This is picture #1 of my priority books for 2019. I will be reading most of my books from these 4 shelves all year. I will be taking a picture of the shelves each month to compare to the old picture and see progress is being made. I will also list the books from here that I finished. This is just a fun little visual thing I’m going to do to help show my progress.
1)I am doing no net December. No internet use for the month of December(actually started on Sunday, the 24th of November). So 5 weeks without using my phone or the internet. The exceptions are content creation, downloading audiobooks, a possible book group chat, and checking in with stuff for 20minutes every Saturday to make sure my affairs are in order.
2)I had the best Thanksgiving ever. I purposely left my phone in the other room and just tried to be myself. As a family, we played a lot of games and no one had any fights.
3)I am currently on a buying ban for a year to find out what things really add value to my life. Along with a buying ban, I am doing a library ban, because the goal I want to achieve the most when it comes to my books is to actually read my own books.
That was basically the gist of the posts.
No Net update:
I keep picking up my phone and wanting to hit the Voxer button. I got a ton of work done at work yesterday. I started to rewatch Buffy season 2 on DVD last night, haha.
The Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz – Would like to finish this before Saturday
Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds – Starting this in about 10 minutes
The First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher – About 70% through this and enjoying it but it is taking longer than usual
I’d like to talk about how my health has impacted my reading over the years and how improving my health has improved my reading. For many years I was obese with serious back issues. I struggled with sciatica pain to the point where I couldn’t walk a block without excruciating pain and my leg going numb. I developed this back issue because of the many years I sat at my computer screen for countless hours playing video games. My posture was terrible(still isn’t the best, but I’m working on it, as I sit up straighter typing this) and to make matters worse I have a blood disorder that requires me to get up and move at least once an hour. My back got so bad that I couldn’t sit at the computer any longer for long periods of time and I had to lay in bed. This is when I started to fall in love with reading again. I took almost 10 years off of reading heavily to play computer games and I regret that decision every day. Now that I couldn’t physically sit at a computer, reading became my new escape, and seriously, all of my hobbies became escapes because I was depressed. I knew that my health was one of the main reasons for my depression but also I valued myself based off of the opinions of others. Through reading a lot of self-help books and falling in love with reading again, I realized that I was responsible for my own happiness. I finally went to physical therapy and started to fix the issue with my spine. Through countless days of stretching and strengthing, my sciatica finally went away and I was able to walk normally again.
At this point in my life, I was able to walk but I was still pretty obese. I started to do something that completely changed my life, I started to listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks made walking fun. Audiobooks made me look forward to moving around. I soon joined a gym and started to take my health more seriously. At this point though, I thought I could walk and lift away my lbs without changing my diet. I was so incredibly wrong and I struggled with back injuries because I just wasn’t losing weight yet I was putting my body through the rigor. About a year ago, after being semi-successful with losing weight, I decided that living life in pain is going to be a thing of the past for me. I’ve changed my diet, love working out, and of course am still in love with audiobooks.
Now, I am still considered obese, but -70lbs lighter, things have really improved for me. Being able to read more and better was a goal I knew would come about from the weight loss. One day, when I was still extremely obese, I realized that if I didn’t do something about my weight, I was going to die much earlier in life. Maybe I would have been about 50 or so when I died. If at a healthy weight, I could live to 70(hopefully more), that is 20 whole years of reading that I could gain just by losing weight. I read about 100 books a year, so that would be 2000 extra books read in my lifetime! This was such a motivating factor for me to losing the lbs.
Another benefit of losing the weight had on my reading is that I can focus a lot easier now. I no longer use chemicals to wake myself up(caffeine) in order to read. I have a very stable sleep schedule now where before I really struggled to maintain any type of sleep schedule. I’m not going to lie to you and say I don’t fall asleep still while reading, I do, but by and large, I’m able to keep focusing on my book for longer periods of time. If I do end up falling asleep, it is usually just a 30-minute nap(as opposed to me sleeping 1+hr naps before), and I am super energized to read after I get up from that nap. I’m able to read more every day because I’m awake more every day. I used to not read at certain times at night because I just was too tired. With everything I try to do in a day, I still get super tired at night, but now I just go to bed, wake up early, and get things done.
