I spent some quality time with my book journal this afternoon and wrote entries for the last seven books I finished. July has been an outstanding month for reading so far (three of those books were 5-stars for me!). It seemed fitting to pause here, having just finished Girl, Woman, Other – for sure a favorite in a year that’s turning out to be one of my best reading years ever.
Girl, Woman, Other was the 100th book I finished this year.
Reflecting on what’s making this year “one of the best reading years ever”, I noted a few things:
♥ my reading journal. I might blow through a book in a day or two, but putting words (and a cover) on a page about each one gives me a chance to pause and reflect.
♥ setting intentions. They’ve helped me get better about deciding what to read (in that 100, there was not a single title I didn’t finish) and given me a helpful framework for assessing what I’ve read month by month.
♥ of those four intentions, Connection has been the most surprising in how much it’s enhanced my reading. The opportunity to talk about a book with someone or listen to an author talk nearly always adds at least a half-star to my experience. A few of those 3-star books were bookclub selections that I probably wouldn’t have finished on my own … but knowing that I’d have the opportunity to talk about what didn’t work for me was a win. (although not even that possibility would entice me to pick up a few authors *ahem* Kristin Hannah *ahem*)
♥ Novel Pairings and Fiction Matters Patreon communities. Each comes with a bookclub and multiple opportunities to share about what we’re reading. Novel Pairings also includes a monthly class. It’s like the parts of English class I loved (the learning, the discussion) without the parts I hated (the papers and the tests).
♥ the library. It is really easy (sometimes almost too easy) to pickup books at random. Some books that I’ve been wanting to read for ages are taking a backseat to the “ooh, this sounds good” titles that I can borrow … often without even going to the library. Still, I’m exploring backlist titles and finding plenty to love there. Only three of the 5-star books (on the top shelf above) are ones I bought new, in hardcover. Hamnet, Gifts of Imperfection, and Unsettled Ground.
♥ less (doom)scrolling and more reading. I’m sure this is partly a reflection of 2021 (I don’t feel the need to scroll as much) and partly a reflection of just wanting more time to read. I recently cut my morning Instagram time so I can get a full hour with a book. It’s a delightful way to enjoy that first cup of coffee (or two)!
So … a lot of what I’m doing is working great. I want to make two changes for the rest of the year:
First, I want to make a short list (for me, that’s 6-8 books) of books that I really want to read each month. I typically have 4-5 for bookclub(s), so that’s just a few extras. I’m not ever going to get to titles like The Nickel Boys and Girl, Woman, Other (which have both been on my TBR for over a year) unless I do that.
And, I want to share more about my books and reading on Instagram and Discord. I’m meeting readers there who share my tastes (Delight) and push me to try new things (Growth, Diversity) … and it’s built-in Connection.
What have you loved so far this year about reading … and are you going to be making any changes for the rest of the year?