· How I Read 21 Books in a Year, Part 1 of 3

How I read 21 books in a year + book review

Hello there! :)

Here's the story of how I went from reading (not even) a book a year to over 20. It's a story of insomnia, routine, relief, and a growing obsession. This will also include a 3 part non-expert book review! :D

Summer of 2015. Intense frustration. My insomnia was as bad as ever, three nights out of four, staying unwillingly awake 2-3-4 extra hours, tossing and turning, the palpable frustration building as minutes ticked by. Hours, hours, hours before being able to shut my eyes finally, and swim blissfully into unconsciousness. With the crazy double-hours busy Holiday season coming closer and closer, I needed to find a solution, and quick. A solution that would not piss me off, that would not make me drowsy the next day (no pills, thanks.), a solution that I would WANT to keep up.

One August day, I went at my friend Melanie's for afternoon chat and tea (and a cat presence dose). As I was out the door, my eyes wandered to her library. Now, this is kinda a strange in itself, because remember, I am (was) not a reader. I'd read basically mostly one author, Paul Auster, because he mostly writes as quick as I read, something like a book a year. So... No idea why, but a particular book spine jumped out at me. It was This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper.

This book, with it's understated but intriguing title, with it's spine full of colorful letters, grabbed my attention and I picked it up. Melanie went on about how it had been a great entertaining read, with funny and fluid writing, and offered to lend it to me. I didn't know it yet, but it was the answer I was looking for. I wasn't thinking it would help me go to deep sleep faster, I just thought it might help diminish my frustration of being awake, and thus, maybe, perhaps, hopefully, shave off an hour of insomnia. Well, it just happens that — I guess this is logical, but to me it sounded like a myth — reading tires you out. First night, one hour shaved. Second night, 2 hours shaved. By the fourth night, I was sleeping in under half an hour. And sleeping hard, too, waking up energized and everything!

On the tenth day, insomnia crept back. So I then started installing a simple routine: on hour before bed, watch low-brain-activity TV, drink herbal tea. Then, in the bedroom, place the book on the bed, open the small light and close the big one, glass of water. Go brush teeth AFTER all this (why? I have no idea, it seemed right, and I still do this to this day. lol) Come back to the bedroom, prop some pillows, and read.

But mostly, I have an extra very strict rule: DO NOT look a the clock. Read. Simply read more if you're not falling asleep. Get lost in the book. Read as much as you can. Read until your mind goes blank. Read until your eyelids can barely keep themselves up. Then I would force myself to read some more, until once again my eyelids couldn't stay open. DO NOT LOOK AT THE TIME! Because see, the clock only awakened my frustration. The more I was aware of the minutes passing by, the less I'd sleep. So why even look at it? I figured that even if I ended up reading for 2-3 hours, at least the frustration would not be part of the deal, and in the end, once I did sleep, I would sleep more soundly anyway.

We are now well over a year — and 25 books — later, and it's still going well. I'd say insomnia pops back it's ugly head about once every two weeks, which is such a HUGE improvement. Even when it does come around, I'm so much more relaxed about nighttime altogether, and so it's never as worse as before.

What is great too is that reading is now part of my life. I have found a new passion (obsession), something I enjoy doing that doesn't involve my work at all, which is quite rare for me to find. I can't help myself from buying books, mostly secondhand. In the past few weeks, there were a lot of Fall secondhand sales around Montreal, and I went crazy. Something like 25 "new" books entered my library, for around $60 (what a steal!!!). A lot of thrillers/crime/suspense (my favorite, I've discovered), but also many diverse non-fiction and literary novels.

I love to hold the object of pages in my hands. Even the books I sorta appreciated are still dear to my heart — it takes skill, patience, determination, and  creativity to write, and that is precious. Also, public transportation has become much less laborious. I also enjoy talking about them with my boyfriend - who reads very different kinds of books, but who's interested anyway. I am happy to have found reading, and happy that reading found me, too.

Now, on to the books!

books

I've separated my 21 reads into 3 global categories — The humorous, and then the thrillers (included are crime and suspense novels), and finally, the literary (basically all the other genres mixed together). I am very aware that these categories are quite large, and that genres are more complex than this, just as for music. However, I wanted to group them for the benefit of blogging clearly, and I simply bundled up the genres that bring similar emotions to me as I read.

*Please note that I won't really be giving you complete resumés of the books, since those can be found super easily online. I prefer simply sharing my global impressions of them. I'm no pro — just a regular reader, like you. I don't plan on spoiling you either (if ever some comments *might* do so, I'll say so beforehand). Also, I was NOT asked to give reviews for these, and all the books were acquired by my own means.

The Humorous

Book review: humor

I've read only 3 books in this category, because I find myself being a little bit more demanding as far as humor goes. It seems — I am still discovering my reading preferences — that just as in life, I enjoy more subtle, sarcastic, dry and witty humor in books. For some reason, I seem to have more difficulty finding those...

This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
This is the first book I read during that year (it's the one I stated earlier). The humor throughout the book is dry, and I absolutely loved it! We see grief (about his father's passing and his home life situation) in the eyes of Judd. I went to read a couple of online reviews before starting it, and a lot of men wrote that this character's thoughts and emotions were very similar to those they truly have. And so, I found it quite insightful as well as entertaining. I think this might be one of those "LOVE or HATE" books. So try it, and see if this is to your liking as well!

How to Talk to a Widower, by Jonathan Tropper
I remember that I was reading this during Xmas break. Isn't it funny that sometimes you can remember what was going on in your life when you were jumping into a specific book? I truly appreciated this other novel about grief (a recurring theme for Tropper), altho I would suggest the previous one first, if you have to choose.

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
This Swedish book, translated to English, was a nice surprise! You can't help but be a little annoyed with Ove's attitude towards life (and people) at first, but then without quite noticing the shift, he begins pulling at your heart strings every new chapter! I sometimes "felt the translation" (or was it conscious stylistic translation choices?), but it wasn't so strong as to disturb my attention away from the story. I suggest it as a light and fun read!

What humorous reads have you enjoyed? Feel free to drop suggestions in the comment box below! :)

In part 2, it'll be all about thrillers, crime novels, and suspense stories — 9 of them.
Stay tuned. Very soon! :D

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2 Comments

Janick
Janick

November 12, 2016

Paule,
Oh yeah, un commentaire!!! :D Hadn’t had one since April. ahaha!
Tu devrais totalement faire un petit 10min de lecture before sleep, si c’est quelque chose qui te tente évidemment! Pas que je pense que tu as de la misère à dormir toi… haha ;)
Ohhh I’ll take a look à ta biblio à ma prochaine visite chez toi! And I’ll try to be brief… I kinda get lost in it when in front of bookshelves (discovering so much new stuff…! haha)
<3

Paule
Paule

November 11, 2016

Nice JAJA!! J’adore ton post, ça me donne envie d’aller revoir ton blog, j’en lis plus aucun ces temps ci. (dah je sais pourquoi ;) Personnellement, mon intérêt (passion) borderline trop intense pour le tricot a bouffé tout le genre de temps que je mettais à la lecture avant. Mais je pense que 5-10 minutes avant de me coucher serait super réaliste. J’ai plusieurs livre ici qui m’ont été preté que j’avais super hâte de lire en plus. Et je vais régulièrement à la biblio pour estelle faque j’ai aucune excuse! Si tu as fini ta stash, tu peux venir looker dans ma biblio, j’ai juste gardé mes livres préférés, et ça me ferait plaisir de t’en prêter! xoxo Pis je suis très contente que tu dormes mieux, surtout.

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