I can now read in basically any position I want to. I stand up and read sometimes, use a chair, lay down, use a bench, read at a restaurant, and many other positions where before my back’s pain would distract me from my reading. When I was a kid, I used to always read on my stomach. I can’t quite do it yet for a long period of time but I can do it for a few minutes again.
I’m a moody reader and when you are a moody reader you can hate what you’re reading without the book even being bad. When I was depressed, I struggled to read at times. Some of the books I didn’t like may have been because of my mood and my mood may have been influenced by my self-worth that was harmed because of my weight. When you aren’t happy with yourself, it is so easy to take your frustration out at that stupid book you are reading. When you don’t feel well, it is so easy to get annoyed with other book reviewers and social media. Social media used to bother me to the point where when I would pick up a book all I would think about is that tweet so-and-so said. Now that I am happier with myself, these small annoyances barely bother me. and I seek out so much less validation from the internet than I used to.
My reading speed has increased from about 30 pages an hour to about 40 pages an hour. This might not seem like a huge deal to some of you but this is a HUGE deal to me. I’ve always wanted to read faster and I’m seeing a slight improvement in reading faster. I don’t know if this is just a natural improvement because I read a lot or if it is because of my improved health, but whichever it is, I am so excited about it.
I still have a long ways to go with my health and I still struggle every single day with my reading focus but I am making some serious improvement. I am adding years of extra reading onto my life. I am not the fastest reader so allowing myself to have a few more years of reading is paramount. Someone figured out how long it would take Brandon Sanderson to finish up his Stormlight Archive books and it was over 20 years. I saw that and asked myself when I was obese, at my current health do I think I’m going to be able to finish The Stormlight Archive? I had to be honest with myself and say that I didn’t know. Yes, we never know when we are going to die, and the fittest person in the world may drop dead tomorrow, but I wanted to improve my odds, and hopefully add many years of reading onto my life.
Here we go. I never tried to do a monthly writing challenge before and I’m a little bit afraid of failing. I’ve told myself to write more for so many years and every time I make a goal, I usually fail. Well, here I am making another writing goal but this one is a little different than previous ones. With this goal, I am trying to blog every day as well. How is this different? Well, I can share my writing for one, and two, I can finally get this nagging feeling in the back of my mind gone that I’m not using my website enough. Here’s the thing, a lot of times when I would sit down to write a book review or just update the blog, I would rather be reading. I’ve chosen reading over updating the website almost every time. Who wouldn’t right? I need to find out for myself if writing, blog included in that, is something that excites my inner soul, and what better way to do that than to force myself to do it every day for a month? Yah, I don’t know if that is true either.
Anyway, it is pretty obvious by now that my blog posts on here will be a mix mash of different things and not entirely focused on books. I’ll try to bring it back to books or the SFF community in some way but some of these posts will be personal in nature. For some reason, for most of my life, I like to overshare, and oversharing on the internet is easy. I sometimes even share things that I really shouldn’t but in the moment I just don’t care. I trust people rather easily once I get to know them in real life and I think because that obstacle is missing on the internet, I’m way to open. However, as we are about to see, I am embracing more of who I am, and who I am is an oversharing mess. I hope that you will join me for blog-a-day July, but if you don’t read any of them, it is fine. I know how valuable time is for everyone and I don’t expect many views to be honest. I am mostly doing this for myself anyway.
Today being the first day of July, I want to talk about what my goals are this month. Guess what, there is going to be a TBR listed if that type of thing floats your boat. What better way to fail to read the things you want to read than to make an announcement of the things you are going to read? I think I succeeded once in the last 3 years to actually read the exact things I wanted to read for that month. Well, before I turn this post into a rant about how awful I am at TBRs, let’s chat about my July goals. I am still focusing on my fitness/health as the #1 thing in my life before all else though.
