Top Ten Tuesday: Reading resolutions for 2018

As of this week, the Top Ten Tuesday meme moves to a new host blog. Started originally by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday will now be hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Same great concept, just a new host! Top Ten Tuesday focuses on a different top 10 theme each week — check out the host blog for a list of upcoming topics.

This week’s topic is Bookish Resolutions/Goals 

For me, my #1 resolution is to STOP MAKING RESOLUTIONS.

Ha.

But I kind of mean it. I don’t want to create yet another list of resolutions for myself that will fall by the wayside within a week or two. So instead, I’ll just write about the overall ideas I have about how I want to read in 2018.

My goal, this year and every year, is to read whatever I want, whenever I want! No commitments. No deadlines. No pressures.

 

I don’t participate in reading challenges or read-a-thons. I’ve tried in the past, but I find that tailoring my reading to meet pre-selected categories, genres, or themes makes me feel completely stifled. Where’s the fun in reading if I feel like I HAVE TO read something, rather than just wanting to?

 

Still, I do have some rather loose goals that I’m aiming toward this year. I do want to get to some of the series that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I hope to at least start my “priority series” — and then, if they grab me, make a good-sized dent in the rest.

 

I’ve managed to cut way back on the number of ARCs I request — but for those that I have, I feel a commitment to reading them and reviewing them on or about their release dates. It’s only polite!

 

I intend to do some more sorting and culling of the books on my shelves. I need to face the fact that I have certain books that I’m just never, ever in the mood to read… so why keep them? A few more donation binges are in order!

 

Speaking of books on my shelves… my bookshelves need a major overhaul. When I first set them up, they were roughly organized by genre, but over the years, my method of shelving has devolved into “hmmm, this book seems to fit this tiny space”. Not at all helpful when it comes to actually finding something later on. So, at some point, I need to pull everything off the shelves (gasp!) and start fresh, and hopefully come up with an organizational system that isn’t just about where things fit.

 

I plan to read a few more classics through the Serial Reader app, which I really love. It’s so much fun to make daily progress, especially when it’s a book that seems overwhelming on its own. Check out Serial Reader, if you haven’t already. Let me know what goodies you find! I’m thinking, for me, it’ll be a Dickens kind of year.

 

Well, that’s only seven, but that’s enough! Really, my mindset when it comes to reading in 2018 is…

 

 

What are your reading goals for 2018? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

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Where my Dickens peeps at? I need your help, yo.

Dickens rocks, amiright?

ca. 1840s-1860s — Original caption: Photograph of Charles Dickens (1812-1870) seated. Undated photograph. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

In 2017, I finally lived up to one of my long-time goals and read Great Expectations… and I loved it!

And so, in 2018, I’d like to continue my blossoming friendship with Mr. Dickens, and I need some advice. So far, the only Dickens I’ve read are Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (one of my all-time favorite books). And while I haven’t actually read A Christmas Carol, I’ve seen enough stage and screen adaptations to make me feel like I know it well enough and don’t need to spend any more time on it.

So…

Here’s where you come in. I’m looking for recommendations:

What’s your favorite Dickens book? What do you think I should tackle next?

Leave a comment with the title of the book you’re recommending, and — very important — tell me why you recommend it.

As a thank you, in addition to my eternal gratitude, anyone who leaves me a comment with a suggestion will be in the running for a small prize — so don’t be shy! 

We readers are an opinionated bunch. Now’s your chance to tell it like it is!

What Dickens book should I read in 2018, and why?

THANK YOU!

The audiobook debate: What “counts” as reading?

girl-160172_1280Earlier this week, a close friend (and one of my favorite book people – a true BBF) was moaning to me about her progress toward her Goodreads goal. Only two weeks left in December, and she’s still short 12 books! She’s planning to take a bunch of smaller books and graphic novels with her on her family holiday trip, so it’s likely she’ll make her total by the end of the year.

I’ve already passed my goal (okay, I did read a lot of graphic novels this year!), and as I was talking to my friend about some of the books that pushed me over the top, numbers-wise, I mentioned Uprooted by Naomi Novik, one of my favorite audiobooks of the year. The conversation took a sudden and unexpected turn:

 

BBF: You count audiobooks?

Me: Yes. (Of course! I added in my head.)

BBF: But that’s not reading!

Me: Oh yes it is!

BBF: Nuh-uh!

Me: Yuh-huh!

We didn’t stick out our tongues at each other… but in terms of childish behavior, we came close!

So what is reading? What “counts”?

The primary definition of the verb “read”, according to Dictionary.com, is:

to look at carefully so as to understand the meaning of (something written, printed, etc.):
to read a book; to read music.

Okay, that one focuses on the written/printed word. Here’s definition #2:

to utter aloud or render in speech (something written, printed, etc.):
reading a story to his children; The actor read his lines in a booming voice.

Hmm. That’s the act of reading aloud. When my son was younger, I read to him all the time, even up to age 12, when we read together such books as Eragon and The Hobbit. I had never read Eragon before, and as I read it to my son, I was reading it for myself as well.

But back to the original question: Is listening to a book the same as reading a book? Do your eyes have to be involved in order to have read something? What about someone who’s vision-impaired? Using a Braille book seems to obviously be reading… but what if they don’t know Braille? What if they can only enjoy books that they listen to? Does that count as reading?

I’ve become a big fan of audiobooks in the past few years, so my take on the issue is pretty clear-cut. For me, whether I’ve used my eyes or my ears, my brain is certainly involved, and either way, I’m absorbing a story, ideas, plotlines, themes, and more.

I suppose I’d be in favor of a more expansive definition of reading, along the lines of:

Using one’s senses to take in the content of a book.

(Okay, let’s agree to exclude taste and smell from the above! I love the smell of a bookstore, but sniffing books definitely isn’t reading! And I don’t recommend eating them either.)

Of course, as I probably should have said earlier, it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks when it comes to Goodreads stats. I’ve seen people argue about all sorts of things “counting” as real books, such as novellas, graphic novels, and re-reads. I take a pretty lenient approach with myself: If I feel like I’ve read something, then I have! And that includes all of the above.

Yes, in my opinion, if I’ve listened to an audiobook, then I’ve read the book. Period.

Where do you stand on the issue? Are audiobooks books? Does listening “count” as reading? And would you (or do you) include audiobooks in your list of books read in a year?

Share your thoughts, please!

 

2015: Reading on a Whim

2015 reading

I know it’s time to make resolutions and set goals for 2015, and I’ll do that… soon-ish.

But for now, there’s one main goal that I have in mind, and while it should be a no-brainer, I’m finding that I actually have to say it, write it down, and carve it in stone. (Or I would, if I had a chisel and a block of marble handy.)

My goal is this:

In 2015, I’m going to concentrate on reading… whatever I feel like.

Shouldn’t that go without saying? But it’s really not that easy.

Over and over again, despite my best intentions, I find my reading life consumed by commitments and obligations. There are book groups. Challenges. Discussions I’ve agreed to take part in. And all of it means that my reading is determined ahead of time and marked on a calendar… and I end up feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.

Biggest culprit? The domineering, dictatorial spreadsheet I set up to track my ARCs. I thought it was brilliant at the time — a clear, concise way of tracking all of the review books I’d yet to read, sortable by publication date, source, and whether I’d committed to a particular blog post date or other publicity event. It is actually great for all of those purposes — but when I find myself consulting the spreadsheet to figure out what to read next in order to stay on track, well, something is wrong with the system.

I get really antsy. I start feeling like I’m being told what to do (which I do not respond to well, in reading and in life in general).

This is why I’m not a very good book club participant. I’m fine, so long as we’re reading books that I want to read anyway. But when I start feeling compelled to read something that’s not really my choice, I get resentful.

This is also why I’ve stopped doing book-related challenges. I don’t want to pick books based on a category I need to check off or what letter of the alphabet the title starts with. It’s fun to see how well my reading fits in (sometimes), but it’s not how I want to decide what I read.

The bottom line, for me, is that I’ll never have enough time to read all of the books that I want to read. And when I pick and choose, I want it to be based on what I want AT THAT MOMENT.

During the last two weeks, I put aside all my lists and just started picking up the books that I felt like reading. How ridiculous is it that this felt like a big break-through for me, a special sort of treat?

Answer: It’s completely ridiculous.But at the same time, I had the weirdest feeling of freedom. I felt like proclaiming from the rooftops, “I can read whatever I feel like reading!” Crazy, right?

And so… here I am. I find myself in the odd situation of having to remind myself, yet again, that I read for fun and because I love it. Period.

I have enough responsibilities and commitments in my life. I read for me.

How does this translate into a resolution for 2015?

Resolved

In 2015, I commit to reading on a whim. I will read whatever book suits my mood or catches my eye. I will not be bound by calendars or deadlines. I commit to reading the books that I want to read, when I want, on whatever schedule I want.

In 2015, reading will be fun. And also, I hope, stimulating, inspiring, moving, educational, thought-provoking, laughter-inducing, and surprising. But overall, I want to enjoy reading 100% of the time.

Reading on a whim. Oh yes, 2015 will be a very good year!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Goals For 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

I recently did a blog post about my bookish resolutions for 2013, and at first thought this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic would be a bit redundant. But thinking about it further, goals and resolutions are not necessarily synonymous. After all, a resolution is something that I’m committing to seeing through, generally something that’s a stretch or that takes real effort. (I know, I know, resolutions are make to be broken. How well I remember those pounds I was going to lose last year…) But goals? Goals, to me, represent attainable results, maybe more of a work plan than a grand ambition.

So, in no particular order, my bookish goals for the new year:

1) Concentrate on reading books that I already own. Do less buying and borrowing. I love my public library and the wonderful used books stores in town, but really, I have plenty on my shelves to keep me busy. Time to tone down my obsessive need to get my hands on every new book that comes out.

2) Purge! See # 1 — I have plenty of books on my shelves (and spilling off my shelves…), but let’s face facts: There are books in my house that I picked up years ago, and every time I think about reading one of them, my first reaction is “nah, not in the mood”. When this continues happening with the same books for a really long period of time, it’s time for those books to go! One of my big goals for 2013 is to pull out all of those books that I’ll never get around to reading and find them a new home. If I donate my unwanted books to our local library sale, I’ll be doing a good deed as well as improving my overly-cluttered habitat. Two birds, one stone!

3) Organize! I bought beautiful new bookshelves earlier this year, assembled them, shoved lots and lots of books on them in an initial frenzy of moving books off the floor and out of boxes and bags… and I’ve done nothing since. My shelves lack any semblance of rhyme or reason. I look forward to a few leisurely afternoons of taking books off the shelves, figuring out a system, and reassembling my little personal library. Preferably while holding  a nice, hot cup of coffee. Or maybe something a wee bit stronger.

4) Find new ways to engage my child in reading. My adorable, smart, funny son practically runs in the opposite direction whenever I ask him to take time to read. He loves stories, loves being read to — just doesn’t want to sit and read himself. I think we may have achieved a bit of a breakthrough recently: I downloaded a book for him on my IPad, and suddenly reading became fun! I hate the idea that technology has to be involved, but I suppose I should count my blessings and be glad that he’s reading at all. Still, I know the newness of the IPad will soon fade and I’ll have to find new and creative ways to get this kid to read.

5) Read a classic that I’ve never read before. I’ve read all of Jane Austen, but only one book by Charles Dickens. I’ve read Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair, but I’ve never read The Grapes of Wrath or The Sun Also Rises. I don’t know what it will be, but I do know that I want to read at least one classic book this year. Which fits in with #6…

6) Read outside the box. I’m a fiction-lover, through and through, deep down to my bones. But I do enjoy other genres when I read them, even if I really have to force myself to depart from the fiction world. I’d like to branch out a bit, maybe read a little history, a science book, maybe some social commentary, a biography or two. Again, I haven’t picked anything in particular yet, but this is a good “note to self” to remember to make time to branch out a bit.

7) Attack the fairies! OK, that’s my cutesy way of trying to force myself to commit to reading the book I was so excited to get a couple of months ago: Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman. I have a well-documented problem with short story collections, and despite the fact that I love fairy tales and I love Philip Pullman, I still haven’t been able to sit down and open this book. Perhaps I need some serious psychotherapy to figure out why I have such a problem with stories… or perhaps I just need a good list like this one to force me into action. Time will tell.

These next two are really more blog-related than specifically bookish, but since I blog about books, it works for me.

8) Explore the blogosphere. My blog was born in 2012 and I’ve spent the first several months of its life just feeling my way forward. Now it’s time to reach out a bit more, try to connect with other readers and bloggers, and expand my reach and my online community. My goal is to participate in more blogging events, challenges, bloghops, etc. I hope to meet some cool and interesting people along the way, get some great new ideas, and really get a better sense of what’s out there and what I can do with a blog.

9) Get techie with it. Again, in the world of blogging, I’m sure there are a lot more resources and tools than what I’m currently using. My other bloggy goal is to explore the technical resources that can help make me a better blogger. (Ideas? Suggestions? Referrals? I’m all ears!)

Finally, the one that really matters, probably more than all of the above:

10) Slow down. Stop focusing on the numbers. Stop worrying about stats. Read for pleasure. Pick books because they’re what I want to read. Take as long as it takes to read, savor, enjoy, contemplate, consider, ponder, and reflect. Remember that I read because I love it, not because I have a challenge to meet or a blog post to write. When I stop enjoying my reading and start finding it more of a chore, I know I’m doing something wrong. READ FOR LOVE. That is all.