How I Read A Lot of Books

A friend asked me how I read a lot of books in 2017.  My final count was 81.  I’ve read 15 books in 2018.  Here are my secrets:

  1.  I read whatever I want, and a lot of it is fluffy and easy to read.  I’m not logging a lot of hours reading War and Peace.  Last year I read a ton of memoirs and some YA fiction, which tend to move pretty quickly.  I will quit a book a few chapters in if I can tell it is not for me.
  2. I carry a book with me most of the time.  When the kids are playing on the playground I am often sitting on a bench reading my book.  Sometimes I am surprised by the pockets of time that exist when I can read instead of scrolling my phone.
  3. Screens off by 9:30 pm and real pages only until 10:00 pm.
  4. I am a fast reader.
  5. My oldest kids like someone to lie down with them at night, so now I bring my book and we all read together in bed for a while before they turn their lights off.  This is a time of day when I really struggle because by then I often just want peace and quiet and to not give anything more to anyone else.  But reading in bed offers them what they want and is nice and peaceful for me too.  (Point of clarification: I read my book, they read theirs.  Companionable silence ensues.)
  6. I keep two lists in my bullet journal: “Books to Read” and “Book Log”.  I like watching the book log number grow.  It motivates me.  (I get a lot of book recommendations from here and here).
  7. I use daytime reading hours to chip away at the books that require more of me, and nighttime hours for the easier reads.  Right now daytime reading is this and nighttime is this.

There you have it.

(In February I logged off Facebook and instagram and I think that created more time, too.  It also generally quieted the chatter in my head.  Win/win.)


Brain Dump

  1.  Things I am dreading: taking down our outdoor lights.  #nothankyou
  2. If you have a bagless vacuum it will work better if you empty the canister once in a while.  #likeanewvacuum
  3. Thing my husband was right about and I was totally skeptical but willing to go along and now I’m happy that he was right and I was wrong: getting a wood stove.  #cozylivingroom #nonexistentheatingbills #winwin
  4. For January I am putting the brakes on my personal spending.  I have been click-clicking away on Amazon (after googling “What skin products should an almost 40 year old use?”  #toomanydifferentanswers #buyalittleofeverything).  Also on thredup (new yoga clothes for cheap!), and then back to Amazon (books…a sweatshirt that covers my bum when I wear my new yoga clothes…).  And so on.  I’m fine to spend in the name of socializing but not in the name of boredom or mindlessness.  I decided that then quickly found jeans I like for a mere $28, down from $80.  Who will buy them for me and then sell them to me in February?  #jk



What Worked for Me in 2017

Ah, yes.  It’s that time of year again.  Time to reflect on what worked for me this year.


but where did that creepy hand come from?

1. Yoga.  I started in August, after a several-month hiatus from any sort of consistent exercise.  I started with bikram in a 115 degree studio and in September transitioned to vinyasa class, in an 85 degree studio.  Ah, much better.  Guys, I’m real into it.

I tend to be ride the wave with my exercise interests- after baby number four I was (briefly) very motivated to do a heinous high intensity class at the gym I belonged to.  That lasted a couple of months and then I started dreading classes and decided, consequently, that there are too many forms of enjoyable exercise out there so why force myself to go to the one I no longer like?  I have also marathon’d in the past (just once; that was sufficient), dabbled in triathlons (let’s not forget this gem of a memory).  So maybe the shine will wear off yoga in a bit.  For the time being, I am enjoying the heck out of it.  Win!  Ride the wave!


foreshadowing. keep reading.

2.  Buy Nothing group on Facebook.  Have you all heard of this?  Charlottesville has a Buy Nothing group where members can post items to give away, or post a need/want they have.  Have a sweatshirt or a kids’ toy that you no longer want?  Post it there and I guarantee someone else will be thrilled to come take it off your hands.

It is not as quick and simple as a trip to Goodwill, but the upside is that you actually give your item to a person who wants that specific item.  I have to say- every time I take stuff to Goodwill and see the warehouse that is stacked with items, I feel a little ill.  There’s so much stuff!  I don’t doubt that a ton of it is purchased and money is redistributed to the community (right??), but I also know a ton of it is tossed or sent overseas.  The Buy Nothing group keeps items one step further away from a landfill.  Win!

3.  Book Log.  Didn’t I say this before?  Sorry.  It still works for me.  I love tracking my books, mostly because I can see the titles adding up and it motivates me to read more.  I read 81 books this year, and miiiight squeak another one or two in before 2018.

A few favorites: The Four Tendencies, The Hate U Give, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Born Bright, The Body Keeps the Score, Baby Catcher, The Wonder, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?, and Hillbilly Elegy.  I think that every book on that list was from the library.  With library fees for a few overdue books, I probably paid $15 to read 81 books.  Win!

4.  Trips.  This one is firmly in the “luxury” category.

This year I traveled to Nashville with some college friends and spent a three day weekend away.  Lots of laughing, reading, eating, talking, and some space just to be; away from my usual life at home.  My college friends and I have been on Marco Polo (a video app) ever since and it has been a great way to keep the conversations going.


Ah, the rest stop photo op. Couldn’t pass it up.

A few weeks later I got to take my second kiddo with me to Bermuda, at my dad’s invitation.  Pretty incredible and rejuvenating and all of the things.  Aaaand I just got back from a few days at a college/YWAM friend’s house in Clemson.  We met when I was 17 and spent four years together in college, then tacked on another two’ish overseas in Australia.  It was incredible to be with her; like the other college reunion, we just pick up where we left off.

I count those trips as high points in the year, fo’ sho’.

These things worked for me in 2017.  What worked for you?

(I’ve done this before.  2014, 2015, and 2016).