Since finishing my Andrea Reads America project, I’ve felt both thrilled and overwhelmed by the reading possibilities before me. I didn’t have my next book planned when I finished the project, and that caught me off guard. After six years of a pretty structured reading life, I suddenly didn’t know what I was going to read next. I picked up War and Peace because I loved Anna Karenina so much and because it’s long, meaning it’ll keep me occupied for a while so I don’t have to make any decisions.
Five weeks later, I’m a little over halfway through the 2000 page brick. And I can tell you, it’s no Anna Karenina. The extended, slow read is good for me, though. It’s like a long train ride: it’s giving me time to look out the window and think. I’m making time now for short stories during the day or in the evening, before I settle into the novel. I love these quick bursts of excellence injected into my days. And as I make my way, day by day, week by week, through War and Peace, I’m gathering book titles and putting them in order in my mind of what I want to read next.
I’ve started a side blog on Tumblr called Books & Drinks about the words and drinks I’m consuming. Running that blog has been super fun so far. And I’ve got to-read lists all over the place — Goodreads, paper lists, random electronic notes to myself. I’ve decided to make the illustrated TBR pile in my Read Harder journal my canonical list. I bought the journal at Ann Patchett’s book store in Nashville in January, so it has special meaning to me, but also, I know where the journal is in my house, I don’t have to look at a screen to get to it, and that’s the place I’m keeping all the recommendations I get from friends.
My reading life is exciting to me again, now that I am free.
P.S. — If you have a book lover in your life and are looking for a gift for them, I highly recommend the Read Harder reading log from Book Riot. In addition to being a journal of the perfect size and weight for both portability and actual usage, it has suggestions for really good books when you want to branch outside of your normal reading. I filled mine this year.