Hello and welcome.

2018 is almost at an end and while it was a roller-coaster of a year for me personally, it also served as a reminder that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. Namely, in 2018, that translated as reading A LOT of books. How many? I currently stand at 68 books read, but will probably finish with 70 or 71 in 2018. 

Anyway you shake it, it is an impressive achievement. Especially for a guy who works nearly 50 hours a week, does college as a full-time student, and has ADHD. But, here we are. I set out an initial goal of 52 books and I smashed that back in October. Crazy, no? I thought so.

Here’s the thing, while it is great to achieve personal goals, it also opened my eyes to an alarming (to me anyway…) fact: the average adult reads 12 books a year. Only the data is skewed by those who boost the average, so the most common number is 4 books. One for every quarter of the year. Call me crazy and biased if you would like, but this number is far from adequate. How many of you achieved even that many?

We encourage our kids to read through the various “summer reading” programs, but if we are failing to pick up a book, are we really setting an example for them to follow? My theory and the statistics say otherwise. I know — life is busy — we have too many shows to catch up on Netflix — too many things that we just do not have the time for. I’ve given every excuse, too. But I did it. I set a goal and I did it. 

So, as we venture into 2019, this blog is going to serve two primary functions: to track my 2019 progress in reading books AND reviewing those I do read. I want to try to inspire someone to pick up a book and read. Someone to find enjoyment in it. An escape. A helpful tip or quote. A sense of achievement in hitting a goal. I fully believe reading has kept me sane this year, especially during a battle of anxiety and depression; some people run, I read. And maybe I will run, too. Who knows? Not I.

I won’t try to coerce you into a 52 book challenge. That’s a tall-order for most, but if you are game to try it, I say to go for it. Or maybe start with 10 and work your way up. And can I tell you a secret?

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ SHAKESPEARE FOR IT TO “COUNT.” 

“The bigger rule was “For something to count, it has to be difficult.” A lot of high performers carry that sort of secret rule along with them. If an exercise is enjoyable and you have fun doing it, it must not count.”

Jon Acuff – Finish

Jon talks about “secret rules” in his book, Finish, and how they can affect our ability to achieve our goals. Are you carrying along a rule that you need to slog through War & Peace in order to read? Because you don’t. We have a myth in our society that tells us to be “well-read” we have to read the classics: Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain, etc. That’s hogwash, my friends. Pure and utter hogwash. If you want to read the Percy Jackson series and you are over the age demographic, tell those of you who are hating to mind their own business and go for it. I read all 5 of them in 2018 and guess what? They were freaking good. Who doesn’t want to read about a demi-god son of Poseidon who takes on the evil of the world? Rick Riordan took the heavy subject of Greek mythology and made it fun. I took Greek Mythology this year at school, so trust me, I know. 

  • So, if you want to read a romance novel: pick it up and read.
  • Fan of middle-grade novels like Wonder? It’s bloody worth reading! I loved it.
  • Feeling like you are a graphic-novel kind of girl? Good. It counts.
  • Ever wonder if Sherlock Holmes is better in print? He is. Grab a copy.
  • Have a hard time staring at a screen or paper? Audiobooks count if you want them to. 

It’s your goal. You make up the rules.

BUT… I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START

Any old book will do, but I get it. You want to say 10 books but you are not sure you can commit? Here’s an idea. Download the Kindle app for your mobile device of choice. Now get a Kindle book. Guess what? You now have a book available for you to read while you are standing in line at the grocery store, sitting on the commuter rail, or even while waiting for your kid to stop his incessant whining about what color shoes he needs to buy to fit in with everyone at school. 

Don’t want to spend money? Gotcha. Neither do I. Did I mention I’m a poor college student? Most of the books I read I get for free. How?

  • Library. Physical books or digital. There is a wonderful app called Libby that you can connect the library card you already have (and likely don’t use…) and download books to either the app or *gasp* to the Kindle app (or an actual Kindle like I use.) [Bonus Tip: Massachusetts residents can sign up for a digital e-card from the Boston Public Library.]
  • Amazon Prime Member? I mean who doesn’t have it already? Get free books to read on the Kindle app, included with Prime. Just select that nifty little filter when searching for books that says “Prime Reading” and Bam! free books.
  • Grab one off the stack you have lying around the house. Admit it, you bought a book because it seemed interesting, and then it became a $19.95 coaster. Dust it off, open it up, and cross another one off the list.
  • Borrow from friends. Seriously, next time you are over for coffee, knitting, or whatever it is people do at friends homes… peruse their shelves. I’ve found that people are often happy to let you borrow things if you ask politely and then eventually return said item. Give it a go.

So, there you are. Free books and quick access to them. Are you ready to commit yet? 

BUT I NEED AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER TO FINISH A GOAL…

Do you? Okay. I’ll believe you. Enter Goodreads.com and the friends you already have. Here we go…

  1. Go to Goodreads and create an account (hint: connect it to your Facebook for simplicity’s sake.)
  2. Click the link on Goodreads that says “Reading Challenge.”
  3. Click save.

You now have an accountability partner or partners! You can log the books you read on Goodreads through the website, the mobile app, or automagically (that’s a word) through the Kindle app or Kindle device. Boom. Your friends can see if you are slacking on your goal and encourage you. You can also mark books you’ve enjoyed or ones you want to read, see what your friends are reading, or even get recommendations based on what you’ve already read! Whoa. 

GIVE ME STRUCTURE OR GIVE ME DEATH…

Are you one of those people who are confounded by the overwhelming number of choices of what you could read that you never actually start? I get that. It’s the paradox of choice. But never fear, help is here!

Ambitious? Here’s 52 books in 52 weeks. (For the “book picked out for you by someone else” prompt, I give you: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. You are welcome. You can thank me later.)

52 too much? How about 26? A. B. C. D. Easy, peasy. Choose a book starting with each letter of the alphabet. 

Want to read in unfamiliar genres? Done.

And there’s plenty more where that came from. Seriously. Just a simple Google search will pull up many, but it looks like someone already took the time to compile a list. 

ALRIGHT. I’LL DO IT. BUT ARE YOU WALKING THE WALK?

You betcha. 

My 2019 goal for reading is simply 80 books. But I decided to spice things up a smidgen and not choose just ANY 80. 50 of them will be to complete the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. The other 30 will be decided as I go along. No genre is off-limits for me. 

In addition, I will be attempting to review all 80 here on this blog as well as transposing them on Goodreads.com. If they are part of the reading challenge, I will indicate which prompt was completed. So, perhaps that will help you gain ideas for your reading journey.

Now, for the other part of my 2019 goals. I have every intention of donating a minimum of $2 for every book I complete to the non-profit organization Reading is Fundamental. You do not need to join me in this part, but rather, I would encourage you to find something you find a small bit of passion in, and then give back to supporting it. Whether that is giving back financially, walking a 5k or 6k event, or simply volunteering in any capacity. The world needs a little bit more kindness these days, and you can be a part of that.

“We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.”

R.J. Palacio – Wonder

To that end, I wish you the very best in 2019, and I look forward to your comments on this blog moving forward. I want to hear what you are reading, so please share in the comments below and on future posts.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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