Progress: 2/3 yearly book goals attained! …So what?
Every year I set book goals for myself, and every year I stress myself out to reach them, and then feel terrible both while achieving them and not achieving them–doesn’t matter whether I’m ahead or behind–and after the fact if I don’t achieve them. Like many women, like many mothers, like many parents, like many people, I feel a need to always be doing something productive. Then I berate myself if I’m not productive enough, and eventually that leaves me curled up in as fetal a position as you can get while playing hours of Candy Crush instead of dealing with real life.
And then I wonder why my generation’s children are so anxiety-ridden.
I often think that this is a result of starting out as a generation of kids who had access to some things, and then suddenly had access to everything. It triggered something in us, made us more sure than our parents and our parents’ parents that we would die without enough accomplishment. People joke about spending hours scrolling for the “right” thing on Netflix, until it’s so late they no longer have time to watch anything, except I don’t think they’re really joking. I think we feel desperate with our media, and it makes us feel desperate in our lives.
So this will be the last year I set crazy goals for myself.
Of the goals I have, I like the two that aren’t “[a really high number of] books to read over the course of the year.” I like that they are more specific: I challenge myself to read twenty new books, and fifty books out of my ridiculous hoard that I haven’t read yet–which, admittedly, includes books that I have picked up at a trade-in that I haven’t read in five years or more. So if I pick up a beloved Crusie or L’Engle novel for some comfort/nostalgia reading, that doesn’t count toward anything but the massively-large-number goal. If I find a L’Engle that I don’t own at the Book Barn and am rereading it for the first time in ten years, it counts toward the fifty.
[There are, of course, no Crusies I don’t own, except alternate-cover versions. Unless some of them were revised a bit during reissue and I have no idea, but even then I have some original/reissue doubles.
Before you think I’m about to pull the “I liked this before it was cool/in Guardians of the Galaxy” bs, I should point out that the version I was most familiar with for years was by Bratmobile, not The Runaways, so I wasn’t getting cool points anyway. Also, this is a modified Crusie/Mayer logo, in case you were trying to figure out where the heck I was going with this.]
And of course then there’s BEA, where I come home with like fifty new books, most of which won’t even be published for a couple to several months. Between that and my local library, I’ve got those twenty new books covered. I even give myself two months at the end of the previous year, because libraries have waiting lists. I usually read about 5-10 of those BEA books as soon as I get home, because they’re by my favorite authors, and I really want to read them before they come out because I want to feel special or whatever. So that’s half that goal already reached in the month of June alone. And those count toward the fifty “shelf books.”
All my books are on shelves, except the boxed-up overflow unreads in the attic, but to me “shelf books” are the unreads, which are separated onto their own bookcase. I thought I had a “before BEA” picture to show you, but I don’t, so here’s the after:
Remember, this doesn’t include the ones boxed upstairs. (Weird box on top left is full of cat things, like cat toothpaste and cat brushes and cat toys.)
Some are college books I didn’t quite finish, or other books from series that I started but don’t care enough to have read yet. Some are series that I really like, but hell if those books aren’t huge so I haven’t gotten to them yet because of the stress of the numbers game I play with myself every year. (“A book that big?! I’ll never get to my goals if I read that NOW!”) One or two are my husband’s that I want to read but not enough to have read them yet. Two were recommended by my grandmother, so I keep putting them off because I’m pretty sure I’ll feel like I lost her all over again once I finish them. Most are fiction, but that’s because I mostly read fiction. There’s more non-fiction boxed up in the attic because my non-fiction to fiction reading ratio is probably something like 1:50. Here’s the thing: the combined cost of these books was about…maybe $30? Tops? Which is how I was justifying obtaining all these books to myself for a really long time. I only see one book there that I paid full price for, except that it came as a buy-two-get-one, so even that’s not completely accurate. Fully half are from BEA–the top pile and the bottom piles are from 2014, with a lot of the ones in between from 2013. Some are library discards, given away for free or purchased at pennies on the dollar. Some are from trade-ins, as most places will give you about a 4:1 trade-in rate. Most of the ones you don’t see here are from hardcore library sales, $1/bag or, once or twice, $5/bag (for hardbacks).
