I've reached that time of year . . where I begin reflecting. Looking back over the past year -- before I look ahead to the coming year. I usually start with some easy reflecting (what did I read, for example) before I tackle the harder stuff (did I accomplish what I hoped to accomplish, for example).
So. Let's talk about reading, shall we?
According to Goodreads, I've 66 books so far this year. That's fewer books than I've read in years past, but that was actually by design. (Yes. That's right. I opted to slow down my reading this year; to focus more on what I was reading, and to try to make deeper connections with the books I did read.)
Turns out I read mostly 4-star books (by my own grading system), which is typical for me. I'm pretty choosy about the books I read, and I have a good idea of what I tend to like, so it doesn't surprise me that most of my books end up with 4 stars. Besides, for me, 5-star reads just don't come along very often. (A book has to be really fabulous for me to give it 5 stars.) That said, I also read a few real duds this year, too!
My top 5 books of 2018? *
- Moon Tiger (Penelope Lively)
- Circe (Madeline Miller)
- Less (Andrew Sean Greer)
- Becoming (Michelle Obama)
- Everything Under (Daisy Johnson)
And here are three things I've learned from my reading in 2018:
- Early in the year, I decided I wanted to focus more on my reading. I spent a while thinking about what that meant, exactly. (Especially because I have always - all my life - focused on my reading!) I came to the understanding that what I wanted . . . was to focus more on making my reading meaningful. I decided to slow down. To make better connections with what I was reading - and to, ultimately, remember more about the books I read.
- I started taking notes about each book I read this year. I don't mean . . . notes like you take in school or anything (I certainly wasn't outlining chapters here). But I did create a format for myself so I could jot down a basic synopsis, a list of characters, my impressions, and quotes I particularly liked from each book I read. I discovered that by taking notes, I was connecting at a deeper level with what I was reading -- and I'm certainly remembering the books more than ever before. These notes helped me write reviews on Goodreads (another reading goal of mine for the year), and it helped me create . . . space . . . between books. In years past, I would open another book as soon as I closed one. By taking the time to go over my notes and put together a review, I was creating a boundary between my books -- and that turned out to be a great strategy for me in slowing down and finding more meaning.
- I used my library more than ever. While this was frustrating for me sometimes (because I couldn't always get the books I wanted WHEN I wanted them), it taught be other lessons. Like just because a book finally pops up on Overdrive -- along with 3 others! -- you don't have to pressure yourself to read it Right Now. You can put yourself back on the hold list and read it later. (That was a big lesson in letting go for me.) There were still times I purchased a book because I didn't want to wait (my Overdrive wait for Michelle Obama's Becoming was 8 months long, for example, so I purchased it on Audible), but I was much more likely to wait for books from my library.
Looking back, it's been a really great reading year for me. I know that there will always, always be far more books out there that I'd like to read . . . than I'll ever have time to read. And you know what? I'm okay with that!
How about you? What were your favorite books this year?
* My other 5-star books this year: Calypso (David Sedaris), The Overstory (Richard Powers), From a Low and Quiet Sea (Donal Ryan), Our Souls at Night (Kent Haruf), Gilead (Marilynne Robinson) The Ninth Hour: A Novel (Alice McDermott), The Light of the World (Elizabeth Alexander), The Temporary Gentleman (Barry Sebastian), Winter (Ali Smith), and Reservoir 13 (Jon McGregor).
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