February Reading List
It’s hard to believe a month’s already gone by! What happened to January? I’m sitting here writing this and looking at my calendar in shock and disbelief. Please slow down, 2018.
One of my New Year’s resolutions for this year was to read more. I set myself that goal last year as well, but it didn’t take. Despite my best intentions, I did just about as much reading as I’ve done in years past, which is to say virtually none at all.
As a writer, I know that needs to change, which is why I doggedly stuck reading more back on my NYR list. I’m not alone in this endeavor either. Reading more is one of the more popular goals you can pick for a resolution.
Setting Realistic Goals
One of the problems I had last year was I left my goal vague and undefined. I simply said “read more.” I didn’t necessarily quantify how much more I wanted to read. In all technicality, if I read even one single page of a book for pleasure, I’d “read more.”
So, in some ways, I wasn’t the miserable failure I’m saying I am. I did read quite a few pages for pleasure, which is a big deal, considering I hadn’t read a book for pleasure since I left school.
But I wasn’t satisfied with this “accomplishment.” I didn’t finish even one book, even if I’d technically met my goal. And the big problem was I hadn’t set a realistic, quantifiable goal.
So, this year, I decided to join the GoodReads challenge and set myself a goal of reading 24 books in 2018. That’s a relatively low goal, especially compared to some people. I could, in theory, set my goals much higher. Some people picked 52 books—or about one per week, about 4 or 5 per month.
I set mine at 24, which is 2 books per month. I could have gone 26, which is 1 every 2 weeks or so. I’m a very quick reader, so none of this is actually unrealistic for me—provided I have the time to read. In university, I was often reading 3 or 4 books per week—but that was part of my course load and part of my job as a student was making sure I had the time to read.
Finding the Time to Read
One of my big challenges is finding the time to read. As mentioned, when I was in university, I could go at a clip of about 3 or 4 books per week, but I was actively prioritizing the time spent reading. Reading was part of my “duty.”
Now this deep in my career, my time is often being pulled in several different directions. I often work quite long hours, particularly if I have an upcoming deadline. When I’m not working at deadlines, I’m often writing—whether it’s this blog or a new story.
Many writers struggle with deciding whether they should be reading or writing. We often feel our time is better put to writing, rather than reading. Reading, as I’ve elaborated before, forms the basis of writing. If you never read, you’re missing a master class in how to write.
It’s one reason making time to read is more important to me. The other reason, of course, is I like it.
In January, I set myself the goal of reading two books. Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn’s Permanent Ink was first on my list. I also decided to revisit one of my favorites: Trollvinter, a children’s book written in Swedish.
Trollvinter is a challenge for me, because I’m still learning Swedish. I do not speak it, so reading a book rated for 9 to 12 year olds is a bit of an uphill climb. (If you’ve never tried learning a second language, I highly recommend it; it will give you new respect for anyone who has to learn English!) I’ve read Trollvinter before, however, so it’s not as challenging as another book I want to read. I picked up a copy of Farlig Midsommar while I was in Sweden last year; it’s another story about Mumin. Because it’s new to me, however, it will be more challenging.
I decided to get back into the swing of things with Trollvinter, which was my first Mumin story. It’s also a very fitting book for January, as it’s about—you guessed it—winter. The other book is about summer, so it seemed a little out of season.
I finished Trollvinter in about a week. I had a particularly long go at it one day while I was printing off Submerged page proofs.
Permanent Ink also took me about a week to finish. Since I mostly edit textbooks, I often see reading as somewhat taxing. Permanent Ink reminded me both of how easy reading can be and how pleasurable.
Obviously, I accomplished my goal of reading 2 books in January. I’m going to aim to keep that going in February.
With that in mind, I’ve set myself two books to read. The first is Farlig Midsommar, the book I wanted to read. Since I’ve refreshed my Swedish by reading Trollvinter, it makes sense to tackle a new book in Swedish. I expect it will challenge me by presenting me with new words and scenarios. It could make this read a bit of a struggle.
The other book I’ve picked is The 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge. There are a few reasons for this. I’ve seen this title advertised a few times. I also released a new book on January 30, so trying out some of the tips and tricks in this book could help me, either in this or future campaigns.
Tying in Other Goals
I hadn’t originally added the Book Marketing Challenge to my reading list. I happened to score a free copy of it in January, however, and, as mentioned, think it might be useful for me. That’s why it got added to the list.
It also ties into one of my other New Year’s Resolutions: learning how to use social media more effectively. While this will be purely focused on book marketing, I’m wondering there are things I can extrapolate to foster my social media use in general. I don’t necessarily use social media to build community or relationships well, so that’s something I want to change. I often feel left on the fringes of the book world, so I want to connect more! Social media will help me do that.
How Ambitious Am I?
These are the two books I’ve picked for February. Part of me is very tempted to add a third book to my February reading list to round out the list and keep reading mm fiction. Right now, I have a Swedish children’s book and a sort of professional development guide.
I’m not sure how ambitious I want to be. February has historically been my busiest month of work, and this February is shaping up to be similar. Should I really push myself to read a third book when I think two will often be challenging enough?
Who knows! Maybe I’ll surprise myself and add something to my February reading list last-minute. Maybe I won’t. I may not even find the time to make it through these two. But that doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t make my goal of reading 24 books in 2018.
I’m already miles ahead of where I was last year, so the key now is to continue pushing forward.