I am posting this one to hold myself to account. This is my rather shameful list of books competed as part of my 2021 reading challenge. I only got through two books. Goodreads says that’s a grand total of 767 pages read.
When I first started with the challenge in 2017 it was as part of a commitment to a better work life balance that I made with my colleagues. After the first year, I wrote about the experience and I was really enjoying it: both the books and the fact that I decided not to be too digital about it.
What was most unexpected was that I discovered that I was enjoying reading and, even more, the act of turning pages in a book was especially satisfying. At the end of the day, I was arriving home more relaxed, and I believe much of that was to do with the ability to focus on something other than work. My boss encouraged all of his team to commit to something through the year, and I’m happy I chose a book challenge because it reminded me how much I enjoy – and can learn from – something more in-depth than a 160 character social post.
In the years since I have kept up the challenge and read a wide range of books. The promise to myself made me power through books I wasn’t enjoying as much and, while the total number of books never crept up, I kept reading. I mainly used my commute time which gave me somewhere between 40 minutes and an hour a day reading on a train. Of course when we had to shelter at home from March 2020 there was, suddenly, no commute and I stopped reading almost overnight: I went from 14 books in 2019 to 4 in 2020. It seems 2021 was worse.
In September 2020, one of my birthday gifts, was a three month Audible subscription. I started listening to books on my morning walk and I completed five audiobooks this year, one podcast series and am about to finish another book. The sum would still only be 7 books but I won’t count the audio versions my challenge. I don’t know why.
Of the two I read I can wholly recommend them both for different reasons. Kid Jensen’s autobiography is a fascinating life history of a DJ who has worked across all types of British radio. I particularly enjoyed the stories from his Radio Luxembourg days: he was one of those presenters who lived Luxembourg in order to present on the Great 208. The Michael Connelly, a book I bought in Newport waiting for the Christmas lights to be switched on, is a thriller about an attorney who, when pulled over by police, unexpectedly finds the body of a client in the boot of his car. I chose this one to read on commutes to and from the Isle of Wight during our time on the island in November. I thought it might be the kind of the page turner that would get me back into reading. It was, indeed, a page turner: I read it in 3 days and the habit made me pick up another book immediately. Unfortunately, I was still reading it when it was time to return home and, again, I don’t seem to find time in my day to read while working from home.
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