Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The (Reading) Freedom That Comes With Acknowledgement

I like tracking my reading. I really do. I find it helpful to know what I read, when I read it. I like the act of writing it down, of looking at what my totals look like, what were my reading trends

However, there was a negative I found in all of this. I tended to finish books. That sounds stupid as a negative right? Of course I finished books. That's the goal. But I tended to finish books EVEN if I wasn't enjoying them. Because I had invested time in them. Because if I didn't finish them then they wouldn't count towards my totals. Totals that do not matter at all. Something I am well aware of. But it still held me back unless a book was TERRIBLE.

Recently, I started a bullet journal of the books I'm reading. This is just to keep track of what my reading looks like, visually, over time. What days am I reading. Maybe a bit of how quickly or not am I reading.
I've found something else. I am less concerned about giving up a book that isn't clicking with me. Because I have it written here. It is acknowledged. It's still not counted towards any totals. I still "lost time" reading it that could have gone to something else. But who cares. I'll drop it and if it strike my fancy later, I'll pick it up again some other time. Or I won't.

To be clear, I don't entirely know why. It's not like I think the few people still reading this (hi!) care how much I'm reading or when. No one is actually keeping track, making judgements. But it is enough and it's crazy how many books I feel like I'm getting through without actively trying to read more.

We'll see if this keeps up or if things settle back to where they typically sit. But for now, I'm enjoying things.

Monday, March 13, 2023

eBooks, it's been a while

Did you know the last time I finished reading an ebook was in 2020? It was the book Toddlers Are Assholes: It's Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan. I'm sure the fact that I was dealing with my own toddler while in COVID confinement had nothing to do with that selection

Anyway, April of 2020 was my last ebook. Before that things were trailing off a bit. The ebook before that was December of 2019 (Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner).

I didn't make a conscious decision to not read ebooks. It's just that once the little monster showed up and then I changed jobs to one that didn't require hours per day on public transportation in favor of one that required about an hour a day in the car, my reading switched over to audiobooks. In 2018, 50% of the books I read were ebooks. In 2019, that dropped to 12%. In 2020, it was just 2%. And then nothing. Not a single ebook in all of 2021 and 2022.

Why do I bring this up? Because, as I mentioned recently, I'm trying to do more non-audiobook reading in the evenings whenever I can grab a few minutes. It's an effort to go back to something I enjoy and spend less time scrolling through social media. So I've been reading the various books I have strewn around the living room and it's been mostly working out. But here's the thing. 99% of my books are packed away in boxes because we're only in this place temporarily. I do have a paperback book sitting in front of me I haven't read yet (American Dirt) but I'm not really in the mood for it. So I was trying to figure out what do I want to read? Do I dig through all of the boxes (so many boxes) to try to find a book I feel like reading?

Then I found my Kindle. The battery had long since died but I managed to find a charger that fit it and lo and behold, the thing turns on. And it turns out, I've downloaded books on there that I never read. Books that look interesting and that I would like to read. Good job, past me. 

Now I have some more books to read that won't require me to unpack a bunch of boxes and I can continue to read in the evening. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

February Reading Wrap-Up+

Alright, another month has passed. Better than January? Worse? Who's to say? It was a stressful month for me, which may or may not have affected the amount of reading I got done. Not that it was terrible but I feel like I had some fits and starts finding something I felt like reading and then finding the time to do it. But I still actually made it through a lot this month now that I actually look at those stats. This is why I track things instead of just relying on my thoughts. 

Let's look at this bullet journal for the month, because I have managed to keep up with this so far! 

Total books read
The Mothers by Brit Bennet
Klara and the Son by Kazou Ishiguro
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The Mothers by Brit Bennet
I had apparently downloaded a copy of this book through a Libro.fm sale and then forgot about it. So when I didn't know what to read, this seemed like a good choice. It's a complicated story following motherless Nadia and Aubrey, the local pastor's son Luke, and the ties to their Oceanside community. The story is complicated, or at least I've spent a good 20 min trying to summarize it in a few lines and have failed. It was a story I couldn't binge but instead would listen to in smaller spurts. I liked the prose and the role of the Mothers (a sort of chorus) when they were more directly involved with the characters. 
Rating: 4 stars

Klara and the Sun by Kazou Ishiguro
I actually won one of the Goodreads giveaways and actually started this book back in January but given this is one of the paperback books rather than an audiobook, it took me a bit longer to get through. That and it took a bit of time to get into the story and really figure out what's going on (and tbf, not sure I got all the way there). Taking place in the near future, Klara is an AF (artificial friend). Basically a robot friend but one that you can boss around without feeling bad about it. Klara is bought by a young sick girl Josie to keep her company as she spends time at home studying on her "oblong" (phone, I suppose) and trying to get better. Another story that is difficult to summarize in a few lines as we try to understand Klara's role in this world and Klara tries to understand exactly what will be expected of her with this family.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
I like the ways seemingly small things in the modern world had big effects on history. And salt had some big effects on the geopolitics of the world, while I sometimes use salt to clean my cast iron pan. This feels like a comprehensive history and by that I mean Kurlansky goes off on some tangents that are only kind of related to salt, which made for a pretty dry read/listen from time to time. But it always managed to stay on this side of interesting so while I considered putting this down, I never followed through. I suppose that's something.
Rating: 3 stars

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
I couldn't find a book I was really excited about that was available from the library so I dug into some audiobooks I had on my phone already and decided Irby's is the way to go and is definitely something different from the difficult lit fic picks and very dry history I had recently finished. A series of deprecating essays about aging, GI issues and actually finding success with her weird blog (and previous books). The stories are very funny and the fact that she narrates the audiobook makes it that much better. I found myself speaking in her cadence a couple times. Good choice, me.
Rating: 4.25 stars

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Another Goodreads giveaway! Pretty sure I was entertaining these things for like 10 years before winning anything and then it was 2 in one month. Anyway, LOVED THIS. Vera Wong wakes up bright and early one morning to find a dead body in her tea shop. And since "nobody sniffs out wrongdoings quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands" she decides to take on the investigation herself. Vera is a force and I loved her. I loved all of the suspects she pulled together as well as she tries to get to the bottom of what happened. OK the mystery isn't perfect and I literally just finished it so it's possible my feelings will cool slightly, but honestly, Vera pulled me through and hopefully there will be more for Vera to tackle in the future
Rating: 4.85 stars

Total Pages Read


Female authors

BIPOC authors

US authors

Book format
audiobook: 60%
paperback: 40%

Where'd I get the book
gift: 40%
indie: 20%
Kindle/Audible: 20%
library: 20%


Book club

Decade published
2000s: 20%
2010s: 20%
2020s: 60%

Resolution books
The Mothers and Wow, No Thank You are both written by Black authors
Klara and the Sun is written by a Japanese-English author
Very Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is by an Indonesian-Singaporean author