I’ve seen lots of people set all kinds of reading challenges lately, either for total number of books they want to read in 2020 or with a list of the specific books they want to read. Some people are setting intentions of the topics they want to focus on reading about, while Tim Ferriss has decided not to read any new books this year.

I love all of these ways of making reading even more focused and beneficial, but I’m pretty happy reading whatever is of interest.

I do have a few reading related goals (or focuses) for this year, though:

  • I don’t want to buy fiction new. This seems like a betrayal since I’m a fiction author, but I read a novel once and then pass it on to a friend or a charity shop. Instead of buying fiction new, I’m going to buy from charity shops and use the library.
  • I don’t want to buy non-fiction, unless there’s a good reason. I have a secret. Inside my wardrobe, the lower half is jam packed with brand new books I haven’t read yet. And they are good books! The vast majority are non-fiction and they’re all books that I do want to read, but there are a couple of bad habits I’ve developed: I suffer from Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and order new books before reading what I already have, and I often feel like reading fiction (especially when life is busy which, let’s face it, at this life stage is always the case). This year I want to work my way through my secret wardrobe stash whenever I’m reading non-fiction, unless there’s a genuine reason for me to buy another title, such as research.

These two intentions will mean my monthly Amazon spend is drastically reduced, and since I’m pretty focused on spending less and buying less stuff, I’ll be happy to see this result.

In fact, since it’s February, I can confirm that this has been a success so far. I have ordered some things from Amazon this year but mainly they’ve been gifts for other people. My regular day-to-day ordering has reduced so much I expect Jeff Bezos may be looking for a second job some time soon.

I’ve also cancelled my KindleUnlimited membership. I just wasn’t using it. Since I’m not price conscious at all when I choose books, I wouldn’t base my reading choices on whether a book was in KU or not. The subscription was only around £8 a month, and that’s exactly how these low-price subscription services work. The amount seems so low it’s almost not worth the hassle of cancelling. May as well keep it active in case one day you need it. I’ve been a KU customer for several years and I know I haven’t read anywhere near £8 a month worth of books using the service.

I do feel that I should say here that KU is a wonderful service for a lot of readers, especially the whale readers who dominate genres like romance where they might get through a book a day. An £8 a month subscription for those kind of readers is a a no-brainer. It just wasn’t a service I got value from.  think, deep down, I’ll always prefer to read a paperback, even if that means I pay more for the privilege.

Anyway, on to what I read in January 2020:

  1. How To Fail At Almost Everything and Stlll Win Big by Scott Adams. This is a part memoir, part life guide by the creator of the Dilbert comic. I asked for this book for Christmas and I don’t really know why as I’m not particularly familiar with Dilbert. It was a great read, though, and Adams has a great writing voice.
  2. Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper. This is the true story of a woman who left Westboro Baptist Church, the extreme religious organisation founded and led by her grandfather.
  3. The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger. Oh, man. Book of the month for sure. This part-biography and part-leadership manual from the Disney CEO was a joy to read. Iger’s career journey is wonderful to read. I have a real soft spot for business biographies like this.
  4. If We Were Villains by M L Rio. This was a stroke of luck. I added this book to my online wish list and then found it in a charity shop a few days later. I did enjoy this, but I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt a year before and, while similar, preferred that title.
  5. Back When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler. I loved this novel about a woman who wakes up one day and wonders how on earth she became the person she is and fell into the life she’s loving.
  6. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. This book is quite an epic… it’s over 600 pages long so quite the commitment! It’s a story of love and loss and I really enjoyed it.
  7. Playing With Fire by Scott Rieckens. This is a financial independence book documenting one family’s journey of discovering the FIRE movement and the impact it has on their life. Rieckens produced the documentary by the same name, which is definitely worth a watch.

That’s it for January!

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