(Note of warning: long post ahead!)
My muscles were tight from tension before classes started this autumn, and constant exam-cramming allowed this tense, jittery feeling to double in size. I call it The Stress Monster, and it haunts me. (It haunts a lot of people, I know — practically everyone. There’s an entire population of Stress Monsters.) This invisible creature nearly stabbed my reading interest to death, but as it happened: my reading interest left before that could occur. I simply did not want to read. I did not want to read anything.
I wanted sleep sleep sleep s l e e p.
I spent hours hidden beneath covers and crashing on the living room couch these last few months. I split motivation between willing myself into a bedblob versus maintaining status as “acceptable student and probably a responsible adult.” If it was one thing I took away from fall quarter, it is admitting when I will not have time to read a book. Not only that, but I learned how easy it is to toss something aside and feel relieved.
Wow. I realized that butting my desperate desire to read ALL THE BOOKS against life equates to more stress, because: ugh, I don’t have time to read all those and do that and this, even though I’d like to read all those and still have time for that and this. I struggled to get out of bed, hobbled to class, slumped in chairs, whined, whined some more, and managed to pull enough of myself together to earn an A in the one pain-in-the-arse class: statistics. (I feel quite proud of myself, see, see.) So what this all leads up to is…
For the first time in a long time, I have no library book requests. Let me repeat: no book requests at the library. …With the exception of a few graphic novels (and by “few,” I do mean “few.” I know: shocking). Although I expect my schedule to carry on in the same, if not more, amount of busy, I made certain to leave my mornings free (God, yes). It might seems like a small detail to some, but to keep it short: I am not a morning person, and when I’m not rushing around to make it somewhere by 8 AM, my energy receives an automatic boost. I’m calm. I’m clear-headed. Yay.
Before anyone takes a bet on how long my disinterest in library books lasts, I have resolutions. Yes: actual resolutions, and it will do me good to stick by them when Real Life keeps hogging Free Time. For starters:
- REVIEW MORE. School takes away from this, but I have challenged myself to read and review at least 12 book. This is courtesy of The Mad Reviewer’s reading challenge, which you can read about here and here.
- Do not buy books unless I plan to read them in the month they are purchased. A problem I have is snatching books up because I want them, and because I want them I also want to read them. Sadly, I rarely get around to the reading part.
- Pick no more than 3 reading challenges. I know I am not alone in challenging myself to a challenge too many. Too many, in fact, that it is by some miracle that I complete one.
- Restrict library privileges. Ooh, this sounds harsh to me, but one reason I hold off on reading books I own is because I constantly check out other books from the library. And then? I check out so many books from the library that I can’t read all of the library books. And then I experience separation anxiety and accumulate large fines.
With all that said, however, I still have books I want to read that sit on my own shelves, which brings me to my last bookish resolve: Read at least 5 books I currently own. Five is a good number, right? As long as I keep away from the library, I can actually read my books! A good chunk includes (a book pile I don’t think I can possibly get through in one year, but…):
- The Chronicles of Narnia (books 1 – 7) by C.S. Lewis
- Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
- The Catcher in Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
- When I was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten
- Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
- The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
- Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
- Un Lun Dun by China Miéville
- Y: A Novel by Marjorie Celona
- The Circuit by Francisco Jiménez
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich
- Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This list includes the result of October’s book-buying-spree, and I intentionally excluded Gone with the Wind — a book I purchased years ago, and I often wonder if I will ever read it. In any case, my 2013 doesn’t want anything to do with Margaret Mitchell. Before (and if) I jump into HP #7 (because new books distract me so…), I will re-read the first six books. If you are interested in doing a Harry Potter read-along with me, or any books you spy here, please contact me and do not feel shy. Read-alongs keep me focused until the book’s end. (Now I know of at least one HP group read-along that begins in January, but I’m likely to begin in late March or spring. I love education, but sometimes it feels like a nuisance.)
Another book I want to add is one that has not come in yet: The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow. Any day now, B&N… Call me.
Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he’s never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don’t care that Karl’s family doesn’t practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn’t accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.
Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl’s father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.
But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max’s fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero’s sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm’s way?
And I cannot neglect these holiday books I received! I missed the Secret Santa book exchange at Broke & the Bookish by one day. One day. It was unfortunate timing, but I did do an exchange with Savindi and the Secret Santa event is now forever on my mind in the form of a post-it note.
Savindi was smart and sent my gifts out well before the holiday craze, so I had the pleasure of finding I am the Messenger and Frankenstien in my mailbox weeks ago. (Thank you!) Meanwhile, I am praying the mail(wo)men treat Savindi’s package with TLC and more importantly: do not lose it. (I am also anxious to hear Savindi’s reaction, and I hope it arrives very, very soon!)
A few other books I haven’t yet read and received:
I want to read each and every one with equal amount of excitement, which only makes it difficult to choose which to read first! I love my daily dose of mentally unwell characters (The Burn Journals) as I do a good classic or dystopia. I should spend my money well, because if I do get around to Dashner’s book, I will most certainly grab the next two installments as soon as possible.
(I say this, because there are great number of 2013 book releases. Naturally I wish to have them all.)
Last to list are my want-to-re-reads! Harry Potter books 1 – 6, not pictured, reside in spirit.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
- How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
I care what people have to say about Charlie and his friends, about Chbosky’s writing, about the style and content. And that is just it: I care. I care so much that you might as well say I’m intrinsically bound to it. Me and Charlie. We connect. I’ve stuck myself to this story, or it has stuck to me like an extra limb, but several years have flown by since my last Chbosky encounter. Quick to read, Perks is where almost every sentence is a quotable line and I would love to give it another go… before I watch the movie.
Hartman’s novel, I bet you already guessed, is one book I am positively re-reading before the sequel. Sometimes it takes an extra shove, but the wonder in re-reads comes from new discoveries as well as re-discoveries — noticing details I didn’t see before and giving myself the chance to sit back and enjoy a book I already know is great.
Likewise, I would love to read Standiford’s novel (How to Say Goodbye in Robot) again as well. I read Bea and Jonah’s coming-of-age story during a time when my blog remained inactive, unofficial, not sure what to do with itself, and existed as a waste of Internet space. My GoodReads account was not fully active, either, and reviews don’t write themselves. I felt surprised to feel as touched as I did by this book, and I think it deserves some commentary.
So. Has anyone else thought about what they might like to read from their shelves in the new year?
Before signing off, I’d like to acknowledge those who nominated Midnight Coffee Monster for the Liebster Blog award. I was named not once or twice, but three times. Thank you to Enchanted by Books, Just One Monkey Typing, and PidginPea’s Book Nook! I did not forget, but I did get busy.
Until next time–