky recipients of your personalized reading recommendations, and you knocked it out of the park! I’m excited about the new features on your blog

    Posted 12.26.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you – I’m so glad to hear it!!

      What were your top bookish media sources? I’m always curious of other people’s results!

      Posted 12.29.17 Reply
      • Jan wrote:

        Sarah, well, you for one..which wasn’t one of the sources in the spreadsheet but should have been…:-)

        BOTM was a top source, not surprisingly since I am a member. Other top sources were Modern Mrs Darcy, From the Front Porch (40%!), Amazon, and library reads. But to be honest I think library reads got a top spot only because very few books were on the list and I happened to like a couple of them so the percentage was higher. Does that make sense?

        The biggest surprise were sites like book riot. I enjoy their e-mails and newsletters and follow them on social media but very few of my top reads were chosen from their site. Interesting! I will definitely keep that in mind going forward.

        Like you, “important issue books” are typically a huge miss for me, but every once in a while one is a winner, not because it was an issue book, but because I was entertained.

        It was a very eye-opening exercise – thank you!

        Posted 12.29.17 Reply
        • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

          Awh – thank you! I stuck with traditional media for this one (mainly because bloggers publish their Best Books of the Year lists a little later), but I’m thinking about doing another one for book bloggers.

          You and I (not surprisingly) have a lot of the same top sources! And I had a similar experience with Book Riot. I listen to their podcasts and get lots of recommendations from them, but our Best of 2017 lists didn’t align as well as some others. I also figured out that, for the All the Books podcast, I’m more of a Rebecca than a Liberty.

          Glad you found it helpful!

          Posted 1.1.18 Reply
  13. Catherine wrote:

    I can’t answer your question because I am too tired from reading everything you’ve accomplished and are going to do. My God, you are going to take over the book blogging world and I’ll be able to say I knew you when!

    Do you think your blah reading year had to do with everything you had going on in your life- like finding a house, moving, moving your family, renovating? I know external things influence me and you had a lot going on in your headspace- plus an injury! It’s all enough to make reading fall by the wayside. Or was it just blah books?

    Posted 1.2.18 Reply
  14. Naomi wrote:

    This all sounds fantastic! I hope it all goes well for you – you’ve worked hard for it. 🙂

    Posted 1.4.18 Reply

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