366 days of silence (and then I talk too much)

I’ve been trying to write about my relationship with books in 2016 for the past week. I’ve scrolled through my list of top 10 books of the year — a list that has steadily remained at seven reads for the past few months — and tried to add others but fell short. I looked through notes I scribbled down in Goodreads when I was particularly jazzed about a read, and grew upset with myself for not being more detailed.

The question is: how do you measure your reading life after recording your reading life pretty routinely for almost five years and then stopping cold turkey?

The answer is: I’m not entirely sure.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumHere are a few things I could say: I read Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King because my boss at one of my side hustles sent me a galley. It utterly changed my reading life, and I immediately ordered a copy to send to my sister. I loved it so much that I was too shy to go up to Jeff when he traveled to New York City for one of my favorite annual events of all time: NYC Teen Authors Festival (a festival I never would have started attending if it wasn’t for this blog). I went on a job interview for a job I would eventually get after a weekend of being snowed in and talked up Courtney Summer’s All the Rage and Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things. Both so wonderful for such different reasons. Later that summer, during Independent Bookstore Day, I convinced one of my oldest friends to buy a copy. On a long bus ride to the beach, Some Kind of Happiness by Claire LeGrand kept me company. It’s the perfect middle grade mix — magic mixed with realism, love mixed with confusion, and family paired with self-discovery. This was another doggy earred galley I left on my sister’s bed during a visit home. I picked up The First Time She Drowned because Jeff Zentner plugged it, was instantly taken by the beauty and pain of the book, and passed it along to a friend a few months later when her mom passed. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy read for her, but I also knew she had a lot of the strength the main character possessed and this was the best way I could tell her. And then there was a recommendation from the dependable Emma and the discovery of a brand new author: Leah Konen.Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano The warm summer afternoon I gobbled up One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid and immediately passed it to my close friend from college. (It was a year of passing it on.) And the incredible second book by Juliana Romano, The Summer in the Invisible City, that had my hand yearning to write, pick up my own story, and challenge myself to write just as well. (Impossible but still. I was inspired and continued to be. You’ll be shocked to know I bought my sister a copy of this for Christmas. Note to self: has she read any of these yet?)

This is the first year in five years where I bought less than 12 book for myself in a year. This does not mean I didn’t buy a lot of books for others because I did. (Like the incredible and addicting middle grade from Natasha Friend: Where You’ll Find Me.) I read so many books from my own library, from stacks that line my apartment walls, and donated over 75 of them in one fashion or another. (There is one happy reader in my apartment building.) I stopped — we stopped — writing here for so many reasons but one of mine was to simplify. I thought if I took a break from here, I would be able to concentrate on other projects. More private ones. And I did. And I didn’t. And I rediscovered what it means to love a book and share it with your friends who understand you and not rush and not feel any pressure. I took out over 75 books from my library this year, I paid probably 50 dollars in fines, but I know I shopped thoughtfully this year. I reminded myself countlessly that there are a million ways to support authors, even if you aren’t buying a book as soon as it comes out. Hey, I even introduced my cube neighbor to Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I Loved Before and delighted in our conversations about if she was Team Peter or Team Josh. It was organic, and so fun! (Another note: just because a platform pauses/closes, doesn’t mean a voice stops recommending and encouraging people to buy your books.)

Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend2016 was not my best reading year. I put a lot of books down. I read 100 pages, and decided if I really didn’t want to pick a book up at night, what was it doing my nightstand? Like everything else that is a hobby, it’s okay to make those decisions. It’s okay to know your limits and want to FIND JOY. (I did finally read On the Island and I’m kicking myself because people have been singing its praises forever. Oh, and then Little Women — I tackled my goal of 26 years by actually finishing it.) My priorities may have shifted to personal projects and fitness and watching all seven season of Gilmore Girls, but I have missed this space. I know I’m lucky because I’ve been able to channel my love for this space and this community at work, and have a great time doing it. But I miss brainstorming and laughing with my friend over books; I miss having a project to gap our distance. For almost a year now, I’ve struggled with (and maybe this is what the age of digital is all about) who I am as a blogger and who I am as an actual publicist. (One of my proudest/scariest moments I had this year was speaking on a panel about blogging and my professional life at the wonderful BlogBound.) The support and incredible relationships I made because of this blog mean so much to me. I respect what you do because I’ve done it too. I know it’s a labor of love, and I know how much authors and the books we love need the genuine passion you express in whatever way you wish. This blog and all of the experiences connected to it have made me better at my job, it’s made me even more of a creative thinker, and it’s made me love the art of collaboration so much more than I ever have.

It’s a new year, and it feels right to be back here with Magan. We’re celebrating six years of friendship at the end of January, and I feel luckier than ever — to be surrounded by books, fierce and imaginative people, and the freedom to sit here and write this to you. I’m ready to learn more about others and myself too.

Here’s to 2017 — to reunions, rediscovery, and curiosity.

15 thoughts on “366 days of silence (and then I talk too much)

  1. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    This post makes me happier than you can imagine!!! So glad to see you two are back! Although we’ve stayed in touch on social media, I’ve always loved your writing and your thoughtful posts and your book recommendations. Kudos to you both for taking a step back when you needed to, and for having the wisdom to know what was right for you in the moment. Can’t wait to sss what’s in store!

  2. Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit says:

    DYING OF HAPPINESS because you guys are back. I missed RBR! Thank goodness we’ve still been talking on Twitter bc I value your ideas and opinions so much. Can’t wait to see more thoughts from you.

    Also, I really need to get to Tell Me Three Things and All the Rage.

  3. Alexa S. says:

    I may or may not have yelped really loudly on the 7 train this morning when I saw a tweet featuring a link to this post pop up on my phone. But seriously, I’m SO happy that the two of you are coming back to blogging! Not only were you two two of the first people I ever became friends with online, but I have always loved the way you guys run this blog and share your thoughts. Looking forward to all of your new posts <3

  4. Meg says:

    I miss blogging. I miss reading. I miss you. Still trying to get my own mojo back in so many ways, but I loved this post and am off to search for several of the books you mentioned — especially Tell Me Three Things. I read Buxbaum’s first book yearrrrrrrs ago and adored it, so I’m sure I will love this one, too!

  5. Lori says:

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see this post! Rather Be Reading was one of my favorite blogs and I was sad to come back from my motherhood fog and see you gone. I just added some books to Goodreads because of this post and I look forward to adding many more because of your recommendations.

  6. Cassie says:

    THIS MADE MY WEEK. That is all! I love you both & your dynamic when blogging together is unparalleled, can’t WAIT to see what is next for you two!! HAPPY SIX YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP LADIES!!!

  7. Chrystal says:

    So happy to see your post. I found dead this refreshing and inspiring. The way you described books, passed them on to right person at the right time ever in beautiful and yay for library books! And yes to On the Island- one of my all time faves. Happy 2017!

  8. April Books & Wine says:

    Yay! I don’t think you even understand how thrilled I am to see this post pop up in my Bloglovin reader. I have missed your posts. It sounds like you had a pretty intentional year. I hear you about the library books taking pressure away — I am trying to get away from some review books and read more library books because it truly does feel like I am under no pressure. Anyways, welcome back!

  9. Rebecca says:

    Welcome back! It sounds like you had a pretty great year – stress-free reading solely for fun and Gilmore Girls – here, here! Most of your 2016 favourites are on my TBR, but will check out Summer in the Invisible City 🙂

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