No Stars

I have annual lists of the books I’ve read going back decades. Somewhere in some paper file, I have a couple paper lists. They would have dated from between 1996 and 1999, since I can clearly picture the list weakly held by a magnet to the fridge that dominated the tiny bachelor apartment I lived in for those years. It was easy and low tech. I would put a book down, I would pick a pen up, and there, noted.

Later, things got a bit fancier. I had completely forgotten this, but at some point, probably when I was taking both database and cataloguing courses in library school, I created an Access database. I would catalogue my books according to my best independent interpretations of the AACR2 (the cataloguer’s bible at the time), add a “date finished,” and there, noted.

In 2005, I either read two books only in September, or I gave up my list. I can’t remember which. 2005 was a turbulent year, so it’s hard to say if I hardly read at all or read a lot to escape and forgot to note it down. You’ve got a 50/50 chance of being right.

Then there are the missing years. Maybe I didn’t read between 2005 and 2011. I’m pretty sure I read some, but maybe not much. Those were also often turbulent years.

In 2011, I joined Goodreads, and have since faithfully used that app to track the books I’ve read. I always gave some stars. Never thought too hard about them, just clicked what my gut told me. But I never wrote reviews. Back then, I had already started writing reviews for money, and was thinking of freelancing, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to give my words away to some upstart tech company. Maybe not the wisest road to take for someone who could use the exposure, but past Megan made some mistakes, and let’s not be too rough.

In 2013, I somehow completely missed the news that Amazon bought Goodreads. It was 2019 before I figured that one out, when I got suspicious that every link on every title took me to their site. I most definitely am not going to give that fucker my words. But I kept on with the stars. I mean, I used them myself to gauge a book’s worth.

In 2020, I have lost pieces of my mind to COVID. It’s hard to concentrate. The words sometimes blur. I need ease and comfort. Here, on the edge of burnout, I am finding it hard to connect with much. Should I punish the author of this complex book? ONE STAR plot too thick. This writer and her gorgeous thesaurus? TWO STARS makes no sense. It just seems too unfair when by the end of the day it takes me three tries to spell the word specialty.

I know the starred reviews are helpful to those writers and presses looking to widen their net. Those people trying to make their own name and make a living, but it just seems so unfair.

Can we move backwards? Probably not. At least, I don’t think I’ll go back to my Access database. But from here on in, I am instituting a no-stars policy, and will just have to find another way to help the authors of the books I love.

Doomscroll

How much I read is inversely proportional to how much I scroll. Between 2018 and March 2020, I was scrolling less and reading more. I followed my own rules. And then every thing changed. And when I say everything I am not using hyperbole. You know this as well as I do.

I started working from home full-time. My partner started working from home full-time. The 15 people I supervise at work started working from home full-time, and none of us really knew how to do it. My home office became not the place where I dressed myself and did our budgetting and occasionally tried to write and then stopped trying. It became a small cocoon of almost all you do.

Home office. A desk with a monitor on it and a chair pulled out and slightly to the right. Lit by a window from the left.

David Sedaris said recently “Everywhere I go it smells the same, and it smells like my breath.” I can’t stop rolling that over in my mind. Like a finger on a bruise, a tongue to a torn tooth socket. Everywhere I go is hardly anywhere. My paths have been circumscribed in a way I never saw coming. Everywhere I go is mostly my home office. And it does smell like my breath: my farts, my unbrushed hair, and stinking armpits, too.

My mental life has felt similarly constrained. Instead of tearing through books, I am scrolling past curated Insta feeds and the dubious bon mots of Twitter, which all basically say the same. We are fucked we are trying to feel normal we are ignoring the problem I am fucked no you are fucked no you are fucked. Instead of spreading my mind around to live briefly in the minds of all sorts of different types of people in all sorts of different countries, instead of really sitting with them and the arc of their lives for 300 pages, I am flicking my thumb mindlessly and obsessively up a tiny shiny rectangle. For sometimes hours. Often in the office that smells like my breath.

I’ve been here before, and I’ve stopped it, switched those gears before, but my god it is hard. And takes a will I’m not sure 2020 will allow me. In both 2018 and 2019, I read over 100 books. To to that takes time. I took that time almost solely from the minutes that built into hours that I spent on Instagram and Twitter. This year, I might hit 50 books. That is a stark difference.

