My reading challenge

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never been that type of person. This year, instead, I challenged myself to a few goals.

The first is to read 65 books. At the time, it seemed a reasonable goal. I love to read, and I read as much as I can. So really, how hard could it be to read 5.5 books a month?

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Well, harder than I imagined. It’s almost the end of January and I’ve only finished five titles. Less than one month in and I’m already lagging behind. Of course, I could cram in a short read tomorrow and still meet my monthly goal, but that seems sneaky and a bit compulsive, doesn’t it?

Hopefully I’ll catch up in February.

Another challenge is to spend less time on social media. Yes, yes, I know: Social media is critical for an author’s success, blah, blah, blah.

Yet, it’s also a huge time suck. Spending a couple of hours on Facebook or Twitter, linking to this and that and, OMG, I just have to read that, does nothing to help me to finish my next novel. In fact, it leaves me feeling so rushed, stressed and anxious that it’s difficult to settle back down and focus on my writing.

I’m not advocating that any of us turn away from social media. It’s a valuable tool. It connects us to others. It forges bonds and friendships. I’ve met some fantastic people via my online life, people who have enriched and expanded my outlook in diverse and wonderful ways.

But it’s too easy to use social media as a crutch, and an excuse. It’s easier to read about someone else’s writing struggles than to sit down, face the unknown and struggle yourself.

So I’m vowing to spend less time online and more time reading. And writing. So far, I’ve discovered a few great books that touched me deep inside, moved me to tears and made me want to be a better writer.

January’s titles:

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Ask Him Why, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The Foretelling,  by Alice Hoffman (So odd, and so good)

Help for the Haunted,  by John Searles

Girl Runner, by Carrie Snyder (OMG, fantastic)

The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver (love)

What I’m reading now:

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

The Love of a Good Woman, by Alice Munro

**Special note: Check out Kevin Brennan’s in-depth and ambitious blog series “Gatecrash,” detailing the role of literary fiction and creativity in self-publishing trends. Read the first part here.

 

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17 thoughts on “My reading challenge

  1. I’m with you on not being able to get going with my reading this year. So far, I’ve begun reading 3 books and haven’t finished one of them, although I’m still working away at two of those. I did the Goodreads Challenge a couple years ago, and while I set an ambitious goal to read 150 books, I can’t say I really enjoyed the reading overall, because I was always trying to read to meet the goal rather than simply choosing great books I would enjoy. So now I just whittle away at my TBR pile, both print and eBook, and am enjoying the reading itself all the more. (I also loved The Bean Trees and Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible was brilliant! I saw Carrie Snyder at the Bayfield Writers’ Festival in Ontario last June and Alice Munro grew up in a town not even a 20-minute drive from where my trailer sits in Ontario. They call that part of the province Alice Munro Country. So I think your reading list is excellent!)

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    1. Oh, I am so jealous! You got to see (meet?) Carrie Snyder and Alice Munro grew up near where you are now. Wow. That, like, totally shines good karma on your writing. I also love the Poisonwood Bible, it’s one of my favorites. I think I’m going to read Animal Dreams again soon, too, because I miss that book, those characters.
      But OMG! How did you ever read 150 books in a year? That’s insane. It’s, what, over 10 books a month? It would indeed become a chore. Would love to read a blog post about that.
      Cheers, have a great weekend and I haven’t forgotten about being on Reading Recommendations, the information will be coming soon (and thanks so much for the opportunity).
      Take care,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve automated a lot of my social media so I can go in and out when I like, but so that it’s still helping me with marketing/promotion/etc.

    Are you on Goodreads? My challenge this year is 120 books. I did read 120 last year but because I read obsessively anyway, it never felt like a chore. I did focus on the books and not the numbers, so maybe that helped. And I think last year, I read quite a few children’s books (to my son) and comics (to explore the genre) and so those helped push the numbers up, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, Mridu, 120 books! And 120 last year. I’m jealous, and impressed. (I also feel very, very lazy, lol.)
      My social media weakness is blogs. I follow way, way too many but love reading them, seeing glimpses of people’s lives. It’s a little like reading a novel, the way people slowly open up, bit by bit.
      I love children’s books. I miss reading them–my son is off on his own now and I oh, how I miss those hectic days of mothering, writing, working as a journalist, etc. I’ve been reading more YA novels lately, not sure why, though I avoid vampire/werewolf/supernatural titles.
      I’m on Goodreads. I’ll friend you, okay?
      Cheers, take care and happy writing/reading.

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    1. Oh my, Kev! Proust, that is so impressive. Funny thing: I imagined Henry reading Proust (in the beginning, on the train) when I read TF, even though Proust hadn’t published yet, had barely been born. Isn’t it funny how pieces of ourselves and our personalities shine through our characters?

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  3. I’m lucky if I read 5 books in a year … but I do listen to a lot of audiobooks … do they count? And this is exactly why I’m more offline than online these days: “It’s easier to read about someone else’s writing struggles than to sit down, face the unknown and struggle yourself.” But thanks to a mutual friend of ours (initials: KB), I’m facing the known unknown and reviewing/revising one of my first drafts. And I’m actually having fun with it. We’ll see if that continues 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love reading challenges! Good luck, Cinthia. You can do it! The first reading challenge I gave myself was back in 2013 when I first started book blogging. I set out to read and review “52 books in 52 weeks” and boy am I glad I set that challenge. It helped me establish a reading routine, build my reading stamina, and along the way, I read some mighty fine books. Best wishes for a fruitful year of reading. Sixty-five books? You’re going to need a new bookshelf!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Julie! I’m really enjoying reading more, and a big positive is that it’s keeping me away from online distractions. Hadn’t realized how much time I had been wasting browsing from this site to the next. Now I’m browsing from this book to that book, which is so much more relaxing. Cheers and happy reading.

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