I have always considered myself to be a reader. Reading, writing and yoga feature heavily on my list of hobbies for any profile that I fill in. Funnily enough, as I’m sure happens to even the most eager of us, I realised that I was not regularly partaking in ANY of these activities. In fact, I had only recently admitted to myself that ‘netball’ could no longer be classed as a hobby, given that I last played when I was 15, nine years ago.
Back in February last year I decided that I really needed to do something about this. I still classed myself as a writer but, despite being so busy at work, I barely wrote more than a to-do list and a shopping list in my spare time. However, it was easy enough to get back on the blog and help my boyfriend with his new blog. Task one complete. I had also recently joined Goodreads, an online social network for reading enthusiasts, where you can fill in a profile – see where this is going! – and review books that you have read, update your status as to what page you are on and so forth. Combine that with automatic, non-annoying Twitter updates to fuel my tweeting obsession (that’s what should really be on my hobbies and activities list) and I was hooked. There was just one small problem: I hardly ever (read: never) read. Magazines I read, although flicking through those had become the lazy way of reading at that point too. Time for a change.
Goodreads have Reading Challenges every year where you challenge yourself to read a certain amount of books in the year and they would reward you with a badge for your blog and a virtual pat on the back. This sounded like fun. Despite it being already two full months into the year, I signed up for twenty books. I am nothing if not frightfully ambitious.
Fast forward two months and my tracker was stating that I had read three books but should ideally be on 7 or 8 by this point. That seemed impossible. Having said that, I thought that if I could just cut down on my reality show reruns, I was probably in with a shot. Then I decided to complete the Steig Larsson trilogy. Surely shorter books would have been more beneficial to the cause? By the end of August, I finally finished with Blomkvist and Lisbeth’s tales but I was hideously behind on my challenge. Add to that my loaded 3-job work schedule and I was a little overwhelmed. But never mind! Soldier on… I read Hungry by Crystal Renn, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by everyone’s favourite outspoken PR guru Kelly Cutrone, and quite a few novels that had recently become movies because I have no interest in a book once I have seen the movie, so I had some reading to do before they hit the cinemas – or the DVD player for that matter… I ploughed through Something Borrowed, The Help, The Lovely Bones and One Day. I also bought Water for Elephants but lent it to a friend whilst I worked through an enormous stack of other ‘to-reads’. Haven’t quite managed to get that one back yet.
|Reading Steig Larsson back in April|
The beginning of December came and although I was still behind, it was definitely doable. I was leaving Costa Rica and on a beach road trip, giving me all the time in the world to sit back on the sunbed with a novel. For the first two weeks this worked very well, but after that once in England, I found myself caught up in a flurry of social engagements combined with a box of Quality Street and television on the sofa.
By Dec 29th, I was on my 17th book with no.’s 18 and 19 started but not finished at all. Number 17 was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which made me stop and look at life and just sit smiling after every chapter. Shame I didn’t really have time for that nonsense! So I rushed through some parts less relevant to my life and even read Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox to try and quickly up the book count (only 84 pages!). I was barely taking in a word of anything that I read. Then I gave myself a couple of extra days to complete the 2011 Challenge, with the reasoning being that I would have wasted the past 10 months if I didn’t finish all 20.
It is now 3rd of January and I have read 19.5 books plus a couple of chapters of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income. Have I failed in the challenge? Absolutely. Do I care? Not at all. I read nineteen and a half books last year, whilst globe trotting and holding down 3 jobs. I didn’t get a badge on my blog, but I’ve got one for 2012. The target? 20 books in 12 months. I know that I could have possibly pledged more, but I’d actually like to enjoy the books this year and catch up on the 16 reviews that I didn’t have time for last year. I can proudly say “Yes, I read” now and those online profiles are just stating nothing but the truth – on the reading front anyway. But who knows, I might drag out my yoga mat later this week…