It’s not like I think more books makes me a better person. If I were to read 100 books three years in a row no one would love me more. The people who love me love me no matter how many books I read, and the people who don’t like me can go hang.

But more scrolling does make me a worse version of myself. It makes me scared, it makes me jealous, it makes me only able to absorb tiny bites of info. Only able to skim. I can’t remember anything, can’t sustain my attention for more than 10 minutes.

If I were reading half as much because I was doing something that I knew to be useful or believed to be beautiful (sorry William Morris) then I wouldn’t be writing this post. Or I would be writing a different post telling you how great my Vietnamese was coming along.

Sadly, as far as I can tell, at least for me, there is no better option than to just. stop. For me, there is only the calculation that makes me suddenly see how all this doomscroll adds up to nothing and makes me realize that is not enough.

On The Go

Of course, me, myself, I’m not going anywhere. Nowhere my own feet can’t take me. I bike to a friend’s house to sit in the shade of her fence: I’m on the other side of the yard, sipping from the thermos of coffee I brought from home. I walk for an hour through a nearby park to smell pine trees and see new birds and feel the earth push back under my feet. I walk to the bakery for four loaves of bread: that will keep us a while. I am so tired of eating bread I’ve baked with my own hands.

This post wasn’t going to be about COVID-19, but everything is about COVID-19.

When I was young – and then too, I could only roam as far as my feet would take me – I was very ordered about my reading. I read one book at a time. I would start a book, I would finish a book. I didn’t stop reading books if I didn’t like them. This makes sense to me when I stop and think about it. I had a lot of time to read then. Now, less so. A full-time job and house administration take a lot of hours out of the day. So I dip into books. A few minutes here, 40 minutes there if I’m lucky. So I have different books for different rooms and different times.

Four books on a dark brown wood table. Clockwise from top left: the Beastie Boys Book; Reproduction, by Ian Williams; Treaty Number, by Armand Garnet Ruffo; and  =The Gospel of Breaking, by Jillian Christmas.

Dining Room: Non-Fiction

The Beastie Boys Book is a difficult book to read. Physically, I mean. It’s a several-hundred-pages-long hard cover printed on thick paper. I can only read it comfortably if I’m sitting at a table, and one of the few times I do that is during the bi-weekly Homo Phono zoom parties. So yeah, once more, I am that person at the party reading a book. But it makes perfect sense to me to read a book about music while listening to excellent music and shoulder dancing in a chair.

This paragraph will end negatively, but it’s really a great book. This is a band I know a lot about, but I’m still learning tons, not only about them, but about the hardcore and hip-hop scenes of various time periods and cities. Their writing voices are genuine and fun. The piece by Kate Schellenbach, who was kicked out of the band just before they got big, was a welcome addition. Amongst all the fun, though, I do feel something is lacking. They apologize for their sexism (and have been apologizing for decades) and they tip their hat towards the fact that being middle-class white dudes played a role in making them one of the most popular rap acts ever. But I don’t think they do enough self-examination in either case. Maybe it’s that their shame around their former sexism is so well worn at this point that it comes across a bit facile. And maybe an in-depth examination of how racism played out through rap is not for them to do; they’ve never pretended to be intellectuals, just friends having fun. So maybe that’s for some pop music academic to really take on. I don’t know. I do know I love them, like know all the lyrics to their first four albums love them, but in the last few years something has started not sitting right, and this book is amplifying that. It’s not you, baby, it’s me.

Bathroom: Fiction

Reproduction is also several hundred pages long, but is a soft cover printed on less bougie paper, so is an excellent book for tub reading. Honestly, I picked this one up mostly because the Giller Prize has never let me down. Reproduction is no exception. It’s the story of a family that builds by accretion rather than design. From the deft use of language, you can tell that Williams is a poet first. Sure, from time-to-time, the more experimental aspects feel more distracting than expanding. But I was quickly pulled into the story and all its characters. It’s the book I’d think I could read for a few minutes, and then would lose another half hour. But don’t take just my word for it, plenty of people said nice things about it, not to mention that Giller.

Everywhere, in brief moments: Poetry

The Gospel of Breaking and Treaty # are books that float around the house a bit. I find poetry easier to read in short bursts than other forms.

