Almost halfway through May, and I’m just getting to wrap-up my April reads. Ah, what a reading month, though. I met my ongoing goal for 50 percent of my reads to come from my existing library. And, well, there’s a little surprise at the end. I won’t spoil it. You’ll see (wink). Continue reading “Reading wrap-up: April reads”
This month, every book I read came from my existing library. I’m going to savor that for a minute…
This is the first month since making the conscious decision to read my own books that all my reads were my own. Of course, I must thank Andi of Estella’s Revenge for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and Benjamin Thomas of The Writing Train for the Book Hoarder’s challenge. Both have inspired me to stare down my gargantuan library. I’m … still buying books, un-redeemable book hoarder that I apparently am. But I’m making progress. Slow, snail-like progress. Continue reading “Reading my own books in 2017: January reads”
On New Year’s Day, I tackled a long overdue task: I finally confronted the beast that is my Mount TBR. Which is to say, I organized my virtual bookshelves.
When I committed to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in 2016, I did so out of a powerful but vague notion that I desperately needed it. My home had become so swollen with books that I no longer had a clear sense of what I owned and what I wanted to read next. I relied on the search function in my Nook to determine whether I owned a book or not while my paper book situation felt beyond my capacities.
I threw myself into #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks without much planning and the end result was, predictably, uneven. Some months, I did fabulously. In May, my best month, nine of the 10 books I read were my own. Other months, I did dreadfully. In October, my worst month, only one of the 13 books I read came from my existing library. They were wonderful books. But I’ll wager I have some equally wonderful books waiting for me on my shelves, real and virtual.
For 2017, I’m committed to reading my own books again. But this time, I want to do it with greater intention. I want to be less impulsive and more mindful. I want to make active choices rather have reactions. Especially reactions like, “Ahhh, I don’t know what to read next! I guess I’ll just go ahead and acquire an entirely new book.” Because…seriously? More books? That’s my solution?
One of my stumbling blocks is that I’m a *mood* reader. I can never predict exactly what book I want to read until it’s in my hands…and I’m 20-50 pages into it. That’s only part of the story, though. Oh, let’s be honest: It’s mostly a convenient excuse. I have at least 300 unread books in a wide array of genres on my real and virtual shelves. (That is a profoundly conservative estimate.) Surely among those hundreds are books that can satisfy whatever mood I’m in, would you agree?
The key issue: I can’t read with greater intention if I’m in a perpetual state of low-grade confusion, with little idea of what books I’ve acquired and how and why and especially where they are located. I’ve spent the last four years clicking “purchase” on book sales with reckless abandon, loading my Nook like I’m anticipating surviving an apocalypse. (After which I’m apparently expecting to have electricity. And spare time – between scavenging for food and shelter – to read.)
via GIPHY – This Twilight Zone episode has been my post-apocalypse nightmare since I saw it when I was 12.
Now, finally, I’ve sorted through my Nook books and created nine shelves with to-read lists in a range of genres. I’m sure I’ll rethink and refine how I’ve arranged them. But at least it’s a start.
Next on my agenda? Tackling Mount TBR the physical bookshelves edition…wish me luck!
My first year participating in the When Are You Reading? challenge hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words is officially completed. And I’m happy to report I was able to read books set in or written in each time period represented in the challenge.
When I joined it in June, I had three time periods left to cover. I had great ambitions to read books written during those times. But … for two of the three (1500-1599 and 1600-1699), I ended up reading historical fiction instead of books written at that time. For 2017, I’m aiming to read books written during each period since my goal is to read more classics this year.
My final tallies are down below. When I originally wrote this post, I included every book I’d read this year as a way to figure out what I still needed to read. I haven’t included all my 2016 titles read since then, only the ones that completed time periods. If you’re interested in more about the books I read this year, I keep monthly lists here.
If you’re interested in participating in 2017, Sam has a description and sign up here.
When, as a kid, I was in danger of taking life too seriously, my dad would invite me to reflect on my concerns by asking, “How much will this matter in 100 years?” At the time, I assumed his rhetorical question was meant to show me how our fleeting obsessions hold little consequence in the grand scheme of the universe.
But that’s not quite right, is it? Without access to knowledge of future events, we cannot possibly know whether this (whatever “this” is) will matter in 100 years. Life is made up of tens of thousands of millions of seemingly inconsequential choices whose cumulative effects can be world changing.
We study history for this reason, don’t we? To study the actions and reactions that have lead to outcomes we want either to replicate or avoid. But even that doesn’t really work. Evidence suggests we make the same mistakes over and over again; it’s the one thing about human nature and experiences that’s predictable. Conclusion: All we can do in the moment is our best.
I’ve been thinking about this over the last week after discovering a reading challenge hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Continue reading “Updated – Reading time: The When Are You Reading? Challenge”
Well, here we are again: on the cusp of a new month and a new year. As it’s my last roundup of 2016, it’s the right time to reflect on my attempt to read my own books this year. It has been the most meaningful reading effort I’ve participated in and one that I’m looking forward to continuing in 2017.
