Avid Readers, Occasional Bloggers

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My 2021 Reading By The Numbers

Some stats about my reading in 2021 (that may be of interest only to me):

  • Total Books Read: 84
  • Hardcover: 42
  • Kindle: 32
  • Paperback: 6
  • Audio: 3
  • Nonfiction: 45
  • Fiction: 38
  • Longest book: 751 pages
  • Shortest book: 12 pages

In later posts I will outline my favorite book in fiction and non, but what jumped out at me is that I haven’t really landed on a a genre or style that I really enjoy. Despite reading close to 40 works of fiction, I didn’t read a lot of books that I would heartily recommend, books that I loved. Feels like I am in a bit of a funk; not finding a lot of “You have to read this!” Type books.

The other thing that I find interesting with using Goodreads, is that I have a tendency to overrate books; giving 4 stars when looking back I don’t feel like I “really” enjoyed it.  There is such a fine line between enjoying a book and really liking it.  At least it seems that way to me. My campaign to bring half stars to Goodreads continues.

Bibliotheca: Achievement Unlocked

 

If my greatest reading accomplishment in 2020 was reading 100 books in a year, my reading accomplishment for 2021 was finally reading my entire Bibliotheca set in a little over nine months.

For those unfamiliar with Bibliotheca:

Bibliotheca is an elegant, meticulously crafted edition of the Bible designed to invite the reader to a pure, literary experience of its vast and varied contents.

The text is treated in classic typographic style, free of all added conventions such as chapter and verse numbers, section headers, cross-references, and marginalia.

I received the set way back in December of 2016 and despite picking it up on occasion never really read it in any serious way.

I don’t really have any deep spiritual/theological nuggets of wisdom to offer as my approach was really about getting lost in reading scripture as literature. So instead, allow me to offer my thoughts as tracked via Goodreads:

Volume I: The Five Books of Moses & The Former Prophets

I would give the design and materials of Bibliotheca 5 stars but I am not going to lie, by the end of this volume I was slogging through the kings and their continued insistence on doing evil in the sight of God. Seems almost sacrilegious to give the Bible 3 stars but hard to say “I really liked it” given the content… ;-)

A few things struck me while reading in this format: it really reads like the ancient text that it is, there is a lot of violence, and there is very little obvious doctrine or theology. My perspective leans heavily in this direction, but I was struck by the narrative drive of scripture. It is about the relationship of the people of Israel with their God. It is not abstract theology but often blunt and ugly history but with a God who is faithful.

Lessons Learned in 2021: Less busy is easy, more meaning is hard

As indicated in my Happy New Years post, I feel like I have learned somethings about myself in 2021 and that I am in a better position to post to this blog as a result. Obviously, I did not set out to learn things simply so I could blog here.

Like many during the never-ending ongoing pandemic I was trying to figure how I wanted to structure and approach my life.  What would I spend my time on? Where would I put my focus and energy?  What ultimately brought joy and meaning into my life?

There were a number of factors involved:

  • I am now working from home for the foreseeable future while my wife has a longish commute.
  • I continue to focus on my health. Having lost nearly 45 pounds, my focus is on finding a workable balance when it comes to diet and exercise. Not losing weight or gaining it back but finding a healthy stability. I run three or four times a week but still eat too much sweets and carbs.
  • I still read quite a bit but seem to struggle retaining knowledge and information from what I read.
  • I have a rather large library at home and yet still struggle not to buy more books and check out books from the library.
  • Despite wrestling with what you might call digital minimalism for many years now, I still find myself distracted by electronic devices and gadgets.

What has been reinforced for me time and time again in 2021 is that distraction is easy and focus is hard. A cliche right?  But nonetheless true.

Reading, Re-reading and Reinventing Paul

I have something of an obsession with the idea of reading more deeply in a subject and thus coming away with a deeper knowledge of one specific topic, idea or area of thought.  Please note that I said “the idea of” as I have pursued this idea in theory a great deal more than I have actually practiced anything like it.

This is why I have a rather large collection of books on conservatism for example.  Or the entire American Presidents Series.  Why I purchased a number of books that act as primary documents of sorts for Black History Month.  Oh, and shelves of books on myths, legends and fairy tales.  I often act as if collecting books on a subject will force me to read more deeply in a topic and thus gain knowledge (see yesterday’s post).

Alas, I rarely get beyond a book or two and soon the collection stares at me from the shelf mocking me… (I never got to the primary source books for Black History Month).
a stack of books on Paul
But I am here not to castigate myself, but to report on my current assignment which I am actually managing to stick with so far: reading books on Paul (another of my mini-obsessions).

When you want to give up your New Year’s Resolution after two weeks…

A harsh reality I have had to admit to myself: if I had the ability to write insightful, well-crafted book reviews of serious non-fiction then I would be writing for publications not just this humble blog. Sad but true, as they say, sad but true.

So yeah, I am having second thoughts on the future of CM 19 days into 2021.

One of the many reasons this blog has slowly dwindled in readership and content is that I have lost my “voice” – my sense that I have something interesting or important to say.

This is sort of the flip side of the lack of audience. The two are probably related in some in-direct way. As I posted less and less, and interacted with other lit-blogs less and less, my audience drifted away; into the world of social media and away from the world of blogs and RSS feeds.

That same social media, and the complications of life, that distract and take up precious time so that posting requires more work and commitment. At the same time, despite reading a great deal, I don’t feel the urge to post. I don’t have something I just have to put down in words and in the back of my mind is the sense that no one will read them anyway.

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