I did it. I really did it. At the start of 2021, I set a variety of resolutions, goals really. These goals ranged from physical fitness to travel to books, yes books. For people who know me, they probably would not think that setting a resolution for reading is necessary for me, since I am never without a book on a typical day anyway. But, I was not setting a resolution to read, or even simply to read more, but rather I was setting an actual numerical goal when it comes to reading. Because yes, I read a lot. That is just part of my personality. But in all of my 30 years of living and reading to that point, I had never tracked my reading or kept count of how many books I had read. People would ask me from time to time how many books I thought I had read in my life or even in a set amount of time, and I couldn’t give them anything more than a guess.
Well, that all changed last year because one of my 2021 goals was to read 50 books from January to December. And you know what, I did it! I not only accomplished this goal, but I exceeded it…by one. That’s right, in the year 2021 I read 51 books! Now, I am not going to sit here and say that completing this task led me to a revelation that I love literature; I kind of already knew that. I am not going to say that it made me realize that I never want to leave the house without a book in my purse ever again. I kind of already do that. But what I will say is that in my year of reading, I did take-away a couple of reminders, small nuggets of wisdom that I already knew about reading, and some exciting new revelations about books that impacted my year of 2021 and beyond immensely. Here are just a few of those “novel” 😉 take-aways:
I know, I know. This is an elementary truth that we learn from our earliest days in kindergarten and Reading Rainbow. But, it is amazing to me how much I learn, even from reading fiction. From reviewing my list of books read in 2021, very few of them were nonfiction. But even from all of the fiction books I have read, I learn so much about geography, culture, relationships, and even the act of writing itself. There are countless times when I will be watching Jeopardy!,The Chase, or any number of other trivia shows with my husband, I will get an answer right, and he will be perplexed as to how I knew that random tid-bit of information. Without fail, I look at him and say, “I know things. I read.” As a non-reader himself, he will usually roll his eyes and chuckle, but he knows it’s the truth. Even after all of these years of reading, it still amazes me how much you can learn from reading.
2. I have a wide-variety of reading interests, and that is a good thing!
When people ask me what my favorite book is or who my favorite author is, I always ask a million follow-up questions. Classic or contemporary? Fiction or nonfiction? Novel or poetry? On and on. It is so hard for me to pinpoint an all-time favorite book or author because so much of that depends on the season of life I am in, the literal season of the year we are in (classic, British novels are better in the winter, they just are!), or what mood I am in. Admittedly, 2021 was filled with a plethora of contemporary suspense/thriller novels because I was trying to meet my 50-book quota (haha)!, but there is still a wide-variety of writers and genres in the mix. Everything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo,” to Reese Witherspoon book club picks like Laura Dave’s The Last Thing He Told Me to Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared. There were A LOT of Lisa Jewell books read this year! I think that is what keeps a reader’s reading life from going stale: mixing it up with a little of the old and a little of the new, a little of the suspense and a little of the slow-paced, a little of the known and a little of the unknown. Plus, something revolutionary happened to me in 2021: I became a frequent visitor of our town’s public library. For an avid reader, the library is not a resource I utilize often, but oh that has changed now! Hardly a week goes by without a visit to pick up a couple of new reads. If I was going to give suggestions to someone wanting to start reading (other than get a library card) it would be, start off with a book on a topic you know you are going to like, but from there, branch out! You never know what you might like, and learn, along the way.
3. Finally, my own universal truth, I do not feel complete if I am not in-between the pages of a book.
This is not to say that I must be reading every hour of the day, but if I do not have a title to say I am currently reading if someone asks, it doesn’t feel right. I know many readers can relate to this sentiment. If I travel, I have to have multiple books with me in case I finish one and need another. Once I finish a book, I immediately have to get another one to start on once my mind has returned from the world of the previous one. Even when I am sitting around the house doing something other than reading, you can more likely than not find my current book somewhere in physical proximity to me, just because I never know when I might want to read a page or two in the middle of the day. I find so much joy in reading that I sometimes find myself feeling badly for people who don’t know the comfort that books can bring to your life.
Like I said, this year of reading reminded me of truths I already knew about literature and also brought to light some new revelations and love for new writers that I did not have before. While I may not always set out to read 50 books from this year on, I will always look back on 2021 with fond memories, reminiscing on all of the many books, plots, and characters I was enthralled with for those 12 months. Now, here’s to many more days, months, and years of learning and growing with books. Happy Reading!