Reading Better in 2021.

Hello friends and Happy Tuesday … and what I hope is going to be the downhill side of a holding-my-breath time*. Sharing about books and reading seems appropriate for today because books and reading have been the most pleasant distraction of these past days since Sara left**.  I should say books and reading and THINKING about books and reading! honestly, I overthought how I wanted to approach this year a LOT. and I’m going to spare y’all the craziness that was that thought process and simply share where I’ve ended up. Anyway 🙂

Anne Bogel shared a “new approach” to her annual Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge last month. It’s a kind of choose-your-own-adventure thing and relies very much on you knowing what you want and need from your reading life. hummmm…. I had a few ideas – like more diversity, continued delight, more connection (talking about the books I’m reading with other readers is one of my most favorite things!), fewer new&shiny, maybe more paper (I LOVE to write in books and hold them in my hands). Also, I belong to three bookclubs (Modern Mrs Darcy, Fiction Matters, and my neighborhood – I pay for those first two and the money is well-spent) and regularly read-along with my small group at church. and … in a reasonable year, I probably read about 100 books. cue the overthinking, right?! Late last week – yikes, it’s almost the middle of January and I still haven’t figured this out??!! – I put pen to paper (full disclosure, I first sat down at my laptop and typed … and then transcribed what I was happy with.) This is the first page of the reading journal I started on Friday.

and here are the first two pages of book entries

Of course I overthought everything about what to write on these pages, too. (hah! not to mention the several hours I spent figuring out how to best get little printed copies of the book covers).

This afternoon, I caught up the journal for the other three books I’ve finished this year and have to say … it was a LOT more fun for me to do this than write anything on Goodreads. I did let Goodreads know what I read and how many stars I gave it. Goodreads is good about keeping up with those details.

If you could decipher what I wrote on that opening page, you’ll know that the Aspen Words prize is important to me (all the books on that list meet all four of my reading intentions). The Short List comes out February 17 and I want to read all of it. At this point, I’m thinking that will be 4-5 books (depending on the selection), and for sure will include Transcendent Kingdom. I don’t really keep a TBR list, but I did add a few titles on Goodreads when I snagged the maybe-I’ll-use-these photos for my journal

and I have to say … I haven’t been this excited about a year of reading in years.

What’s exciting YOU about reading this year?!

*I’ve shared with more than one friend this “holding my breath” … and it seems to be a thing for all of us. I relaxed a bit yesterday morning when the threats of violence weren’t so much realized on Sunday. but then seeing the photos of Washington just make me sad. Sara reminded me on Sunday that it was the 4-year anniversary of the Women’s March. and to think about all that’s transpired since then. to land us here. surely we’re going to be on a better path after tomorrow. still. holding my breath.

**aside from tennis … which I did enjoy with Karen and Katie on Sunday … and which I missed this morning because the courts were frozen! which – happily – gave me more time to read.

14 thoughts on “Reading Better in 2021.

  1. Hoping that the holding our breath time will soon be over and loving your journal! I also love that you typed out your thoughts before putting them on paper – nice to know others do that too. I listened to WSIRN this morning while I did some meal prep and I loved so much of what the guest had to say. I may be planning and excel spreadsheet.

  2. I have a post about to go up about last year’s reading goals, and my favorite books. Thought it might go up this afternoon, but instead, I’m off to have minor surgery on my right thumb. (Nothing serious, something got stuck in it!) But it means not using my hand for the rest of the day, so I’ll be doing a lot of reading instead of writing about it. I read more than ever last year (no surprise), but not as much as you! The Aspen Words Prize is a new one to me.

  3. I’ve similarly been doing a lot of thinking about books and reading (I think because I started listening to Anne Bogel’s podcast, which I listen to while walking so I can think about books when I’m not actually reading them). Although I’m pretty satisfied with having Goodreads keep track of my reading, I’ve also been toying with the idea of starting a reading journal. I think it might be because I’ve been keeping a journal in general and like the idea of having a physical record. Having a photo of the book to paste in is such a nice touch, but somehow I don’t think the black-and-white covers I could print will look as nice. Still, it’s something to ponder.

  4. I think you are a journaler at heart! It’s funny that something that is so satisfying to you looks like it might be a painful process to me, but your results look lovely and meaningful. Aspen Words looks very interesting. I vaguely remember reading something about it, and I think it was because of Adrienne Brodeur. I may need to put Transcendent Kingdon on my list.

  5. I love the way you have set up your reading journal and I predict it’s going to be a big success for tracking your reading! Thanks for sharing it with us. I’m still holding my breath, too. I was able to release a little when my 94 year old father-in-law got his first vaccine shot 2 weeks ago. I’m hoping to be able to release even more today!

  6. I’m glad you’ve found a reading-tracking method that works for you. I really enjoy having notes for each book I read (some more extensive than others). I’m in year 4 with my current method, and surprised by how often I actually go back to refer to past reads. (I keep my notes in Google docs, though. I take much more detailed notes when I can type rather than write them out by hand. It’s quicker for me — but not nearly so charming as your journal!) My reading goal for 2021 . . . is to follow my mood and read what I want. (I’m not so good with the thoughtful planning when it comes to reading. . . ) 😉

  7. I have a loose goal of reading what is on my shelves in my bedroom. There are three big stacks and I’d like to read some and move them out.

  8. There are several books on that long list that I’m looking forward to! I love your journal, I love the book covers. IF I were to ever do something like that I would do something like that! 🙂 Happy January 20th!

  9. I like your book journal. I keep one that is similar, but I don’t write as much about every book I read, only those that mean the most to me.
    I think we are all breathing a great sigh of relief right now and I hope and pray our nation will move in the right direction!

  10. Gosh, I don’t know which I love more–reading the books, choosing the books, writing about reading, reading about others’ reading lives, or reading about other people’s ‘thinking about reading’! I’m serious! So enjoyed this post, Mary. And I finished Hamnet last week…a 5-star book for me, as well. And I only give a handful of those each year, it seems! But that one….I think I’d go as far to say it goes on a ‘lifetime list.’ Here’s to a rich year ahead! (And wasn’t today a spectacular way to mark that?!)

  11. Oh my goodness – I love your reading journal! I especially love that you took the time to write down so many thoughts about each book. What a way to truly savor the reading process!

    I hope you soaked in as much of the Inauguration as possible! 🙂

  12. I’ve realized that I have more then 200 unread books in my house. My goals for 2021 will be to make my way through them and only books that are engaging and fun.

  13. Your reading journal looks lovely and just right for you. I also wonder where your reading will take you this year. Interesting that you mention the Women’s March four years ago. I was thinking of the difference between that March and the January 6 insurrection. Both were reactions to an election but with such different outcomes. I do think that March spurred a new level of activism and civic engagement. Actually, participating in the Women’s March with good friends is a memory that I hold very dear.

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