Happy New Reading Year! We still love books, first of all. But we’ve also been wanting to talk about this, and so what better time than now, mid-January? Here, we spill our most candid reading (or non-reading) experiences. May you find refuge.
Why haven’t we been reading?
Agnes: First of all, omg, I *have* been reading. Decades’ worth of stationery blogs, hundreds of thousands of words of fanfiction, everyone’s year-end and decade-end essays on social media, all the while wondering why I’m not reading and why I’m not writing either.
Except I *have* been writing. Not in any literary sense, but last year I got really into calligraphy (italic hand and then my variation on it), and I’m still practicing. And I’m still keeping a journal. It’s somewhere between a daily log and morning pages, with occasional bullet journaling/planning ahead. So yeah, I’ve been reading and writing.
Allana: It’s not that I haven’t been reading as much, it’s just that I haven’t been reading books. Not published novels or nonfiction anyway, which is what I’m assuming we mean here when saying “books read.” But if we count fanfiction and manga? The amount I consumed just in the past year would be considered unhealthy.
KB: Excuse me, I too have journals and sincerely written IG captions keeping me busy?? Kidding aside, I spent the past year reflecting, that’s why. And touching books, asking “does this spark joy.” Apparently, it worked! It was more of a letting go-and-circulating year rather than accumulating.
So how many books did we read in 2019?
Agnes: I read 35 books! Set my goal at 24, and I’m pretty happy I exceeded it. Some poetry, some picture books, a lot of nonfiction, and only one book read out of obligation.
Allana: Get ready for it… 12! Which was my goal really of one book per month. In 2018, I read FIVE (5) so hah! Twelve is an improvement. Before my reading regression, I averaged around 24 books a year, so I’m halfway back.
KB: 65! I used to read close to 100 or more a year. Yes, quality over quantity, la la la. But there’s also value in reading a lot, and constantly, because you learn about what you enjoy and what you don’t. Finishing 65 is still a feat.
And how many books do we think we’ll read this 2020?
Agnes: I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 24. Gotta set realistic expectations.
Allana: 15? 18? All I want to do is get through my poor, disregarded TBR pile.
KB: As advised by Agnes, set the bar lower so… 80, less 10 of last year’s. Because once a dreamer, always a dreamer~
Do we have any explanations or excuses about not having reviewed books as often as before?
Agnes: Not my thing. I love recommending books to people, but I don’t enjoy the pressure of knowing I’m reading a book in order to provide feedback for it. It’s like there’s a constant mental tally of pros and cons as I’m reading.
Allana: If I am forced or pressured to read something, I will automatically have negative feelings for it no matter how good it is, and begrudge every compliment I will write. So maybe I’m not the best at giving reviews.
KB: ^ Welcome to Bookbed, guys, lol. I don’t disagree, though. For a time there, we fell into that trap. That makes it hard to enjoy reading, much more reviewing. But me, I still have fun talking about books, especially the ones I chose to read. Always a pleasure to celebrate bookish feelings, and supporting the people who made those happen. If not here, I do it on Twitter @heykebe 🙂
What do we think about DNF-ing books?
Agnes: Difficult for me because I want to get my money’s worth. But I have been abandoning books now and letting them go. Tiwala nalang na there are books more suited to me out there (or on my shelf) and that if I ever want to read the books I abandoned, they will find a way to come back to me.
Allana: Ugh. Hate doing this. I used to feel like I owe it to the author who worked hard on their book, and to myself for starting it. But honestly, I only have limited energy, why waste it on something that doesn’t interest me in the slightest?
KB: Amen. Let’s not hurt ourselves.
What has changed in terms of our book buying habits?
Agnes: I bought at least five books last year, maybe more. Trying to avoid hanging out in bookstores, or at least, I’d settle with taking photos instead of receipts. I don’t know if my book buying habits changed on purpose or just out of necessity—new hobbies, smaller income, less shelf space.
Allana: I used to only buy physical books because I like feeling the weight of a book in my hands and seeing just how many pages I’ve been through and how many pages I have left. But we only have so much space in our house and some books are just not available in any local bookstore, so I have made peace with the fact that sometimes, e-books are the best (or only) choice.
KB: Seconding Agnes and Allana’s emotions. I can leave a book sale without purchasing anything, but buying digital is another story.
Has that affected our book collecting habits?
Agnes: When I read more books in a year, I let go of more books too.
Allana: Nowadays, I only keep books I actually like and donate the rest.
KB: Because of my desire to go “less,” I’m okay not having a full physical bookshelf. I’ve let go of around 500 books in the last four years, maybe. Donations, gifts, giveaways, etc. It’s okay, I’m fine, guys, we’re fine. Our books have found new homes where they will be loved the same, if not more.
Are our favorite books from five or 10 years ago still our favorites?
Agnes: Recently I reread two middle grade books from 15+ years ago. Glad to report they held up to the test of time. One of them even moved me to tears. I’m hoping to reread more books this year, maybe starting with the easy stuff like Penguin Little Black Classics and my Roald Dahl collection.
Allana: Hmm. Yes? Or at least the insight I gained from them has remained. Not sure if I can relate to them now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser but they still have a spot on my shelf despite my constant purge of old books. Or maybe I’m just a sentimental fool.
KB: Many didn’t resonate with me anymore, so I moved on, they moved on, we all moved on. Friends say I’ll probably regret one day someday, but I don’t think so, because for one, e-books exist.
What is your new reading goal?
Agnes: I really want to focus on rereading. Expecting to see a lot of childhood favorites and secondhand bookstore finds I haven’t managed to let go of. After that, maybe I’ll tackle my e-book hoard of bestsellers and recommendations from friends.
Allana: More graphic novels!
KB: I tend to consume mostly fiction, so I want to challenge myself this year to read more nonfiction. So, alternating. Nonfic then fic then nonfic, and so on. Wish me—us luck. We wish the same for you, whatever your reading goals are. ☁️