2022 is a year filled with new experiences.

I feel like I say this all the time but it's honestly so true. There is no other way to describe the year. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zones, trying new things, finally getting to some things, and more. At the end of every month, I have a list of new trials. Summing up 6 months is going to be a task.

There might be a few too many notes and tons of rambly wordy sentences in this post. So, get a beverage and settle in.

notes on reading

I started 2022 with no read reading goal or challenge. I wanted to read more non-fiction, pick up books that would take me longer, and maybe try books I don't generally go for.

Probably because of my blasé attitude, I read way more books than I expected. I read 125 books in 2021. Hence, it is shocking that I've read 107 books in 2022 so far. That is a LOT. I'm on track to maybe read 200 books this year. The last time I hit that number was in 2017. It helps that I'm loving most of my reads.

I am not at all ashamed to say that romance heavily dominates my reading this year. There are very few books from other genres. This is mostly because I got a Kindle Unlimited subscription in January and am lucky enough to find AMAZING romance books on KU. It is feeding my heart.

Along with that, I am reading at least one non-fiction book every month. Not all of them have been good books but some of them have made lasting impressions on me. I'm looking forward to trying more non-fiction, maybe also educational ones? They would take longer but I want to go for them instead of worrying about finishing one non-fic a month.

I'm somehow struggling with audiobooks this year. I like only a few of the books that I try and even when I like them, I don't crave to listen to them. It's a task to get myself to listen to them, honestly. I prefer putting on a soothing playlist most of the time, even if I'm doing mindless chores.

my favourite books so far

I read The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams a few days into 2022 and knew that it would be on my best books of the year list. It was comforting, sad, happy, and made me feel a lot. The characters were <3. Read more of my thoughts here.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone is a BRILLIANT sapphic rivals-to-lovers romance with time travel. The plot, the characters, and the writing—all captured my heart. My full review has all my praises.

How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur was my first non-fiction read of the year and one of the best I've ever read. I listened to the audiobook and want to get the physical copy to annotate someday. I loved how the author delved into ethics and morality. It taught a lot, posed a ton of questions, and left me correlating life events to the concepts mentioned in the book for several days. Here's my short review of it.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree is a super cute, cosy, low-stakes fantasy book that I never knew I needed. The fact that it's a slice-of-life story about a coffee shop and has the found family trope sold me on it. It is no surprise that it has been very successful in the online book community.

The Plated Prisoner series by Raven Kennedy has me in a chokehold and I couldn't be happier about it. I read books 1-3 in one day and devoured book 4 every free minute during busy days. I'm so sad that the finale will be out an entire year later. I highly recommend it if you want an addicting fantasy series.

Another addicting book this year was Restore Me by J. L. Seegars. The characters, the writing, and the emotions were so well done. It's a romance that deserves to be read by everybody. I wrote a full review for this book because I loved it so much.

I will forever wish I could read Binding 13 by Chloe Walsh for the first time again. I wouldn't say that it's a perfect book but it is ADDICTING. I couldn't get enough of the story and the characters. the sequel Keeping 13 is even better and I've reread my favourite chapters in it at least a dozen times.

Ace by Angela Chen is the BEST non-fiction book of this year so far. I love that it is personal yet general, comforting while posing uncomfortable questions, and delves deep into everything. It made me feel SEEN and that's why I wrote a full review raving about it.

It seems like romance series are growing on me this year because The Dark Verse series by RuNyx also has me in a chokehold. I read it in June and it will definitely be a part of my best books of 2022 list. I'm generally not one for mafia or mob romances but DAMN THIS SERIES. It is hard to read, full of violence and gore, and has problematic aspects, but I can't help but love it. Why oh why is its finale also coming only next year. Why do I do this to myself?

notes on blogging

While talking about my 2022 hopefuls, I mentioned three goals for blogging. Well, I haven't done well on them. Here's the update:

  • The "big project" I wanted to work on? I still haven't started it. I've been putting it off as I've been prioritizing my actual career and other life stuff.
  • I wanted to make commenting back a habit this year and I DID succeed for the first 4 or so months. And then I stopped because I didn't have enough time for the blog and other things were of higher priority.
  • I low-key wanted to guest post on other blogs but I've not done it and I'm not going to do it, at least for a while.

