My friend Katie and I decided to challenge ourselves to read 36 books in 2016. Our reasoning was simple: 24 sounded too easy and 48 sounded like a losing battle. So 36 it is. (We think deeply like that all the time.) I’m on book 9, which if you do the math puts me pretty far behind, but I have great hopes for a summer of reading.
I was the girl with a book in her backpack. And at the doctor’s office. And at the park. And it was a glorious day in high school when I realized I could walk on the treadmill and read at the same time. But then life crept in, and I forgot to put the book in my purse and I picked up my phone instead, and habits die hard, but they do die and new ones take root. Eventually I barely read what I didn’t need to read.
But setting this goal, and forcing myself to pick up a book at times when I’d gotten out of the habit of doing it has reminded me of just how much I love to read. It makes me a happier, calmer, kinder person. There is something about the rhythm of opening a book as I crawl in bed that makes me feel like life is under control. And familiar. And properly paced.
It took a little discipline to remind me how much I love it. I think there’s probably a lesson there.
Since I love it so much, I thought that maybe at the end of each month I’ll share with you what I’m reading and maybe (I know that not all of you people are that inclined to comment) you could reciprocate with a few recommendations of your own.
Warning: I’m not a real picky reader. I don’t have to have superb literary quality, and I don’t mind inspirational books but I prefer to sprinkle them throughout rather than suck them all down at once. Give me a good story, some good characters and maybe a plot twist or two that I don’t see coming, and I am a happy, happy human! I just feel like you should know that going in.
Here’s my May reading log (with a few favorites from January-April since I didn’t have this brilliant idea back then).
- Let’s start with Kate Morton. She is my new favorite author. So far I’ve read The Lake Houseand The Forgotten Garden. I like the way she writes — not super fancy but in a way that tells the story and still makes you feel like an intelligent, well-read individual. Her stories are solid! Mysteries (not scary more puzzling). With really good character development that makes you root for them. If you’re going to start with one, I’d recommend The Forgotten Garden, but they were both so good! My mom just gave me The Secret Keeper, and I have to read a couple of books for a conference before I get to it, but I cannot wait! More to come on that one later.
- Another one I thoroughly enjoyed during the last few weeks of being 29 was My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. When she lost her job a week before she turned 29 and inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “Do one thing everyday that scares you,” she decided to take a year to face her fears. In the words of my college roommate, “Forgive the crass parts,” but overall, a super enjoyable read with some human truths woven into the story in a way that makes you wiser without making you bored.
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This one took me January through May. If I don’t make it through 36 books this year, I’m going to blame it on all the light I sometimes struggled to read. But I also couldn’t quit it. It’s a World War II novel with multiple stories woven into one. I sometimes wasn’t sure what was going on, but I just kept going, and by the end, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a lot of pages before the end, though. Some people really enjoy lingering novels, and I would say that this is one of those. It’s beautifully written and there are some sentences in it that are so brilliant I had to read them out loud. I did enjoy it, and I would recommend it, but make sure you’re ready to invest in it because it isn’t a light or easy read. (And just go ahead and get the hardcover. I can’t imagine reading such a weighty book in any other form.)
- Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter by Annie Downs. Annie Downs tells personal stories of a difficult year in which she learned to recognize the beauty even in the hard. I read it in about two days, and I loved it! In the words of Katie, “She’s normal! She’s just like us. And she wants us to know it.” I would agree. This book is refreshing return to the simple and sweet without ignoring the complex or difficult.
Okay, your turn. What have you read recently that left a mark?