Tag Archive | books challenge

I Read for 1hr/day in February and Here’s How It Went

In the interest of attempting a different challenge every month this year, it should come as no surprise that I chose to tackle an hour of reading for each day of February

Same, Patrick. Same.

It was supposed to be a no-brainer: I’m a writer, and I love to read. Until recently, it was literally part of my job responsibilities, so I wanted to keep it up during personal time despite the change in my workday. I’ve also struggled with reading for fun since I haven’t had a 90min commute (not complaining!).

As a baseline, I would read anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours a day without this challenge at hand – so I wasn’t starting completely from scratch to begin this habit. I’m also a fast reader. I read five books in January and I figured with this goal in mind, I could likely knock out another 6-10, despite the shorter month, with a dedicated hour each day.

But, you’ll see soon how it actually negatively impacted my desire and eagerness to devour a book.

To start, I’d just begun The Last Story of Mina Lee, a recent pick from my book club (inspired by Reese’s Book Club picking it). I flew through a lot of Nancy Jooyoun Kim’s 384 pages, but was stalled in parts because I was mentally exhausted and found myself reading the same sentences over and over.

I was leading a few big projects at work and looking at apartments in my spare time, so it was not a “normal” month … but what does “normal” even mean anymore? I’m always tough on myself and felt like I should just keep pushing through the books, instead of showing myself some grace and being OK with reading less (or not at all!) for a few days.

Instead of looking forward to my little reading ritual before bed, I would grumble through it and viewed it as a chore. 

That changed with The Year of Magical Thinking, which had been on my list for a while and was recently recommended by my gentleman friend. I did zero research to remind myself before digging in, and this one cut deep – Didion’s experience in the first year after her husband’s death cracked open my heart in ways other stories of grief haven’t.

Although its 227 pages took me a week to get through, TYoMT got me energized to dig into another sad read I’d had on my list for a bit: Shuggie Bain. A heavy hitter at 430 pages, this one had me in fits and starts where I struggled to get through and then couldn’t put it down. I completely understand why it’s been awarded so much as Douglas Stuart’s debut novel.

In need of a palate cleanser, I decided The Office of Historical Corrections would be a good fit because of its setup as a collection of seven short stories. I knocked out the 269 pages in three days – most of it on a weekend day while lounging and losing myself in Danielle Evans’s prose.

Finally, I somehow thought I could tackle The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck with just five days left in February. This iconic novel about farmer Wang Lung’s life remains on best books lists EIGHTY YEARS after publication for good reason, but a fast read it is not. I finished it this morning and was only about 300 pages in (out of 418) at month’s end.

Along with these titles, I also read a few chapters of Bringing Up Bébé, which I really enjoy when I remember to pick it back up. I didn’t count any of the reading I did via articles on news, entertainment, sports, etc., though that probably adds up to an hour or two each day.

All this to say, forcing myself into a challenge to complete an hour of reading each day worked against me

Through my therapist, I listed what a perfect day would look like and managed to write down “reading” three times without even realizing it.

So I found a pattern that works better for me just in the last week, where I start each day reading a few chapters of something and then start reading emails, texts, etc. I continue to read each night before bed (and I continue to fall asleep a few times a week with the chapter open, my lamp on, and my mouth wide open).

Taking the pressure off myself to set a timer or achieve this goal exactly as I envisioned it is a work in progress for my perfectionist nature. But, there’s a million self-help books I can check out when I’m ready to climb that mountain 🙂

Do you have reading resolutions? What helps you let go of goals that aren’t serving you? Let me know in the comments below – and as always, thanks for reading.

Okurrrrr.

My 5-Star Reads from 2020

Oh, hello. What a year, amirite? Good thing I wasn’t committed to a weekly positive post anymore… I’m also working with a broken keyboard so this post could take me another year to complete.

So, I read 107* books last year — surpassing my goal of 100 — thanks to living without Wi-Fi for a month and without a social life for nine.

If you’ve started (or abandoned!) a reading goal or are stuck on what to read next, here are the books I gave 5 stars to after reading them this past year. It’s a pretty even split between new and not, but I trended more toward enjoying nonfiction because I’m a glutton for pain and reality.

Are you on Goodreads? If so, you can check out a neat recap of my reading here.

As always, I’ll happily discuss books with anyone, anytime, but I don’t need to hear your thoughts on why a book “sucks.” We all have our preferences; if some (or all) of these aren’t your style, simply share your faves so I can try those out, too 🤓

Without further delay, presenting…

Book covers from Amanda's favorites; all images from Goodreads.com
All images courtesy of Goodreads

Fiction

Nonfiction

*I read 107 books from cover to cover. I allowed myself to abandon books I wasn’t enjoying. I listened to some samples in audiobook format, but did not make it through any from start to finish. </end disclaimer>

My 5-Star Reads from 2019

No time like the present, eh? I read 94* books last year — thanks to a long commute + it’s now part of my job — and have a goal to finish 100 in 2020.

If you’ve started (or abandoned!) a reading goal or are stuck on what to read next, here are the books I gave 5 stars to after reading them in 2019. It’s a pretty even split between new and old, fiction and nonfiction, plus various genres.

And while I’ll happily discuss books with anyone, anytime, I do not need to hear your thoughts on why a book “sucks.” We all have our preferences; if some (or all) of these aren’t your style, simply share your faves so I can try those out, too 🤓

background book stack books close up

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Fiction

Nonfiction

*I read 94 books from cover to cover. For the first time in a while, I allowed myself to abandon books I wasn’t enjoying. I listened to some in audiobook format, but did not make it through any from start to finish. </end disclaimer>