Moving on to some happy updates. The blog crossed a bunch of milestones in the first half of the year:

  • Crossed 190k views in 2022. In 2021, the blog crossed 100k in the last few days after almost 11 months of being live. This year, it crossed the number in about 4 months and then the stats started shooting up. I'm expecting the blog will cross 200k views for the year this month. That is... shocking. I was initially expecting to reach that number only by the end of 2022.
  • Averaging over 1k views a day. Of course, the only way I would get such numbers is if the daily average is consistently rising. Currently, this blog is receiving around 1.3k views a day.
  • Crossed 2.6k blog followers. That is, I've gotten almost 60 new followers this year. It isn't much compared to many blogs, even my old blog. But it is significant considering this is a self-hosted blog and also considering my content nowadays.
  • Published 22 posts. I like how I'm taking my time with blog posts and not rushing them. I'm sticking less to posting schedules. While I am a little sad that I'm not posting as often, I like that I'm focusing on being happy with my content and taking my time with it.

As the blog is growing, it is also getting linked in other big websites as a blog to take note of. That is HUGE. I didn't expect to be on best book blog lists or have my posts be used as references. But now that it's happening, I'm learning to accept it and work harder to be worthy of it.

I'm also finally starting to accept that I'm a writer. I may not write stories for books but I do WRITE for the blog and newsletter. Some weeks, I write several thousand words. That makes me a writer. It is high time I recognize myself as one. 

illustration of an open book and a cup next to it, surrounded by two half wreaths of leaves and some sparkles on everything

notes on SEO

Even though I've known SEO for years and have been optimizing my posts for SEO, it used to be an afterthought. Earlier, I used to write my posts and then do any quick on-page optimization. Changes in the ranking of the posts were nominal and I would be shocked if it went to page one.

This year, I took an SEO course which had a good section about SEO research. Ever since I started doing research for some of my posts, however minimal, the chances of them ranking higher on search engines shot up. I don't do much more than before but the returns are significantly higher.

I suspect that my chances are better now compared to last year because I have other posts ranking as well and my authority, but I can clearly see how my research makes a huge difference. When I put in the effort, my posts definitely rank and also start ranking faster for the keyword I'm aiming for.

I don't research for all of my posts but when I do, it highly satisfies me. I love seeing clear results for my effort.

notes on pinterest

Although I've tried Pinterest multiple times before, I always got overwhelmed by the amount of work the advised strategies required and didn't see returns soon enough to keep going. This year, I decided to make my own strategy and try again.

As Pinterest is not that important to me, I wasn't worried about getting enough traffic from it. What I do want is to figure it out the way I figured out SEO. Pinterest is a visual search engine and quite similar to other search engines. I was irked that I couldn't make it work for me.

So, I made a plan with my requirements in mind. I created a bunch of pins and started pinning one pin every single day. It took about 5 minutes every morning. Since it required less effort, I was able to stay consistent until it did lead to results.

Once I started seeing the results, I also started experimenting with types of pins and more. Although I'm not as into Pinterest as SEO, I am working on it a little now and then. And some of the things I learnt are quite interesting.

Currently, I am getting some traffic from Pinterest. Not enough that it is a game-changer but enough to keep using it.

an illustration drawing of a girl using her laptop

notes on twitter

Last year, I was super into Twitter. I was very active on it, did tons of blog promotions which lead to blog traffic, interacted with other bloggers, and more. This year, I have no idea what I'm doing with it.

The downward spiral started with Twitter updating its algorithm such that tweets with outbound links are underpromoted. After that, I got into romance twitter and wasn't as active in blogging Twitter. Then, as usual, book twitter came up with new dramas every week.

All-in-all, it was chaotic and so not my scene. I'm a chill person who likes chill spaces and people sharing what they love. I understand the requirement of arguments and chaos but it is just not a situation I thrive in.

Soon, I felt lost on Twitter. I don't feel like I belong in any of the spaces that I'm affiliated with and I often feel like an impostor trying to blend into an existing tight-knit group. I lost the motivation to tweet random things when it seemed like nothing was getting interaction. I wasn't sure what to reply to others' tweets because, somehow, the replies in my mind weren't charming or funny like other replies. I stopped promoting my blog posts as often because they weren't getting many impressions anyway.

There are amazing people on Twitter whom I want to be like. I want to happily share what I'm working on, what I'm reading, and what I'm loving. I want my content to be interesting too. But at the end of the day, the people I admire have very different personalities compared to mine. I can't be like them, I can only be myself.

It took me until the last two weeks to truly want to try Twitter again. I'm not gaining new followers or getting many interactions, but I am connecting with my friends on Twitter again. I'm sharing updates and tweeting random things.

