Well it’s half-way through the year, which means that it’s time to review my New Year’s bookish resolutions, and do a little review of where I’m at so far.
Even though I haven’t been posting here much, or on Instagram much, I’ve been buying books consistently. As in, every weekend I go to the bookstore, and rarely come out with less than 3 books. Every weekend.
Funny story: I went to my local bookstore a few weeks ago with a friend, and while she was paying and I was still browsing elsewhere, the cashier asked my friend if she had an account (you get a discount for trading in used books). My friend said no, but another employee who was there said, “oh she came in with Leslie, just put it on her account”.
Time to look back on everything I read in January! I’ve already talked about most of these books in previous posts, but total I read 20 books. My count will go way down now that the semester is back in full swing, but I plan on keeping up a decent pace. Here are the ones I haven’t discussed yet:
First off I want to say that I have just under two weeks now until the spring semester begins and I am having the hardest time getting motivated to work on my thesis. All I can do right now is write the lit review and the methodology, which I basically already did when I wrote the proposal. I can’t collect any data until the semester begins, and no data collection = no data analysis = no writing those sections whatsoever. So that means two things: A) I probably won’t graduate until the summer, but that’s fine, and B) I just don’t wanna do the things right now. Sure, my lit review needs work and I need to change the methodology from “here is what I propose doing” to “here is what I am doing”, but I have all next week to do that! Right?
On to the bookish things… partly as a way to procrastinate, I have been thinking a lot lately about my reading, how it can be better, how I can spend less, how I can get to books I really want to read, things like that. I’ve also been thinking about ways that I can write more without taking too much time, so there might be some small changes here, but hopefully they will make it so that I can post more often about more books. Over the summer I read about 40 books and wrote about nearly all of them. Then from September through December I read 22 books and only wrote about 4 or 5 of them.
Well it’s that time of year again when everyone decides that they are going to change the way they have lived their lives for years and try to be better in one way or another. I know most resolutions fail but I still make them and give it a whirl, because I don’t see anything wrong with trying to be a better person, whether it lasts a few weeks, a few months, or succeeds and lasts the whole year. That’s still time spent putting effort into something we want to change in a positive way, whether it is permanent or not.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is ten bookish resolutions, and given the amount of books I have bought and added to my TBR in the last six months, it’s probably a good idea to give myself some direction! I have 12 resolutions because I like having lots to do, I like having goals and making lists. So here goes:
This past year has been quite a change of pace for me, reading-wise. I’ve always enjoyed reading; trips to the library are one of my fondest memories of the period before my parents’ divorce, before we moved half way across the country and blah, blah, blah. Long story short this caused a lot of changes, but reading remained central to my life.
I’ve written about this before, but in my teens I decided at some point that I would read only classics or books that were award/best of the year-worthy. While this sounds great and like I would be a very well-read person, after 14-ish years of sticking to those principles I became very tired of restricting myself to certain sections of the bookstore, and reading nothing but what amounted to literary fiction for more than half my life.
This past year I started branching out in what I would read, meaning I read books that were published this year (which I hardly ever did before), I read fantasy, I read YA, and I even read a graphic novel or two. I discovered that I actually enjoy fantasy and graphic novels, though I am very torn on the whole YA thing, both in its quality (very hit-or-miss) and in its designation. I mean, what is it, even, why do some things get called YA (Uprooted) and others don’t (All the Light We Cannot See) even though they both have teenaged main characters? However, I don’t think that any other genre is any more or less hit-or-miss when it comes to quality, so perhaps my inner book snob is just making excuses for why I wouldn’t make a blanket statement of approval for the genre.
While I’ve been branching out in what I read I am still retaining a sense that my time is limited, that I should stick to the style of books that I have always loved. In fact, I recently found myself thinking that I should re-read The House of Mirth because I feel that I need to remind myself of what I love, of what incredibly beautiful writing looks like. I’ve never thought this before, but I feel like it will reset my reading, set me back at zero in a way. A palate cleanser.
Has anyone else felt that way?
It’s not that Edith Wharton is objective or neutral or anything like that, but in returning to one of my top five favorite books of all time, I will be reminding myself of who I am as a reader and perhaps stop myself from wandering down some path of “oh shiny book!” and wasting my time with books that I never would have even considered reading 5 years ago.
Clearly I am on break from school now because this sort of thing should not take that much thought.
I have read a total of 68 books this year (at the time of this writing – I’d love to make it a round number but I only have a couple of days left in the year). My goal was 50, which was raised a few times from something like 30. Evidently, my habits changed and I surprised myself this year. I don’t see my momentum slowing down any time soon so I think I am going to set my goal pretty high for 2016, participate in Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, and probably have to buy more bookshelves.
I’ll be making some posts about 2016 reading plans soon, but in the meantime I was curious – has anyone else suddenly found their reading habits and tastes have changed after feeling like they were established?
Well, as promised, I have definitely been having a harder time writing anything for the blog in the last two weeks. I did finish reading A Spool of Blue Thread this past weekend, and I also began and finished Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I’m going to review the first one, but I don’t know how I feel about reviewing a memoir-non-fictiony kind of book. TBD.
So in August I did pretty well, considering I stopped reading for pleasure almost entirely for the last two weeks of the month. I read 14 books, and 7 of them were on my original TBR. I spent some time this month reading A Little Life, but I had to give up on it. Reading books like that (e.g. 800 pages) is not practical when I just don’t have as much time to read. It seemed good though? Anyway, I feel like I should just give up on TBRs, because obviously I am far too impulsive to decide weeks ahead of time what I’m going to read.
But, on the other hand, I like being organized and making lists of things. So here it is, my much more realistic TBR for September:
- Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
- The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer – Sydney Padua
- Early One Morning – Virginia Baily
- The Beach Hut – Cassandra Parkin
- Lila – Marilynne Robinson
I think I can handle this. Two of them are graphic novels, which have recently become more interesting because A) I am more pressed for time, and B) I like to look at them. Real deep stuff.
I also keep buying books like it’s going out of style, or like I can keep up my summer rate of one book every couple of days. Which I can’t, and is totally insane.
On another note, I’ll soon be writing a post about grad school and how it’s really fucking hard and I love what I do and I am loving the class I teach and I’m fairly convinced that I have the best group of students I possibly could have gotten, but it’s still really freaking hard. I ran into a friend of mine in the hallway outside our office and she told me about having to drop a class and she started crying and it’s the second week of the semester. We are both the kind of people who say yes to everything, and in a place where opportunity abounds, that can lead to disaster of the psychological and time-management variety.
To any readers in higher education or in classes in general, how do you manage to find time to read for pleasure? Or do you read for pleasure at all?