I am excited to welcome my dear friend, Michael, as a guest blogger for Incessant Bookworm this morning! Michael and I were colleagues for over 2 years and deepened our friendship over books. We have changed jobs since then but have kept up with each others’ lives (including our bookish habits). Please welcome him and enjoy his guest post 🙂
With the start of a new season, I find myself in a place of reflection. Over the past year I have embarked upon a journey-to read more than I ever have. This wasn’t a journey I decided to start on January 1, 2017. Instead it’s one that has been slowly building over the past few years. Now this may not seem like some montage of a young professional reading books to conquer his Goodread’s goal list, with the Rocky soundtrack and you’d be right. The reality is that few stories start out this way because they don’t show the growth, development and insights gained. My journey to read the most I had ever in my life has taught me about the strength of communities and how books can connect you with people you didn’t think you’d start a friendship with.
To get us started on this journey we need to go back about seven years. I found myself newly out of college and in my first real job. That transition had me questioning all things in my life, and while I questioned them, I wasn’t in a place to enact my thoughts from them. Instead I traveled the country for work and met some really cool people. From those experiences, I saw that I loved talking with people about new ideas and experiencing their city through their eyes (or as close as I could). I found myself spending less and less time watching TV and more time engaging outside my comfort zone.
Fast forward two years, I’m moving and decided to get rid of my tv. The goal was to use the time to read more in my free time and pick up new hobbies. This was my way of embracing things that I had learned from questioning the world and enacting a few things. When I moved into my apartment and didn’t orient my furniture to a TV, it felt weird. Like pit in stomach, uneasy weird like the first drop on a roller coaster. I thought to myself, “ok you’re really doing this.” That year I really experienced the city I lived in, and I fell in love. Admittedly, I did read more that year, but more than anything I became active in my community. It transformed me, I became a fan of the local college basketball team, went to happy hours, set up shop at the local coffee place, and I flourished. Despite all this, I still had a nagging feeling to read more, and I didn’t know why.
Many moves later, I continued in this pattern, reading more and more and not really addressing this thirst to read more. Not having a TV was great for me, but I couldn’t put aside the desire to continue reading. At the end of 2015 and start of 2016 I decided to start to answer this question. So what did I do? I started a book club with a new friend, in a new village, and I loved the discussion. The nagging feeling started to go away. And I learned it was because discussing the thoughts, feelings and themes of the books evoked my own perspectives on life. Those perspectives intertwined with my community and I saw relationships expand and friendships go deeper. So in that year I read 24 books, and it was a struggle. Like I was reading on December 31 the last of my book so I could get to my goal.
I thought, ok let’s take this goal further and go for a stretch 30 books. Now before you think, that’s it, let me explain – for me, this is huge. I have many friends that read 50+ books a year, but that’s not me—-yet. So I started this challenge and am already at 28 books, so while I’ll likely pass my goal of 30, I have learned so much. I’ve found myself starting conversations with people in coffee shops, with flight attendants on planes and engaging in a different way. What’s different about reading a book, is that it takes time. You can’t watch a 30-minute show, process, and move on the way you can with a book. Instead it’s a multi-day process that helps your brain steep in the content. For me that has meant richer conversations and new ways of thinking.