Racing through the Pages: My Plan for Managing my Bookish Mischief in 2024

Greetings Readers,

I hope your holiday season has been a plethora of blessings and joyful moments with friends and loved ones. If you have been spending the holidays alone, just know that a comforting shoulder is within reach if you need anyone to talk to. That’s one of the great things about the internet.

I’ve noticed a trend of weaving out New Year’s resolutions for the past few years, but people have also still been trying to make good habits for the new start that comes every January First. While I think resolutions may have their benefits conceptually, we are in an age where everything we do is practically marked on our digital landscape. Meetings, parties and events are clearly noted on calendars. Food and grocery deliveries result in a boat load of companies and markets knowing your personal preferences, and social media feeds contain ads selling products we’ve only been talking about in the house or with friends and family. Each new app or website we sign up for asks for our permission to track our activity, obviously for advertisement rather than our convenience, and those services are no doubt keeping track of the time we spend using them. the slippery, slimy hands of the internet can tell you very much where you were, and what you did at almost any given time, even when you’re supposed to be getting that much-needed good night’s sleep. We can try to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves everything is okay when we don’t fulfill the resolution we’d committed to at the beginning of the year, or we could beat ourselves up for not meeting our own expectations. Either way, whether people intend to provide support, advice, or just want to be nosy, there’s always a way they can find out, and this is one of the not so great things about the internet. πŸ™‚

I’ve always enjoyed the personal pleasure of reading books, that silent, euphoric feeling once the end is reached and you either marvel at the plot twists that got you there, or start picking apart the characters and their good or bad choices. I tend to do a little of both. While I tend to think of reading as a solitary experience, books, just like other forms of entertainment, should be shared eagerly. I’ve always loved going to the local library for the book club meetings for each month. I used to attend regularly until people were unhappy with my guide dog due to allergies or other personal reasons. Ever since we’ve emerged from the pandemic, book club opportunities in my area have been sparse. To fill the void, I started signing up for social networks that primarily discussed books, and I thought this extra connection from a distance would make me feel like I was part of a community of solitary readers who still loved to talk about the stories that impacted them. Little did I realize at the time that I was contributing to the infinite dump heap of information the internet tosses every which way. Book recommendations flooded my inbox, friends bragged about their reading challenges and how successful they were, and online book clubs usually deviated from book chatter and were not organized, making the interaction confusing and stressful. This created the perfect storm that brewed in the background while I went to school, digesting textbook after textbook. When I could finally read for pleasure instead of pain, I’d sit on the couch with phone in hand, contemplating my next read amidst a sea of catchy titles, intricately woven summaries, and a host of conflicting book reviews. If that didn’t jog my interests, I’d just browse the recently added titles on audible, Amazon, or the National Library Service. I almost always found something, but every book required hours of searching. Perhaps I’m just so picky with books since I prefer them to movies, but lately, finding a good read is almost as frustrating as finding a house! At least it is for me, anyway.

To Read, or Not to Read: The sixty-four Thousand dollar Question

After turning in those dreaded midterm papers and final exams, the last thing I usually want to do is pick up a book, but the stories win me over every time. Whenever a bookish buddy of mine throws out the line, “Hey, I just read the coolest book, and it’s a killer story,” I have to learn more. I gleefully resign myself to the page, awaiting the thrill of adventure that I can enjoy at my own pace. Instead of dragging myself through the corn maze of theoretical mumbo-jumbo, I can be transported to an exciting new world, but which world do I visit next? Again, think of each new book you read as a new house you’re moving to. You’re in this new world, and you have to become familiar with the characters, your neighbors. What kind of house do you want to live in? What kind of neighbors do you want? Will your house come with magical or futuristic features? Does your house have time-traveling capabilities? Are you interested in restoring peace and order to your temporary residence by helping solve a crime or demanding change for a farer power structure, or do you just want to explore the hidden corners of your new world? Decisions, decisions! Oh well. At least with a book you can end the contract anytime you want, unlike with a house. πŸ™‚

If you’ve read this far, you most likely came to the conclusion that I am a weird bookish lady who has a strange brain that has trouble making decisions. Yeah, I know. My brain doesn’t operate on the same wavelength as most brains do, but I guess that’s what makes us all uniquely beautiful. While I won’t argue with the fact that I have a strange brain, I will defend my bookish habits until my dying breath. We need to make the best of our limited time, and if I’m going to read a book I want to make sure it’s exactly where I want to reside for the next few days. This is why I feel limitless choices can be problematic. Sites like Goodreads are great for the community forming aspect, but it proceeds at far too rapid a rate for me to keep up. Book challenges are also fun, but I feel those should be reserved to schools and libraries, where kids are being encouraged to enhance their reading skills. Plus, they exclude the 21st century bookworm who has a hectic lifestyle and can’t participate. I haven’t checked my goodreads in months, and to be honest, I’m perfectly happy with that. What we need is a place like Goodreads, created with the intention of community building for book lovers who are eager to share, but on a much smaller scale. Is this even possible in today’s digital chaos? Well, yes, but we have to make the decision to create this space for ourselves.

