Book goals: #ReadWomen2017

For the last two years, I’ve read a pretty pitiful number of books: 32 in 2015 and 30 in 2016. Yikes. According to my past GoodReads challenges, 2012 is the year to beat. That year (the year I graduated college, incidentally), I read 71 books! That’s more than what I’ve read in the last two years combined. And I know for a fact that every year since then, I’ve aimed to read at least 50 books, which I clearly haven’t always accomplished.

I chalk that up to a number of things, but I think a lot of it is just lack of motivation. I go through long periods of time where I don’t want to read, because nothing I have in my library will hold my interest (or because I go through depressive periods, wherein nothing holds my interest). I also have the bad habit of starting multiple books and trying to read them all at the same time, which just pulls me out of each story. I used to be able to read two or three books at a time, but it’s a skill I no longer seem to possess. If I’m not fully immersed in the story, I can’t finish it. And that’s infuriating, because I hate not finishing things! It also makes me feel like kind of a failure, like my brain can’t keep up anymore. I acknowledge that isn’t really true, but it’s a hard thought to eradicate.

At any rate, my ultimate goal — one I will reach one day, dammit — is to finish 100 books in one year.

This year, I’ve set my sights on 50 books, though I’m hoping to exceed that goal and then set a higher one for next year. Maybe working my way back up to those higher numbers is the way to go. But this year, I’m adding a little extra challenge. Of the 50 books I read this year, I want at least 35 of them to be books written by women.

Mostly, I want to do this because it shouldn’t be such a challenge to predominantly read books written by women! Although last year, the majority of books I read in their entirety were written by women, that isn’t the norm. Here are the numbers:

  • 2016: 21 books by women/35 total
  • 2015: 14 books by women/32 total
  • 2014: 11 books by women/60 total
  • 2013: 18 books by women/40 total
  • 2o12: 16 books by women/71 total

Some of those numbers are way too low! Although I’ve been reading more and more women authors over the last two years, I know that I can do better. And I want to read more books by women of color and LGBT women, as well. I’m honestly a little ashamed of how few books by women make it into my recommendation lists on a regular basis and I am aiming to change that starting right now.

So far this year, I’ve managed to read five and a quarter books written by women (I’m currently about 1/4 of the way into Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce, which ends the Protector of the Small Quartet). Unsurprisingly, all of them have left me feeling empowered and eager to fight for what I believe in, as well as support others and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. It’s awesome. I find that, although I seem to read more books written by men (something I hope to change this year!), books by women contain passages that stick with me for years. They also contain themes and conflicts that are central to my life and the lives of those close to me, which ignites even my most buried passions and concerns.

Part of my inspiration for aiming to read more books by women is the number of people I follow on Instagram who are using the #ReadWomen2017 hashtag. I’ve started following a number of women authors and book bloggers, which has inspired me to dive back into reading in a big way. I’ve started off the year really strong and hope to keep that streak going so that I can engage in these conversations on my feeds and exchange recommendations with others who are taking on this challenge as well!

Plus, I’ve reconnected to reading in that picking up a book for even a few minutes every day has helped calm my mind and erase some of my anxiety about the current US political climate. I’ve always seen books as a means of coping with the more difficult things in my life, so I’m glad to see that their calming effect hasn’t diminished over the years.

I look forward to sharing more of my 2017 reads on this blog, especially since I’m finally picking up books I’ve been meaning to read for ages! Stay tuned! And if you’re also taking part in #ReadWomen2017, or if you have book recommendations, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter.

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