Thursday, 8 June 2017

Notes Behind a Huge Book Pile

How many of you have ever set up a goal to read more? There are so many excellent books that one lifetime will never be enough to read through all great ones that would definitely be worth reading. Still it would feel sad to give up and not even try. Most often people refer to the lack of time when it comes to reading more. Then there are extremely busy people who seem to complete many books per month despite all their other duties. What are they doing differently?

When I track my time consumption I always come up with the result that I could plan my time better plus leave out some not so beneficial habits. Number one bad habit I usually list is watching television. I have had many projects to get rid of the TV, but as often I have sneaked it in to my life some way. I don´t see no point why not to watch great series, movies, documentary, concerts etc. What I hate is that I consume my precious time surfing from program to program when there is actually nothing on TV. My solution for now has been to keep the traditional TV (machine) closed and watch programs I really want to see on player. I also try to narrow the series I am following because it seems that there are so many great ones that I could spend my whole life following other people's imagined life´s on screen, laugh!

Quite often it is challenging to get focused. I didn't use to have this problem but I have noticed that nowadays the lack of focus is one of my main challenges what ever I do. Different activities yell to various directions so that it is difficult to soak in to the current task, enjoy making and get finished. Luckily I have been able to train myself with fast results. I started a bullet journal about a month ago and it has helped a lot. I have used to do lists before but somehow I always booked too many activities for one day. As a result activities that would have been great for training concentration, like reading, long walks, drawing, were usually left out and forgotten. Before I started keeping BuJo I listed things that I would like to do more in my life, but that were at some point left on the background.  When I evaluated my goals in life with the current situation I noticed that two major themes were lacking attention. I have always valued reading and being curious about world around us. Also I would like to spend more time outdoors, do sports, eat healthy and live a well balanced life.

After this notion I decided to book time for planning, writing and drawing BuJo every evening. I made a tracker where I listed all these activities and booked time for them in the calendar. Instead of just listing reading, I put a goal to read 100 pages per day. I knew that 100 pages is not much if I get hooked on reading, I have read full books in one day. I thought 100 pages would work best because it gives time to go in to reading mode instead of just browsing the book and rushing to other activities. With this pace it would also be possible to finish books in a motivating schedule.

Mostly I read before going to bed. First it was difficult but then I noticed that some evenings I had read more than 100 pages because the story took in. My imagination began to work better and I lived through the books seeing pictures and hearing the sounds. More often the TV stayed closed when I wanted to know how the book ends.  Also not watching screens before bedtime made me sleep better even though we are heading towards the midnight sun and it is broad daylight 24 hours. I began the reading project at the same time with BuJo, 17.5., and I read 5 books in May!

On May I read

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale. I wanted to read this novel from 1985 because it is now a series in Hulu (haven't seen the series) and I thought is must hold some current themes. This is quite brutal dystopia and pictures a world where women and men have strict roles in the society. Especially women have little if any power to their lives and it is told how the evolution from the world we know to this not so bright future has gone. This story gives lot to think about and makes you pay attention how to sustain equality. Still I wonder which one would make us work harder for better future, scary dystopia we want to avoid or inspiring utopia?

Amélie Nothomb: Tokyo Fiancée (orig. Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam). Hilarious notions about cultural differences between Europe and Japan. Amélie has spent her childhood in Japan and now comes back as young adult. She begins to teach French to learn Japan herself. Little incidents she describes intelligently were interesting to read.

A S Byatt: Possession: A Romance. Two academics find a lost correspondence between Victorian era poets and begin to find out the tale of these two people no-one had known to combine together. This book was not an easy read because it had so many elements like letters, poems and diaries. The structure made me feel like I would be making a research with the documents so that in the end it was rewarding when all elements were bound together and the picture of the two poets was complete.

Emma Cline: The Girls. Excellent, modern and smart novel about how it is to be a girl. Evie Boyd has been left alone by her best fried and has whole summer ahead. She notices a group of girls and gets drawn into a cult similar to the Charles Manson's. When I read this J. D. Salinger´s The Catcher in the Rye came in to my mind, same kind of excellence in capturing the movements of young mind and restless life situation without judging.

Zadie Smith: Swing Time. Smith pictures multicultural London in the 80s and 90s and two girls who share the common interest for dance. With different backgrounds both girls head to the future through same dance classes and become friends. Their lives are bound in adulthood even though they go in to different directions. Main character makes a career as a personal assistant for famous singer, job that takes her to Africa and USA.

( I read all books in Finnish but I put names in English so that it would be easier for you to find same books in case you are interested.)

Now that I have created a huge reading appetite I spend hours just searching new books to read. There are many good sites to browse book reviews and get recommendations. I follow for example Modern Mrs Darcy, which is my favorite blog about books and reading. I also enjoy browsing Goodreads when ever I want to know more about some book and read reviews.  Goodreads makes it easier for me to decide what would fit to the current reading mood. The New Yorker Page-Turner has interesting articles about books, authors and current societal topics. When I like to ad some notable modern classics to my must read list I usually browse Pulitzer Fiction winners, Nobel Prizes in literature and The Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Also one should never forget to talk about books and ask for recommendations. I told on Instagram about my reading plans and got in to great discussion with (Making a House a Home), who gave me excellent book recommendations, thanks again (I already read one of A. Nothomb's books on May:)!

My list of must reads grows every day and I had to come with a solution that would fix the challenge of reading them all. There is no way to put books on the list in order so that the most essential to read would be first and I could start reading books as on the list. Great books have been written through the centuries and many excellent ones have been published just this year.

Inspired by the book challenges (see example the results on Pinterest) with categories I made a list for June that has nine categories: long book, classic, new 2017, Finnish book (because I am Finnish), current, scifi/fantasy, historical, nonfiction and not originally English. I think this might be the best way to learn more and get that book pile a little bit shorter from each category. This method gives a chance to choose what ever books feel the most interesting at the time. So I don´t have to force myself to read a classic that doesn´t feel appealing at the time just because I have a list of must read classics. It might be that I can not get through all the categories in one month but I can continue in July and when I have finished start the categories from the beginning in case this method works.

Happy Thursday to you all from me behind the book pile!


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