I finished sixty books in 2019.
I didn’t set out to read that many and when I counted toward the end of December, the number astounded me.
Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do, but I’ve fallen a bit out of it in the last few years as life, making, building a business, depression, and other various factors have taken over.
Years ago, when I was elbows deep in paint, I remember saying that I wished there was a way for me to make AND read because I loved both, but when I was making/drawing/crocheting/painting I couldn’t read and when I was reading I couldn’t create! That desire only strengthened as I started my own business and it seemed I had to wave goodbye to everything I loved about reading in order to focus all my time on making this business work.
But there’s this thing called Netflix (and then Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and all the other streaming services). It fixed my problem! I could create all day and night and still dip my toes in other worlds. It started out as a genuine love of stories…and an unacknowledged abyss of loneliness, depression, and suppression.
I spent all of 2018 devouring shows and movies in my office while I worked an unhealthy amount. I won’t give you the whole process that my counselor had me go through, just give you the highlights:
I was working way too much (literally from the moment I woke up to when I finally submitted to sleep with a brief break for dinner).
The work that was coming out of the insane amount of hours I put in wasn’t actually good because I was distracted and drained.
The relationship I had with and to my work was detrimental and not beneficial to either.
My response to feeling lonely was to seclude myself to watch movies and shows and by definition make my self more alone. Not a solution.
Coping is a good thing, but there is healthy coping and unhealthy coping and I was for sure in the category of unhealthy coping.
I’ve been working solo since 2016 so this dead-air loneliness wasn’t a new problem for me in 2019. My first foray into audio was with podcasts, but I could rarely listen to more than one in a row and I was looking for more in the realm of 5-8 hours of continuous content. [You can find some of my favorite podcasts here!]
My second foray was born out of a desperation I can only describe as I’m-not-a-runner-but-I’m-trying-to-be-help-me. Music is nice, but I needed something I had to keep my mind on since when it wanders when I run, I quickly find myself inching into rough mental territory. I prefer to run outside and outside running does not lend itself well to Netflix + run.
Even though I listened to audiobooks in 2018, I didn’t listen to them with as much gusto as I did this last year. I just counted and I finished 20 books (mainly audiobooks) in 2018; all of them were August on, which tells me that I’m pretty sure they were connected to me working through some BIG issues and just trying to cope. Nifty.
Regardless of why I relied so heavily on these coping mechanisms, I was able to finish so many books in 2019 because of two things:
Audiobooks — This enables me to listen to books while I work (solo/remote/freelance perks). I’ve had to learn which type of projects during which I can’t listen to books, but a large amount of my work allows me to listen to something and I love me a good story.
The library — “Having Fun Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got A Library Card” More specifically, the digital library that I have access to via Overdrive (or their new app, Libby, if you’ve made the switch).
I’m so serious, y’all. The library is the best thing. In all honesty, I was still using my old Ohio library card from before we moved, but your girl finally made the (admittedly short) drive down to our county library to get myself a card for my local library!
Now I can connect my local library card to my Overdrive account and have access to ALL THE BOOKS for free. Free free. What do you know about that’s actually free anymore? Libraries.
Let’s talk about those late fees though. Aha! You hit my weak spot. It took me years to make it to my library to get a library card, do you really think I’m going to make it out there in time to return my books every three weeks? First of all, yes, I am because I’m trying to be better about time management. But historically, no. Which is why I love that when I rent a book through Overdrive, it counts down the remaining days for me and then returns it automatically when the rental is up!
Sure, sometimes I wish I could turn this feature off and just take the fees when I haven’t had a chance to finish a book yet, but largely it’s super nice to not ever have to worry about the one downside to library rentals.
One of my 2019 goals was to read 30 books / just generally watch less Netflix. Because of Overdrive, this is the first New Years resolution that I’ve ever KILLED. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with books again this year and notice the difference that comes with devouring books instead of devouring Netflix. I’m happier and more productive. Ridiculously so.
The long and short of it: I finished 60 books in 2019 because I was using books as a healthier version of coping as I worked through some big stuff and because I LOVE stories. I was able to finish 60 books in 2019 because of Overdrive, the library, and audiobooks. If you’re curious, the final tally for books that I listened to versus books that I physically read is 47 to 13. You can see the books I read and a short review of each one here!
*This post is not sponsored by libraries or Overdrive or audiobooks, I just really love books and have received a lot of questions about how in the world I read so many.