As a child, and well into my twenties, I was what you would call a voracious reader. I could devour a 400-page novel in about two days. I found myself lost in the words, in the lives of the characters, and the plots of the stories. I would often read multiple books at the same time, enjoying the variation in pace and storytelling amongst different novels. And I often felt disappointed when I finished a book, not quite ready for the story to end.
But as I got older, and with the rise in popularity of electronic distractions and satellite TV, I found myself reaching for books less and less, my desire to read anything longer than a blog post waning. I often preferred the instant gratification of the internet, my shortened attention span fed by 140 characters at a time.
Then, several years ago, I found myself desiring to read again, and not just a quickie article online. I wanted to read a book, a real book. I made a trip to my nearest Barnes & Noble and, after a couple of hours of perusing shelves and display tables and piles, walked out with a stack of new novels. I couldn’t wait to get home and dive into them. Although I wasn’t reading as quickly as I used to, no doubt due to being out of the habit for so long, I quickly rekindled my love affair with reading.
In 2010, a close friend mentioned a book club she had joined with her sister and invited me to be a part of it. I was happy to meet a group of women that enjoyed reading as much as I did. And luckily, being that they were all highly educated professionals, we never chose the girly “chick-lit” books that were rising in popuarity at the time. I was happy that many of the books selected were ones that I probably would not have chosen on my own. Among our selections were The Red Tent, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, Mudbound, and The Help; autobiographical stories by Jeanette Walls, Edwidge Danticat, Torey Hayden, and Howard Dully; and collections of short stories from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jhumpa Lahiri. So many new books to read and explore and enjoy. It was awesome!
Not all of our choices were winners. I don’t think any of us particularly cared for Miranda July or Sloane Crosley’s writing styles or stories. But I was glad to discover other writers I hadn’t been familiar with previously. Writers like Jonathan Tropper, Hillary Jordan, Torey Hayden, and Angela Nissel, whose books I really enjoyed. But, ultimately, being part of this group wasn’t about loving every single book we selected. It was about the act of reading itself. Of thinking about the stories in a deeper way, analyzing and discussing and sharing our thoughts. About how two people could read the exact same story and interpret it in different ways. It was about opening our minds, exercising our brains, and using our imaginations.
Unfortunately, over time the book club just kind of fell off. Between work and family obligations and weddings and new babies, everyone’s lives became too complicated and busy and the “frivolity” of a book club came in last on the list of priorities. Sadly, I found that without the accountability of the book club, my desire to read started to wane once again.
Then, some time around the end of December I noticed a few friends posting on Facebook about doing a Goodreads challenge for 2014. I logged into my Goodreads account and found out that the challenge basically consisted of selecting a number a books to read throughout 2014 and keeping track of them on Goodreads.com. I decided to join in, in the hopes that I could get myself back into the habit of reading more frequently, and something more substantial than a celebrity gossip blog or a Pinned recipe.
I decided that my challenge would be “12 Books in 12 Months,” and if I finished ahead of time then I would just read additional “bonus” books. I preselected my books, because I figured that would be easier for me than having to decide on a new one every month. So these are the books I’ve chosen for myself for 2014:
I’m happy to say that I am on track, having already finished Inferno and Dark Places, and I am about 2/3 of the way through Me Before You. (Although, if we’re being completely honest, I’ve been trying to finish Kitchen House and Little Bee since last year. But I’m determined to FINALLY read them before the end of December.)
Wish me luck, peeps!
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