I did it! aaand with more than a month to go (I completed my challenge right before Thanksgiving).
218 in 2018 (woo!)
This challenge played out quite differently from my challenge in 2017.
For starters, I slogged through a lot of slumps this year, which forced me to understand (embrace) “quality over quantity”
There were at least 20 books (not counted in the above number) that I quit halfway.
This was unnerving at first... I'd think "damn, now I'm going to be behind in my challenge."
It felt a lot like when I first took off my Fitbit. (I had a weird anxiety like my steps didn't count or something... It was really good I took that thing off).
Point is, I had become so focused on the numbers and the challenge (finish line) that I had disconnected myself from the experience--the joy of reading.
I'd also lost sight of why I'd even started these challenges.
When I started my original "52 books in 52 weeks" challenge, it was to take a BREAK from my job NOT to create a new one for myself.
I had also wanted to read more back then because I ENJOYED reading...
The challenge was not supposed to be another chore, one more thing I had to do...
And that's what it was becoming.
Reading a shiitake ton of books was one more thing I "had to prove". I didn't want to admit it, but I got a lot of validation and self-worth... it felt "good" to show off and get kudos and be "oh so inspiring."
Admittedly, it's easy for me to get laser-focused on something (a person, a task, a goal) and lose myself.
I LOVE doing that because it allows me to not look too closely at myself. It lets me avoid things I'd rather not deal with. Like feelings.
Or big asparagus problems at work...
I can also be very all-or-nothing and do just about anything "alcoholically."
Side note: I find it curious and amusing how "binge-watching Netflix" is considered cute and normal, even though any other kind of binging is considered unhealthy and undesirable by society.
Nevertheless, I was totally binge reading there for a while, which is definitely fun to do on occasion (i.e. when a thriller or trilogy takes you on a ride) but I'm realizing that shouldn't be my night every Tuesday.
I also need to admit that as a kid, I read a lot of books to escape my reality and go to a different place.
As for coping methods, that's a pretty harmless one compared to heroin, margaritas, cupcakes, online shopping (or scrolling on Instagram for 3 hrs thinking "my life is shit. everyone else is smarter/prettier/better/thinner/happier/more successful/eats such pretty food...")
That last one I did a lot and it only made things worse, not better... depression is definitely progressive when you don't seek the right tools for help...
Circling back, as a kid I read books to escape and this year I noticed I was doing that as an adult.
Sometimes this 'escapism' is i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y helpful and fun... It's good to take a break and slip off into another world sometimes. (We do that anytime we watch movies).
I recognize we all need to check out sometimes, and sometimes we just want or need to hear a happy ending, (especially when there might be darkness or uncertainty in our life..).
But again that balance.
When you're checking out ALL the time, it's not just a coping method anymore.
It becomes a crutch, an addiction, avoidance, abandonment, and a bazillion other things... but for me, that behavior with books was a wake-up call.
That's what those slumps did for me. They brought me back to my core desire and original goal.
I started my book challenge as a program for recovery from my workaholism. It worked for a long stretch.
BUT that's the thing with solutions, they don't stay solutions forever (and sometimes they switch over to being a problem).
When a solution stops working, there is a loss. There is also deep grief when the thing that worked for you (be it diet, a job, a relationship, etc.) stops "working for you."
Then you get to go through ALL the grief stages---including anger, which let me tell you, I definitely experience in my slumps. (My book bestie and I sent so. many. hate. texts. about books to each other.)
I also left some really gnarly reviews that I should probably go back and add some sugar too... and a few books I was being so stingy with my stars... oh man, this is all a real reminder that when people are being "troll-y" or "mean" it's because they are in pain.
BOTTOM LINE: I soon found myself being a "bookaholic."
A cute term that isn't so cute in reality. I was reading for the wrong reasons and the slump helped me reconnect.
One final note---each year I say is and it's as true as ever:
I learn so much about myself, what I believe, and what I want or need from reading books. The greatest lessons and education for me often come from novels (not research or nonfiction... though they too have utility).
When you read you find yourself.
Lastly, a bunch of peeps have asked how I read so much without breaking the bank.
Answer: THE LIBRARY
If you're in the U.S. you can get paperbacks, kindle books, AND AUDIBLE BOOKS from the library. There are several different apps (Overdrive, Libby, Hoopla) and they're all FREE. I get 90% of my books from the library.
I also take advantage of daily deals. Audible has a book on sale for $3 or less every day. I also am on the Chirp newsletter, which has deals regularly. If you like ebooks, Bookbub is a daily sale newsletter where you can grab books for $1 usually.