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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Intentional Reading

Do you ever feel left out of a conversation?

It’s only mid-January and while the year is still brand-new, the old year still has a few remnants lingering. The biggest me for is the various Best Of lists still readily available. I read many of them—books, TV, movies, music—and made an interesting observation about the book ones: I read few of them and could not contribute to the conversation.

I’m an avid reader I have anywhere from 2-5 books going on all at once. Well, let me clarify: I’m re-reading Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic in 2023 so I’m only reading a page a day, but it’s still active. I’m blazing through the audio of Dead Silence by S. A. Barnes (for my SF book club), I’ve started Vinyl Resting Place by Olivia Blacke (from Murder by the Book’s Cozy Mystery subscription service), I’m re-reading P.D. James’s Talking About Detective Fiction, and I’ve bought a copy of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The Blacke book is new and the Barnes book is just shy of a year old and the rest are older.

I have always liked my rabbit-trail way of reading. I’m easily influenced, be it from podcasts, news interviews, Twitter, or recommendations by my fellow writers at Do Some Damage. But when it came to reviewing the Best Mysteries of the Year or the Best Non-Fiction of 2022 or just about any other book list from 2022, I found myself woefully behind.

And it’s not even close.

As such, I created a resolution specific to reading and it boils down to a single phrase: Read Intentionally.

What does that mean as a practical habit? Well, it means I’ll be more aware of books that are released throughout this year and make active decisions to read more new books in 2023 than I did in 2022. I still get to made judgement calls—I’m aware that Prince Harry published a book this week but I have zero interest in it.

On the fiction side of things, this week saw the publication of Jordan Harper’s Everybody Knows. I can’t tell you how many fellow writers read this book pre-publication last fall, but it seemed like it was everyone. The praise was universal. Throw in the blurbs you see on press releases and the book cover and you’ve got yourself a contender for a Best Of list in 2023 right out of the gate.

Harper’s book was the first can’t-miss book of the year, and I didn’t. I download the audiobook on release day and am looking forward to giving it a listen.

Later, as the year goes on and more books like Harper’s are released, I plan on keeping up. Then, come December 2023, I’ll have a list of favorite books that will include newly published ones. Why the emphasis on ‘newly published’? Because I still find myself drawn to older books and I don’t want to leave them behind.

Agatha Christie

For the past few years, in light of the success of the Rian Johnson films (Knives Out; Glass Onion) and the Kenneth Branagh adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, I’ve been curious about Agatha Christie. 2020 celebrated the century mark of her first book and the yearly reading challenges started. I didn’t do very well before but I intend to change that. I plan on reading—intentionally—the books on the Read Christie 2023. This year’s theme is “Methods and Motives.”

Good news: I’m one for one. Sad Cypress is January’s book and I’ve already listened to it. Even better, if you check out the website, they’ve listened ten of the twelve books on tap for the year. That way, you and I can stay abreast with the new challenge and read at least twelve Agatha Christie books. I’m particularly looking forward to February’s book, Partners in Crime, the second book in the Tommy and Tuppence series.

Oh, and you don’t have to read the books they suggest. They have a particular method of murder or a motive and you are free to pick any of her books. But as a Christie newbie, I’m just going with the flow.

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