Three things: How I got my reading groove back in 2017

Some books I read in 2017 that were not on my Kindle

A selection of books I read in 2017 that were *not* on my Kindle

When I was in elementary school, I went to the school library every morning before the bell rang and checked out a new book. I would read it that night, return it the next morning, and repeat. I was the first person ever in first grade to read 100 books at my school (you used to have to read the book at home, and then bring it into school and the teacher would pick a random page and make you read a few sentences to prove you really *could* read it). I was a very, very voracious reader as a child.

Since then, my reading life has basically gone in fits and starts. I did tons of reading in school, and minored in English Lit in college, but I wasn’t choosing many books on my own. My peak was the year I worked at the library – for obvious reasons.

But, at the end of 2016, I started gaining some momentum, after I discovered Maggie Stiefvater through one of my librarian friends. I devoured the Raven Boys series, and to my delight, after finishing Book 3, I found out she was coming to speak at my local library. I signed myself right up, got my books signed, and told Maggie how many hours of sleep I’d lost staying up very late to find out what happened next. Because that’s basically what I was doing – staying up super late 2-3 nights every couple of months to plow through a book. I wasn’t yet back in the habit.

And finally, finally, finally, in 2017, got my groove back. I read 34 books. Now, I know for many bookish people, this is not a big amount. But for someone who’d lost her reading way for a while, this is fantastic for me!

There are a few things that really fueled this revival. Since my biggest issue was figuring out WHAT to read next, I had to find some ways to find new stuff that wasn’t just wandering through a book store. I would recommend all of these to someone who is trying to get back in the habit:

  • My husband gave me a new Kindle (with the most beautiful cover) for my birthday. This means I upped my Kindle book consumption, which meant that the book I was reading was also always available on my phone via the Kindle app. I’ve never been great about keeping knitting in my purse, which means when I was at a loose end waiting for something, I was scrolling through my phone. Now that the books I actually want to read are on my phone, I’m making much better use of those spare minutes.
  • I started pursuing ideas of what to read. I started listening to the What Should I Read Next? podcast (thanks to my husband). Though not all books recommended here are my taste, I have gotten some really great recommendations out of it. The Golem and the Jinni (which was ABSOLUTELY SPOT-ON PERFECT in every way for me), and The Sun is Also a Star were two books I picked up due to this podcast, and they were definitely stand-outs in my reading year. I also first heard about Louise Penny here, and now I’ve read the first 11 Gamache books (also very good!). I also signed up for BookBub emails, and I’ve picked up several through there. Not all have been winners (there are a couple I abandoned), but I did manage to get the two books mentioned above on a deal through these emails. So… definitely worth it.  I also read the “100 Books” lists on Amazon. They have a lot of different categories: books to read in a lifetime, YA books to read in a lifetime, sci fi and fantasy to read in a lifetime, etc.). I believe I found A Darker Shade of Magic on one of these lists (though I can’t find it there now! They must switch it up.), which took me into a 3-book series that I thoroughly enjoyed. Magic AND pirates? Sign me up.
  • Reading while traveling. Mr. Snips and I went on a solo vacation (no kiddo) and I cannot tell you how much I plowed through here, including the massive 11/22/63. That’s not always going to be possible, but I have been doing a lot more reading even just in the car, picking up a few minutes here and there while we’re on the way to somewhere else.

So, that’s it! 2017 was finally a really solid reading year for me, when I managed to read consistently through the year. I plan to keep it up in 2018, and up that number even more!

What are you reading this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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Three things: Recently

Book with tissue paper flower (made by BK)

  1. Reading: Last night I stayed up waaaaaay too late reading a book. And the kicker is I still quit at only 88%, according to my Kindle. So many questions unanswered! There was just no way to stay up any later and make it to work this morning. (I was reading “How the light gets in” by Louise Penny.)
  2. Dreaming: I also fell down the rabbit hole last night when I came across these amazing advent calendars on Etsy. I looooove them. I am so tempted to scrap my knitted countdown (whatever holiday that ends up being for) and just make a ton of these. I initially saw the reindeer one, but BK said she really liked the snow globe one, and after reading about it, I like the snow globe one, too – because a lot of the days use pre-made pom poms! I’ve almost even convinced myself I could pull off the snow globe one before December 1 (yikes! my delusion is strong). Regardless, I would also love to make the birthday one (what a fun idea!) and maybe just the ornaments that go on the Halloween one. She also has a free heart pattern you can sign up for, and I’m tempted to scrap all the little knitted ones and make 14 hearts for Valentine’s Day. But then again, BK has been after me to knit this little superhero girl.  So that one will have to get done one way or the other.
  3. Planning: to knit this Peanut vest for a dear friend’s little boy. This pattern is so darling, and am looking forward to purchasing some yarn for it this weekend!

