* Drinking Game: Take a drink every time I use the world 'goal/s or 'year/s'. Take a shot for every run-on sentence.
Ignore the Goodreads Challenge.
I've been setting Goodreads goals for about five years, and every year I have set that challenge somewhere between 40-60 books, depending on the kind of place I was in with my reading, and what the next year was likely to bring.This year I've done something a little different. I've set my goal to...one book, and have already surpassed that. I've been reading with a number at the back of my mind for so long now that it feels strange to be planning, and thinking about, a year of reading without that goal to aim for.
The reason I made this decision is because I feel that reading to a quota is definitely something that has shaped me as a reader and influences my decisions when choosing a book, and I've noticed a quantity over quality mindset creeping in. If I'm falling behind, I pick up a few graphic novels to get myself back up to speed, and fly through them without really paying attention. I've been put off bigger books because they take a long time, or denser classics and nonfiction because they require a slower, more thoughtful approach and it's a lot of investment for just one more book towards my goal. This really isn't how I want to read.
I want to choose books purely because I'm excited about or interested in them, regardless of page count or content. I've put off reading the second and third in Robin Hobb's 'The Liveship Trader's' series because the first took me so long to read and I didn't want to waste time when I could be racking up the 'books read' count with graphic novels and novellas. I've also noticed that every year, I more or less meet my goal. Perhaps a few over or just missing it by one or two but the number I set is always close to the number I read, and I feel that this just shows how far my reading habits rely on having that goal. If I'm far ahead I see it as a reason not to read, and if I fall behind I force myself to read just so I can get back on track. I'm not saying the Goodreads Challenge is the devil, far from it, I just want to have a more organic reading experience this year, and read for the sake of it, not because I've got a schedule to keep.
Maybe this is just wanky navel gazing and no1 curr, but I'm looking forward to a year of reading without feeling like I'm working to a quota. A year in which I can read at my own pace and rediscover what that pace actually is, and of reading just to be entertained, or informed. Just because I enjoy reading.
Read it or Give it away
This one is fairly straightforward. I own a shit tonne of unread books, (in the seventies at last count) and for me, that's bordering on madness. This year I want to get my bookshelves boiled down to 'I've read this' and 'I just bought this and will get to it in a week or so'. Anything I own now that I know I won't read, or have read but don't feel has value to me any more I'm going to donate. I've already cleansed my shelves of about twenty books, and the local Blue Cross have some nice new additions to their books section which will hopefully be perfect for someone else and do a little good in the world if they buy it.
This particular resolution ties in nicely with some personal goals I have this year regarding ethical living and minimalist values. I have prided myself for so many years on having this big sprawling personal library full of books, but as my views are shifting I feel like it's just silly to hold onto things I've either read but didn't enjoy/find valuable, or books that I bought on a whim and am not really that interested in reading. So I've giving myself an ultimatum. If I really want to read it that badly, I'll read it by the end of the year, and if I haven't it's going where it can make someone else happy. Which ties in nicely to my last goal
Read new books within six weeks of buying them
I've always hoarded books a little bit, but the biggest turn in my book buying habits came when I started at Waterstones. I suddenly found myself exposed to new releases the second they entered the store, access to proofs and constant micro browses while walking out for lunch or tidying the shelves, all the while having access to the very dangerous staff discount card. The volume of books that I bought in the first few months working there is actually beyond comprehension. Since then I've become a lot more savvy with my spending, but I still want to improve and make sure I'm only spending money on things that I want and will get use from. When I buy books they will be books that I've been thinking about for a while, rather than just passing fancies and impulse buys like before. Hopefully this new approach will mean that I not only save money, but that I'm more likely to buy and read books that I love, because I've really considered them.
The only exception to this is the books I get from Mothbox. I'm going to do a full post about Mothbox but, in a nutshell, it's a new book postal service put together by Mercedes over at Mercy' Bookish Musings championing books published by smaller and independent presses. Each box comes with two books and I've decided that during the months that I purchase a Mothbox, I will leave room for one more book to be bought. Mothbox is fairly new and it's definitely something I want to support next year. It's a way to support indie presses, a new business venture and someone that I really admire and respect all in one go! Plus it means I'm going to discover books I never would have found otherwise.
This is a long-ass post. Have a cat.
So those are my reading goals for 2017. I'm hoping I will get to 2018 with a smaller, more curated bookshelf, a slightly less depressing savings account and knowing I've done a bit of good in the world at the same time.
Let me know if you've made any reading resolutions this year!