Making 2018 a Reading Year

When I was a kid, my reasons for reading were pretty simple — it gave me an excuse to shut my door, keep my brothers from bothering me for a little while, and it was a brief journey into a world unlike my own. I can’t say my reasons for reading are much different now. It’s nice to shut the metaphorical door on the rest of the world, turn everything else off, and escape for a bit.

I know for many adults reading is an activity that falls by the wayside as you attempt to fulfill all the obligations in your life and it can seem like a habit that is completely out of reach of picking up again. So many people tell me that they haven’t ready much since high school and complain that they wish it was different, but feel it’s impossible. I’ve been there, too.

There was a time when I didn’t read as much. During my busiest years of college and right after, when I was entering the workforce, my brain was so burnt out on reading 12 assigned novels a semester (you read that right) that I had almost come to resent the activity. It took a little while to get over that and as I slowly dipped my toes back in the water, looking for what I liked after years of being told what I had to read and having almost no time for leisure reads, I returned to my first love and found that it was just as rewarding as it had always been for me.

I’ve gone through different stages in my reading life. When I was ghostwriting full-time it was difficult to find the time and energy to focus my attention on words visually after staring at my laptop for hours on end, trying to churn out another chapter. I had always thought of audiobooks as cheating, but at this point in my life I knew that unless I tried something else I would never be able to read the books I wanted and continue working. Also it dawned on me that disregarding audiobooks as a lesser, non-book option was pretty judgemental and borderline ableist, so I quickly set that opinion aside.

The question I get most often is HOW ON EARTH DO YOU READ SO MUCH? Ahem, well, if you think read a lot, let me point you in the direction of several of my Goodreads pals who reach a goal of 300+ books per year. But how do I read so much? It’s funny because I feel like this question is often tinged with a bit of, “Oh, well, you’ve got the time so clearly that’s how you manage to read so much.” My life is busy. I have, SURPRISE!, a few things that I would rather do than read at times (although, mostly…yeah, I just love to read). Everyone’s time is valuable. You have to commit to read. Find the time in your schedule, even if it’s 15 minutes. Don’t give me any of this, “I’m tooooo busy” nonsense. Take it and tie it to your kite and get yourself gone.

Honestly, I am probably not qualified to write this post, but I wanted to tell you all what works for me and how with just a little effort you can make 2018 a year for the books. *ba dum tss*

Reading is so important, especially today. With so much information floating around out there and constant “othering”, I think there’s nothing more important that widening your scope and walking in someone else’s shoes for a moment — whether fiction or non. Getting out of your own experience and stepping into someone else’s is necessary in today’s climate.

So, you want to read more this year? Here are a few things that have helped me.

Apps

Library Extension has been the very best thing I’ve found anywhere in the past few years. For a while I had about a $5.99 a day Kindle habit and this Chrome extension quickly curbed that, saving me money AND helping me read more. The extension shows up whenever you visit online book vendors like Amazon, as well as when you’re checking out titles on Goodreads. You link the extension to your local library, it tells you if the title is available, and you can can check out the book from right there! It’s a marvel.

Libby, the much friendlier version of the Overdrive app. She’s new and much easier to navigate. You’ll need to link your library card and from there it’s a breeze to discover ebooks and audiobooks available from your library.

Books

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy gave me so much joy. There’s something about reading a writer’s words about the writers he loves. His heart for story and good writing is there on every page and you’ll want to make a list of every book he mentions.

On Writing by Stephen King is usually a book that gets mentioned when you talk about writing (and I’d definitely throw it into a list on the best books for that as well), but it’s also an excellent book if you want to kindle a love for reading again. Much like Conroy, King speaks about writers and books he has loved over the years, while creating a narrative about his life as a writer. It’s a page turner and even if you’ve never read his work I think it’s something you’ll find compelling.

Decide what works for you

The important thing is knowing what works for you. What makes you want to pick up a book? When is the time of day when you could conceivably sit down and make it happen? Also consider what you know DOESN’T work. Several people talk to me about reading before bed and how it’s guaranteed to put them to sleep. While some people love this about reading, if you are wanting to really get into the book and stay awake for it, this probably isn’t for you.

Maybe reading in the traditional sense isn’t something that’s going to happen for you. I’m such a proponent for audiobooks now. I listen to them while I’m cleaning house or driving around town taking care of some errands. A few minutes here and there and before you know it, I’ve finished a book.

For me, making a plan has been very helpful. This year I’m committing to listening to at least one audiobook every two weeks, in addition to whatever other reading I’m doing. I’m guaranteed to meet at least half my goal that way and sense I read faster than I get through any audiobook, I’ll be certain to get to my 50 book goal before year’s end.

