Feb 16, 2021

Tips for Reading More + What I Read: January 2021

 If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been reading a lot in 2021, thanks to Gretchen Rubin's challenge for the year, #Read21in21. The idea is to read for 21 minutes each day, but I'm finding that I'm reading a lot more - especially if I'm reading a novel and I just have to know what happens next.

If you want to read more, I highly recommend setting a daily goal like #Read21in21, and then scheduling it in your day. I haven't missed a day yet, and that's because I always do my 21 minutes before I get out of bed each morning. Basically, I now read books instead of email. And my pattern is to read a small section of a challenging book, and then move on to something lighter for the remainder of the time. I've already finished two books that I had trouble getting through because they were difficult for me.

My other tip is to know how you like to read. It turns out I've completely made the transition to e-books. I'm currently reading Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, which I've had on my bookshelf for over four years. I started it when I first got it, but then set it aside to read her book I Thought It Was Just Me first. When I finished that book last month, I realized that I just don't want to read the hard copy. I want to be able to read in the dim morning light when I first wake up, without turning on a lamp. I want to be able to read at night too. So I wrote off the hard copy as a sunk cost, and used my Amazon No Rush Reward credits to buy the Kindle version of the book. (Almost all of the books I read are borrowed from the library, but I'm going to take my time with this one, so it made more sense to pay for it.)

If you have any book recommendations, send them my way!

What I Read in January (the links in this post to books are Amazon Affiliate links, so I'll make a tiny percentage if you make a purchase at Amazon using them - thank you! read my disclosure policy here):

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts - I think this was the first Nora Roberts novel I've ever read, and I enjoyed it. The characters are complex but decent, so you root for them.

The Silence of the White City by Eva Garcia Saenz - I'm not sure where I saw this novel recommended, and it was a little dark for my taste. But I wanted to know who the bad guy was, so I kept reading. I suspect it's beautiful in Spanish, but I'm not nearly fluent enough to read it in the original.

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul - I know this memoir ended up on my radar because the author is in a book club with Gretchen Rubin (who's mentioned in the book). Like the author, I love books - they're my teachers and friends, and I wish I'd thought to start keeping a "book of books" when I was young.

Crime School, Dead Famous, Winter House, Find Me, The Chalk Girl, It Happens in the Dark, and Blind Sight by Carol O'Connell - These are books 6 through 12 of the Kathy Mallory mystery series. I'd read the first five books long ago, and I was happy to rediscover the series, though it's not exactly uplifting.

The Case of the Missing Marquess and The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer - I found this series while perusing the mystery recommendations on the library website, and didn't know the first book has already been made into a Netflix movie. I love this female perspective of the Sherlock Holmes universe, and am on the library waiting list for the next books in the series.

Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey by A.J. Jacobs (audio) - This is the third or fourth A.J. Jacobs book I've listened to. I like the way he experiments on himself, so to speak, and it's easy to follow what he's saying. In addition to just making me generally feel more grateful about my blessings, I took away one concrete action step: when I'm having trouble falling asleep, I go through the alphabet and name something I'm grateful for that starts with each letter.

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough" by Brene Brown - This book took me forever to get through because the material is challenging if you're being honest with yourself. But with #Read21in21, I would read a section every day, then switch to a different book. I got through it slowly but surely, and I grew a lot because of this book. It was really eye-opening.

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova - I thought this book would would teach me about luck while making me fall in love with poker, but even though she's a good writer, I skimmed right over the technical parts about poker. I did enjoy the book overall - there are real life lessons here.

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin - David Lebovitz mentioned this book in a post about a French tart recipe, and I immediately got it from the library. It's entertaining, and full of fun, crazy stories. Jacques Pepin has led quite an amazing life! But the best part was that it gave me a new insight into my own dad. Born right before World War II, Jacques grew up foraging for food, and he never stopped, even after he moved to the U.S. That made me see that my dad always feels compelled to at least think about catching the fish in the ocean, because it's what he used to do as a boy.

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