How I'm Reading 52 Books in 52 Weeks


A lot of you Shady Ladies have asked me how I’m possibly going to meet my #shadygoals challenge to read 52 books by emerging women authors in 52 weeks. Especially since you know I have a full-time job AND I'm building our Shady Ladies events and community!

To be honest, I wasn’t sure myself when I began. 

Even as an avid reader, I go through dry spells when I don’t pick up a book for months. I’m more likely to read a half-dozen books in a year than anywhere near 52.

But I realized how much time I was wasting in my life by scrolling Facebook and Instagram. I’d waste 30 minutes before bed – that golden reading time – down the Facebook rabbit hole.

It wasn’t because I finding true community or engagement. It was just habit. I was glazed over.

So I decided to take back my time. I didn’t want to do a social media hiatus – I love the fun of Instagram, for example, and interacting with all of you! – but I did want to be more conscious of how I chose to spend my limited free time.

And it’s been amazing. If I find myself mindlessly scrolling (or playing Candy Crush, let’s be honest), I check myself. I keep a book near me at all times – one upstairs, one downstairs, one in my purse – so that I can redirect my attention.

I also try to really think: Why am I scrolling? Do I need a mental break from a project? Am I not fully engaged? What is causing this behavior?

And in just the first two months of 2018, I’m meeting my goal. I’ve read a book every. single. week. And in doing that, I’ve enriched my mind and met so many new authors and characters who are adding depth to my life. I’m engaging with ideas again.

I’ve discovered the feminist Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad in Song Of A Captive Bird; I experienced a story of grace and redemption in Rwanda after the genocide in In The Shadow Of 10,000 Hills; I met Patrisse Cullors in her beautiful memoir When They Call You A Terrorist; I explored a dystopian world where women give birth to inanimate objects in The Rending And The Nest. And so many, many more stories that are shaping me.

I’ve become an active participant in my life, not just a passive scroller. I hope you can too! Check back here each week to see what I'm reading. (Now if I can just learn to get to the gym!)


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For those of you following along at home, here's what I've read so far in 2018:

Week 9: All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Week 7 & 8: In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Week 6: Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This historical novel is set in 1950s/1960s Iran and tells the story of poet Forugh Farrokzhad, whom I'd never heard of. Farrokzhad is the ultimate Shady Lady and I'm thrilled to have been introduced to this incredible woman. But the book itself, for me, was a bit thin. It felt like the tapas, rather than the full meal, of her life.

Week 5: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The lives of five women intertwine in a near future when IVF, abortion and single motherhood are all illegal. Deeply satisfying -- and terrifying to think we could move back to that world for women. (Jan. 16: Bloomsbury USA) 
Week 3 & 4: The Rending And The Nest by Kaethe Schwehn ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Started slow but by page 50 became a compulsively readable dystopian novel that explores the how we rebuild society and the stories we tell ourselves. The end fell flat for me otherwise it would have been 4 stars. (Feb. 20; Bloomsbury USA).
Week 2: Achtung Baby by Sarah Zaske. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Put it down about halfway through and didn’t get back to it. Felt like I’d gotten the gist already and wouldn’t miss the final details. Good for conversation and great for the right audience. (Jan. 2; Picador)
Week 1: When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Cullors-Brigniac ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Spent a vacation in New Orleans completely engrossed. This is the story that helps you understand the lived experience of the woman who co-founded the #BLM movement. My first five star book of 2018. A great way to start! (Jan. 16; St. Martin's Press)

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