One Year, One Hundred Books

Back in January, I had made a goal of reading 12 books in 2017, mostly because I thought I should be more social.  That didn’t exactly happen. Being social is beyond difficult for me. Staying at home, being quiet (and alone) is preferred. So when I quickly passed my reading goal of 12- I decided to double it, and then double it again, and double it again – and now here we are, almost at the end of the year – and I have just finished my 100th book.

This is what I have discovered from my year of reading:

  • Reading with a number in mind is only fun if you are doing it for sport.  When someone else is doing the same kind of challenge, its fun and a bit bloody. But when they drop out, it gets a bit tiresome.
  • When you fall behind your count goal, and you need some quick reads, it may seem smart to pick some easier books. Im not talking Young Adult or Kids books – because they can be both challenging and awesome. Im talking about crap produced by Charlaine Harris and the like. Don’t fall into this trap. It’s not worth it. No reading goal is worth the pain of reviewing the books you read this year, and seeing those titles pop up. It doesn’t matter that you can read a book in an afternoon. These books are garbage, and they do nothing for your brain. Unless you are on a beach – or you like those kinds of books – don’t let my snobbery or attitude stop you from reading them. They are popular books, they just aren’t my thing.
  • There is a disturbing lack of diversity in my reading this year.  A mistake that I will not make again. I’m quite ashamed of this.
  • The majority of the books I read were fiction – not because I don’t like non-fiction.  Just the opposite actually, I love non-fiction.  But I really felt that I needed to work on my empathy this year, and other than talking to real people – I don’t know of a better way to practice being an empath.
  • Carrying a book with you everywhere will help you to read more.  Also if you like people, they will come up and talk to you about what you are reading. If you choose to read in a pub (I like to do this), be prepared to be called a nerd by drunk patrons.

Here are some stats on the books I have read this year:

  • 47% of the books read were written by women
  •  44% of the books I read, were read on an e-reader,  26% of the books I “read” were audiobooks,  16% were paperbacks, and 14% were hard covered books.
  • Most productive reading month – October – 13 books read
  • Least productive reading month – December – 3 books read (so far)
  • 44% of books read were loaned from the library
  • 20% of books read were memoirs
  • 16% of books read were proper non- fiction
  • pages read 30,656
  • 21 books read were rated 5* (5 being the highest rating possible by me).
  • My favourite book read this year was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
  • My least favourite book read this year was Love Warrior by Glennon Melton.

If you want to see my list of books that I read this year – here it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly (anything hi-lighted in yellow is an unfinished book, that I plan to finish in 2018).

Or you can find me on Goodreads

 

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A Very Nerdy Christmas Tree

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First it must be said, I am not a great fan of family holidays. They bring a lot of anxiety for me. Christmas is especially rough.  Most years I try to just ignore it. But this year, if feels like people have been preparing for this holiday since August. And while I am not exactly on jumping on board the Christmas train, I thought I would make the teeniest effort this year.

My apartment building does not allow natural trees, and I will never purchase a fake one.  So I usually go without. This year, due to my lack of bookshelf space more than anything, I decided to make a book tree. It looks a bit haphazard and lopsided, and that it may collapse at any moment, but I assure you it is structurally sound.  Besides I kind of like a quirky and not perfect tree. If you want perfection, go search pinterest– there are plenty of examples that will meet your needs.  But for me, a little chaos and a whole lot of imperfection suits just fine.

If you want to know how I did it – here is the breakdown.

  • Sort your books into 4 piles, large hardcovers, medium and small hardcovers, large paperbacks, and medium and small paperbacks
  • Put your largest book in what you imagine is going to be the centre of the tree.  My largest book is the Random House dictionary from196?  Its humongous!
  • Put your next largest books in a circle with the spines outward- make sure there are spaces in between each book – so that the corners of each are only touching
  • For each layer, lay the book in between the two below it
  • Use your largest books for the first few layers, and then move onto smaller and lighter books the further you go up
  • After you have created a sort of wall around your centre book, put box on top – that you can build your tree around
  • When you have finally reached the top of your tree, you can add a topper -I think most people use a star or an angel
  • Wrap some lights or garland around the tree – remember that if you choose to use lights, that paper is flammable, so make sure you keep an eye on it. Don’t leave the lights plugged in for long periods of time.

What I love about my book tree, is that not only does it free up much needed shelf space, and gives me a constant reminder of my very large to be read list (currently at 57 books), but it helps to remind me that its ok to take some time out for myself, and read or do some other solo activity when Im feeling anxious and overwhelmed.  Plus it lets me display my grandfather’s christmas ornaments from when he was a boy.  The snowman that sits on the top of the tree once belonged to him.  He is missing his nose, and there is a sort of noose around his neck – which is how he is usually hung on the tree – but I wouldn’t change him.  I love him, just how he is.

I have  a lot of books left over, so I think I might rebuild the tree tomorrow, and make it quite a bit taller. Which will give me an opportunity to restring the lights, clearly I need some practice in that area.

In celebration of reading 100 books this year, I rebuilt my tree – so it now consists of all the books I own.  And now it looks like this:

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I Deal Through Escape

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My friends for the weekend

I read a lot.  Almost 2.5 books a week (depending on the page count – but averaging around 350 pages per book). At least so far this year.

I am plenty busy doing other things, I don’t have to read this much.  I work full time, I teach a few lessons a week, I volunteer, and I see friends occasionally.  I even go outside, when I remember that fresh air is good for me.

But I choose to read because it gives me a chance to escape from my life- something that television or friends doesn’t do. Reading engages my brain in a way that I am unable to think about things other than what I am reading. In other words, I am unable to have an anxiety or panic attack when I am absorbed in someone else’s story. I suffer from a form of PTSD (from childhood trauma) that triggers easily.  The colour green will set me off – as will the number 11, black dogs, springtime, and the jerseys of the Green Bay Packers. Also children who are in pain.  This one is a big one – and something I encountered a few weeks ago. And its made me retreat back into myself.

I met a 7 year old girl recently who told me some secrets about her life – and they were very similar to ones that I had experienced, and I have been unable to concentrate on much else since then.  I reported the incident(s) to the people who needed to know, but I have a need to do more.  But my hands are tied. I am unable to help any more than I have.  I can only hope that what I did will not cause further pain. I hope what I did will keep her safe.  For her sake, I am optimistic that everything will work out for the best. I have to think this way – because I am heartbroken that someone has hurt her.  I am heartbroken that someone(s) have hurt me. Mirrors – I hate them. They show way more than we need to know.

So back to the books.  I read to forget my own experience. I use books to create a new reality. I use them for other things too, like get ideas, and fall in love with fictional characters, and to understand new and old ideas.  But mostly I read so I can trust.  I can trust words (even if its for a short time – and I am aware that you cant believe everything you read). But its a different kind of trust. Fictional characters can’t hurt you like real people can. I choose to invest in this medium, because I am unable to trust anyone else in real life.

And I will never be alone, as long as I have a book in my hand.