What I’ve Been Reading Lately and My 2016 Reading Goals

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2016 Reading Goals

Last year, I had a pretty ambitious goal to read 100 books. Around halfway through the year, I realized that this goal was somewhat silly because I was reading more for quantity than for comprehension. I was also avoiding re-reading books because I had arbitrarily decided that they “didn’t count” towards the goal. And, eventually this didn’t feel right, so I scrapped the 100 book goal and focused more on reading a little bit every day.

I posted about what I was reading with some regularity until the end of the year when I abandoned it entirely. I haven’t gone back to writing about what I’m reading because it felt like a daunting task. I finally decided that I could talk about reading and reading goals without summarizing every single book I read. This has been a good reminder that sometimes our obstacles are purely in our heads. My 2016 goals are less about numbers and more about being intentional with my reading.

Goal #1 – Read better quality books.

For most of 2015, I paid for a Kindle Unlimited membership. If you haven’t heard of it before, you subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited library for $10.00 per month for which you receive unlimited downloads. If the book has a corresponding audio book, you gain access to it as well. I was able to read several books very quickly by alternating between the e-book and the audio book, which I liked. But…after a while, I felt like I was limiting my book choices to the books in the Unlimited library, and frankly, a lot of those books were pretty mediocre. After finishing each book, I felt vaguely discontent, like I could have been spending my time in better ways. I finally cancelled my Kindle Unlimited account and decided to focus on reading better quality books. However, I don’t want to spend $100 per month on books which led me to goal #2.

Goal #2 – Get a library card…

And figure out how to hook my Kindle to the local library’s e-book collection. I’ve known this was possible for years and have never pursued it out of pure laziness. When I was a kid, I spent hours and hours at our local library. It was like a second home to me, especially during the summer months. Since moving away, I’ve never visited any library (except the one in Central Phoenix because it was incredible) with any regularity.

I think I’ve avoided the library because I love reading on my Kindle so much and also because I want instant gratification. I’m starting to realize that instant gratification is an addiction. Have you ever felt slightly itchy because you really want your Amazon Prime order to show up tomorrow instead of two days from now? Yeah, me too. So, I think using the library will be a good way to break out of that cycle while saving some money.

Goal #3 – Listen to one audio book per month.

I can only think of one audio book that I really hated, and it shall remain nameless. Mostly I become incredibly involved and addicted to the audio books I read. I’m ok with this kind of addiction because it’s not hurting anyone and it feels so good. I listened to All the Light We Cannot See while driving to and from school and actually sat and listened to the last hour while sitting on the sofa one afternoon because I could not wait until Monday to find out how it ended. I spent an entire Spring semester listening to The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, which were around 40 hours each. I felt bereft when they were over.I really love the experience of listening to a good book, and I don’t know why I’ve denied myself that pleasure recently.

I really love the experience of listening to a good book, and I don’t know why I’ve denied myself that pleasure recently. I am going to subscribe again to Audible and listen to one book per month. I won’t have my long commute once the semester ends, so I plan to use the audio books to motivate me to take long daily walks.

Goal #4 – Read both non-fiction and fiction every day.

I’ve been doing this for a while and lately tracking it in my bullet journal. I read non-fiction in the morning, either as part of my morning practice, or while eating my breakfast. I like to read fiction in the evening before bed. I’ve been pretty consistent with the non-fiction, but I tend to binge read fiction and then take long breaks in between. I’m trying to avoid this bad habit in favor of consistency by reading a little every single day. I’m not saying I’ll never binge read another book, but I’m going to try savoring my books instead of devouring them.

So what have I been reading lately?

I’ve been taking my cues from the What Should I Read Next Podcast and finally read the first novel in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series Still Life. I fully expected to either hate it or not really care about it because I don’t tend to enjoy detective novels. They always seem a little flat to me, the characters underdeveloped and the descriptions lacking. I gave Still Life a chance because Anne described Louise Penny as having an innate sense of human nature and her characters as complex. She wasn’t wrong, and I thoroughly enjoyed both the plot and the characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop over the course of the series.

This next one is a little woo-woo, but it kept popping up in podcasts and blogs and random places, so I decided to give it a shot. Ask and It Is Given is a book about the Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks. The woo-woo part comes in as Esther describes the vibrations of the universe – the Source – as communicating through her. She refers to them as Abraham, and the book is written from their point of view. I fully expected to hate this book and think it was utter rubbish, but I have been utterly fascinated by it instead.

In my go-to genre of historical fiction, I recently read The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner, which I enjoyed but didn’t particularly love, and Our Own Country by Jody Daynard, the sequel to The Midwife’s Revolt, which I read last year. I recommend both The Midwife’s Revolt and Our Own Country, read in that order (both currently on Kindle Unlimited) , if you enjoy historical fiction, strong female characters, and experiencing one story from multiple view points.

Do you have any reading goals for this year? What good books have you been reading lately? And how do you decide what you should read next?

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Jillian Lare is a Des Moines based interior designer. She blogs about her current projects, interior design tips and tricks, and her life in Iowa with her young son, husband, and lovable Labrador.

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