On a busy Northern line tube ride home from work one evening with my friend and fellow reader Carolyn we spotted a gentleman reading an obscure book that we’d both read. As tales go this one is scare in detail because I can’t actually remember the name of the book, I just know it was obscure enough to leave Carolyn and me nudging each other surprised to see it being read on the tube. For those who know me and Carolyn it will come as no surprise to find out we weren’t too subtle in our pointing, nudging and talking and the gentleman in question became aware of our interest in his choice of book and struck up a conversation. To the shock and horror of people reading this who believe London is full of silent soulless people, people do speak to people they don’t know. Fact.
Our discussion lasted the length of our journey and when we realised we were all getting off at the same stop the conversation continued, up the escalator, through the ticket hall and out on to the street. Of everything that we discussed with the gentleman the thing that amazed me and inspired me was his book reading record keeping. In his diary he notes the date he starts a book, the date he finishes it and brief notes to remind himself whether he enjoyed it, loved it or hated it. He also kept a running tally of how many books he had read that year and kept all his old diaries to compare, consult and reminisce. Such dedication to record keeping will serve this man well as he grows old and his mind fails him.
Inspired I too wanted to start logging my reading but I don’t carry a paper diary I want to keep things online and taking things a step further I want to share what I’m reading with others. Step forward Goodreads. I can’t remember who recommended the site to me, and I’m not entirely sure how soon after meeting the reading gentleman I registered but with a novelists poetic licence let’s say I found it the next day. Since then I’ve logged all the books I’ve read. I’ve spent the time trailing through the site adding books I’d read as a child and teenager – how amazing would it be to have a definite number of books I’d read – of course that’s never going to happen but with each book I remember and log I’m painting a better picture of my world of books. I get a particular thrill from flash backs to books long forgotten and adding them to the list. A lunchtime chat with a friend in work reminded me of the Point Horror series I devoured like most teenage girls in the 90s and a choosing a book to send to my oldest friend’s daughter in Australia brought a whole array of books read as a child flooding back.
I would say I’m quite a fan of social media; I still have my facebook account at 33 years old and would say I am a moderate poster and user of it. I tweet, in fact I tweet from two accounts a personal one dedicated mostly to the ramblings of a Bookaholic and a professional one. I blog, well duh! But with Goodreads I’ve never really got the whole “befriending”. It’s just not what I’m on there for. Goodreads is a depository of information for me, not an exchange network. I do of course have it linked through to facebook and twitter and that is where I get my interaction. I also don’t use half the functionality the site offers. I don’t make lists available to the public, I don’t play quizzes, and I’m not in any groups. The title of this blog “BookClubforOne” may shed light on why I don’t engage with the more interactive elements. But, a tool of the site I do love is the Reading Challenge.
The Reading Challenge – set a goal of how many books you want to read in the year and then let the site tell you how you’re doing, are you ahead, behind, by what percentage? In the first year I participated 2012 I had no idea how many to set myself, altered it throughout the year and ended up with a goal of 50 which I exceeded by 1. Having spent the year increasing my goal and doing so well I went into 2013 quite cocky, I could read more than 51 books, I mean come on that is less than 1 a week and some weeks (holidays) I can read 3 or 4 books. So I stepped it up I went big my goal for 2013 to read 60 books. What I didn’t account for in 2013 was falling in love and moving in with my other half. In 2012 we were dating I spent lots of evenings and weekends on my own I had time to read. In 2013 I was head over heels, I wanted to spend my time with him not curled up reading. Well ok I still wanted to do that but it became a little bit harder, nothing says “no sex tonight luv” than me under the duvet with my glasses on, hot juice at the side of the bed and a thick book in hand. Thankfully I fell in love with someone who reads too and we soon found a healthy balance, sadly not enough for me to reach my total and in 2013 I read only 48 books.
First of January 2014, I sit at my laptop my stats for the previous year before me. Where do I go with this year? Do I stand defeated by my 48 and go lower that 2012, do I stand defiant and go higher? Higher or lower, higher or lower (stop press. When did my blog turn into a Bruce Forsyth gameshow?!) In the end I went for the middle ground and set a target of 55. Towards the end of 2013 I moved out of London to the Kent countryside and now have a much longer commute. Whilst I often take the chance in the morning to catch a few more zees, in the evening it has boosted my reading. I also went on holiday, something I didn’t do in 2013, and spent glorious days by a pool in a Tuscan Castelo reading the day away. So how did I do, well I smashed it 61 books – BOOM!
I like having a target; I can understand why some people don’t. I recently read Jessica Pryde’s piece on Book Riot “Why I’m not participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2015” and I could completely understand how a target could make you read for the sake of reading to ensure you’re up to date with your goal. However, rather than stressing me out and making me feel bad for lagging behind I’ve taken to seeing my goal as a gentle reminder, if I’m behind I think “have I been making time to read” because in making time to read I’m making time for me. So what is my goal for 2015? I want lots of me time this year so I’ve gone for 65 books, 1.25 books per week and I’ve already read one of them and according to my Kindle I’m 12% through my 2nd, wish me luck.