If You Give A Girl A Book

I’ve talked here before about how I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this year, but I think I’m starting to come out of it. I’m choosing books over mindless scrolling or watching Netflix at night. I’m trying to find brief pockets during the day when I can squeeze in a few pages. Despite being in a slump, I did manage to read 38 books this year (I’ll share a roundup before the year is over). Considering my goal was 18 (for the year 2018), I’m feeling pretty good about reading 20 books beyond my goal.

Since I seem to be on my way out of this slump, my 2019 reading plans will look a little different. I’m setting my goal at 19 (for the year 2019). I currently have 94 unread books between my bookshelves and my Kindle. I’m moving away from using the Kindle app because I don’t particularly want to support Amazon anymore. Most libraries use Overdrive for ebooks and those come via Amazon. I’m sure Jeff Bezos has figured out a way to make money on that. Not only that, I like the feel of a book in my hand. So, that leaves me with audiobooks and getting physical books from the library. I am fine with both of those options, because

  1. Listening to audiobooks motivates me to get outside and walk (or get on the treadmill, as needed). 

  1. I’d much rather support a library over a big box store, although my love for indie bookstores will never die and I’ll never not be able to browse the book selection at Costco.

The book I’m currently reading, Bringing Down the Colonel by Patrica Miller, is absolutely fascinating. Once I finish that, hopefully before the year is out, I’m planning to work my way through my shelves, which are organized alphabetically by author. Ideally, I’d like to read a book a week, but I’m not sure I can manage that with all the other things I want/need to do. So, I’ve got some goals, which are totally flexible and can be adjusted as needed:

  1. Read 19 books. All of these need to be from my shelves. I can’t buy anything new until I’ve read those 19 books.

  1. Set aside an hour before bed each night to read. If I have to set a timer, so be it. 

  1. Read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I’ve recently become a history buff and would like to read more about the presidents and history in general. I listen to a bunch of history podcasts, which spark all kinds of reading recommendations. I’ll share a roundup of my favorites soon.

  1. Find a new book club to join. I don’t particularly want to do this because I like the book club I’m currently in, but circumstances beyond my control (nothing to do with my current book club) necessitate finding a new group. I’d love to find one that reads non-fiction vs. fiction. If I can’t, maybe I’ll start one.

This feels like a manageable set of goals to accomplish in 12 months. The overarching goal in all of this is just to become a reader again. I read an article the other day about how people have forgotten how to read. We’re so addicted to our smartphones and our streaming services that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to sit down with a book and be analog for a little while. Our attention spans are so much shorter these days that we quickly lose interest in anything that doesn’t have a screen. Screens allow us to flit from thing to thing. Books require us to be focused and not distracted by scrolling. 

Obviously, I don’t have the luxury of reading all the time like I used to when I was a kid. Back then, I would sneak into the bathroom after I was supposed to be asleep and read. I was convinced my parents couldn’t see the light shining from under the door. I miss the nights when I would stay up way too late reading. I want to get back to that. I used to finish books in a couple of days. Now it sometimes takes me weeks or months to finish a book. 

I follow a lot of “bookstagrammers” on my business account which lends itself to a lot of FOMO — that I’m not reading enough, that I’m not reading the right books, that I’m behind on reading current books. Except for the reading the right books thing, that’s all true. I don’t read enough — when I was a kid, the maximum number of library books you could check out was 20 and I did that, at least once a week; I wasn’t reading picture books, either. I was reading young adult and adult novels. It’s also true that I’m behind on reading current books — when I voted in the Goodreads Readers’ Choice Awards this year, I hadn’t even read a dozen of the nominees over all of the categories. So, I added those to my want to read list, which currently sits at 64. This list is separate from my to be read list, which is comprised only of books I currently own. 

The Millions also publishes two lists every year of their most anticipated books, half in January and half in July. I’d like to read 12 books off of that list, too, one for each month. It’s a great way to discover new authors and stay on top of what’s new for the year. 

I say all of this knowing I’ve read over 1,000 books in my lifetime. But I also say all of this knowing I can do better. I can do better in so many aspects of my life. It’s not about just trying anymore. It’s about giving it everything I’ve got and then pushing myself to go ten percent further. That’s where the success happens. Giving it everything I’ve got is the comfort zone; ten percent further is where the magic happens. But that’s another post for another day.

Do you have any reading goals for next year? Got any recommendations for me?