In 2019, I had the pleasure of seeing Armand Garnet Ruffo read from Treaty # at Versefest here in Ottawa, an event I was sad to miss this year. I bought the book after his reading, and then by chance ended up eating dinner with him, so it was a banner day all ’round. His poems read clearly on the surface, which is to say, I’ve never finished one of his poems and thought Well, I have no idea what was going on THERE. They aren’t poems that refract language through metaphor and push words past their capacity to mean, but they reach deeply into memory and place, weaving the deep past of family and location into the present, as in “Dinner Party” (scroll down a bit). That’s not to say they don’t play with language. They do, as in the first poem of the collection, a prose poem that opens the first section “Impetus Ungainly,” which takes the language of Treaty No. 9, the treaty that covers his family’s homeland, and reverses many of the words, so that your brain alternately glides and struggles along the lines of text. I’m only about half-way through the collection at this point. The poems can seem simple on the surface, I think, but they take me a long time to digest, and I’ve re-read a few already. It’s not a quick read, but something to savour.

I have to admit that I only bought the gospel of breaking because its author, Jillian Christmas, was supposed to tour with Vivek Shraya, someone whose writing I admire very much (and whom I got to interview last year!). Their tour got COVID cancelled, but I bought both Christmas’ book as well as My Art is Killing Me, by Amber Dawn, the third writer on the tour. But as it turns out, it’s a smart move to read work admired by people whose work you admire! It’s great. Christmas pushes words around. Across most pages, the words stop and spill, turning almost every poem into something felt physically. And now, just looking her up, I see she’s a slam poet, and the physicality of her poems makes sense. They move as they might if breath were behind them. Don’t take just my word for it, smart people have written more about her writing.

Before my multiple book-reading started, I think I felt reading needed laser focus, and how could I manage to keep track of characters, of story lines, of the emotional tenor across various books? Turns out it’s easy. Now when I open a book I’ve started, I feel a small click as it all falls into place, and it always feels like coming home.

Read or Don’t Read

How quaint to re-read my post from February 3rd, where my main concern was whether to set a reading goal, rather than worrying about which of my friends and family members might get, might die from, COVID-19.

Some of us are reading more to escape. Some of us can’t concentrate enough to make the letters line up and sink through the miasma of anxiety.

I cycle through both.

Some of my calmest moments in the last few weeks have been listening to Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor, as I walked around my neighbourhood; or reading This Lovely City, by Louise Hare, in baths so hot my skin turned red on contact. Both books pulled me out of this where and when, and placed me somewhere else – amongst magical young Nigerian teens in the first instance, and amongst Jamaican immigrants to London in 1950 in the second. The main characters in both books face many hurdles, but none of those hurdles is a global pandemic, and it was a blessed relief to be transported through the pages to anywhere that isn’t The World, March 2020.

Other times, I’ve tried to read or listen to my books, and my mind has raced right through them and back around, blocking out meaning even as my eyes or ears are tracking the words. Not even the beautiful Nigerian-accented English of the Akata Witch audio-book could take me away when every cell in my central nervous system roiled with what needed doing Right. Now. Right. Now. Right. Now. I still have moments when all I can do is scroll through Instagram or Twitter, hoping that someone will have an answer. How long will this last? When can I see my friends again? I will touch your arms and your hands. I will tap your knees gently to make my point. I will lean my head on your shoulders. I will hug you and hug you and hug you.

I won’t read 100 books this year. I don’t care. Any time – every time – I can pull myself away from a small screen to lose myself in a book is a moment the the worry abates for a moment, and that is the best I can hope for right now.

Numbers Game

I’m torn on setting a number as my reading goal for 2020. Which isn’t to ding the people who do set a number as their goal. Anything that gets people reading anything is good in my books.

Set yourself the goal of reading 100 books and make all of them graphic novels? Great.

Read one book, but it’s In Search of Lost Time? Great.

Try to read all the books you managed to not read during your English Lit degree? Great.

My reading goal this year is to get through the pile on top of the bookshelf on our 2nd floor landing. It’s a mix of books: those I’ve bought in the last couple years because they looked interesting when I was feeling flush; a few from my collection I’d like to re-read; books my partner has read and thought I’d like; a couple loaners.

It’s maybe 20, maybe two dozen books. I read 100 books last year, so that pile should go pretty fast, right?

Not so much.

So far, what I’m finding is that if I’ve read a bit of a book and put it in the pile, I’ve put it in the pile because it’s slow going for whatever reason.

