The Twin Cities for bookish sorts
You may be familiar with the GoodReads site, and how they have these Challenges you can set up to see how many books you can read during the year. Having done this twice, I can say it is mighty motivating to see those numbers tick away, even when they tell you by what percentage you are behind.
Maybe it’s just me – I’m kind of a stats geek, and I love milestones. So when I first issued the Challenge to myself in 2011 to read 52 books, I was very happy when I met it (actually, I read 55 books). Then I upped the ante – I Challenged myself to read 100 books in 2012.
Well, at this writing, and mere hours away from the tolling of the bell and the dropping of the ball, I am 16 books behind (or 17 percent). But I am still happy about that. Happy enough to try to finish the books on my Currently Reading list before the clock strikes (I’m not sure what time zone the GoodReads folks are in, but last year it reset before I could gloat over the final tally). Happy to see all those book covers displayed when I click on View Books. And really happy to see a button called View Your Stats, upon which I can see, displayed in graph form, all my previous years’ reading numbers as long as I’ve been on GoodReads! And if I go to my Profile, I can see those previous Challenges, with that nice red sash labeled Completed across 2011. And happy enough to make another Challenge for 2013.
I also made another Challenge for 2012: to read one book I own every month. Unfortunately, I did not get very far with that (too many new books coming in the door!). But I’m going to renew that for 2013. And what will your Challenge be? I have a few ideas for you.
Read a Book!
Challenge yourself to – what else? – read. Read a book a week. A book a month. A book a quarter. It doesn’t matter. I so often hear people say they don’t have time to read. But they DO have time to: watch sports, reality TV, sit-coms, and the news (okay, full disclosure, television is in my opinion a poor way to spend your time). They have time to go to bars and to hang out at the Mall. They have time to go to Starbucks or Caribou (when they likely have a perfectly good coffee maker at home). They have time to go out to lunch, to the gym and for walks in the park (okay, I’m not saying you should forgo exercise to read – really, I’m not. That just happens to be the way it works out a lot of the time). What I’m saying is that people who say they do not have time to read are not making the time to read. I read mostly in the evenings, mostly before I go to bed. Once I turn on the dishwasher, it’s book time. If you've got kids, read to them. Once in a while I go a few days without reading. But then I make up for it on the weekend. It’s like catching up on sleep. Wondering what to read? Start with these, the Best of 2012, or check out the next two suggestions...
Attend a Literary Event
Challenge yourself to attend a local literary event. Hey, there is no shortage. This town is full to bursting with every kind of book-related event you could imagine. And if you don’t know where to go, all you have to do is check the Twin Cities Literary Calendar, run by Rain Taxi. On some days, you will see a dropdown menu to list all the events for that day. During October this past year, there were days where the dropdown menu said ‘+ 14 more.’ Now that’s a good bookish city to live in. Try a reading by an author you’ve never heard of. Try a launch event for a new lit mag. Try a Literary Death Match, an Emily Dickinson Black and White Ball, or a meeting of Books & Bars. There is so much variety – it’s never, never, never dull people reading in monotone. Not any more.
Get Familiar with Your Bookstores and Library
Challenge yourself to get to know your local literary places. I work with a lot of authors, and I am always amazed when they tell me that they have not even been inside their local indie bookstore or nearest library. Do you know that we opened TWO new indie bookstores in the Twin Cities this past year? (Subtext and Moon Palace Books) That’s almost unheard of in this day and age. And how did that happen? Because we have the demographics to support it. How great is that? So get on down to the one nearest you, whether it’s Micawber’s or Magers & Quinn, Once Upon a Crime or Birchbark Books. There are so many choices. We have bookstores devoted entirely to mystery (two of them!), to science fiction and two devoted entirely to children’s literature. We have two bookstores owned by bestselling, award-winning authors. We have bookstores in little neighborhoods and on trendy strips. We have outlying stores in beautiful little towns that need your love. Get on out there.
And the libraries, don’t forget the libraries. You will find a local branch near you no matter where you live. They hold free computer classes, classes on using e-readers, classes on social media, and they have wonderful, knowledgeable, helpful librarians at the ready to get you whatever you need. Most of them have coffee shops now, and they have marvelous children’s sections with activities. My local (Maplewood branch of the Ramsey County Suburban Libraries) even has a ‘teen’ section, with cool booths, lots of graphic novels and wifi. Many of them hold fantastic author events for both local and national names, including the ever-revolving Club Book, which has just announced its new season. Go in, introduce yourself, see if they are carrying your book. Make your face a familiar one there. Did I mention that most libraries run multiple book groups?
So authors, writers, wordsmiths - if you are interested in getting your books in the hands of readers, get to know your local indies and your local library. Get to some readings, support other authors, and get to know other local lit folks.
And readers, well, you know what you have to do. Just get out there and read!
What’s your Reading Challenge for 2013?