Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together
Happy Tuesday y’all! This week’s topic is a freebie so I decided to do a topic I missed a couple of weeks ago: “Changes in My Reading Life.” Oh boy….I could write an entire series on this one. 2019 has been the year of changes for me reading (and blogging) wise. All positive though 😉 Below is a list of the top changes in my reading life, in no particular order. As always, titles/covers link to Blog/Goodreads/Amazon(aff).
Changes in My Reading Life
Have you ever been so busy that you can’t pick up a book to read? Or your mind is so busy that you can’t focus to read? Yeah that was me earlier this year. I’ve always enjoyed audiobooks, but personally found that I enjoyed reading a book more than listening. Well, over the last year I’ve learned that listening can be just as enjoyable if not more so.
Back in the Spring, I was having a hard time focusing on what I was reading. I would finish reading a page and have to reread it because I didn’t know what it said. My brain wouldn’t let me focus on it. It wanted me to focus on all the things that needed to be done around the house. That’s where audiobooks came in. I was in the middle of reading Dark Harmony by Laura Thalassa (It’s one of my all-time favorite series and the final book.) when my dryer broke. Not only did it break, it took over three weeks of back and forth with the warranty company before they finally decided to give me money for a new dryer 🙄 During all of this I would wash a load of laundry then load all of it up and go dry it at my mom’s house. Thank God she lives close and didn’t mind me using hers! Anyways long story short while I did my laundry over there, all of the house work would pile up. I’d come home to bathrooms needing cleaned and dishes needing washed. Things that I usually did while the clothes were washed and dried weren’t getting done because I wasn’t at home. While all those chores needed to be done, my book sat sad and lonely, neglected because I couldn’t focus on what I was reading! That’s where the audiobooks came in.
With my Audible membership, I purchased the narration to Dark Harmony and listened to it while doing all my chores. It was a win-win. Even after the new dryer arrived, I found that I enjoyed listening while my son was at school. This year I’ve listened to 25 audiobooks solely and numerous other books I’ve alternated listening and reading with my Kindle. For me this has been the biggest change in my reading life and one of the best! I love the freedom it gives me to not have to set my book down. Instead I can take it with me on the go, listening in the car or while I fold the laundry. Audiobooks rock, but y’all already knew that didn’t you 😉
Reading from the Backlist aka My Massive TBR Pile 📚
Another positive change I made this year is reading more from the backlist. For those of you that don’t know the lingo (because I didn’t until this year), backlist stands for books published prior to the current year. There are so many books published every year, and every year I add some to my shelves, both my physical shelves and my virtual one, that never get read. As a result, I was drowning in a sea of unread books. Books that I was so excited to read now felt like a chore that I would never get to.
This year I joined Novel Knight’s Beat the Backlist challenge. I challenged myself to read 30 backlist books. As of writing this post, I’m sitting at 40 read for the year 🙌 This change made me excited to read again. Not only am I choosing the books I read, I’m flying through them and getting to share them with you. Y’all have helped too! This past summer I started participating in Because Reading’s TBR List meme again. It’s a monthly meme that allows y’all to vote for a book from my TBR to read. It’s been fun to see not only what you pick but to read a book I’m excited to read.
Ditching the Required Reading 🗑
This was hard for me. When I started blogging in 2014, I was so excited at the prospect that an author wanted me to read their book that I accepted everything sent to me to read. I’m a yes girl, a people pleaser. I do not like confrontation, and I do not like to say no. Over the last couple of years though, it’s gotten easier. I’m pickier about the books that come across my radar. I don’t accept everything, and I make no apologies for it. I’m only one person, and while I do have a wide range of genres I enjoy, I don’t like everything. I can’t please everyone.
So I’ve ditched what I call required reading. I now only accept books from authors/publishers I’ve worked with previously and enjoy their work. I only accept the requests that come through and the author clearly took the time to read what I accept and even did a little homework and looked at my other reviews. I’m pickier about Netgalley. I only request what I know I can read, AND I keep track of what I request even before it’s approved so I don’t drown myself in books if they are all approved. Is it hard when three books I want to read have the same release date? Yeah, but so is trying to read all three before they’re released 😅 Reading (and blogging) had become a chore, but this change made it enjoyable again.