Overall, I would have liked to have done better. Of the 110 titles I read this year, 54 were my own. While that’s close to the 50 percent mark I’d been shooting for, I would prefer to have exceeded, rather than fallen short, of it. More than anything, though, I’m treasuring what I’ve learned through the journey. I covered that here, but a quick recap of the most significant point:
A big part of what appeals to me about stockpiling books is the idea of the books, of what unread books signify: possibilities. In aspiring to do better at reading my own books, I’m aspiring to find possibilities, hidden potential, in the existing rather than in the imaginary. I want to be more mindful and less impulsive, in all areas of my life. Here’s to working on that in 2017!
And now, for the books:
Books I read:
Asterisk (*) signifies a #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks title.
Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier (e-book)
A Lucy Stone cozy murder mystery to kick off the holiday season with a bang … literally: A reclusive, Scrooge-like mortgage company co-owner is blown up with a mail bomb. Naturally, Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stone is on the case. Not officially, seeing as she’s a reporter not a detective. She just can’t stop herself from nosing around.
These fun cozies are set in Maine and depict small-town New England life in all its charming quirkiness.
I picked this book up after Andi at Estella’s Revenge posted a beautiful quote from the series on social media. Plus, it seemed wrong that I’d never read any of Pratchett’s books. The Wee Free Men is about a girl called Tiffany who discovers she’s a witch. A magnificent, sassy, level-headed hag, as the eponymous Wee Free Men call her. The latter are six-inch high Scottish warrior types who watch out for Tiffany. I loved how funny and poignant the fierceness of these tiny men is. The key lies in the juxtaposition: As full-sized men, their fighting, drinking ways wouldn’t be quite so delightful. I appreciate juxtapositions. They keep me mindful of the contradictions and paradoxes within us all.
I adored this beautiful story about finding the power inside of us. It made me think about the importance of taking care of each other in ways that aren’t condescending of others and that recognize and honor the power within them.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (e-book) *
I don’t remember having had a particular affinity to this novel when I first read it back in graduate school. This was my first time rereading it since then and … well, I can see why it’s not achieved the mythic-ness of a Pride and Prejudice. The story has tremendous feeling, but the men are horrible (more on this here, if you’re interested). I also found the moral overtones a bit stark and unforgiving, especially with how events play out at the end.
What most impressed me was how skillful the novel is in eliciting a particular response, especially through character development. Bronte is masterful in using description and telling details to evoke in the reader (well, me, anyway) the feelings Jane experienced. I love when a novel can make me feel, viscerally, what a character feels. My heart races, constricts, or hurts parallel with the character’s. How Bronte achieves this is definitely something I want to think more about.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (e-book)
I’ve not read much Dylan Thomas. This book, which I discovered through Words of a Reader, made me want to. It’s a short, lovely story of a young boy’s Christmas memories in Wales (obvi). The language is luxurious and startling in its freshness, like a new coat of snow. I downloaded it for bedtime reading, and it was perfection. Though I’d recommend acquiring the paper version: The edition I read had original woodcuts by Ellen Raskin. The e-book can hardly do them justice.
Christmas Stories from The Sketch-Book by Washington Irving (e-book) Continue reading “The unabridged list of books read in December”
My 2017 reading plans are about to get a big boost: Bout of Books 18 kicks off on Monday.
I love starting a new year with a readathon. Especially when said readathon falls during what is, for me, a vacation week. And when I have big, big reading plans for the new year.
If you’re interested in participating and/or cheering on other readers, hop over to the Bout of Books website. Meantime, here’s how they describe the event:
“The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.”
Since Bout of Books begins on day two of 2017, this seems like a good time to talk about those big reading plans I mentioned (so grandiosely, ha). My three 2017 reading goals that Bout of Books can give me a boost with: Continue reading “Bout of Books 18 Begins Monday!”
After last month’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks fail, I wanted to do better in August. So far, I’ve read two books, one my own and one borrowed. This means I’m meeting the goal I set for myself: to read 50 percent my own books through the end of the year. Hopefully, I can keep that up!
What are you currently reading?
At the moment, I’m most actively reading The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming. Continue reading “Wednesday reading roundup: August 10”
It felt like a slow month of reading for me. For good reason: It was. With six books read, July was my slowest month of reading this year. And it’s even slower than it looks since I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in one day, that day being July 31.
On the upside, my low reading tally is the result of spending loads of my free time with friends and family. And you definitely will not hear me complain about that! Continue reading “The unabridged list of books I read in July”
When I’ve done reading challenges before, they’ve been numbers based, along the lines of “I promise to read 100 books this year.” The numbers game hasn’t led to much reflection for me. Mostly, it’s led to anxiety about keeping up. #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is the first yearlong challenge that has pushed me to think about my reading habits and patterns as well as what I want for myself as a reader and what is realistic for me as a person. I’ve reflected on these before, of course, but not in the context of an explicit challenge. In the process, I’ve learned quite a few lessons about reading, and myself. Continue reading “Reckoning with #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in June”
Happy new month, readers! My May reading goal was to smash my stack. I haven’t so much smashed as gently nudged it. To be fair, though, it’s a gargantuan stack. On the plus side, I promised to read at least 80 percent of my own books this month, and I exceeded that goal. I read 10 books, nine of them my own. Thank you to JMill Wanders’ Take Back Your Stack Readathon for the final push!