30 December 2014

Top Ten Goals and Resolutions for 2015

I cannot believe it's almost 2015!  This year has gone by in an absolute blur!  Or at least the second half of it has.  The first half had some fun stuff, such as meeting a Twitter friend in Oxford, Mississippi and seeing all of the William Faulkner amazingness, but was mostly unpleasant and monotonous.  The second half is when things really picked up and changed for the good.  So when I look back on 2014 and say that it was a rather good year, I really mean that the second half was good and am willing to pretend the first half didn't happen.

Anyway!  Now we're all thinking about 2015, making plans, goals, and resolutions in order to become better people.  And I think that this is admirable.  Growth is the whole point of living.  With that in mind, my goals and resolutions for 2015 are really pretty simple.

1.  Read more.  Sometimes I feel like I watch way too much TV.  I also don't feel like I make a very good transition from being awake to going to sleep.  These are some natural times to pick up a book and read.  When my family is watching something I don't care for, I can pick up a book and read instead of hate-watching.  I can also make an effort to read for just 20 minutes before shutting out the light at night--hell, sometimes that 20 minutes might wind up being more as I get really into a book.  Granted, there are some days that you just don't feel like reading and hate-watching is easier and some nights you just can't even prop your eyes open with toothpicks and that is all A-OK!  But more often than not, picking up a book is going to be the best idea.

2.  Abandon reading lists.  They make me feel trapped.  They make me feel resentful.  They make me choose to not read.  If I am going to try to read more (see above) and read better (see below), I need to make sure that I'm reading what I want to read and not forcing myself to read certain things just because I said I would or think I should.

3.  Read better.  I don't quite know what this means for me.  Sometimes it might mean reading with a pen in hand so I can underline and write comments or questions.  Sometimes this might mean just slowing down, savoring the language, instead of racing to the finish.  Though racing to the finish is a hallmark of me truly enjoying a book, some of it feels undigested.  I also think that when I do finish a book, I immediately jump into another, when I should probably do a bit of reflecting on what I just read.  I don't think that this necessarily applies so much to brain candy books, so maybe it will be a case by case thing.  Bottom line, I think I could be reading better.

4.  Finish what I start.  At least most of the time.  I've gotten so much in the habit of abandoning books whenever they start to lag, that I don't feel like I am making much progress on my TBR shelves.  I don't pretend that I've read books I haven't, but I really am starting to hate only being able to say, "Oh, yeah, I started that one and what I read was pretty good..."  There are some times that it just won't be worth it to force myself to finish a book, but most of the time it really is worth it to finish.  If nothing else, I'll feel like a better person and feel like I have truly earned the right to claim that I hate a certain book.  And maybe some books will surprise me.

5.  Write and post reviews more quickly.  I still have three books from June that I haven't written reviews of and one from September-ish.  I counted them on my classics list because I did read them.  But I haven't reviewed them and after so much time has passed, the brief notes I wrote shortly after finishing don't mean as much to me as they once did (this part probably partially falls under the "read better" resolution).  I've already said that I'm backing away from traditional reviews, but to not be able to post anything because so much time has passed?  Shameful!

6a.  Blog more frequently.  I love blogging.  I love writing.  I love interacting with fellow book bloggers.  Y'all are my people.  But I don't post as much as I would like to.  I think part of this is because I have some mental image of what a post should look like and if I don't feel like I can live up to that on any given day, I say nothing.  I want to fix this.  I want to make more time for the things that are important to me.

6b.  Participate in more Top Ten Tuesdays.  Top Ten Tuesdays and other memes are great ways to post more often and to interact with more people.  I can't always participate because some of the topics, like about series and some of the more pop culture-y stuff, just don't apply to my reading preferences or my way of thinking about books and reading.  And that's all right.  But the topics are posted well in advance, so I can totally prepare ahead of time and get the draft schedule.

7.  Finish my novella.  I started writing a novella in November for NaNoWriMo, but with my birthday, my uncle's birthday, my nephew's birthday, Thanksgiving, my papa's health, and other craziness, I didn't meet the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month.  I wrote on it from time to time in December.  I love my characters and my story and I really want to do something with it.  I just need to get in my chair more often.

8.  Write more frequently.  Speaking of getting in my chair more often, I have so much writing that I want to do!  One of the many fun things about starting that novella is all of the other writing projects that came to mind that I need and want to write next.  I just need to make time for it, the way I plan to make more time for reading.  This might mean waking up earlier to carve out 30-45 minutes of daily writing and this might mean transitioning to pen and paper writing at the hospital, then typing it up later.  I need to figure out what will work for me and do it.

