Red Reads February Book Challenge

I adore book challenge. I tend to fall into ruts when reading and book challenges are a great way to break out of my comfort zone and discover new authors and subjects. Last year I did a Spooky Reads challenge for October where I tried to read as many books as I could that had some element of either horror or supernatural. I managed to get through 14 books and 4 graphic novels, and I had such a blast reading all those spooky stories as it set the mood for the month. It was also a really great way to get through my never ending pile of To Be Read books.

This February I’m taking on a Red Reads book challenge. The books can be of any genre or subject matter, but whatever book I choose must have a red cover or have “red” in the title. Using this criteria, here’s my stack I’m aiming to make a dent in for the challenge.

February 2019 Red Reads book challenge pile I’m hoping to make a dent in.

What book challenges are you working on this year or this month? What challenges from the past you really enjoyed? Let me know in the comments!

2018: The Year of Escapism

2018: The Year of Escapism

That’s what my friend, Leslie, called it after discovering she had read over 100 books this year.  I can relate.  I set out to read 52 books in 2018.  So far, I’ve read 100 books and 32 graphic novels, and the year’s not over, yet.
To say I’ve been escaping is an understatement.  After a personal tragedy in 2015, my life has slowly been going off the rails, getting worse with each passing year.  The good news is a lot of drama and other stuff finally came to an end this year.  The bad news is the three years of stress finally took their toll.  My emotional and physical tanks weren’t just empty.  They were bone dry with holes in the bottom. 

Being able to finally relax, breathe, and attempt to recharge, I ended up taking it to an extreme.  With my tanks so empty to start, any endeavor seemed to take way more energy than normal.  I’d go for a walk, I’d need to rest.  I’d do a load of laundry, I’d need to rest.   I’d brush my teeth, I’d need to rest.  Oh, I did a few new and exciting things here and there, but they’d take me days, if not weeks to recover.  I spent more and more time resting to the point of inertia. So I sat a lot.  And read a lot.  And ate…a lot.  At the end of this year thanks to all that inertia and lack of energy, I’ve read 100 books, and I’ve gained over 15 pounds.  I had such hopes for this year, of doing new things and focusing on others, finally free of stress and drama.  But  that wasn’t what I needed.  I needed to rest.  To escape into books and stories.  To take a break from things I’d been doing and dealing with for years.  It turns out, what I really needed in 2018 was a fallow year.

fal·low, adjective
1.(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

I spent the last decade running several races a year.  After 10 years of constantly pushing myself, a woman who doesn’t really like running to start with (I did it for the people and the costumes, but that’s another post,) I got seriously burned out.  So when Run Disney ended their Disneyland races at the end of 2017 my body, my mind, (and my bank account) were desperate for a break.  In addition, I’ve spent 20+ years at my job, only to have the work steadily dwindling the past couple years, as my job comes to an end at the beginning of next year.  Between all that, and the stress and drama, I didn’t really just HOW much of a break I needed. 

It wasn’t how I’d planned 2018 to be.  I certainly hadn’t planned to be so tired.  But it turns out all that resting is exactly what I needed.  Oh, I kept trying to push myself, rousing a bit of energy for some event, or workout, or whatnot, but it burned out quickly and  there wasn’t any left to sustain me.  All the motivation and determination in the world won’t start a car if it’s out of gas.  And while it took me a few months to really understand it, that’s what I was.  Just completely empty.  So I started to embrace it.  Other than some stress over the summer, I’ve been resting.  And while I didn’t plan on gaining so much weight, that’s exactly what happens when you eat what you want and sleep in.  And oh, how lovely it’s been to do both!  Don’t get me wrong,  I miss being healthy.  I miss my six pack abs.  But nachos taste better than burpees, and sleeping in a nice warm bed feels better than getting up in the cold dark at 4:30 to work out.  I welcomed losing myself in books, and movies, and tv shows and sitting back while some other person’s story played out.  I needed a year to restore and, while I’m not fully there, I feel like I’ve made some serious progress. Sometimes the best thing is to do nothing.

I’m still tired.  I still have to sit after doing something.  I still want to curl up and read books all day.  But the thing is, I finally feel like I’m ready for more.  I’m excited for 2019.  It’ll be hard to break out of the bad habits I just spent a year wallowing in, but I always knew they were temporary, and I have both the motivation and the energy now.  I’m looking forward to finding a new job.  I’m looking forward to getting my health and body back in shape.  I’m looking forward to new adventures, and time spend with friends.  Finally, for the first time in a very long time, I’m looking forward to the future.  But until January 1, 2019, maybe one more book…or two.