Archive of ‘My Reading Life’ category

Reading Resolutions

Can you stand to read another book-related post from me? Good, because I want to talk about my 2022 reading goals. And because it is close to 9 pm and I’ve had a long day, I’m just going to get right to them.

Resolution #1 – Read More Books

Last year, I read 30 books. I didn’t plan to, but it just happened. Now that I’ve reached that milestone, I want to set a new record. Although my resolution specifies 35 books, I hope to reach 50 titles. On average, I read four books a month, which would add up to 48 books by the end of the year. But in all seriousness, I’m not putting that kind of pressure on myself. It isn’t the number of books that matters to me.

Here’s the catch – and this is what is important – half of the books I read this year must be ones I already own. Between my Kindle, my Audible and Libro accounts, and my bookshelf overflowing with physical books, I have close to 200 titles currently collecting dust.

There was a reason that I had to have these books, but because I bought them a while ago, I don’t remember that reason. Did I find the blurb on the back cover compelling? Did I read a fabulous book review in O Magazine and decide I had to have it? Did it come recommended by a friend? Or did I simply fall in love with the front cover?

Regardless of the reason, now is the time to dive in and find out. And if I’ve outgrown that reason, resolution #2 gives me the perfect out.

Resolution #2 – DNF More Books

As I go through my TBR list, I need to DNF more books. Therefore, if I read 50-75 pages and am not enjoying the book, I will put it in the “did not finish” bin. I will be ruthless about this. It isn’t a failure if I don’t finish a book. It is actually an accomplishment because, little by little, I am tackling my books and making decisions about each one.

Besides, there are too many books that I want to read. Why waste my time on books that no longer interest me?

Resolution #3 – Visit and Support More Independent Bookstores

One time, I was in Kutztown, PA, for a college tour with my daughter. My family decided to have lunch at the local brewery, and I noticed the Firefly Bookstore across the street. I remember the cheerful windows and holiday lights waiting to welcome me in. I wanted to check it out so badly, but I was also hungry. We walked around the entire campus and worked up an appetite. I decided to eat first and stop by the bookstore when we were done.

By the time we finished lunch, it was getting late, and it looked like it was about to rain. We stepped outside and felt the instant chill in the air. I glanced over at this quaint bookstore and reluctantly decided not to go in. I was so disappointed. I still haven’t forgotten about that place, and I hope someday I’ll get back there.

To make up for it, I haven’t passed up on entering an indie bookstore again. Ever since I was little, bookstores have been like a place of worship for me. (But, please don’t tell my rabbi I said so.)

Inside a bookstore, I find inspiration, enlightenment, and a sense of belonging. I’m with my people who share a faith in books and honestly believe they are a gateway to fulfillment. In 2022, I will not deny myself the opportunity to be a part of that community.

What are your reading resolutions for 2022? Let me know in the comments, and happy reading!

The Best of Book Clubs

to be read pileEver since I can remember, reading books has been as essential as breathing. I am rarely without a book or a magazine in my hand. At the hairdresser, I’ll listen to an audiobook while waiting the 25 minutes at the color station. I’ve also been known to read while standing in a checkout line at the grocery store, completely unaware that the line has moved forward because I am so engrossed in a story.

Those who aren’t big readers can’t seem to relate to this. Reading feels chore to them instead of a constant source of entertainment. Or maybe they were forced to read one awful book in high school and decided that the written word wasn’t for them. I don’t fault them for this. I only hope they will someday discover the joy and inspiration found between the pages of a book.

In my case, the only thing better than reading a book is talking about it. I love in-depth discussions about overall themes, characters, and plots. I want to marvel over the author’s writing style, talk through the twists and turns, and celebrate (or critique) how it all ends.

This is why my neighborhood book club has been one of the highlights of my suburban life. Every month or so, we choose a book to read and discuss. We had been meeting for many years in person before the pandemic hit. To keep our momentum (and sanity) in check, we met over Zoom. While it wasn’t the same as sitting in someone’s living room, it provided that much-needed connection we were all missing.

At times, we don’t always talk about the book. We love to drink wine and catch each other up on what is happening in our lives. We are also an incredibly resourceful bunch. If someone wants to redesign their kitchen, we recommend contractors, appliance and tile stores, and the best place to find high-quality light fixtures. When we were all planning b’nai mitzvahs for our kids, we traded the names of DJs and caterers.

There was a time when I said I wanted to talk more about the books we read when we met. At one particular meeting, we tried to lay down some ground rules. For instance, if you read the book, come at 7 pm to discuss it. Come over at 8 for cookies, cocktails, and chit-chat if you didn’t.

