As I posted at the end of December in my New Years resolution rush post, I love New Years resolutions and I try to make them every year. I am usually pretty successful at keeping them, too… Perhaps that comes with practice from years of trying and failing. So I’m planning to read at least a book a month, inspired by my great friends back in Maryland – Amanda and April – who read what I consider to be unprecedented numbers of books each year.
As a refresher:
In the past, I’ve made resolutions around running, workouts, yoga, eating differently, growing my hair out, taking better care of myself mentally, and even travelling with my family. This year is not really any different, but I’m going to shoot for a new goal as well: taking the time to read actual books more often.
Reading with ADD & anxiety is a funny thing. The thought of sitting still and focusing on tiny little words on page after page causes my skin to twitch. It hasn’t always been this way, moreso in the last two or three years. That’s why I’ve come to the realization that it’s probably a good thing for me to pursue. Push your comfort zones, right?
I’m shooting for one book a month. I think this is realistic, yet also challenging for me. It will force me to commit and plan, and in order to do so, I’m going to challenge my family to sit and read throughout the month as well. I’m hoping this will help improve my focus, and reinvigorate my vocabulary and speaking ability. I feel a lot more staccato when I try to speak lately, and I just don’t feel like words really flow from my brain to my mouth as well as they perhaps have in the past.
Great! So, I’m just over two months into my reading resolution, and you can keep track by following me on IG (instagram.com/runningyogimom) and check the 12 Books highlights. I started the year with a book I’ve had in my possession for probably five or six years. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I have to say I really liked the concepts more than I actually liked the book. It felt really redundant and probably would have read better as a blog post than a 160 page book. I did really love the Prayers at the end, so much so that I ripped them out and keep them at my desk. I read reviews saying the book “transformed” people’s lives, and life changing, etc. But it’s also clear that there are almost as many people who feel similarly to me. Again, the concepts are great, but the common sense of them and the fact that they’re repeated over and over again, with some really absurd examples (“if someone tells you that you look like you have cancer and you believe it, you will get cancer). It slightly reminded me of how my 12-year old son writes an essay that has a minimum number of sentences or word count. Read a recap, don’t read the book.
Of course, I had told my husband my recap of the book and I am pretty sure I hurt his feelings. I couldn’t have remembered that he got the book for me during a time when I probably needed to hear some of the concepts. I’m so sorry babe, and I’ll appreciate the thought. Maybe you can take the Second Agreement to heart with my opinion and “don’t take anything personally.” I barely finished it by the end of January – not having the drive to pick it up for nearly two weeks – but powered through and really loved those Prayers at the end. I rate this book 1 star for that.
Book 2 was quite a different story. I was gifted “Sting” by Sandra Brown for my birthday last year and have been sitting on it for nearly a year. I’ve never read anything by her but I have a strong feeling this wouldn’t be my last! There were several nights I was up past midnight and couldn’t put it down!
Now, much like a James Patterson novel, it’s not overly complex but it’s packed with action, drama, and reads quickly. (Probably not as quickly as a JP). It’s about a hit man that kidnaps a wealthy young business woman who has a brother that has been caught up with the wrong crowd. It’s a nonstop thriller, so exciting, and I finished it in just about record timing (for me!).
Now, I have to say – I’ve been a huge fan of audiobooks for the last two years because of how long my commute was in Maryland, and because I run alone so much that I have plenty of time to consume podcasts and audiobooks. I much prefer them to music most of the time and I feel like I get more out of them. I polled Instagram in my stories to see if “the masses” of the social communities count their audiobooks toward their annual book reading total, and a resounding 100% of you said you do. This is so interesting because I wouldn’t! I’m not going to because I don’t feel like listening to books fulfills the intention I set with my resolution, but I am going to keep track of them. I give this book 5 stars!
Book 3 (Audiobook number 1) was “Educated” by Tara Westover. Now, I have an Audible subscription and my friend, Stef, sent me a free copy of this as a recommendation. I started listening to it without really researching it to see what it was all about and I had a really hard time getting into it. I finally reached out to Stef and got a little info about what the book was about and what she liked or thought of it and that certainly helped me “buy into” it until it started to catch my attention.
It really was fascinating and I think being raised in a mildly fundamental religion made it a little easier to draw some parallels to some of the concepts and challenges Tara and her siblings endured. Though, I’ll be very cautious to say my upbringing was nowhere near as damaging and devastating as hers.
I really resonated with the struggles she had – wanting more but conflicted about what her family would think, the negative self-talk and constant self-doubt, the sabotage. That being said, there’s enough of her story that is really just unfathomable. The neglect, abuse – verbal, physical, and emotional – the horror and really the sadness of a girl, a family, that should be able to do better for each other. The inopportunistic concept that events reinforced some of the cruelty and conspiracy is more than unfortunate… it’s almost devastating. I really found this book incredible and I loved the narrator, Julia Whelan. Solid 5 stars from me!
Book number 4 (Audiobook number 2) was introduced to me as a movie – “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. If you follow me on Insta, you know my best running buddy is my dog, Barley. It felt really natural to gravitate toward a book that was written from the dog’s perspective, who played such a pivotal role in his master’s life. Hits ya right in the feels.
Now, this was supposed to be a quick listen – the audiobook was just under seven hours, and with some of my longer runs lasting three to four hours, that’s exactly what it was. Unfortunately, for as much as it captured me the first few chapters, the wrench in the middle really had me conflicted and I almost stopped listening immediately. I was pissed and it was glaringly obvious that it as written by a man. It just seemed like such a cop out to make that the antagonist movement and thought if they really wanted to make a literary dramatic climax, there are FAR more creative ways to do it. Aside from that, the only other thing that bothered me was the music in the midst of the different parts/chapters of the book. It was really annoying and distracted from the mood.
Ultimately, it ended better than it began. For the most part I didn’t find it too sad, or amazing, or too much of anything. I got bits of humor I wasn’t expecting, and felt connected to Enzo, but found it pretty predictable and unsurprising. I wouldn’t listen to it, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it. I haven’t seen the movie, I might watch it to see if it follows the plot or if they actually made it better than Stein writes it. 2.5 stars… maybe.
That’s all that I have finished thus far… I do find it really interesting that I started the year wanting to read more, wanting to shoot for a goal I’ve been putting off for -literally- years. The thought of reading caused me so much anxiety but I was determined to find growth in my discomfort.
Fast forward to the start of the third month of the year and I’m currently reading (and listening to) multiple books at once! I’ll post an update at the end of March with my next recap of whatever I finish this month!
**Always looking for recommendations, if you have books you love or have been meaning to try, send them my way!
***Also, if you have a ways to track books that you want to read, but need to add to a list – let me know. Currently, just screenshotting titles and letting them get lost along the way in my photo albums on my phone isn’t cutting it.