For the last few years I’ve tracked me reading on GoodReads. It took me a while to come around to the idea of counting books. Not because I was afraid my numbers wouldn’t be as high as I thought. Reading is reading and as we all know life kicks up the dust from time to time. I worried that tracking would make me more focused on the number than the books. Which wasn’t the case.
My original goal for last year was 100. I thought it was ambitious and I only bumped it up to 100, because towards the end of 2019 I discovered that audiobooks worked really well for me while I cleaned the house or crocheted or played HearthStone (later on I’d play Stardew Valley while listening too). But eh… 2020 the year I really don’t want to talk except for the books and well the places I talked about books. Because that’s something else 2020 changed for me.
Let’s get one thing out of the way – between CPTSD and introversion I’m pretty much a solitary being. I have friends – none that live close by where I live now, but I stay in touch with them a lot. I have a cousin I enjoy hanging out with – COVID19 took that away. COVID19 took a lot of things a way from a lot of people so I’m not going say more. What I will say is something lacked in my adult life – friends and acquaintances to discuss books with. There was a definite lack before 2020. I’m a writer! How did that happen? I honestly have no idea! Sure, I talked about the books I wrote and I talked about other LGBT+ romances with my readers at various times. But as my reading will show this year I’m a true Gemini and I need some variety in my life – and since books probably make up 80% of my life between writing and reading. I need a lot of it. I love reading, but to confine myself to one genre (I know there’s a lot of LGBT+ fiction out there that has nothing to do with romance) but I can’t just read romance. I digress, back to the subject.
Even before COVID19 lockdowns began I decided I needed to fix the lack of bookish friends in my life. I needed more people to talk about books with. I needed to make new connections and after 2019 I needed a place where I felt normal. For those of you who don’t know in 2019 I was physically assaulted by a family remember who I never thought would betray my trust. That was August 2019 (It feels like 3 lifetimes ago after 2020) and by January 2020 I knew something had to change. I was becoming a literal hermit after moving again and that wasn’t me.
So, where did I turn? A place I already sorta hung out to find penpals- Reddit. I know a lot of folks have a love/hate relationship with Reddit. I always say Reddit is a place where you mostly curate your experience by choosing the communities you participate in. Yeah, you’ll still see trolls – it’s the damn internet! For me, I found my ‘internet reading home’ on r/52book and r/bookclub.
r/52book is a sub-Reddit for folks participating in the 52 books a year challenge BUT they welcome everyone with a reading goal over there. I’ve found some really good books through talking to other users and I’ve even made a few friends along the way. They have a weekly check-in thread which I adore, because it doesn’t only give me a place to talk about what I’m reading, but to discuss those books and books others are reading. It’s part of my Sunday morning routine that I always look forward to.
r/bookclub is a sub-Reddit book club just like the name says. As much as I love r/52book – r/bookclub would be my real reading home. Sure, discussions are more limited to books that have been or are currently being read by the sub, but I’ve met so many wonderful people on that sub and I’ve even hosted a few reads. It’s given me a real sense of belonging and I really care about the community. I’ve read at least one of their picks every month since April 2020 (except for September when I moved). I’ve discovered books I’d never have read on my own and met some great folks along the way.
So, in the spirit of keeping the book conversation alive I thought along with my normal blogs (I’m hoping to get them up regularly again) I’d talk more here about what I am reading. I’ve not done this as much as I wanted in the past, because I always feel like someone will point out I read outside of ‘my genre’ so much that I’m not supporting it. Which is BS, but you know, anxiety is real even in writers. Maybe more so in some of us.
So my goal for 2021 is to read 104 books. 2 books a week. I kept it lowish (compared to last year) because if 2019 and 2020 taught me anything it’s that you never what’s just around the bin and in recent years it’s mostly crap. Lots and lots of crap. When I reach 104 I’ll adjust accordingly to how much of the year is left. I’ve already read 13 books. So, I know I’ll be adjusting it at some point.
So what do I count for my goal?
I could sum this up and say anything on GoodReads, but for the sake of clarity:
- Short stories – if they’re published on their own and I read them in that format.
- Books I write – yep, I read them so many times in editing/rewriting that I count them. My writing to reading ratio is low enough that I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.
- Books I’ve written that I need to reread for the current book I’m writing at the time.
- Graphic novels (I didn’t read a single one in 2020, but in 2019 I read a few.)
This year I want to spend more time talking about books – not just because I love them and think everyone should read in one way or another, but because with all the horrible things going on (and will continue to go on I think even with a real president) I believe we’ll all need something positive to focus on. For me – that’s my friends, my cat, and my books.
I look forward to 2021 being a year of bookish conversations and hope you’ll all join me here as I read my way through another year. Stay safe and healthy out there!
Oh – and because it’s habit. Stay with Us is up for pre-order on Amazon.