Conclusion to the 31 Books Project
When I started this reading challenge in honor of turning 30, I had two goals. The first was to enjoy it. I wanted to make sure I kept up with my favorite pastime and remind myself why getting immersed in a story is so worthwhile. I never wanted it to feel like work, which is why I fell behind, but it was more important for me to give myself the space to happily pick up where I left off than to barrel through just for the sake of sticking to an arbitrary schedule. I succeeded in enjoying myself. I read more in the last 18 months than I expected and read more broadly across genres than I ever have before.
My second goal was to learn something. This was a pretty terrible goal, in hindsight. Who could read 31 books and not learn something? Indeed, I learned quite a few things. How the Roman army was structured. What it means to be an oblate in the Catholic Church. That much of the language in the Declaration of Independence was borrowed. The word “caul.” But perhaps what will stick with me the most are the insights into my own reading preferences. I can finally admit that I just don’t really like epistolary style and that a memoir has to be truly exceptional to hold my attention. I love family sagas, magical realism, and anything with maps. And I really, really loved the structure of a reading challenge. Instead of feeling constrained by the criteria for the year (a book from each year I’ve been alive, written by a woman), it gave me focus. The seemingly narrow criteria actually allowed for reading as broadly as fantasy, a graphic novel, YA, mystery, historical fiction, non-fiction. The rules became a scaffold and I so enjoyed building the tower from a sweeping variety of blocks.
I loved the direction provided by a reading challenge so much that I tacked on another reading challenge for 2017 in addition to my 31 Books Project (you can expect a summary post soon on that challenge). And I’m doing two more (at least) this year! If nothing else, I’ve discovered the way that works to get me reading more and more broadly.
So what becomes of the blog? Well, my plan is to continue writing about what I’m reading. Long posts about books that meet the criteria for various reading challenges. Short posts with a few quick recommendations. A series about the really good picture books I’ve come across while reading with my kids. Maybe occasional new-release announcements that are particularly interesting. As always, I hope you’ll join me here.
Keep turning the page,