It means that so far, I’ve only picked two books off that pile. The first, Tommy Pico’s book-length poem Junk, was really good, though I didn’t find it as quickly engaging as Nature Poem, which I read last year. Still, Teebs is a great character, and each time I picked it up it was easier to roll into.

The second I just finished last night, and my god, I hauled myself through it. Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1878-1984 might have read better in 2005. Though that’s really giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s racist. Mostly in that insidious way that’s more difficult to call out.* Great swaths of British postpunk bands steal heavily from reggae, lover’s rock, and dub, from disco and funk. Which is to say, from Black music. Reynolds lets the postpunk musicians speak for themselves, quotes them humble-bragging in interviews from the time about how they were only white person at reggae nights in London, but how they never felt unsafe even though. And Reyolds never puts any 2005 context around any of these comments from the late 70s and early 80s. I’d say he doesn’t talk about race, except he does, here and there; he just doesn’t think very deeply about it.

I care less about a genealogy of who played in which bands with what kind of guitar sounds than where those sounds came from, how they were used, and what that means culturally. I wish someone would write that book about that scene.

But I digress, at least a bit. It took me weeks to read that book, two or three. Many times, I thought to just put it down and give it up as DNF. But by the time the racism really came out as a pattern and I gave up on him addressing it, I’d already put a lot of effort into the book.

So I may need to be more generous with myself and less disciplined with my goal. I should have tossed Rip It Up over about half-way through. No one’s going to give me a prize for finishing that racist book.** No one cares if I actually finish the books on my landing or just quietly re-shelve them.

More generous, sure, but maybe more mindful would be better way of saying that. To keep in mind: Why am I reading this?

It took me a long time to read Junk too, because it’s written in stream-of-consciousness couplets dripping grief and dissociation. But I’m glad I pushed through that, and I’d do it again. In the end it challenged me in a good way, pushed my boundaries and my thoughts on love, loss and language, instead of just adding a bunch of names and dates to my already detail-saturated brain. And that’s an experience worth taking time for.

*Though not only, like the gem where he says that “Eskimos” kill unwanted girl children and are always putting old people out on ice floes to die. I mean, I know 2005 was a long time ago now, but come the fuck on.

**Also kind of sexist. Some of that is hard to help, since he’s describing a scene that has few women in it because sexism, but also, why in the hell did he start referring to women in the scene as “punkettes” in the last few chapters? Please, you’re kidding me, right. Right?

How to Read More

I’ll start with a definition. I’m using the word “book” pretty loosely and without judgement. A book can be an audio-book, an e-book, a slim volume of poetry, a 60-page graphic memoir, or a 500-page work of historical fiction. If you want to include magazines, include magazines. It’s your reading life! You make the rules! Be generous; there’s no point in being otherwise.

  1. Read whenever you can, for as much time as you’ve got. Don’t think you need to wait to start until you’ve got an empty half-hour: it will not magically appear. Read on your breaks for 5 minutes, at the bus stop for 10, while you’re brushing your teeth for 2. Pasta for dinner? You’ve got 15 minutes for water to boil and 12 minutes to cook. You may only get through a couple of pages, but that is two pages you hadn’t read before, and they build up faster than you’d think.
  2. Always carry a book. If you’re going to read whenever you can, you need to have a book to hand. Move from room to room with your book. Tuck it into a corner of your bag when you leave the house, even if you’re only going to the corner store. Waiting for a friend in a restaurant? Pull out your phone to open your e-reader.
  3. Don’t make reading a punishment. You don’t have to read every page; if an entry in a short-story collection is boring you, move on. If you hate the main character of a novel so much the book remains untouched by your bedside, chuck it and find something that makes your fingers itch to hold it.
  4. But do make it a challenge occasionally. Once you’ve got into the swing of reading back, try reading something you normally wouldn’t. Poetry, plays, science-fiction, non-fiction. Anything different. It’ll keep you from getting bored with what you normally read. And if you find you really don’t like that something new after you’ve started, see number three.
  5. Don’t say you’re going to cut x out to make more time. If you try to force yourself away from Facebook to read, you’ll only resent reading. Instead, make reading your priority, and you’ll figure out pretty quickly what can easily fall to the wayside to make time for just one more page.
  6. Don’t count if you don’t want to. Numbers aren’t everything. For lots of people, they’re really motivating, so count away if that’s you. But if what you love to read is a thick tome of modernist literature, or complicated science fiction that takes 200 pages just to set up a whole new world, you simply can’t get through the quantity of books you could if what you liked instead was poetry or graphic novels. All of it is valid reading. If you need to count, try counting pages, not books

Following these basic guidelines, I read 104 books in 2018, which is about 84 more books than I’d read in any of the previous 5 years. The number makes me proud, I’m not going to lie. But more importantly, my brain is stronger and more plastic, my attention span has increased, and I feel like a more empathetic person. You don’t need to read 100 books to get that. Just more.