I think it will take me a while to find my new self on the platform. Whether or not I'll be as charming as the people I admire, I want to like sharing casual updates on Twitter and be present there. If I give up on Twitter, I'll have no more active social media accounts ?

illustration art of an ipad, ipad pencil, open book, an open laptop, and a mug of chai

notes on instagram

Speaking of inactive social media accounts, I have no clue what I'm doing with Instagram.

When I went self-hosted with this blog last year and decided to use digital art for all of my graphics, I got the idea to do the same with Instagram. I suck at taking photos, I don't have a good phone camera, and I frankly don't have the patience anymore to wait for good lighting and take a bunch of pictures. I started posting my digital art which took my feed quite a bit away from the bookstagram feed it used to be.

Did I care? No. But do I still like it? Also no.

I've not been consistent with Instagram for a long time and don't see myself loving the platform anytime soon. I struggle with the algorithm, with the image-heavy concept, writing interesting captions to go with the images, being interesting on stories, and trying reels on top of it all. I'm mainly winging it based on my moods.

Currently, my mood is against the digital art feed. I impulsively posted a few random pictures of myself and now I don't know what to do. Do I continue posting random pictures of myself? Do I try taking casual pictures of me reading, even though I mainly read on my Kindle and the pictures probably will look ugly?

If there is anything I want to post, it is my annotations. As someone who loves annotating—and has a popular guide on it—I'm LOVING this new trend of annotation accounts and bookstagrammers sharing their annotations. The fact that I'm not doing it feels like a betrayal to myself.

My only limitation is the fact that most of my reading nowadays is on the Kindle and I know that Kindle doesn't come well in pictures. Also, I feel weird thinking about taking photos for bookstagram again. It has been over a year. I'm not sure I know how to be a bookstagrammer anymore.

So yeah, that is a slight dilemma. Maybe I will get through it, or maybe I will abandon Instagram altogether. Who knows.

notes on ads

I've struggled with the idea of ads for several months. Firstly, whether I want to go that route at all. Other bloggers have mentioned that ads are not worth it as the returns are low, which is why I didn't try it for a long time. But as my traffic has gone past the number that those bloggers quoted, I want to try it myself and determine if it is worth it.

In the end, the method of monetization is up to every blogger. We should take decisions based on our statistics, audience, effort, and time. Many bloggers suggest going for product sales or brand deals as monetization routes instead of advertising. But those routes take time and effort—to create products, promote them, reach out to brands and hope they pay directly instead of sending products—that I would rather not spend.

This blog is not my main income and won't be at least for a while. It's a hobby while I focus on my career and other aspects of life. If I do get opportunities to earn more, I'll be happy. But I don't want to chase after it now.

This is why I eventually decided to try ads. It suits my requirements and even if the returns aren't much, it is more than nothing.

three bookmarks with the quote "i want to be defined by the things that i love, not the things that i hate, not the things that i'm afraid of, not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night, i just think that you are what you love" illustration

The first time I enabled it was in February. After a few days, I disabled it because I didn't like how it was cluttering up my posts and it didn't seem worth it. The second time was in April and I disabled after a few days again.

This is the third time I'm trying it and I decided to keep it for a while longer before determining if it's worth it or not. I'm sure I could earn more in other ways but this is a passive way to do it as it uses the traffic I'm getting from search engines.

After a while, I might make a post to share the stats and returns so y'all can learn from my experience as well. Let me know in the comments if you'd be interested in seeing that.

notes on the newsletter

I started my newsletter on a whim last year because I had some casual thoughts to share that I didn't want to post on the blog. Sending them through email made it more informal and it doesn't require SEO optimization etc.

Over one year of once-a-month newsletters, I learned a lot about what it means to send newsletters. Sure, I subscribe to many and know what it looks like. But I had not planned on the behind-the-scenes part of it. I thought that I should send newsletters like all the other bloggers do—with post roundups and subtle promotions. Only this year did I begin to unlearn that I had to do something and started figuring out what I want to do.

When I let myself think past my initial idea of a "blogger's newsletter", a dam of ideas broke. Suddenly, I had enough ideas for another year. Since I had a lot to say and I became excited, I decided on a change exactly one year after I started sending newsletters. I changed the newsletter frequency to twice a month.

While it has been more work since then, leading me to have lesser time to blog, I'm enjoying it. I'm learning more about my writing process when I want to talk about something, how I can write a thousand words easily when a topic is fresh in my mind, and more.