1. So, I’m going to talk about each of these a little bit, starting with the first one, focus on today, stop imagining future things. I’ve read so many things about mindfulness(I also misspell it every time I type it too). The idea that your focus should be in the now and not the future or the past is so strong that it is the core of almost every self-help book and a tenant of almost every major religion in the world. It is so easy to say but so difficult to do. I meditate often and I still struggle with this idea. I constantly think about future conversations. For most of my life, I have been a very introverted person, and the only way I could deal with being forced to be social is to rehearse the things I am going to say before I say them. Yes, thinking before you talk is extremely important, but thinking 5 days before a social interaction what you are going to say is a bit much. I also imagine the worst possible outcomes of things in order to make my expectations low, save me from rejection, and crazy enough, be alright with any given outcome. This is a devastatingly horrible thought life because when you think about the worst possible outcomes, you are thinking about people in the worst way and your response in the worst way, and if you practice this thinking, you response when you get upset will fall back to your thinking. Anyway, this is something I have been working on, and will continue to work on. The last few weeks I’ve been using a rubber band to snap when I catch myself rehearsing future events and I visualize a huge red stop sign in my head. It has been helping.
2. The second goal here, write 2hrs a day, is basically what I’m doing now. That can include updating the blog, writing a story, or writing in a journal. I’d like to finish an actual short story this month.
3. Oh, social media, why art thou such a hindrance? Seriously, I don’t need to check status updates every 10 minutes. BLARGH. So basically, I am going to be updating my social media once a day, usually during my writing time, and then only checking my social media while I am waiting for something. While I’m actually actively doing something, I will not check social media. The way I’ll control this is by using timers when I read and write.
4. Life is hard enough as it is, I should be my biggest fan. Here is a secret, there were times where I really didn’t like who I was in my life. I am finally at the point where I am absolutely in love with myself now though. Dude, I am awesome. I read sweet books, watch awesome tv shows, treat people really great, work out, and I’m gradually coming around to the idea that I’m not as ugly as I thought I was. Every once in a while that ugly thinking comes up and I say something that is totally negative about myself. That needs to stop. I will be happy regardless of what I have.
5. Not to be confused with being homeless, being home less is just me going places more. This means me going to the beach 2x a week, reading at the library more, writing at the library, getting something to eat at different places, finding places to chill and read, and things like this. I get more done because there are fewer distractions because I’m focused on what I am doing in the moment more when I’m not at home.
6. Read a lot. OK, so I am working out or going to the beach in the mornings, working during the day, trying to write for 2 hrs each day, and now I’m going to try to read more too? In other words, I have to be a time management god to read more. I read a little over 60 hours in June(I’m doing that summer reading challenge of timing myself). That is far from the 90 hours that I wanted to read in June but still decent. Basically, if I am not doing anything else, I need to be reading. To squeeze in the amount I want to read, I have to limit my social media, I have to limit my television watching, and I have to stay awake. Yes, I need to not take naps or get super tired before my bedtime(10:30-11). At the end of this post will be some books I plan on reading this month.
7. Allow myself to be who I am is something I’m constantly working on. My biggest focus when it comes to this goal right now is to allow myself to be a man. I dial down my masculinity a lot out of habit. I’m a really big dude and to not seem as threatening I dial down my manliness a lot. I especially do this because at the moment I work at a library and all my co-workers are women. Many years ago when I also worked at a job with all women, I learned that the best way to get along with them all in a work setting was to be less masculine. I’ve been doing this at the library and it has taken a toll on me. Some people might scoff at this and think what the big deal is but when you purposely hide your assertiveness, energy, and opinions in order to get along with everyone, it can be emasculating. In the end, I need to be respectful but also true to who I am. This can even rear its ugly head with social media too. When we type things for the attention and approval of our peers rather than for ourselves, it can cause a toll on our self-worth.
Anyway, these are my goals for the month of July. Maybe once in awhile, I’ll have an update of how I am doing. Doing forget to follow me on twitter: Paulctof, Instagram: Paulsbooks, and Snap: Pauldwey. Without further ado, here are the books I want to read in July:
Not shown: I want to read a ton of comic books and catch up on the short stories, novellas, and novelletes for the Hugo Awards.
