In addition to looking back at my year as a whole, I looked back at my reading life as well. This was easy to do, since I keep two reading-related notebooks. The first is a little notebook where I jot down the name and author of books read by month. The second is a bigger notebook for taking notes (particularly when reading non-fiction). The latter is useful when I am looking for an interesting idea while writing or preparing a lecture for one of my classes. The former, however, is what makes it easy to look back at what I read over the course of the year. Here is a little glimpse at my 2023 reading.
Before I share my list, a few notes about my reading habits. I absolutely love to read. It is my choice of relaxation on most days. I do not think reading for fun is "better" than watching TV or listening to music, we all have our choice of media. Reading is mine. But I do not read only for fun, I also read to learn. I do think being a reader makes it easier to build new knowledge regularly, which is why I tell my students and my kids they should try to develop reading habits, even if its not their favorite pastime.
So, I read for fun and to learn. I read fiction at night, when my tired brain needs to dive into something enjoyable. Easy reads, upbeat fiction, relatable characters, great settings - those are my go-tos. I rarely read anything negative. I want to fall asleep feeling happy. Sometimes, I choose magazines - food, lifestyle, or home decorating. I have a few subscriptions but often check out past issues from the library. Mornings are different. This is usually when I crave nonfiction, choosing topics I think will help me in my life or push my understanding of something. This habit of starting my day with nonfiction and ending it with fiction or magazines started a few years ago and provides good balance to my day.
With little kids, my reading is squeezed into small (tiny?) time slots. At night, its usually a half-hour or hour before passing out. In the morning, its whatever time I get up before the kids wake. I prefer to start my day alone, so I will often forgo more sleep for quiet mornings by myself. With a new baby, that morning routine has been messy, some days I am able to get up early to read. Other days, not so much. You can see this shift in the number of books read after baby number 3 arrived in late July 🙂
Anyways, here is my 2023 list. Looking for suggestions for 2024, if you have any!
It was interesting to review what I read by writing this out. I’ve been tracking the books I’ve read each month since August 2018. I can clearly see 2023 was a slower reading year if you use total books read as a metric. I read 23 books. This is a clear reverse in trend:
Does it matter? Not really. Although 23 in 2023 has a nice ring to it. Ultimately, the number of books is kind of a weird metric. Some books are really short and easy to read while others are a labor of love. I know myself, if I care too much about achieving a reading goal based on total books read, I would skip big books! Its just interesting to note. Not entirely surprising that the two years with lowest books read were the years I had babies number 2 and 3 (2019 and 2023).
While I don't have a target number for next year, I do have some reading goals. I would like to continue my efforts to have one fiction and one non-fiction book going each month. I fell away from this, reading less for fun (fiction) then I like to do. Part of the problem was I didn't always know what to read and in my post-partum haze, didn't have the energy to find good titles and request them from my small library (which usually has to get them from other libraries, which can take a week or more). Non-fiction is easier to find, I can usually tell if its a subject I want to explore merely from the title. So this year, I want to always have my next fiction book physically ready. I know I will read more if I am more organized about getting new books before I am done with my current read.
As for my non-fiction reading, I will continue to choose titles that challenge me. I think my first will be The Coming Wave, a book I started in December but put off. It felt too heavy for the holidays. I am dreading it a bit but really want to understand AI and what may be coming. I'd like to read some of the other titles on The Financial Times Best Business Books of 2023. I also want to do more nature reading (inspired by my December read) as well as some stuff by local authors. I keep my TBR list loose, as I am often inspired or driven in the moment and like to keep myself open to what I feel like reading as the year progresses.
That's all! Since I am posting this on New Year's Eve, I will end with wishing you a very happy New Year. May 2024 bring you lots of happy moments doing whatever it is you love to do. I hope mine will be filled with good books, good food, time in nature, time for building relationships, baby and kid cuddles, a cleaner house (ha), and a new, exciting direction in my career. Fingers crossed!