All quiet on the Western front here on this blog for the past two years because I decided to up my reading game and try suspending my impulse control (it’s possible saying goodbye to the family dog and some family health issues may have taken higher priority). What does that mean? (I’m so glad you asked!) Typically, I was reading somewhere between 40 to 60 books per year with no particular numeric goal in mind. I didn’t intentionally set out to read more by any certain amount, but I let my few magazine subscriptions run out and every time I went to the library (for the last two years), if I saw a book I wanted to read, instead of making note of it, I grabbed it and checked it out (I typically had 8 to 12 books checked out at a time for about a year-and-a-half). Instead of reading 3 to 5 at a time, I was reading 6 to 8 at the same time. At the same time, if I saw an unread book on my bookshelves at home and felt the impulse to start it, I’d pick it up at that moment and at least read the first page…
I had a book in the car that I’d read at stop lights, at drive-thru lines, while waiting to pick my son up, etc. I had a book on my phone that I’d read in super market checkout lines, in the bathroom at work, etc. The rest were at home as I dipped in and out of chapters in each one, as well as usually taking one with me on the subway ride to work (I would also read that one while walking the 2.5 blocks and 2 flights of stairs from the subway stop to the office). I even biked to work less often so I could read more on the train commute. Why did I do all this? Really, I’m not sure it was anything more than getting tired of saying to myself, “I’m going to get to that one day,” and never actually getting to “that.” I ended up cutting out many things partially: periodical reading, biking, writing/art, this blog, and the little socializing I was doing beforehand (at least, in person; I still spent a fair amount of time on Goodreads and a few other social media sites).
What resulted from this if-you-see-it-read-it two-year period? Temporary insanity. I did end up reading a little more than 100 books each of the past two years, but mostly it felt like some sort of disorder. Let’s call it a short-term denial of the reality that I’ll never read everything I desire. A failure to embrace my own mortality. Not to mention crossing way over that sweet spot where reading more than one book can actually increase the enjoyment of each of the books you’re reading (you may better recall details because you’re forced to differentiate them in your mind and rotating through the books keeps any one from getting stale or slow); once you pass that sweet spot, it just gets confusing or there’s too much time between readings of any one book. For me, someone who probably reads anywhere from 1 to 3 hours per day, 2 to 3 books at a time is pretty ideal, especially if they’re different genres, but once you get to 4 or 5, diminishing returns follow. And reading in the car kind of sucks because you want to read and not drive (I’m sure the enlightened among you are scratching your heads and wondering why I wouldn’t just do audio books in the car. I can’t seem to get in to them when it comes to fiction. My brain just seems to wander and tune them out.). On the bright side, every trip is super quick because the focus on reading makes you look forward to pauses and stoppages in driving that would normally feel like delays or obstacles on your way from point A to point B. I used to take pics of every book I read and post them on Instagram, as well as collect them on Pinterest—now, I only do so for the ones I rate 4 stars or higher on a 5-star rating system.
My plans for 2018 include reading less. Reading more purposefully. Spending more time writing. Getting outside more. Most of my brief book reviews end up HERE on Goodreads, so I’ll reserve this blog for broader pieces that extend beyond individual books and for sharing fun finds (words, articles, book news, publishers, etc.). See below for highlights from the last two years of reading and hope 2018 is filled with lots of good reading for you!
HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY READING DURING THE LAST TWO YEARS
- Top picks:
- Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
- Fledgling by Octavia Butler
- Rusticles by Rebecca Gransden
- Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
- Bonespin Slipspace by Leo X. Robertson
- Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith
- The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
- Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
- Graphic Novels/Comics:
- New(er) Writers:
- Getting through a number of stellar series:
- Javier Marías’s Your Face Tomorrow trilogy
- Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet
- Karl Ove Knausgard’s My Struggle series (still waiting on the last one to be translated to English)
- N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy
- Promising series started, but still to finish: