Happy New Year, dear readers! How’s 2023 treating you so far? Did you complete your 2022 reading challenge?
I didn’t. And at first, I was disappointed. In 2021, I set out to read 50 books and I read 55. So when I set my challenge for 2022, I thought 55 would be perfectly doable, even surpassable. But what I failed to take into account was that reading isn’t always an upward hill.
Even though I’ve been reading more and more each year, that doesn’t mean that in 10 years’ time I’ll be able to complete something ridiculous like 300 books. That’s not how it works.
So, as December was slipping through my fingers, I decided to take a step back and reassess. Initially, I was planning a couple of 24h readathons which would have allowed me to get to 50 books. Still a failed challenge, but at least close enough. I started frantically browsing Scribd for shorter audiobooks that could get me there.
It was at the bottom of this spiral that I decided I was going bonkers and I needed to stop. Reading is not about numbers, I used to declare high and proud not three weeks ago. Then why the struggle? If I couldn’t read 55 books in 11 months and 3 weeks, why would I force the last 12 into a week? It didn’t feel natural and it didn’t suit my style.
I’m an intuitive reader. I like to read when I feel like it and thus enjoy it fully. If I get absorbed in a story, then absorbed I will stay, my nose buried in those pages until the very last one.
So, I chose to make peace with the fact that my reading challenge would be incomplete. I’m not saying that it was a fail. It was just incomplete. To be continued.
I read 45 books in 2022, six of which in December alone. Not because I forced myself, but because I enjoyed them. I’d call that a win. I would also call a win that I’m still trying to decide on a top 10, because so many of those 45 books were wonderful, and I simply can’t make my mind up.
One of my main resolutions for 2023 is to become more mindful and live more fully in the moment. And I don’t mean just in my reading time, but in general. I want to enjoy more quiet moments, go out for walks without headphones, and savour each meal without desensitising myself completely by watching a YouTube video while eating.
In Other News
This year, I’m set on the wild option to not start a reading challenge at all, but rather see where books take me. I’m finally moving to Storygraph and leaving Goodreads behind. ‘Better luck in 2023’? No thanks, Goodreads, I’ll have a better time reading without the pressure of ticking off a challenge.
And another exciting update is that I’ve joined a book club. We read modern classics, which makes me slightly nervous but excited to branch out and test the waters outside contemporary fiction. I used to love modern classics, so I’m sure it will be a success. I’m so happy to connect with other readers in this way and I hope my book club reads will make it into this column, so you know how it’s going.
If you’ve been meaning to find a book club for ages, this is your sign to try it out. It’s all part of the rich and rewarding experience of reading.
New Book Release
The New Life by Tom Crewe just came out in the US and is coming in the UK on 12 January. This is a highly acclaimed story of queer love, writing, and resilience, set in Victorian England, where two men come together to change the oppressive landscape against those who love differently.
What brings them together? One is and one loves a queer person. John is married, but that doesn’t stop his love for Frank. And when Henry’s wife, Edith, falls in love with another woman, he and John take the rogue decision to write a book meant to challenge the laws against homosexuality.
The book explores how far someone is prepared to go to stop injustice and pave the way for future generations to live freely and proudly.
‘Filled with nuance and tenderness . . . charting the lives of men and women who inspired not only political progress but an entire new way of living and loving’ Colm Tóibín
I, for one, can’t wait to dive in.
And that’s it for this week’s column. Can you relate to my reading challenge woes? Are you starting a challenge in 2023? And, above all, how are you? Here’s to a peaceful, mindful, and intentional new year filled with new favourite books!