These newsletters have given me a new avenue to talk about topics that occur to me randomly or ones based on my life. Sometimes, I'm surprised by how much I have to say about the matter even though it started as a tiny idea.

I think I have decided on a broad niche for the newsletters (for now, my niche is anything and everything) but haven't committed to it yet. If I still like the idea after a few months, I'll make an announcement and commit to it.

If you haven't signed up to the newsletter yet, do it below!

notes on art

Going into the year, I decided that I'm not going to have any goals with art and will just have fun with it. Although I like art, I'm not that passionate about it and don't think I'm very talented as well. It is fun to make illustrations, though.

Mostly, I've not done anything new with art. I draw new illustrations for blog posts—even trying newer types of illustrations—and did a scant few illustrations without reason. I often see Procreate tips videos on Pinterest and want to try all the styles. But I never actually feel like doing it.

I have a ton of illustration art inspiration pins, though. I'm quite excited to get to them one by one.

notes on life

Most of my "omg 2022 is full of new experiences" exclamations are because of real-life things. Whether I mean to or not, I'm going through new situations every month. After every month, I have a bunch of learnings and am a smidge better at life.

The adventures are mainly because I'm actively putting myself in unfamiliar situations instead of taking the easy route out. Has it worked out well for me? Not really. It hasn't been a breeze. But I'm continuing on this path anyway. I won't be able to conquer the world if I don't do these small things and regularly go into uncomfortable situations.

Here are some highlights from this year so far:

  • I went on FOUR trips to four new places. It's surreal that my first proper trip with friends was in November last year and I'm now saying yes to trips more. Two of them were partly disasters and two of them were really chill and fun. I'm looking forward to the next one.
  • I finally gave my driving test after procrastinating on it for six months. I haven't gotten my license yet but at least the hard part is done.
  • My office opened up for regular in-office workdays and it has been pretty fun. I quite like going to the office and working with people around. It's nice to connect with people more, make jokes, play games in the evening, and have fun. Such connection wasn't possible virtually for me so this is nice. We're still hybrid, which I'm glad for. I enjoy getting the option to stay at home for a couple of days a week if I want to.

I'm also being better at basic adult things? Not “good”, way lesser than I should be at this age, but at least I'm better than last year. Somedays, I still feel like a useless teenager with no real-world knowledge and skills but there are days when I feel like I can survive on my own if I have to. Even if I don’t thrive, I will survive.

illustration of a woman in a white dress posing with her hands casually placed above her forehead

Fundamentally, I don’t think I’ve changed much as a person in the last six months. There haven’t been huge leaps or changes. But there are tiny changes that definitely make a difference in the big picture. I'm thinking about my future a little more, learning how to be an organized adult a little more, truly considering what I want from life more, and being open about who I am and what I want without shame more often. I'm also being more accepting of my faults, which I'm happy about. Looking back, I recognize that I made bad decisions and wasn't always an easy person. Now, I'm able to accept criticism more and think a little more before I speak.

I learned that I crave human connection more than I thought. Until the pandemic, I was always surrounded by people and had to socialize often due to which I frequently ran into social burnout. My alone days were my best days. But this year, I’ve had times when being alone wasn’t the best thing. I learned that even if I can’t stand outright socializing, I need some subtle connection. Even if it is listening to music on discord with a friend in silence. I also realized how much being around my friends could improve my mood and overall well-being. While being alone allows me to recharge and recenter myself, I can’t go too long without people-ing as well. Maybe I'm on the more extroverted side of ambivert now too. My tolerance for socialization has gone up. 

Overall, I feel like I’ve made a smidge of progress in several different areas of life. Sometimes, I push my body to see how much it can take. Somedays, I take on too much to see if I can actually do more. I'm experimenting with my capabilities. By the end of 2022, I may not be able to say that I’ve crossed a couple of big milestones. But that’s alright as long as I'm moving forward.

what are your mid-year notes?

How has 2022 been for you so far? Did you make progress on your goals or did you change them? Did you go travelling? Tried anything new? Tell me in the comments!

stay wordy, Sumedha
photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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  • Stephanie says:

    To say that it was encouraging reading this post would be the biggest understatement. Honestly, I've admired you and your online presence ever since I first found you via Twitter. Your work ethic is so commendable and you're honestly so talented in a plethora of ways. I look up to you a lot! It's really cool to find out more about what your life has been like, the changes you've been making, and how those are reflected online. I look forward to continuing to learn from you and follow your journey wherever it leads!

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