Monday 16 November 2020

52 Books in 52 Weeks

I set myself a challenge at the beginning of 2020, that I would read 52 books this year, the equivelent of one per week.  I was an avid reader as a child, something that followed me through life and culminated in my studying an English Literature degree at Reading Uni.  I loved studying literature, but I found that the extensive reading lists and pressure to read widely around the topics meant I wasn't able to fit in reading for fun and all the crime thrillers I had previously enjoyed were neglected.  Motherhood seemed to turn my brain to mush for a while and books were not a priority, and reading stopped being such a big part of my life.  I have tried to get back into it many times, but I thought a challenge would really help (nope, not competitive at all).  

I started out with some safe books, following a series I had started last year, easy reading page turners but I wanted to make sure I read well, adding variety to keep it interesting.  I finished book 52 in early November and realised I have learned a few things throughout the year that I should share, so here goes.

52 books in 52 weeks

1. The best way to find time for reading is to make it part of your daily routine.  For me, this means turning off the tv/laptop at 11pm each night and reading until I am ready for sleep. It might be first thing in the morning, over lunch or another time, but make it part of every day.

2. The classics are that for a reason (with the exception of Middlemarch, possibly the most boring book I have ever read).  I tried to add a few that I had managed to miss during education and realised why they were still so popular many years on.  To Kill a Mockingbird and The Colour Purple were new reads for me that I really enjoyed.

3. Reading doesn't have to be expensive.  I love buying a new book and can spend hours browsing the shelves in a bookshop, but I can't afford to buy 52 new books a year so I chose a few, ones that I really wanted to read and couldn't get hold of any other way.  I also used the library, charity shops and book swaps with friends.  Some of the books I have loved this year I found for 20p in the local charity shop and it has been fun borrowing books that friends recommend.  My local library also offered a service over lockdown where you could submit favourite genres, authors and likes and they would pick books for you to pick up.  I am hoping this is something they continue!

4. If you feel in a rut, try diversifying your reading list.  Try different genres, different authors or different styles.  I found some great book-instagrammers who recommended books I probably wouldn't have found on my own and loved them.  I also tried non fiction, travel writing and autobiographies as well as the stories I am usually drawn to.

5. It is ok to start reading a book and decide it isn't for you, but make sure you give it a real chance.  One of the most interesting books I read this year was one I put down 20 pages in and almost didn't pick it back up.  There is only one that I started and really couldn't get into but I tried three times just to give it a real chance.  We won't all love or appreciate the same books and that is ok.

6. Instagram is a great place for inspiration.  I have picked up lots of books based on the recommendations of book influencers but I have also found many parenting or lifestyle bloggers I follow have shared what they are reading and loving and have influenced me to hunt something out too.  I have loved Book of Cinz this year and have a whole folder on Instagram of books she has shared that I want to read!.

7. Once reading becomes a habit and you find interesting books, it is so easy to fall back in love with it.  I have read the 52 books I had challenged myself to and I am half way through a fascinating number 53 (War Doctor about surgery on the front line by David Knott)with a pile next to my bed ready to go!  I won't share every book I have read this year, but I will pop down a top 10 for anyone needing inspiration.  If there is anything you think I should add to my reading pile then please leave a comment or pop me a message.

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