The other day, mk posted that she’d hit a personal best reading:
I’m on Book 263* for the year, aiming for about 300 for 2017 (which seems to be about my average recently). I’m on the 2018 Alex Award Committee, so I can’t talk about all the books I’ve read, just the adult books published before 2016 and those that are for children and young adults. But I can talk a little generally about reading, particularly for a committee. Or, as my friend Anastasia has been, for a reading challenge.
One of the challenging things about reading for a book award committee is that we all have our reading comfort zones. It could be cozy mysteries. It could be inspirational memoirs. It could be Regency Romances. And if you’re reading for a Best Cozy Mystery of [year] award, then it’s easy to stay in that comfort zone. I have my personal comfort zone but often stray outside when reading YA books so I can do Readers Advisory for my students and to help teachers find new books for their classes. My adult books can stay comfortably in that zone… but they can’t for Alex! Since January 2016, I’ve been reading a lot of books that are outside that zone, in genres I wouldn’t naturally gravitate to or books I would prefer to ignore based on the blurb/summary.
Here’s the thing: much of the time I’ve been pleasantly surprised and gone on to rave about the new find to my friends, students and colleagues who are avid readers. Between my Alex and my other reading, I’m almost done with the reading challenge (one that won’t get crossed off: the audiobook – I try, but my brain just doesn’t hold audiobooks in the way it needs to, and going back is such an annoyance I’ve just given up on it; my sister and nephew, on the other hand, “read” audiobooks with glee). Looking at the advanced challenge list, I probably won’t buy anything at a used book sale in the next three months, so there’s that checkmark left unchecked. But – again, no details! – the other categories? Almost all done.
And those books that my esteemed committee members have requested and nominated that aren’t in my comfort zone? Those books that, given my druthers I wouldn’t be reading? I’m glad I’m reading them. Some authors are going on my “to watch out for” list. Some series are either going to be followed or I’ll be backtracking to earlier tomes. It’s expanded my comfort zone.
That’s one of the blessings of uncomfortable reading: sometimes, unexpectedly, you find you are comfortable. And that’s the best reason to do a challenge or serve on a broad-reach book award committee. I don’t know what 2018’s reading will bring but I’m willing to get a little uncomfortable while doing it. Are you?
* of that 263, several are YA, Children’s, pre-2016 reads and even a few 2018! That number is not only Alex reading!