Friday Favorite: My magical Kindle case

Earlier this year, I told my husband I really wanted to get back into the reading habit all the time – not just in insane binges where I stayed up waaaay too late, and then had to wait a month or two to recover from the sleep deprivation before doing it again.

I said that I really liked the idea of a Kindle to make it super easy and instant to access books, but I didn’t like that it didn’t feel like a real book. There’s certainly something to be said for the feel of a real printed book in your hands.

So his solution was to buy me a new Kindle for my birthday… and this absolutely beautiful Kindle cover. It’s made by a company in England that uses the same materials for Kindle cases as they do hardcover books. Voila – a Kindle that feels like a book!

top-view

And, to score even more points for my husband, he found this one – “Book of Spells” – with a bunch of Harry Potter references (and more!) on the inside. Swoon.

inside-cover

I have used this very heavily this year, and have really enjoyed the feel of it, and the motivation it’s given me to up my reading game!

bookstack

Ten on Tuesday: Drop everything and read!

This week, Carole’s prompt was 10 books that made you drop everything and read. I’ll tell you that I fought the very strong impulse to make #1-7 Harry Potter books. Because they are seriously and forever my favorites. But for the sake of variety, I chose the two most important HP books to me, and threw in a few others!

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I happened across this book very serendipitously after school one day. I had never heard of Harry Potter before, but I finished this book before I went to bed that night. I was seriously enthralled with every bit. I don’t think I spoke to anyone the whole evening. And after that, Harry Potter was part of my life. It’s brought me a lot of joy, and connections to great people, and the books are the best!
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – This book came out two weeks before I moved to England to marry Mr Snips. I bought it at midnight when it came out and then practiced immense self-restraint and did not start it until I got on the plane. Then I sat by a poor, confused teenage boy who was traveling with his soccer team – wondering why everyone else got to sit with friends and he got stuck with the overly emotional stranger (in my defense, I was sobbing because of Dobby – it was terrible!).
  3. Something Missing – I read this for a book club, and it had me hooked. At the time, we were the thief’s target audience – a busy couple with predictable schedules who never would have noticed small bits of our stuff disappearing. I still think of this book regularly, though according to the book, he would have stopped stealing from us after we had BK.
  4. Suite Francaise – I was reading this on a plane and was so enamored with the complete beauty of this book that I did not notice we never stopped circling the city I was supposed to be leaving. The landing gear never came up, and we ended up having to land again at a very nearby airport, but I honestly didn’t realize it for a long time. I thought we were halfway to the destination when they announced we basically hadn’t moved because the book was that beautifully written.
  5. The Eyre Affair – Very witty and wonderful and about books. Genius idea. LOVE. In fact, read the whole series while you’re at it.
  6. A Life in Stitches – The best knitting memoir I’ve ever read. I really love Rachael Herron’s writing! I’ve read another of her books, and enjoyed it a lot, too.
  7. Snow White by Donald Barthelme – This is one I discovered in college. And though it’s a little trippy (Snow White is in a relationship with ALL of the dwarves), it hit me at the right moment and made me think differently about literature.
  8. The Little Prince – I bought this in English during the summer because I knew I would have to read it in French during the school year, and I honestly didn’t trust my French was good enough to understand any of it. But it turned out totally charming and wonderful and worth reading twice in two languages.
  9. The King in the Window – I read this when I worked at the library because I came across it when it was ready to be shelved. It was a captivating and magical read.
  10. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Yes, it’s a silly but brilliant concept that a great President could also be a vampire hunter. But the author made it fit into Lincoln’s life, and I really enjoyed it.