This turned out to be a lonely time for me. 😉

Soon enough, I weighed my need for intellectual conversation and my even stronger desire for a close-knit friend group. Of course, the friends won out. To this day, I consider these people some of my dearest friends. And besides, good books are much easier to find than good friends.

These days, our book club is the perfect mix of literary discussion and Mom’s Night Out. And, I love every minute of it. Whether we talk about what we loved or hated about the book or indulge in some neighborhood gossip, we all love a good story.

December Book Report

If you said to me that I would finish reading 30 books this year, I would have said you were insane. I mean – I do have a life, you know, outside of reading. I have kids, a job, a home, a husband, a dog, friends, family, etc. When will I ever find the time to read 30 books?

Oh, who am I kidding? Apparently, if I cut out enough Netflix and doom-scrolling, I can carve out the time to read. So, I did just that.

I looked back to see what exactly I had read. Turns out, I finished 11 non-fiction – mostly memoirs – and 19 novels. I listened to seven books on Audible, read nine on my Kindle, and the rest were actual books from my bookshelf or local library. I DNF’d two books but only counted one of them in my total because I read most of it before I gave up completely.

It didn’t seem like I read this many books, so I’m glad I kept track of them. Otherwise, I may not have believed it myself.

Honestly, it isn’t about the number of books I read but the quality of the books and what brought to my life. I’ve enjoyed each story immensely, and I have no regrets for passing on both seasons of Ted Lasso to snuggle up with a good book. Although, I’ve heard it’s an excellent show.

This month, I read two books.

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

It is so nice to end the year with a five-star read! This book had a lot of hype around it which always makes me suspicious. I’ve read rave reviews, and too often, the book doesn’t live up to the press it gets. I was more than pleasantly surprised when this book delivered the goods. The Plot centers around author/writing instructor Jacob Finch Bonner, a struggling writer who still hopes to write a bestselling novel someday and enjoy all the fame, fortune, love, and admiration that success brings. His last few attempts fell short of this goal, so he decided to teach at a third-rate MFA program in New England. When one of his students tells him about his story idea that will be a sure thing, Jake is envious and resigns himself to his mundane lifestyle.

But, when the student unexpectedly dies, Jake sees the opportunity to tell (a.k.a. steal) the storyline for himself. This fateful decision brings him the life he always dreamed of, along with a nightmare of epic proportions. This thriller is quite the page-turner, and although I did figure out the twist halfway through, I had to know how it ends.

This is a book that is not to be missed. Trust me.

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

New Years’ resolutions rarely work out for me (except for when it comes to my reading goals 🙂 ). I have high hopes but rarely commit to a long-term plan to cross the finish line. I’ve read plenty of books and articles about forming sustainable habits and staying motivated, but they haven’t moved me enough to succeed. This book was different.

Wharton professor, Katy Milkman, tackles six reasons one may fail to achieve their goals – impulsivity, procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness, confidence, and conformity. In each chapter, she offers up compelling stories and examples with solid science and evidence showing how each of these obstacles can get in the way of reaching our full potential. Sometimes, these books contain so much science that I lose interest. Other authors tend to tell stories without a valid point. Milkman gives just the right amount of everything and makes a good case for turning each of these negatives into a positive way to make a change.

I’m not big on re-reading books, but I know I will refer back to this one frequently as I try once again to finally achieve some lofty goals.

What’s Next?

I have three books in the queue for January. The first is one that my sister has recommended to me – Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir. I’ve had it downloaded in Audible to listen to since October. But, the book is over 500 pages long, which equates to about 18 hours of listening time. In addition to it being a big book, it is also science fiction which is not a genre I usually read. However, I’ve heard great things about the story, and I’m up for the challenge.

The next book is for neighborhood book club – We Are Not Like Them, by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. This novel has made the rounds on some of the bookish podcasts I listen to, and I’m looking forward to diving into it.

The third book I want to read is Inheritance by Danni Shapiro. This memoir is about a woman who takes a genetic test for fun and learns that the man she has called dad her entire life is not her birth father. This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time.

A final word…

This is the part of my blog where I encourage you to shop at an independent bookstore of your choice. While I regularly support a few different bookstores, I have also been feeding the Amazon beast by downloading cheap titles on my Kindle. I’m not proud of it, and I wanted to come clean.

I feel much better now. Indie bookstores are still my favorite places to shop for books, but the lethal combination of convenience and affordability are too tempting. I still hope you shop at indies as I do. They need our support, and a bookseller’s recommendations are invaluable – but nobody’s perfect.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2022!


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