Blog-a-day July is contingent on my ability to sit down and write. If my body doesn’t want me sitting each day, I will have to stop it.
I can’t think of a better way to start off my blog style posts than with my 2018 reading goals. It could be easy for me to just create a generic list but I think I’ll actually write it in essay form. So basically 2017 was an amazing year for me as far as reading. I absolutely failed when it came to decreasing my TBR and that is what I really wanted to do the most out of any other goal I have. It wasn’t as bad as previous years, I only increased my TBR by 40 books throughout 2017. I’m really focusing on my owned and unread books in 2018. Here’s the thing, the books that I am most excited about reading are the books I own, but for some reason, I get into this whole “read new releases and read more widely,” mindset at times, and totally ignore the books that I spent money on already.
(the unread books are the bookshelves on the right, over 600 unread books =x)
So along with decreasing my TBR, I am setting 3 months out of the year to get library books. April, July, and October will be my library book months. I’m allowing myself only to read library books during these months(after my holds from 2017 come in). This is going to significantly impact my goal of reading my TBR for the better.
Right along with the TBR goal, will be the goal of reading every book I buy within a week of buying it. I must make the book my current read or my next read when I buy a book. That way I can make sure that I am buying books that I am more excited to read than maybe a book on my shelf. I should be reading whatever book I am face-meltingly excited about reading first before any others. This will also make it so I grab a book off my shelf that I’m more excited about reading than the newest must-read book I might not even like.
I am not making any # amount of books read as my goal this year because I think that creating that number the last few years has had me pick up shorter and easier books than I normally would have picked up. I’d like to read some classics but not really making it a goal. I would really like to read all my unread trade comic books so that I can get some more. I made a deal with myself that I can’t buy any trade comics until I read all my unread ones and it is killing me not to be able to buy certain ones.
I am mostly focusing on tangible, physical things at the moment. I have a sky map where I put stars up for each thing I read. This is my progress through 2 weeks of the year. It is going to be so cool to look back and see the picture grow and change throughout the year.
I am also putting $1 in a jar for everything that I finish reading. If it is a library book, I have to donate the money to the library at the end of the year, but if it is one of my books I can spend that money on books next Christmas time. I also have another jar where I am dropping a glass stone into it every time I read a book from my shelf that I bought before 2018.
Lastly, I am only going to buy books with my Christmas gift cards and my jar money this year(except for during WorldCon). I did this last year and I loved it. Having a set amount of money to spend on books in gift card format really helps me save money. I have about $200 in B&N gift cards and $180 on Amazon. I should not need any more than this to buy books throughout 2018, in fact, I hope that I actually have some left since I’m focusing on my current books. I know of about 10 books that I know I will buy this year, for sure.
Anyway, these are my reading goals and kind of how I’m looking at my reading in 2018. I have personal goals, like losing weight, being kinder, and other things, but these are my reading goals. Thanks for reading.
Through the last few weeks, I have been experimenting with daily videos, talking about what I read the previous day, and reviewing things as I read them. My intention while doing this is to see if people would read along with me, and we could build a community of sorts. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is working because I just don’t think I have the charisma to pull something like it off. My views have dropped to the lowest since I started Booktube 3 years ago and the content just isn’t connecting to an audience. Because of this, I’m going to themed days. Here is what I’m thinking:
Monday – Book reviews
Tuesday – New release discussion, recent buys, and borrows
Wednesday – Short fiction focused
Thursday – Comic focused
Friday – What I’m currently reading and planning on reading
Saturday – Whatever I want to talk about
I’m thinking that the more familiar way of putting out content will target the correct audience for the given days. I’m not going to lie, getting back into Booktube after taking such a long time off, and doing things differently throughout the years, has really impacted my views and relationships on Booktube. It has been and will continue to be an uphill climb for my channel and content. I am dedicated to finishing this year out strong with booktube and blog content. I want to give it a real complete try for at least until January. I am going to continue to release podcast episodes of my videos, as I think that is a great way to expand my base. I just want to thank all those that have stayed with me and Common Touch of Fantasy, your friendships and loyalty means the world to me.