Scheduled Reading Time ⏰
This goes hand in hand with the previous two changes I’ve mentioned. For years, I’ve always read at night, after my husband and son were asleep. And that was all well and good except all those sleepless nights are catching up with me. Plus I’m older and my body likes sleep more than books apparently. If I lay down in bed to read now, I’m asleep in two minutes….unless it’s a Kelly Oram book. Apparently I can’t sleep until I know what happens in ALL of her books 😂
So how did I make this change? I made it slowly. Over the last year, I found that I wasn’t getting my ARCs read in time, I was missing reading books I wanted to read, and I couldn’t focus on what I was reading for FOMO (fear of missing out) on the new releases that hit shelves every week. The first change I made was reading more audiobooks. I already went into detail on that.
The second change I made was creating a calendar and putting all my ARCs on the calendar by release date. Y’all this is how I found out that there were weeks (and I mean like 6-8 week gaps) where I didn’t have an ARC to review and weeks (like three to four in a row) with two or more releases on the same day. Not good! No one can read that much in one week. It just isn’t physically possible. Hence the calendar. Now I can look at my calendar and see if I have a release that week before requesting/accepting an ARC. In doing this, I limit myself to no more than one a week (though I do make exceptions for my favorite authors/publishers. I can’t resist them) which gives me time to read the ARC and fit in some TBR reading.
But it isn’t just the calendar I’ve added. I’m also scheduling myself time in the day to read. I used to feel guilty about being able to be home and reading, but then it hit me. I’m trying to make a career out of this blogging thing, and since books is the primary reason I’m here, reading should be a priority. That’s where the Forest app came in to play.
Y’all this little app is a lot of fun. At least to me it is….really it doesn’t take much to entertain me. The premise of the app is simple. Pick an amount of time you want to focus and it times you. During that time, you can grow an assortment of trees and bushes for your virtual forest and earn coins to plant real trees in areas of need. The catch is if you leave the app for any reason before the time you set is up, the bush/tree dies and you have to start over. This is fantastic for me because I get distracted by literally everything when I’m reading. But if I’m growing something, I’m determined to finish so my little tree can grow.
For me, I try to schedule at least two hours of focused reading a day. It doesn’t have to be all at one time. Sometimes I know I have an hour and sometimes I only have fifteen minutes. Regardless I try to focus for at least two hours. This change has helped not just my blogging, but also my reading quality. I’m remembering more of what I read and enjoying every word.
Mixing it Up 🦸🏻♂️🧝🏻♀️💏👽🧟♂️
This last change is probably the most important one I’ve learned this year. As I previously mentioned in the above changes, I’ve had trouble focusing this year and staying interested in what I’m reading. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it has nothing to do with the book. It’s me. I was wondering what was wrong with me, why didn’t I love reading anymore, what happened to my fantasies and dystopians that I just wasn’t interested in them anymore. My husband is actually the one that figured it out. I needed a change of scenery. I needed to mix things up and read some different genres, maybe even a few outside of my comfort zone. And y’all it worked!
I’ve always enjoyed sci-fi, but it’s never been my first choice for reading. Well this year it has been. I was so over fantasies. They were running together for me. Then I picked up a copy of Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and realized it wasn’t the books that had me down, it was the genres. I devoured Aurora Rising, loved it so much I bought the audio as well. I then went on a sci-fi/space opera kick reading everything I could set off-planet. When those started to run together, I found myself drawn back to fantasy (thank you Holly Black) and read a book that I DNFed last year. Guess what, I loved it and went on to read more fantasies. When I got tired of those, I picked up some contemporary romance which y’all know is way outside my normal picks. But I loved those too.
Y’all mixing it up brought my reading mojo back. At the beginning of 2019, I was averaging 4-6 books a month. Now with all the changes I’ve made, I’m averaging 10-15 books a month which is where I need to be to provide you with quality content as a book blogger.
Your turn! What changes have you made to your reading life in 2019? Any tips you can give me to keep my reading mojo alive? Share below