I once got 112 books for $7. Around the third time I did this, I realized how stupid it was. Who has the space? And look, that first bag-of-books sale was about ten years ago, and I still haven’t read almost all of them. That’s why I only do trade-ins now. 4:1, and never on a book I haven’t read before, unless the library can’t get it for me in time for book club.
Even with my fifty book goal, I’m barely chipping away at this pile, let alone however many boxes are in the attic. It helps that if I go to BEA next year, it will probably be my last year because it’s moving locations and I don’t care enough to go to Chicago or wherever. And next year I’ll be pickier about what I keep, because I was pickier this year and that can only get better because I do tend toward that, rather than always getting worse. I mean, I did get MORE books this year than last, I think, but I also donated most of them to local libraries.
If this is a boring or confusing post, it’s because it’s like reading someone’s to-do list, then listening to them justify why they haven’t done anything on it. And that really is boring and/or confusing, and I’m sick of doing it. I’m boring myself with these goal posts. (Heh, “goal posts.”) Moving on.
So. I’ve finished the twenty new book goal, and I finished the fifty-off-the-shelf goal. Here’s how they played out:
1) Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine #2)
2) The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson
3) The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin – Jim Butcher
4) Snowblind – Christopher Golden
5) Cress – Marissa Meyer
6) Burn – Julianna Baggott
7) Dreams of the Golden Age – Carrie Vaughn
8) Three Weeks with Lady X – Eloisa James
9) Panic – Lauren Oliver
10) Frog Music – Emma Donoague
11) The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness
12) The Geography of You and Me – Jennifer E. Smith
13) Dreams of Gods & Monsters – Laini Taylor
14) Landline – Rainbow Rowell
15) Party Games – RL Stine
16) Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld
17) Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel – Sara Farizan
18) Lock In – John Scalzi
19) Sisters – Raina Telgemeier
20) I Am Rosa Parks – Brad Meltzer
[I stopped counting at 20, but I’m 9 past this so far, which you can see on my Goodreads account.]
Shelf (aka unread purchases/acquisitions)
1) Little Miss Contrary
2) Eighth Grade Bites
3) We the Living
4) Rat Girl
5) Bridge to Terabithia
6) The Phantom Tollbooth
7) Flora & Ulysses
8) Two Boys Kissing
9) Camp Foxrtrot
10) Lilith’s Brood (three books in one)
11) Foxtrot Beyond a Doubt
12) Sherlock Holmes v 2
13) Come Along with Me
14) Chinese Cinderella
15) On the Night of the Seventh Moon
16) Guards! Guards!
17) Wildly Foxtrot
18) Scruples 2
19) Lady Oracle
20) Guarded (Buffy 9.3)
22) Watership Down
23) Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
25) Party Games
27) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
28) Alias V1
29) Alias V2
30) Alias V3
31) Lock In
33) I Am Rosa Parks
34) Black Ice
35) My Real Children
36) The Stranger
37) The Question: Riddles
38) Acts of Love
39) Messenger of Fear
40) Never Let Me Go
41) High Fidelity
42) The Good Girl
43) Dangerous Girls
44) Wayne of Gotham
45) Sex Criminals #1
46) Thief of Thieves #1
47) Alex + Ada #1
48) Pretty Deadly #1
49) Rat Queens #1
50) Lazarus #1
(+4 more so far)
How am I feeling about this? Okay. Not great. Why? Because Goodreads tells me I’m only at 129 of my stupid goal of 300 books, which is–it reminds me–49 books “behind schedule.”
Next year? My Goodreads goal is going to be 50 books. Those 50 shelf books will make up a chunk of that, and the new ones will make up most of the rest, and there will be a handful of other library reads and loaners from friends. That’s it. Sure, I’ll probably end up reading between 200 and 300 on my own, but I will not look at that stupid “behind schedule” message ever again and get stressed out.
Not that I blame Goodreads. This is all me.
[This is also why I didn’t have a “My List” on Netflix for a long time. Maybe I should get rid of that, too.]