My Year of Reading Joyfully

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Last year I joined in a reading challenge with some friends and colleagues. Looking back I think it was actually my idea for us to follow this random list of categories as a way of directing our reading choices for the year. The word “challenge” is like a red flag to a bull for me – I was up for it! And I was. For a while. I enjoyed reading books that I might not otherwise have chosen and searching for the right book to fit the requirements of a particular category (“Book set in your home town was especially difficult!). 52 books for the year, one a week – easy peasy! I started the year off strongly and kept up the pace until right until the end. Then it just stopped being enjoyable. Reading, the biggest non-human love of my life, was becoming a chore. A job to get through before the fun stuff could begin. I pulled up short with just 3 books to go to complete the challenge. A part of me thought “just get on and read those 3 books”, but another, stronger part of me, knew it was time to stop.

When reading isn’t fun anymore something has to change!

And so I quit the challenge. Admitted defeat. Reassessed. Moved on.

The challenge is on again this year and I am enjoying hearing from others about how they are “reading the challenge”. But I’m not going to join in this time. I’ve made this my year of reading joyfully – the year I read what I want, when I want, how I want – no rules, regulations or requirements. And it feels liberating!

When I had my Sweet Pea three and a half years ago the loss of the time and sane head space to read was one of the biggest losses for me. I missed the time I had to delve into a book with no interruptions. I missed having the brain power to concentrate on something more intense than the directions on a tin of formula (and even that was a fucking struggle at times!). Now that I am starting to scrape some of that “free” reading time back I want to spend it wisely. I want to spend it reading books that I am truly enjoying, that spark something in me. Books that make me cry and laugh. Books that stretch me and carry me. Books that bring me joy.

What about you? What is your reading life like at the moment? Any great recommendations for me?

6 Comments

6 Comments on My Year of Reading Joyfully

  1. The Hipsterette
    February 19, 2016 at 8:35 am (2 years ago)

    If time is short then you should read solely for pleasure, and choose wisely. If a book isn’t doing it for you, put it down. Books are great they don’t go away or leave, they will be there when you are ready to read them. Have you tried audio books? You can listen to them while doing other things, such as feeding, ironing, cooking, or driving long distances in the car. Most libraries have a range of audio books you can borrow

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  2. Carolyn
    February 19, 2016 at 9:02 am (2 years ago)

    It’s awful when reading becomes a chore, isn’t it? I think sometimes challenges are a great motivating force but if they are too ambitious they can feel like they are just another ‘thing to do’. I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See at the moment. My mum raved about it. My friend Isabel lent it to me but she wasn’t as keen so I’m interested to see how I find it! I’ve just finished Hope Farm which I enjoyed and The Other Side of the World is my favourite from last year. Happy reading year, Karen!

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  3. michelle
    February 20, 2016 at 9:39 am (1 year ago)

    I love reading and read every night before bed. I am the kind of person who has read the book they got on Christmas morning by the end of the day. I love Christmas holidays because of the extra time to read and I particularly can’t resist quality children’s picture books. My last favourite read was The Girl in the Spiders Web byStieg Larsson. I can’t wait for the next one

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  4. LillyMary
    February 20, 2016 at 9:51 am (1 year ago)

    I’ve been tempted by many a #52weeks challenge and then realised there is enough pressure in my life without deliberately adding to it :) So when it came to reading I decided instead to get on board with the Stella Prize and other initiatives that encourage women to write and women to read women who write. I just finished ‘The Natural Way of Things’ by Charlotte Wood. Confronting, charming, strong feminist narratives, beautiful Australian imagery… could not put it down. x

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  5. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    February 21, 2016 at 10:47 pm (1 year ago)

    I rarely get time to read but now that we’re making our bedroom technology free and I won’t be distracted by late night wanderings around the interwebs, I’m looking forward to some nightly one on one action with a good book. I’ve just started Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent.” I know it’s an oldie but everything he writes is a goodie! What are you reading right now?

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  6. Veggie Mama
    February 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm (1 year ago)

    Ah it’s a big call to admit when reading isn’t fun any more! I applaud you. I had a reading challenge too, for the year… but now I’ve moved it to two years – I want to actually enjoy it!

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