Hello, old friend. I’ve missed filling your pixels with my rambling thoughts about books and video games. Well, it’s a new year, and like I end up doing every year, I’m committed to writing on you more. Three times a month feels reasonable. We’ll see how that sounds come August.
To kick off the New Year, I’m going to look back for a moment at last year’s reading challenge. I’ve never hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, but this year… this year I came so close.
Out of my goal to read 24 books – two per month – I read 23 and a half. I’m almost done with Libba Bray’s Before the Devil Breaks You, but I couldn’t quite get through all 550 pages between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Especially considering we got a PS4 for Christmas.
What I’m most proud of about nearly completing my 2017 Reading Challenge is that I read far more books by authors of color in one year than I ever have before (which is really sad to admit. This is why we need diverse books). I also read several varieties of books that I don’t normally dive into, including memoirs, contemporary fiction, and poetry.
Looking forward to 2018, I set a goal to read 25 books instead of 24. This is primarily because I’m in not one, but two book clubs: one at work and one for my sorority. The January books for those book clubs are some of 2017’s finest: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I have a feeling most books won’t overlap, so there’s the potential for two books per month right there. Though, knowing me, the non-in-person book club will take a backseat to my work book club, the YA fantasy novels I’ll make time for, and video games.
Favorite book(s) from 2017: An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Book I’m most looking forward to in 2018: The Power by Naomi Alderman
Cheers to 2018!
Why yes, I did ring in the new year with tabletop RPG-ing. And yes, I know the photo is blurry.
2016 was a dumpster fire for most of the world. Mass shootings, Brexit, President Elect Trump, the loss of so many icons… For me personally, 2016 was a pretty good year despite these outside stressors. I read a lot of good books, played a lot of good games, helped raise a lot of money at work, and spent time with family and friends.
I didn’t read quite as many books as I challenged myself to (came in four short of my 24-book goal—much better than 2015!), and I almost completely stopped running. For 2017, I’ve made another Reading Challenge goal of 24 books, and I signed up for the Carmel Half Marathon on April 22.
The weight of creating resolutions has almost always ensured I will fail them. I can resolve to “read more” and “start running again,” but those resolutions are intangible. Making goals with deadlines that require consistent steps, however, is another story. I have deadlines: two books a month for 12 months, and training every week with at least three runs per week to prepare for a race in 111 days. If I don’t do those things, I don’t reach my goals. Simple. Actionable. Perfect. (Gotta love those SMART goals.)
Less measurable are the things I’m not doing for myself, but because of who I am. I will continue to support organizations that fight for women’s health and equality for all Americans. I will support the Democratic Party of Indiana to ensure the 2018 and 2020 elections aren’t a slap in the face like 2016 was. I will continue to speak (or write) openly about my opinions on politics, mental health issues, and other topics that I feel strongly about.
I won’t do everything right, and I’ll probably fail at something at least once this year. But it’s a new year, and with the ashes of 2016 behind us and the days inching closer to spring, we can say that today is a little brighter than yesterday, and tomorrow will be a little brighter still.
Happy New Year.
In January 2015, I set myself the ambitious goal of reading 50 books during the year. In April, I was 11 books behind schedule, and just never really got on track. I knew 50 books was an… aggressive amount of literature to consume in a year—that’s nearly one book per week, and I’m no longer an English Literature major where 75% of my assignments are reading novels. But I thought, Hey, why not go for the challenge?
The answer to that question is ain’t nobody who buys a house, has a full-time marketing job and a husband, travels, and maintains a healthy interest in video games and movies got time to read a book a week. I love reading. I wish I could be paid to read all day long. But I don’t necessarily want to chain myself to books for a whole year to complete some arbitrary reading goal. Yes, I could exchange the dozen or so hours I spend playing Guild Wars 2 per week reading, but why would I do that when I’m having fun gaming? I wouldn’t, and I won’t.
That all being said, the fact that I miserably failed my reading challenge doesn’t exactly feel good. I didn’t even hit 25% of my goal! I read 12/50 books. I read only twelve books in a whole year. That’s averaging one per month, and five of them were re-reading Harry Potter books in the last three months of the year. That is embarrassing. But I’m seizing this opportunity to make a realistic 2016 reading goal and keep it. I’m doubling what I read in 2015 for 2016—24 books. That’s two per month. Totally doable, especially since I stacked the deck:
I didn’t hit my other goal of finishing my Harry Potter re-read before the end of the year, so completing The Half-Blood Prince on Jan. 3 counts as book 1/24. I’ll start The Deathly Hallows this week, so there’s book 2/24 for January. I’m going to force myself to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time that’s been sitting on my shelf for six months, I have a half-read Tiffany Reisz novel I found in a moving box in November to finish, and I got a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas that I’m going to use to buy The Bell Jar because I’ve been meaning to read that book for longer than I care to admit. Look at that, I’ve got books planned into March!
Goals can be easily accomplished when you set a plan for yourself and give yourself the tools or time needed to succeed. Maybe that’s the underlying theme of 2016 for me: Make a plan. Achieve my goals.
You know when the new year starts and you’re making all kinds of resolutions to get in shape and eat better and read more and spend more quality time with family and friends? Yeah, I made all those resolutions this year. And you know how they slowly start to fade away because unless you joined a fitness group or paid money for one of those healthy meal solution plans, no one’s really holding you accountable? Yeah, they’ve been fading for me, but no one noticed so I didn’t worry about it.
Until Goodreads said something to me with this email:
Yeah… I knew I had challenged myself to read 50 books in 2015 at the beginning of January, and I knew it took me a little longer to get through All the Light We Cannot See than I had planned, but no big deal, right? No one’s actually keeping track of how many books you’re reading. Well, turns out Goodreads is keeping their members on track, and sending them emails to
guilt encourage them to get back on track. It’s like a virtual fitness group for bibliophiles, and I’m actually totally okay with that.
So while my guilt-tinged heart is embarrassed that we’re a quarter of the way through the year and I’ve finished a grand total of three books, I’m happy for the reminder that someone/something is holding me accountable to the goals I’ve set for myself, and that I get handy email reminders in the process. And hey, I’m devouring a great book right now and have several more in reserve to read once I finish. So, FYI Goodreads, you’ll be seeing some updates from me soon.
And, bonus, for every book I read, it’s a new book review blog post for you! Killing two birds with one book-shaped stone.