For the past couple of years on New Years Eve we have been sitting down with a sheet of paper to list 50 of the years “Humble brags” – It’s not really a list for sharing but it’s a great tool for private self congratulation, noting items down that vary with degrees of impressiveness and triviality. Last year I couldn’t come up with 50, but out of the 47 I did manage, I noted the amount of books I’d read in 2015. Since last year, I’ve been tracking my reading through the goodreads app on my phone – if I get a book recommendation from a friend, a magazine or a podcast I add it to my ‘want to read’ shelf and then as I read any book I update my progress daily to see how much progress I’ve made. It’s the kind of person I am, I get a real kick out of seeing how far I’ve made it through the book and keeping track of what I’m reading or going to read. As it stands at the moment I have 515 titles in my ‘to read‘ list.
So the humble brag was that I’d read 27 books, when I wrote that down I was pretty pleased with myself. I had aimed for 20 and I’d done it comfortably. Fitting in reading is a choice, but not one without its many challenges when you are an adult, it means you’ve got to focus and not be interrupted which can be very very difficult. When my children were babies I was so frustrated I wasn’t reading, something I love to immerse myself in, because there was so much to do in the evening, which was my only time to myself. In the end, I came up with a strategy where I’d read just 10 minutes after they’d fallen asleep. I could always find ten minutes and then get to doing the laundry and tidying up. I had to make sure I did it everyday. I didn’t get through that many books, and I had many people say “I don’t know how you do that, how can you get into the story? When I read, I have to sit down for a while and really get into it.” The way I saw it was this was the only way that was making me read consistently, so I took it.
Now, I get to read quite a bit more and it is SUCH a pleasure. I like fiction and non fiction and try to alternate as best I can. When goodreads asked its users to set themselves a challenge for 2016 I thought I’d aim high and typed in 50. Maybe that’s too much, but I’m hoping I can discover a number I can aim for every year. We’re coming up to halfway and I am not going to reach that 50 unless I make reading non negotiable from now on and up my daily reading. Even now I am only setting myself a 20 minute minimum amount of reading time a day, I figure it will whet my appetite to fit more in. As it stands I’ve completed 10 books so far this year.
I’ve reviewed only one read so far this year : ‘A Little Life’ – a book that I feel may eclipse everything else I read in terms of how it became an immersive experience, I lived and breathed that story. I had to recover for quite some time afterward, I found it difficult to pick up another. This post though, is on a book I picked up randomly at the library a few weeks ago. It’s great to have targeted titles to plough through based on their high goodreads rating or recommendation but I feel compelled to throw in a few wildcards this year. This one had promising one liners from the major broadsheets on the back and an interesting premise for a plot. Anna Brown, a dying artist works on her final portrait whilst her husband and life long muse for her work walks out to seek and see for himself the paintings he has sat for over the years.
It was an enjoyable read and an interesting story. You the reader learn to understand the relationship between the artist Anna, rejected by the town in which she lives for the work that she produces and her husband who has an ease, grace and amiability that makes him accepted by everyone. I felt that as I read the book I discovered more about her conviction to do the creative work that she was compelled to do and also why her husband was trying to understand if his life had been one of substance if his one and only role was to sit for her. His journey and his encounters at each of the destinations explain his own motivations and his importance as the subject of her work. The language is gently paced and rich. It is a lovely and subtle read, but I only gave it 3 stars out of 5 in the end. I can’t quite see how the Mail wrote that it was as ‘gripping as any thriller’ – sure you could turn the pages quickly, it was a short novel, but it never got un-put downabble. I’m all about the paperbacks at the moment having spent weeks working my way through a bit of a tome, “The Mountain Shadow” I need to start stacking my completed reads on top of each other so I can hit my target. I’m already on the next title, a Murakami, you can follow all my reads on instagram, the link to my feed is at the bottom of this page.