How I’m Reading 100 Books in 2015

This post contains affiliate links. They are for educational purposes, because you should check your books out from your library. But if you did buy something from Amazon, I would get a tiny cut.

I have always been a fast reader, the kind who needs more than one Agatha Christie novel if it’s going to be a long flight. In 2010, the last full year before I became a mother, I read 85 books, according to my LibraryThing page, and only half of those, tops, were manuals on childbirth, infant care, or breastfeeding. That was a light year–2009 I read 113.

Then the babies started to arrive and I enrolled in library school. I did my best to keep up with reading. I curled up with Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Adventures in Tandem Nursing; I held a sleeping baby on one arm and The Murder Room on the other; I listened to State of Wonder on my iPod during four a.m. feedings. Still, I read only 46 books in 2011, and in 2012, the year Big Brother was 1 and Little Brother was a newborn, a paltry 31. That’s probably a respectable number as far as averages, but look at it this way: Reading is the recreational activity that I love more than any other, and my reading had dropped by a full two-thirds.

Family portrait by Big Brother. I'm the one with the book in hand, of course.

Family portrait by Big Brother. I’m the one with the book in hand, of course.

I became irritable and depressed and simply did not feel like myself. I resolved to do better. I read an article near the end of 2012 about a man who had successfully resolved to average one book per day that year–365 books. That wasn’t realistic for me, but I figured I could manage 75 in 2013. I finished my goal ahead of schedule and clocked in at 82 for the year. Last year, I dunno what happened, but I was back down to 48 for 2014.

This year, I have so far read 97 books and should easily break a hundred. And no, that does not count picture books I’ve read to the children. “But, Mrs. FP,” you say, “You have two preschool-age children and a part-time job and you serve nutritious, made-from-scratch meals. How do you have time to read?” Here are my secrets for averaging about two books a week:

I use every scrap of time.

If we watch TV, I read during the commercials. If I get in bed a few minutes before Mr. FP, I read a few pages. If I arrive at the preschool door two minutes before they open it, I read a page. I read while I’m eating; sometimes I even read while I’m cooking. I often have an ebook going on my smartphone as well as a paper book to better maximize; sometimes it’s easier to read on my phone, sometimes I want paper.

I let my children amuse themselves.

I’m not saying I never play with them, and goodness knows I spend half our waking hours reading to them. But much of the day, I let them do their own thing, together or separately. Now, most of THAT time, I’m in the kitchen or doing laundry. Still leaves a bit of time for my books, especially at the playground. Sometimes lunch is served at 2:15 pm because I wanted to finish my book and they were playing happily in the park.

It helps that I made two of them. Once Little Brother turned two, all of a sudden they could really entertain each other.

I consume less of other media.

I follow exactly three television shows (and two of them are short-season shows). Lots of other good ones out there, but I let other people watch them. Movies? As soon as I finish folding the laundry, I just get restless and want my book back. News? I scan the headlines in Feedly, but I don’t read much about things I can’t change.

Confession: I read a lot of (but not only) short books.

Sure, I took my time wading through the annotated Pioneer Girl, and when my sister sent me The Thorn Birds for my birthday, I read the whole damn thing. (I told her next year, just send me a hammer and I’ll break my toes with it and enjoy it just as much.) But I read a lot of what librarians call “genre fiction.” You know what genre fiction is. It looks like this:

These Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels are pretty fun with a smart heroine.

These Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels are pretty fun with a smart, independent heroine.

Or this:

Yep, there is sex in this book.

Yep, there is sex in this book.

I also tore through a ten-volume graphic novel series (Y: The Last Man). Makes the books add up in a hurry. It’s not just they’re short, it’s that they’re fun and I’m always anxious to get back to them. I’ll read a few in a row, then maybe something with modest literary pretensions.

All of this is to say, I love reading and it makes me happy, so I make it a priority and sometimes let other things slide. What does that for you? Do you read?

If you’re curious what the 97 books are, click here to see a Google doc of this year’s reading with reviews of some of the books. I maintain a LibraryThing page with over 900 entries, but I like to keep a list on my own hard drive as well..

 

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

8 responses to “How I’m Reading 100 Books in 2015”

  1. Moonwaves says :

    I don’t often manage to read as much as you but I’ve done it a couple of times since I started tracking what I read. There’s a bloghop every new year’s eve (started by Clickclackgorilla/Bookpunks) and the first time she mentioned keeping a note of everything she read in a year I immediately wondered why I hadn’t done that my whole life.You should join in with the bloghop this year – my posts on it are here, if you’re interested: http://livingthesimplelifeiwant.blogspot.de/search/label/Top%20100%20books%2FThe%20Year%20in%20Books

