This year was an interesting one for me with books–I’d been a voracious reader as a child but after an abusive marriage and limiting spiritual culture I found myself a adrift the last few years. It took me a while to come back to various aspects of myself. A writing group called The Story Sisters/ The Story Unfolding saved me first, reminded me that I can be creative. The year after that, I found my way back to handcrafts–sewing and quilting that I had enjoyed when I was younger. 2016 I got healthy– bootcamps, yoga, and OCRs that reminded me what it felt like to be strong. 2017 is the year I became a reader again and finally feel whole.
I started the year with ambitious goals of book challenges and, halfway through the year, was on target to complete both of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s challenges, the Book Riot challenge, and PopSugar. But then I started reading (mostly) what I wanted to read and spent less time trying to find “a book in a genre you’ve never heard of” and “a book with a cat on the cover.” I ultimately finished none of them. I finished the year with 117 books–over my original Goodreads goal of 100 and three shy of the goal I modified it to in October. And of course, this blog. Starting and being consistent with this blog (until end-of-the-year craziness hit) reminded me what it was like to read a book not just to finish but with a critical eye. I can more readily identify what will make me love a book, what’s just filler/fluff (“candy” books that I read when I need a brain break but can’t be the bulk of my reading diet), and what I hate in a book. I even quit a book without finishing this year! Blogging also introduced me to the wonderful world of receiving ARC copies, which still feels fun and wonderful and like I’m finally being chosen first in gym. I also joined and read books for two book clubs–the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club and the Diverse Books Club.
Out of the 117 books, 38 were written by people of color and 82 by women. 32 were audiobooks and 30 were nonfiction. This is the first year I’ve kept track of these categories but I’m fairly confident in asserting that all of these are an improvement over the year before. Staring the challenges and the book clubs made me read books I wouldn’t have otherwise. While I’ve affirmed that graphic novels aren’t really my thing (except for March which should be everyone’s thing) nor are middle grade novels, I’ve enjoyed how the challenges and the book clubs made me branch out. I’m not planning to do a reading challenge this year but I will continue to focus on ensuring I’m reading books from diverse authors and across genres.
I’m calling every bit of this a reading success.
The Unread Shelf (@theunreadshelf #theunreadshelfproject on Instagram) is on a mission to finish the books she owns but hasn’t read. I organized my library yesterday on LibraryThing and determined that (including Kindle), I have 480 unread books that I own. I think we can agree that might be a tad overambitious a goal for me. I do plan to be a little less driven by reading everything the critics are talking about and have my reading life mandated by my lengthy library hold list. My loose goals are to read ten books a month — at least one by person of color, two or three picked by Modern Mrs. Darcy, two for Diverse Books Club (unless one is middle grade and then I give myself permission to skip if it isn’t for me), one book I own on Kindle, one book I own in hardcopy, a Book of the Month book (I’ve got some backlogged…shocker!), and a free choice. I might slowly chip away at my books this way.
For January that looks like (tentatively): Seven Fallen Feathers, Deep Work, Daily Ritual, Secret Daughter, Forever or a Long Long Time, ARC of The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky (publishing 4/17/18), Station Eleven, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, Priestdaddy, and Arcadia. (Seven of these I already own!) I may or may not try to breeze through Dear Fahrenheit 451 before it is due to the library in two days. I’m giving myself permission to return the other three I had checked out without reading them. I will no longer be dictated by my library hold whims…maybe. hopefully.
I hope 2017 was good to you and that 2018 is even better.
May the road to the library rise up to meet you and fill you with joy. May the wind be at your back to flutter the pages of your favorite book. May the sun shine warm on your face and be the perfect light for reading. May the rain fall soft and find you wrapped in a warm blanket with a book and cup of tea. And until we meet again, may your god hold you in the palm of his or her hand, keeping you safe and well-read.
I hope 2018 is gentle to you, dear reader, and brings you everything for which you hope.