65 in 365 | reading challenge

I really like books.

I have since I can remember; books and their stories have been longtime companions to me.

When I think of “fun” I think of books. Not just reading them, but the experience of them. Holding them, the smells (old and new) and turning the pages. There’s just something about it that is special and enjoyable for me.

I’m not against digital readers but you just can’t beat a “brick and mortar” book.

Most people are surprised when they learn that I am introverted.

I really am y’all.

Though I can and often do connect well with others and am able to comfortably and successfully navigate most social situations, my preference is for the quiet. For moments where I have time and stillness to manage the swirling thoughts in my mind (there are so many).

It is fun for me to go to libraries and bookstores and when there is a rare rainy day in Texas and I don’t have work to do, you better believe I’m curled up under a cozy blanket with a cup of Guatemalan coffee resting and reading.

Being a book lover has been a long time part of my makeup. I suspect my parents allowed me to stay up late with a flashlight under my blanket because it was the wildest I got at that time of my life. I just h-a-d to finish the book.

“Just one more page” often turned into “just one more chapter”.

I especially enjoyed when I could predict what would come next, what the characters might say and how a book might end.

Reading for enjoyment took a hit when I studied English in college. Reading all kinds of books and then overanalyzing what the writer meant was daunting (even for an extensive thinker and processor like myself). The Old English class (think Chaucer) and Tolkien class tried to kill me and to this day, I still struggle to read, understand and enjoy poetry. (An aside, Mister took me to the Browning library at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and my interest in poetry was peaked.) And Shakespeare was surprisingly enjoyable but I haven’t read him for fun since my college course so many moons ago. I plan to circle back to Will again sometime soon though.

After all of the college reading (for my English degree, then later for my Education degree/license and all of the development manuals and coaching and training books) I could not really say what I enjoyed reading anymore.

And I think it turned my compass upside down a little bit.

So, to mix it up, I began participating in reading challenges when I joined the blogging community a few years ago; they have been good and not-so-good for me.

If I’m not careful, I can complicate even something like my reading  enjoyment with competition and comparison.

There were deadlines and rankings and swaps and I got into that and lost sight of my enjoyment of the books and experience itself. After a year of participating in reading challenges, I started to recognize the drain and knew I needed to shift my focus back to the simplicity of just reading books.

I quit trying to navigate Goodreads – (just so disappointed that it’s not a more attractive, easy-to-use site) and attempting to keep up with friends’ recommendations and what others thought I should read and stuck with a couple of smaller reading communities.

One was the one through my sorority (Kappa Alpha Theta) called Reading Women. One book a month and then the discussion was done virtually through a private Facebook chat. And another through the local library.

I eventually ended up walking away from both for many reasons – lack of diversity in authors, the style and leadership of the club at the library, leaving Facebook all together – and went back and dabbled in online challenges.

Ones that offer simplicity and have kept the reading about reading.

While on the hunt for the “just right” book club for me, I kept reading and found that I would constantly need to check my motivation for sharing what I read or reading what others are reading. It’s just so very important that I keep asking myself why I’m reading something.

It can’t be because I heard that someone else could and had read 100 plus books in a year or to be a part of a reading community just to say I’m a part of something.

Reading totally relaxes me. Unless I’m reading a great mystery or about injustices or any well-written book – because they make me feel and empathize and cheer and think; I think that’s what I like most.

So I prayed about why I wanted to read so many books and it led me to 65 books in 365 days. A number that challenges me but doesn’t stress me out.

I was able to crank out a lot while recovering from surgery last fall and have a plan for how many I need to tackle each month to reach the goal by October 31st (I started my 365 days on November 1, 2017.)

I want to watch less television, do less binge watching on Netflix and Hulu and even less scrolling on my phone because all of these would be a major help in me reaching this goal. As well, really resting and relaxing on the days I enjoy my Sabbath (which happen to be Fridays), allows me to sit and rest and read.

And dream. And consider and imagine the places and people these authors are introducing me to.

I ensure there is variety, and am open to reading all kinds of things. (Especially when people buy books for me – gift cards are the best though – and when they lend me books with specific parts or things they think I might enjoy or resonate with from the book.)

Books about faith.

Books about women overcoming.

Historical Fiction.

Paris.

Books in a series.

Books about personal growth and development.

Now, I’m in a different book club at our local library (far more laid back and with folks who actually talk about the books) and have the list of books my sorority sisters are reading and am open to recommendations that will push me out of my comfort zone too!

If you’re thinking you’re up for a challenge, here are some that I have tried before (but am not doing now) that you might enjoy:

Christian Reading Challenge

PopSugar Entertainment Challenge

GoodReads

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Yes, yes.

I know books are not everyone’s favorite but I can argue why I think they should be – especially for the busy and overwhelmed.

But if you are a bookworm like me and you think there is just something I h-a-v-e to read, please share your recommendations in the comments below and take a quick hop over to what I’ve read so far over here.

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