The Power, by Naomi Alderman

First book down of 2019. I was actually hoping to finish it on Dec 31, 2018, but wine and charcuterie took priority that night. No matter, it was a great way to kick off 2019.

The Power is one of those books that fogged my brain into its universe as I was reading it. You know, one of those books that rewires synapses so that your world is overlaid with the fictional world from which you have to tear yourself away to do non-fictional human things like buy groceries, shower, and answer (repeated) direct questions from your partner.

The basic premise is that women have developed a new power to generate and release electricity. A tingle across the skin for pleasure, or a bolt to the temples to kill. Women are suddenly and consistently more physically powerful than men, and the book traces how that plays out. It’s set mainly over a 10-years period leading up to the Cataclysm, and follows 4 main characters as they react to, and shape, this new world.

The language is sharp, the story moves along swiftly but not carelessly, and the main characters are so engagingly written that you root for all of them, all the way through the plot.

What elevates The¬†Power narratively is that the basic premise I mention above isn’t actually the book. The story I outline above is actually a manuscript of historical fiction written by a historian named Neil, who’s tired of the lack of audience for his serious books. He’s sent the manuscript to Naomi, his mentor, for advice, and it’s their letters that frame the story. She finds the male soldiers and gangs described in the old world preposterous, since men are clearly the softer and weaker sex. Women need to be strong to protect their children, so you see that’s only natural, and couldn’t possibly have been another way.

Without this framing, the book would have been an engrossing read; with it, the political commentary is amped up a couple more astute notches.

I loved this book without qualification. For the first half, I felt stronger than every man I saw on the street, and felt a glorious “YES! FUCK YOU!” pulsing in a cloud around me, instead of my general woman-walking-outside vigilance. As the book progressed, and the tide turns, that feeling wilted and rotted on the vine, and I felt slightly nauseous at seeing who I could easily have become. I think Alderman would be pleased.

My 2018 Top 9

Looking back over my Goodreads, I had a really good run of reading in 2018. Of the 104 books I read, I gave 24 a five-star rating. That seems like a pretty high proportion – for comparison, I gave only one book a two-star rating.*

I was really lucky, maybe, or really smart in taking recommendations, or perhaps so excited about reading again that every book seemed like something special. No matter, it worked in favour of my enjoyment.

Narrowing the 24 to 9 wasn’t easy. Getting down to 12 was okay – some fives are more five-y than others. Cutting those last three was painful, though. Which means, for you, that I have actually really thought about why these 9 books are there. They’ve maybe stuck with me through months, or changed the way I think about things permanently, or used language so perfectly attenuated to its purpose that they left me in a fog while I was reading them.

Highly recommended, all of them.

Black Wave, by Michelle Tea
It’s 1999 and Michelle Tea is getting sober while the world ends. But sometimes it’s not 1999? Sometimes the person she’s dating has been gone a long time, sometimes they haven’t even met. It is funny and grim, with Tea’s eye for the telling detail. I read a lot of dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction this year, but this was the only one with a queer twist. It was an early entry for me, and remains one of my favourites because of

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, by Daniel Heath Justice
I’m glad I read this before I decided to read 100 books, because I read zero non-fiction after that decision, and not reading this would have been a loss. The brillance of using the literatures of various cultures means that Heath is able to draw out some generalizations without ever having to say “Indigenous people believe this.” There’s always another story from another culture to add nuance to a concept, and to move away from reducing hundreds of cultures to “Indigenous culture.” It didn’t add to my knowledge of historical facts, but explained some incredibly important ????

Fifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis
For months after reading this book I couldn’t look at a dog without giving it a voice of one of the dogs that Alexis so carefully draws. The conceit, that the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo have given dogs human reasoning, could get tired, or seem trite, but it never did. I recommended it to some dog-lover friends of mine, and then almost immediately took that back, because the world of dogs and gods is not kind.

