Book Club

A few years ago, I was approached by a friend who asked me if I fancied joining her book club. At the time I was doing little to no reading at all. Maybe getting through a couple of books a year. So I was hesitant, I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up, and I was worried I might not like the books selected. If I’m reading just a couple of books a year, I want the books I did read to be ones I liked.

I first said no, but later gave in and agreed to join, with a disclaimer, “I might not actually read the books, but I’m happy to join for breakfast and a chat.” It was agreed, and I joined Book Club. 

For a few months (until a certain pandemic hit), our book club was strong and book choices were generally ones I liked. The challenge meant that reading became a bigger part of my consciousness than it was before. I still didn’t read much, but I thought about reading more. It was something.

In 2019, I set myself a target on GoodReads for 25 books and read 11 books. This was already a massive improvement. 

In 2020, I read 17. 

In 2021, I read 20. 

Come 2022, I made a promise to myself: this year, I would read everyday. Maybe a page, maybe a few chapters. But read everyday. I set myself a target of 24 books (let’s remain realistic), and got started.

But there was also another change.

I *allowed* myself to read. I released myself from the belief that reading meant I was being unproductive. I realised that reading, to me, is a form of meditation. The fact that I get to sit and do nothing other than focus on the words on a page (or Kindle in my case… bad eyes), means that it calms my mind. Why and how could this not be a good thing? 

And there was also another change. Early on in Book Club, I was introduced to Audible. I’d never listened to an audiobook before. I wasn’t sure I knew how. My first attempt was not hugely successful, but eventually I came to realise that there were entire genres of books that I didn’t have patience to read in print, that I did however have patience to listen to. This meant any sort of self-improvement book, and also auto/biographies were now options. There were so many of these books that I wanted to read, but when it came to actually reading them, my mind drifted too often and I would give up. But as audiobooks, it was a completely different story. I began devouring these books on Audible: while driving, while walking the dog, while on the treadmill, sometimes even just sitting quietly and listening while doing nothing else (Educated, by Tara Westover). This opened up a whole lot of books that I had previously written off. And eventually, once I’d gotten used to listening to a book, I became able to also follow a story on Audible, which now means I can listen to and follow any book I choose (this sometimes causes significant dilemmas with regards to what book my one credit a month will be spent on!)

The good thing with Audible is that, along with a subscription, there is also an entire library of free books. There’ve been a few good ones I’ve found in there too (for example, Dick Van Dyke’s book Keep Moving, and Alone with the Stars by David R Gillham), along with some that were quickly set aside, I’ll admit. But it’s worth a look. 

So at any given time, I now have one book going on Audible, and one going on Kindle.

Kindle is great because books are so much cheaper as digital books than they are in any bookstore (in the UAE at least!) I still love and do spend a very good amount of time browsing bookstores. Nothing will ever take away that feeling of mooching through shelves and piles of books. And sometimes, when a book I listen to on Audible is THAT good, I feel the need to also own the physical copy (for example, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and several books by Matt Haig.) 

But I digress. 

So my trick with Kindle is to have an Amazon wishlist of books I’d like to read. I then wait. Prices on Amazon fluctuate very often, so a frequent browse of said wishlist means that at any given time, I may find one of the books I want to read reduced to 99p. Then I purchase it. This happens often, so my TBR “pile” inside my Kindle is not a small one by any means, but I have generally not spent more than 99p on any one of those books.

Also, at the beginning of every month, Amazon has a Kindle book sale. I bet most people don’t know about this. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on that.

Things were going so well with my reading challenge this year, that a few months ago, I increased my 2022 target to 50 books. 

Where am I with that now, you ask? I’ll tell you. As of this week, I have completed (my husband insists that listening to a book is not reading a book, hence the use of “completed” as opposed to “read”, but that is a discussion for another day…) 22 books. I am almost half way through my yearly challenge and we are not yet at the halfway point of the year. GoodReads happily points out that I am 5 books ahead of schedule. My aim is to completely smash my target this year, and I think I just might. 

Book Club has mostly died out now. In fairness, I was never a great member anyway. I am so particular about what I read (not to mention that my choice of book largely depends on the mood I happen to be in on the day I begin reading said book), it was mostly about the company and the croissants anyway. But I will always be grateful to the group of ladies who unwittingly helped to rekindle my love for reading. I won’t be letting go of the habit again anytime soon.

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