What has helped you work more reading into your life? Are there any aspects of it you struggle with?

Readathon – October 2017

 

It’s time for Dewey’s Read-A-Thon! I’m keeping track of my progress here and posting on Twitter and maybe a little on Instagram whenever there is an update. I won’t be able to participate for the duration because I’ve got plans later today, but I’ve got a few audiobooks and short titles I’m hoping to get through while I clean the kitchen this morning.

Scroll down for mini-challenges.

Goals: A clean kitchen! 😆 Finishing at least one audiobook.

Pages read: 180
Titles finished during Read-A-Thon: 1

Reading:
Lady Susan by Jane Austen (FINISHED – 180pgs)
Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Updates

9:00am – Slept in! Clare woke up with a reverse sneeze attack at 3am and it took me a bit to get back to sleep. It’s a gray day here and rain is on the way. I’m starting Lady Susan and working on the kitchen.

12:00pm – Finished Lady Susan and now I’m listening to Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt. I’ve enjoyed all of the Maiden Lane series so far and they’re really hard to put down. Great readathon material.

Sunday, 2:00pm – Had a great afternoon and evening yesterday, but there was no reading after that, so I’m back at it today. We’ll see what I can accomplish the rest of the day. At least between now and when I watch Outlander this evening.

Mini Challenges

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Norman, Oklahoma
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’m not going to be able to read much, but getting started on Our Chemical Hearts would be nice. It sounds good.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? The one I’m leaving the house for this afternoon 😜
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’ve ghostwritten 26 romances and I’m committed to getting one of mine finished this year and self-publishing under my romance pen name — which I’m being totally open about. It’s borrowed from other family. Elizabeth Kincaid. There you go.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? This will be the shortest time I’ve ever spent reading for the even, unless you count the time I got really sick. So this is a very different readathon for me.

What I’m Reading — So Far in 2017

what i'm reading

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My reading has been a little bit slower this year, although I raised my goal slightly from in 2016 and again this year to 52 books so that I could attempt one book per week. Smaller books and graphic novels usually pad this number for me, but even those have been few and far between. So far this year I have read 30 books and I need to get on the ball if I’m going to make it to my goal. I never went over any of the books I read in 2016, so I should probably mention that was the year I decided to dig into Stephen King’s work. Lots of his titles on my list over the past two years, although none appear in this blog post.

I started off the year with 17 Carnations: The Royals, The Nazis, & the Biggest Cover-Up in History. If you enjoy history in any way or wonder about how close the pendulum came to swinging the other way — pick this one up. They dodged a bullet (probably more than one) when that guy abdicated. This is a great look at how normal middle and upper-class folks almost let the whole thing happen and if you have concerns nowadays with the way things are going then I suggest you pick this up. I will say it’s a little dry in parts, but I found it enjoyable. Great for people who enjoy Downton Abbey and hate fascism.

At the beginning of the year I started the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and I have been swept up in all of that intimate intrigue and drama that springs from a friendship formed when two girls are very young.

There’s something deliciously small town about it, with everything that happens in the neighborhood, even though it’s all taking place in the middle of Naples. It follows their lives throughout their childhood and adolescence, and as the second book starts we’re just reaching the wedding of one of them. I feel like all of it is a very accurate depiction of friendship between women and how it can be equal parts love and devotion and competition.

I’ve had to force myself not to rush through, although by the end of the second book there was no going back and I had to get to the third. I’m saving the fourth so I can savor it. You’ll like these if you like Anne of Green Gables and The Godfather.

I read Walden and still paid my taxes. BUT IT WAS PAINFUL. In other news, I’m in love with a man who lived in another century, which will shock no one. Read it if you want a classier Bear Grylls experience.

Bruce Cannon Gibney makes a compelling argument in A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America for why things are in the state they’re in and I think everyone should pick this up and give it a little thought. Basically, selfishness doesn’t work. It might be working for you RIGHT THIS SECOND, but somewhere down the line it is going to come up and bite you in the behind, likely while you are waiting for someone to turn you in your bed while you lay in a nursing home. Lucky for you you’ll be far past the point of knowing or caring at that point, but hey, those government programs you didn’t want anyone younger than you to enjoy were great while they lasted for you, right? It’s not quite as inflammatory as I’m making it sound and certainly worth your time to pick up and give some thought.

Lastly, I picked up Anne of Green Gables again for my first reread as an adult and it was such a different experience for me this time around. Much like going through Gilmore Girls as an adult and feeling more compassion toward Emily than anyone else, the story of Marilla is what got me this time. If you were a fan of the books or movies as a kid, but haven’t read them as an adult, you should pick this up and read it while focusing on Marilla. So worth your time.