Changing Habits

For years I was the kind of reader that only read physical books and mostly ones I owned. I delighted in hours spent browsing in bookstores, bringing stacks up to purchase.

But then I had a toddler and beautiful afternoons spent in bookstores are really a thing of the past. Plus, this whole pandemic thing. This is not a post to talk about how I’m not an e-reader. We’re still holding the line on that one.

I have for sure become a library super-user though. Currently, 74% of my 2021 books have been from the library. In 2020, 51% of my reading came from the library – and I didn’t have access to the library from March to June!

I’ve been working from home so no more trips to the library on my lunch break, and no more browsing. I’ve been periodically going online and placing holds and then collecting a stack once a week or so. I was never that into putting books on hold, preferring the serendipity of finding books as I browsed. Sometimes those books were on my radar, often they weren’t. Every once in a while I stop and think about how much money the library has saved me. But mostly I think about how grateful I am that libraries exist and that they found a way to make their collections remain accessible in all of this. Because wow, I have so much more time on my hands and I don’t like to think about what I would have done without the library.

The other significant change, and this will surprise you, is that I have finally given in to the siren song of the audiobook.

I have fairly strict parameters for what I will listen to because I still don’t like being read to. No fiction audiobooks for me at this point. But after hearing about how amazing Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Meaning of Mariah by Mariah Carey, Open Book by Jessica Simpson and books by comedians are on audiobook, I decided that I would give non-fiction audio a spin.

And wow. They are so fun to listen to! I go for long walks with our dog most afternoons (he needs a good hour or he’s a nightmare all evening) and that’s become my audiobook time. I can’t tell you how much that time has been transformed for me. The first audiobook I listened to was Andre Leon Talley’s In the Chiffon Trenches. I had to speed him up to 1.25% but I loved wandering around the neighbourhood with his voice in my ears. I’ve since listened to Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo (I think I would have preferred to read this one on paper, just the way I prefer to process this type of information), and Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (I loved this one and I think you HAVE to listen to it vs read it). I’m now listening to Ali Wong’s Dear Girls.

I’m on the waitlist for Colin Jost’s A Very Punchable Face and Atomic Habits by James Clear (that one will take a while – 52nd on 10 copies!).

I’m still super new to the audiobook game so if you have nonfiction suggestions, please send them my way!

The steady supply of fresh and free reading materials plus audiobooks mean that a little more than halfway through February, I’ve finished 25 books which is probably the best I’ve done reading-wise in a number of years.

What are your reading hacks these days?