    I signed up for the read 50 books in 2015 challenge on the MMM forum this year and wasn’t sure I’d make it but having November off has helped a lot. As has taking a week or so of that time to read what you’ve called genre books. I generally just go with trashy romances. 🙂 Actually, inspired by arebelspy’s wife to contemplate maybe attempting to write one myself, I got online and ordered myself a few of what I remember from my teenage years as some of my favourites. I was actually surprised that I even remembered so many of them but it was a very fun trip down memory lane. And then I followed that up with the entire Harry Potter series. Now I’m back to trying to finish off The Name of the Rose – want to get through that and Robinson Crusoe by the end of the year. But I’ll probably intersperse with other stuff just for fun. 🙂

    • frugalparagon says :

      Neat link, thanks for sharing! I’ve always thought about writing a novel, too, but I’m not sure I have enough follow-through. Actually one of my favorite “genre” authors, Tessa Dare, was a part-time librarian, too! Good luck with the idea–let me know how it goes.

      Curious what your old favorites were :-). I used to read a lot of 90s-era Elizabeth Lowell when I was in high school. Looking back on them now, WOW were they misogynistic! I guess they did me no harm, so I try not to fret about teen girls reading 50 Shades.

  2. Autumn says :

    Reading is the best thing in the world and it makes me happy as well. I still consume movies and TV, but they come second to books.

    I’m on track to read 100 books this year! I’m at 90 right now, but finish a book about every 3 days so I should have no problem hitting 10, especially now that it’s colder and darker. I only started keeping track of what I read around May or June last year (in Goodreads), so I’m not sure exactly what I’ve read in previous years, but this year has got to be my highest.

    Ahhh, I love books.

    • frugalparagon says :

      I had the foresight to start keeping track in 2004 :-). I was enrolled in a stressful grad program in literature. No one else there actually seemed to LIKE reading, so I went my own way!

    • Moonwaves says :

      I’ve found it quite addictive. The first year I didn’t have a full list and was going on what I remembered, what was in the pile waiting to be sorted back onto bookshelves and hunting down receipts from the library. I love doing it now – find it really interesting to look back over the lists and think “wow, it feels like ages ago I read that, can’t believe it was this year” and things like that. I suppose it’s a form of mindfulness really.

  3. Moonwaves says :

    Well, 50 Shades (have to admit I haven’t read it, I prefer my porn without pain 🙂 ) will never be something I’d want anyone to read. The reviews online were more than enough to put me off, in large part because apart from not being into that particular variety of kink, the excerpts some people included in their reviews were enough to convince me that the writing was going to be pretty awful, too. (On a sidenote, I find this goodreads review pretty hilarious: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/340987215)

    Elizabeth Lowell sounds familiar actually. One of the books I ordered second-hand was Serendipity by Judith McWilliams. I had always remember the name of that one, but didn’t know who it was by and then I stumbled across an online database (http://www.fictiondb.com/author/judith-mcwilliams~serendipity~26649~b.htm) which had it. And I searched a few names I did remember, JoAnn Ross, Barbara Delinsky, Jayne Ann Krentz and found other titles that way. It was fun. But basically for my teenage years I read the classics as prescribed by school (and then some, Jane Austen, the Brontes, John Steinbeck etc.) and Mills & Boon/Harlequin romances and not a whole lot else. Until the 90s hit and chick lit became a thing so that in my later teens I branched off a bit (Marian Keyes, Patricia Scanlon and the original, of course, Maeve Binchy). Oh, and I don’t know how many Barbara Cartlands which in hindsight, are really pretty dreadful.

    Like many readers I’ve often longed over the years to write a book. I even attempted the 3-day novel contest a couple of years ago. Didn’t get very far but I learned a lot about myself. But when Ali was talking about romances it sort of clicked for me that even if I don’t have a great novel in me, I might have one or two trashy romances. I’ve certainly read and re-read hundreds if not thousands of them. It’s not so much the writing I find difficult as it is coming up with plots and stories. So that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment – just making notes in a small notebook I got for the purposes whenever something occurs to me that could be used. Sorry, longest comment ever, I really should do a blogpost or ten on the topic, it’s one of many things swimming around in my head at the moment.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Yeah, the writing is incredibly dreadful and Christian is a possessive creep. Not sure how the thing took on such a powerful life of its own.

      FWIW I don’t like the word “trashy.” It’s like “slut”–implies that sex is bad. What makes a romance novel any trashier than a gory mystery or true crime? (Steps off soapbox.)

      • Moonwaves says :

        I’ve always understood it to be a comment on the, er, lack of intellectual fodder to be found in your typical romance genre. I would use it to distinguish a Mills & Boon/Harlequin romance from, say, a Bronte romance. I wonder if it’s slightly a case of British English using an American English word in a slightly different way. Rubbish doesn’t really have the same double use as trash, i.e. you’d never call someone “a piece of rubbish” but I’ve heard people called “a piece of trash” in films often.

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