take a deep breath

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I am trying to contain my anxiety every time I go to GoodReads and see that there is no counter for how many books I’ve read in 2015. I didn’t sign up for the reading challenge this year and I’m not going to, because recording my reading in such a way has changed from convenient and fun to something I feel like I always need to top.

It’s bad for you. Really, really bad. As someone who is obsessed with data and organization (hi, I’m a librarian) but also prone to anxiety and compulsions, I need to try and break my tendency to view my reading in this way. So I’m not doing any challenges this year. I was going to do the YALSA ones, and I do highly recommend them, but I just can’t do anything this year. I need a break. For my health.

The other problem with GoodReads (and this one really is their problem, not the problems I create by being too obsessed with it) is that if you reread a book, it doesn’t “count.” That is, you can only have a book listed as having been read on one date or another, not multiple ones. So if you want to record that you first read a book 10 years ago but are rereading it today, you have to delete one of those things. Of course you can put the date in your review or something, but if you are like me and want your data to be accurate, it will be erased from the year you read it previously. That’s super bullshit. But using it as a reason not to reread things is also bullshit.

So this year, as I strive to reduce the size of my pile of library books and the size of the overflow on my bookshelves (the total books I own is just tipped over 600), I will also try not to acquire new ones (you’ll see later this month that that is easier said than done – especially virtual copies – but I’m trying) so that I can ultimately downsize. This means retaining a bookshelf I’m proud of, a bookshelf that represents who I am, and a bookshelf that actually interests me. It means uncluttering my house a bit.

And then it means rereading.

I’ve introduced some of my favorite students to some of my favorite book series, like the Jessica Darling books (IndieBound) and the Gemma Doyle trilogy (IndieBound). And when they love them too, they come and gush and ask questions and talk to me about them and it’s GREAT – except it’s also terrible, because it’s been absolutely ages since I reread things.

I used to reread a favorite series every summer, like the Little House books or Betsy-Tacy or Harry Potter. I try to re-buy old series books I loved that I stupidly got rid of, like my recent binge on the Ernestine and Amanda books, or to replace versions that are falling apart, like my constant search for the best copies of the All-of-a-Kind Family (IndieBound) books. Then I stopped with that tradition, because school, because work, because Morris, because whatever. But I would really like to start it up again. And so in 2015, in addition to reading new books, I’m also going to reread the ones I love and make sure I still love them.

That is terrifying. What if they’re awful? What if it turns out I have shitty taste in books? What if it’s not like the first time? What if I have an anxiety attack? How will I record my reading? On paper, like some sort of cavewoman? What if this is the worst reading experience ever?

What if it’s better?

I’ll find out. This year. (Not this month.) This year.

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