I get jealous sometimes of the people who can just steam through YA fiction all year, blog every two days, and create this center of magic.
I am not that person.
And this year without a Goodreads goal, I was even more of a flailer. This is me December of last year:
I’ll take Flounder-er’s throughout history for 200, Alex. Because that’s what I was this year. Unlike Book Stacks Amber, I didn’t just lower my goal, I got rid of that sucker altogether for a year. I took the advice of countless blogging sages who have come before me like Jessica Pryde at Book Riot and Broke By Books. Surlymuse got into my head a little bit too and like any good working gal, I made a pro / con list. Countless ex-boyfriends have been through this routine and someone could have just saved me if they said, “If you have to even write pro / con about a boy on a piece of notebook paper, he’s not worth your time.” However, I take the Ben Stiller approach (in Along Came Polly) and like to know exactly what I’m getting into, with both books and boys.
The list had more cons because I wanted it to and so I didn’t write in a goal this year. Surlymuse called the way Goodreads tracks books is, “some kind of perverse commodity” and I felt that too. For too long, I had avoided books over five-hundred pages because I wouldn’t keep up with my Goodreads goal in the long run. And Goodreads is such a gem for telling you how far behind you are every year. In 2015, I got seven books behind and felt like I was turning circles at sea. I turned to short children’s books to fill the gap, or poetry chapbooks, or even just those one-off story collections from Vintage American that Goodreads totally counts as a full book. I’m also a Goodreads librarian so I can add those short, sad, totally not books to Goodreads as if they were.
Is this abusing my power or are there people like me out there?
Whatever short, probably not as fulfilling as long drawn-out works, I could find would be on the list. They just fit so well into my Goodreads goal catchup list. It’s worth it if you can just maintain the goal.
The goal would say, “How could you only read three books in September when you know you must read five to even be in the running?” WHERE IS YOUR MOTIVATION, SOLDIER.
And I gave that all up.
And what happened was sort of disastrous. Without a goal, I was flying solo. I was a Beyonce without Destiny’s Child, at least I felt that way in the beginning, until I was Michelle without Destiny’s Child.
But now I have the gift of looking back on my reading this year and it is a sad, sad state of affairs. I’m not even sure I can do a Top 10 books list (or 5 if you’re stingy) because I read so few books, that were so random, that I can’t even equate them within the same lists. There are months under my “Read in 2016” where I had to write something like “I did not read a single book this month (because I’m a heathen).” That was a statement written in fear of leaving a whole month blank.
Mostly, I can sum up my reading this year in one statement: I read what I had to teach to my AP Literature kids. Which, thank goodness for my own choosing, wasn’t just the Western Canon. Towards the end of the year, I hit up some #diversebooks hashtags on Twitter and found that I had actually read a lot of literature, and nonfiction about the African American experience. I think subconsciously as an educator, and consciously as a human, I wanted to be both less ignorant and more thoughtful. My best friend is a mixed white and black man and I wanted to really understand when he told me to “use my privilege.” I needed to understand my current world a little bit better, but … I think I would have still done that with a Goodreads Challenge. I think I would have done more of it and been better at it actually.
Instead, this year, I read a lot of half books. If you asked me how many books I didn’t finish, but I got to a juicy part, I could tell you it’s over one hundred. There were too many book piles on the floor next to my bed, in the currently reading bookshelf, the to be read bookshelf, and the bookshelf in the home library. Plus, I took frequent trips to the library and we live within two miles of a used bookstore. It’s all unhealthy actually. So, this all led me to finishing hardly anything. I was a snacker of books. I grazed and got too full and moved on before even the finale of anything. If I read the whole thing it’s because I had to or I was drawn to.
I was flailing. I still am flailing. I started This Little Life and talked to my friend Sage about reading it together and then after one Book List with the first book of calamity leek as an undiscovered gem, I immediately switched back to reading that. I haven’t touched it since the plane to Iceland. I’ll pick it up like no time has passed like I’ve done all stinking year.
So for the sake of sanity, and for an anchor, I’m going back to the Goodreads Challenge this year. I’m just giving in and admitting that as a Capricorn gone Sagittarius, sticking to Capricorn (Thanks, NASA), I need a goal to keep me driving, but to also keep me on the damn road. No tangents, no veering, no “OU, Squirrel” moments for my reading schedule next year. I will be pushed once again by the man, that is
What are ya’ll’s plans for the Goodreads goals?
(I just wanted to use ya’ll’s in a sentence … twice). Will you keep them and be held down or will you let go and float in space and see what happens to your reading happens. I would love to hear from you (no, seriously, lack of comments gives me anxiety).
If you need some more goals, check out this year’s reading challenge: Book Better
There’s a Goodreads group: Book Better and a Twitter: #bookbetter2017. Details on the Book Better Challenge Page.