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
The only historical fiction on this list, and, to be honest, the only historical fiction I read during the year. Generally not my thing, but Homegoing blew away all my pre-/mis-conceptions. Spanning several hundred years, it tells the story of Ghana, of the US, of wars and slavery, through short chapters narrated by of the descendants of one woman, Maame. Gyasi is stunningly able to bring all the characters to life. If you dislike short stories, this may not be for you, since each chapter stands on its own, as well as building the central narrative; an absorbing read for the rest of us.

Brother, by David Chariandry
Heartbreaking. The story is set around Michael and his older brother Francis, though it is the return of Aisha, Michael’s childhood sweetheart, who sets the waves of memory and regret to crossing and re-crossing each other. Michael’s love and awe of his brother is captured perfectly, the fear he feels for his mother as a child is tempered with an adult’s understanding of what it would have been like for her to immigrate from Trinidad to Canada.

Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson
I’m a huge fan of magic realism, and Robinson wields a deft hand in its use here. Jared is a regular 16-year old, except for the fact that ravens speak to him and otters with human hands try to eat his appendages. He gets by with humour, booze and drugs, and the love of a witchy woman. Robinson’s writing isn’t flashy, but lets the story shine through. I’ve got the next installment in the trilogy on my library holds list.

Little Fish, by Casey Plett
Set in Winnipeg in November and December, Little Fish follows Wendy Reimer, a thirty-year-old trans woman, as she grapples with her Oma’s death, her Opa’s sexuality, love, booze, work, and the ups and downs of being part of a small queer community. Wendy is so clearly drawn that I spent most of the book wanting to hug her or cheer her on. Winnipeg is written with a vibrant love. I loved Plett’s collection of short stories, A Safe Girl to Love, and am very much looking forward to whatever comes next.

Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
Another magic realism entry for the list. Few books make me want to curl around them and cry, but this one did. It’s a story centred around 13-year old Jojo and the ghosts he sees, some of them flesh-and-blood, some as apparitions. Every one in his family hurts and loves and tries their best and fails and tries, and Ward captures this with a wide eye, and an empathy that allows her perception to move through characters like breath.

Heart Berries: A Memoir, by Terese Marie Mailhot
Sometimes you love a book because it is comforting. Sometimes because it’s completely new, and sometimes because it breaks open something you thought was set within you and shows you where to go. Heart Berries is the latter for me. Mailhot’s writing, for me, evokes Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, in all its poetic and incandescent, slightly melodramatic glory. Feel things! Feel them to their edges and write them down, especially where they hurt. Heart Berries and By Grand Central cover some of the same ground, in that both are centred around the love for unworthy men, but Mailhot doesn’t shy away from her place in the world as an Indigenous woman: how she sees herself, how the world sees her, and how she sees herself through the world. A brilliant, emotional read.

*It was Parker Posey’s You’re On An Airplane. With her? No thanks.

Book Goals

At the start of 2018, my goal was to read more. I’d been “a reader” for most of my life, but then… I dunno. Social media happened? Work stress happened? Something unclicked, and my reading had become mostly scrolling. 

Last January, I didn’t set a specific number of books as my goal. I didn’t want to be disappointed in myself if I didn’t meet it. One advantage to being in your 40s is knowing yourself better than you have before, and I know without a doubt that the higher the chance of me failing something, the higher the chance of me just giving up. Something to work on, yeah, but one of the ways I work on it is by working around it.

So: read more. Given that I’d read less than a book a month for the last several years, that felt like a goal easily accomplished.

It was clear by the spring that I had been successful. By July, I was reading a pretty steady 2 books per week: that’s when I thought maybe I’d shoot for 100 books in 2018. 

I hit that goal on Dec 24th, with Blue is the Warmest Color, and it felt fucking good.

That said, I’m not sure I’ll set a number on next year. Having a number definitely changed how I chose books. More graphic novels, for instance. Now, I really like graphic novels, but I don’t gravitate to them naturally. More e-books, so that if I felt the need to look at my phone, I could read instead of scroll. Less non-fiction, shorter fiction. A work friend also loaned me a Elena Ferrante novel in September, and my reaction was “Do you need this back before 2019? Because I am not going to hit a 100 books if I read that thing this fall.”

So: 2019. I will continue to Read More. Maybe not in numbers, but in time spent not scrolling.