I first launched this website at the beginning of 2021, with the intent of having one place that I can share my thoughts in both blog and podcast form. As we approach this new year, I’ve been reflecting on my intentions to make books a larger part of my life. They are a passion of mine that I’ve mostly kept to myself. I just can’t seem to bring myself to log anymore of my books on websites that aren’t mine, and for what? Would it even be worth my own time? Would it be worth anyone else to read my own thoughts about the books I read? It’s just too mentally exhausting, so I’ve just been enjoying my books silently. It’s more exciting when you don’t have to hunt for books alone, however, and that’s what gave me the idea to design a small circle of bookish buddies who also delight in discussing their favorite stories. I can also share my favorite books I’ve read each month in my own space, appreciating those who go out of the way to click the link and visit. That gives me joy knowing that people want to take the time to read my thoughts in a place that’s free of censorship, but is also welcoming and inclusive. I can digest recommendations from my own buddies in the spaces they desire to share them, and enjoy the connections we build. we can open up about stories that change us, or talk about the characters and plots that we loved most, and even ones that drove us mad. We can adapt to the changing times and still find a way to share our passion and manage it without so much hassle.

So What’s in Store for 2024?

For me, this isn’t a major change of anything new and exciting. I like to think of it as a redesign of my own personal reading plan that I’m sharing with others just in case they are possibly thinking of the same thing and how to approach the next year’s reading choices. I’ll continue to browse the libraries, find books, and read the recommendations from friends, but now, I’ll be sharing my own personal book club pick of the month, as a way of keeping my passion alive for others to throw titles my way if they think I might like it. I’m committing to do this once a month, since I’m still heavily invested in my Master’s degree and need to keep this manageable. To make sure I read as diverse a collection as possible, I’ll be assigning different themes for each month, and I’ll post them to my blog. People can also suggest themes and I’ll include them in the selection. I’ll be planning each selection of themes at the beginning of the year, but they’ll be periodically evaluated as time progresses, in case there’s a current historical event that is inspiring me to take a different path. Finally, I’ll also be designing my own book club that anyone can join, but there will be some differences from a typical online forum. First, our community can adopt a hashtag on social media, so that people can share their book thoughts in the spaces they wish, and for those needing a space to share their reviews, I can post it here on the site, but it’s more important to design your own space for sharing your book recommendations and reviews so you can appreciate those who visit because they’re interested in knowing what you have to say. There won’t be a constant, designated place for book chatter because people can be overwhelmed with messages and of course this would defeat the purpose of managing our bookshelves with careful consideration. You can choose to share as much of your bookish thoughts to social media as you like, and if there is enough interest in the club, we can host monthly virtual meetings that could be shared in the form of a podcast so others can follow along if desired. Even if you don’t join the book club, but are inspired to create one of your own, I’ll still share my theme selections on my site to help generate ideas. I like the clubs that pick one book to dissect every month, but everyone has different reading preferences and it makes sense to choose a book that goes with the theme. Plus, more diverse titles are brought to our attention and authors that aren’t well-known have a greater chance of being discovered.

We choose books for our own personal reasons, but we share their stories because they matter to us. Stories change us, force us to reflect on our own lives, encourage us to maintain awareness of the world we live in and the deep reflections of those we care about, and most importantly, fuel us to change our own world for the better. Think about the last time you were excited to talk about a book you read with a friend. We are driven to share what we find most important, but in a world that invites us to share everything from our favorite playlists to what we eat for lunch, we lose sight of the deep values that shape what we do and how we spend our time. The only thing I can learn from a person’s digital bookshelf is how little, or how often they read, but these places don’t really give their thoughts as much attention. I want to know why a book is important to someone, and that is one of the best factors for deciding the next read. πŸ™‚

I look forward to this new phase of my journey, and if you wish to join me, I extend a warm welcome. Please reach out with your own ideas if you feel compelled. I am on social media if you wish to contact me there, or you can post a comment to the blog. In any case, I encourage you to ask a friend why they felt a book was important to them before deciding your next read. I’ll post my theme selection for 2024 in a separate post, which will also outline my plan for starting the book club if interested.
Until then, I wish my readers a fond farewell, and abundant blessings and joy for the year beyond. Have a remarkable day!

Share and Enjoy !


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