Oh September

Even though I said that 52 books in 52 wasn’t my goal, once the idea was spoken, it stuck in my mind. So I spent the summer reading with fury. I started Googling “what week of the year is it?” and tracking how many books I’d read. I picked up books I’d half-finished (Vi) and finished them. I found shorter novellas and started listening to more audiobooks. By the end of August (week 35) I’d read 37 books. And then the freight-train that is September hit.

Back-to-school, work projects ramping up, strategic planning and organizing my not-for-profit work, my partner’s work and of course, birthdays. Ever the optimist, I took a writing course through Not Sorry that I also wanted to give my attention to.

At the end of September (week 39) I’m still at 37 books. My “currently reading” list is short and has the books that I find interesting, but challenging. Whether because I want to work through them (the how-to-write books by Burroway and Le Guin) or because the text is challenging (Neuromancer because it makes up its own language in an immersively disorienting way, or Children of Time because it really wants to be hard science fiction.) I don’t feel the need to rush this. I also don’t feel the need to “cheat” with more audiobooks and novellas. I think, at this moment, I feel the year was successful. I’ve got a rich “to read” shelf that I’ll keep turning to as I finish books, but I feel much more grounded in the genres I love than I did at the start of the year.

The one thing that this little project hasn’t allowed me to track/get dopamine for, is reading short stories. Some of the books I’ve read have been short story collections, so they “count,” but reading a short story for class, or the latest issue of a literary magazine didn’t. (I made the rules, so clearly my fault). Which is how the idea for next year is formulating in my mind. I’m thinking I will read at least 1 short story a week (famous or otherwise) but then force myself to react to it. It could be in writing my feelings, or in doing a creative writing piece in conversation with that piece.

So for now, the tracking will slow and I’ll give myself space to have feelings about all I read. Next year I will try to be less of a consumer and include more reaction and participation.