And a couple not related to books or writing because this is my list.

9.  Complete yoga teacher training in the fall.  This is something I very clearly stated I wanted to do when I moved at the end of July.  At the time, I was going to yoga regularly, then I kind of fell off the wagon at a time when I probably should have been doing it more than ever.  That's OK--life happens.  However, yoga and teaching certification (even if I don't wind up teaching right away) is something that has stuck with me and continued calling me, so it's clearly something that I need to do.  A local studio is offering a teacher training this spring, but the class is already full.  I think this is perfect because I can build my own practice over spring and summer and truly be ready to commit in the fall.

10.  Start a running regimen.  I am going to do this.  I found a gym that is only $10 a month to use the machines, so I can run on a treadmill when it's too cold to do it outside.  Like the yoga, this is something that has really been calling me lately, so it's something I should pursue.  Fortunately I have a new friend who both runs and does yoga and she is beyond willing to support me in my pursuit of these activities.  I should use that resource.

What are some of your goals and resolutions for 2015?  Do you have any advice for how I can achieve my goals?

I hope you have a Happy New Year!  I have some really exciting plans for New Year's Eve and I can't wait to post about what happens!

23 December 2014

Top Ten Books/Bookish Things I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Ahhhh...Tuesday.  I always liked Tuesday.  It wasn't Monday.  Gilmore Girls was on.  Now NCIS is on.  Not a bad day, in my opinion.  Not just Tuesday, but the day before Christmas Eve.  Tuesday, of course, also means Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we're focusing on things we wouldn't mind Santa bringing us.

1.  Time to write.  This is the absolute top of my list.  I would love to have some time to work on that novella I started writing back in November that I really haven't had time to work on because the past two months have been insane with work and various get togethers.  But I really want time to write.  It may sound crazy, but I am actually kind of missing my characters and their stories.  Plus I formed a writers group with a good friend and part of the deal is that I need to be writing so I have something to share when we talk.

2.  Best of 2014 Book Riot Box.  I really, really, really want this.  So bad.  But some members of my family kind of already think I have a book-buying problem, so I didn't ask for it.  And I couldn't justify spending that much of my own money at this point.  The suspense to know what is in the box is just killing me!

3.  More bookshelves.  I need a couple more bookshelves.  I would like for them to be somewhat uniform in appearance.  Then again, I kind of like my eclectic collection of shelves.  At any rate, more space for books would be wonderful.

4.  I'm with the Band by Pamela Des Barres.  This book looks really interesting.  Kind of a real life version of Almost Famous, even though those ladies were band aids, not groupies.  But I think it would be interesting to get a firsthand account of what it was like to travel with bands during the heyday of music (though I will always be more attracted to the Rat Pack).

5.  More time to read.  This is probably more along the lines of a bookish resolution because a lot of the struggle to read is making the time to do it.  But sometimes I would honestly just rather have a few totally free hours in which to sit and read without any interruptions or distractions.  No work.  No phone.  No computer.  No TV.  No hospital.  No family.  Just quiet, me, a book, and a beverage in a nice comfy chair.

6.  A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  I've read this one before.  I borrowed it from a guy I wanted to impress as an undergrad who loved the book.  Then, to be perverse, I think I kind of made up my mind ahead of time to not like it so we could have some sort of tense, sexy argument about the book's merits.  I'm older now and a little bit wiser, so I think I should probably give this one another shot.

7.  The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.  I read and loved The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as an undergrad.  I've started I Am Charlotte Simmons.  I love Wolfe's style and ability to perfectly mimic cultures.  This novel, his debut, which is set in 1980s New York, sounds extremely interesting and pretty apt for what's been going on lately.  I think once I finish Charlotte Simmons, I need to get this one and devour it.

8.  The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis.  I don't know why I've been so into satires lately.  Apparently, a lot of my latent cynicism is bubbling to the surface.  Not that I ever really did a very good job of hiding it, according to my dad.  But whatever.  This one is about a boy on his way to Oxford who decides to seduce a girl named Rachel, then he falls in love with her, which messes with his cynicism.

9.  American Gods Shirt.  I really like this shirt.  A lot.  But I also feel duty-bound to read the book before wearing the shirt, so I need a copy of the book as well.

10.  The Great Gatsby Shirt.  It's hard to decide whether I like the red or the gray shirt better.  Regardless, I love, love, love how the Y is a martini glass.  Absolutely perfect!  This is one of my favorite novels, so I think I need the shirt.  Right?

So what's on your Christmas wishlist?