Sarah to Zero Pt.2

What the fuck is Sarah to Zero? I love books and I buy a lot. Over the years I had accumulated hundreds. This was my overambitious intention to read them all. Every single one.

I started 2020 with the goal of reading 100 owned books. For some reason in about March (actually right before the pandemic became our every day) I did a small culling of my shelf and was left with around 185 books. I decided, fuck it, I’m gonna read them all.

And I did.

I somehow actually did it. I finished last year having read 206 books and with an empty shelf. (Just kidding, I already have 25 books on my shelf. HAHA! I received some lovely books for my birthday and Christmas that I didn’t include in my challenge and will calmly read throughout this year.) I still can’t quite believe that I completed the challenge.

How did I do it? Oh, well I did absolutely nothing else for a year. Simply put.

Here’s some things I learnt from my mad year reading 206 books:

– It’ll take a lot of time.

– I am not a quick reader. But I am a quick listener.

– Audiobooks are life.

– You become more equipped at knowing instantly if you’re going to enjoy a book/gel with the writing.

– Not every book is a winner. And that’s okay. Some are still worth reading.

– If your mouth is not open speaking to someone right that moment, then you should probably have an audiobook on.

– I buy a lot of books I think I should read. (Thanks, English Literature degree, you bastard.)

– I no longer read books I think I should read if I’m not feeling them.

– There is a lot of holes in my reading and my diversity of author, subject matter, even genre. I’m excited to explore more.

– Readathons will really get you there.

– You have very patient people in your life who love you and respect your hairbrained schemes. (Looking at you Danny, you the realest.)

– Damn, there is a lot of incredible books out there. And you have just a tiny sliver of them.

– Reckless determination can really take you places.

– Reading in the garden is really lovely. Reading in bed when you’re tired will not end well.

– You’ll watch way less Netflix/Youtube, but in a good way.

– There’s some pretty fun people on bookstagram and taking pictures of books is surprisingly addictive.

– You find links between books everywhere. I think it’s because you’re still living in a book world but catapulting yourself into another before your brain can adjust.

Would I do it again? Absofuckinglutely not.

I honestly had a really fun year and I’m glad I did the challenge and I’m still gobsmacked that I actually completed it. But one of my main motivations for doing the challenge to begin with was so that I could have a more chill reading experience moving forward. I had just accumulated a lot of books, from like ten years of buying more than I was reading. Whenever I looked at my shelf I felt excited but overwhelmed and when I purchased a new book I felt guilty and would put it aside to pick up an older one. Dumb, I know.

Goals and intentions going forward:

– Keep my physically owned tbr to under twenty books.

– Join some online book clubs and seek out new, fun readathons.

– Read diversely. Prioritse BIPOC and queer stories and authors.

– Take more time reviewing each book.

– Do buddy reads with my friends.

– Read more new authors. I used to read mainly backlist but I’m really excited by new authors recently.

– Read every memoir in existence. Or, you know, as close as you can get.

– Read every day in some capacity. Cos you love it.

I reckon that’s enough to be getting on with for now! I set my reading goal as one book this year and I’ve completed that. Feels really freeing to just see where the year goes now!

What are your reading goals for the year? Did having to stay home during the past year mean you read more than usual? Did you find any new favourites? Do you want to make reading a bigger priority for yourself this year? I hope so, cos reading is boss!

Happy reading!

Chinese Satellite – Phoebe Bridgers

July/October/November Wrap Up

If you’re wondering why this wrap up is such a mismatch it’s because I read one book in July and then didn’t finish a single other book til October! If you’re wondering why you’re only just getting this wrap up, well, I’m lazy. This can’t be news to you. Okay, let’s go!

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Totally worth the hype. I took ages to get into this book to be honest. The voice of Eleanor was just annoying me a bit, I didn’t care much for her attitude. But slowly and then all at once you’re sucked into her world and find yourself defending her to other characters. Endearing yet sometimes uncomfortable. Read it.

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

My first Celeste Ng and I won’t be going back. Mysterious and intoxicating, this book had me sneaking pages whenever I could. A brilliant story of family and responsibility and privilege and drama. Another book that is worth the hype.

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

A wonderful yet unapologetic look at grief. Sometimes I found Didion was downgrading other types of grief for the loss of a partner but I don’t know if this was her intention. If it’s not been your experience you can’t be expected to feel it. Aside from that, very honest, raw and interesting to delve into the endearing stories of her past.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

A much darker ending than I ever imagined even knowing it was a book about the Holocaust. I guess it shocks you into remembering and honouring everyone who lost their life in the concentration camps. A beautiful, innocent friendship between two boys set in a world arena too harsh for their eyes.

A Caribbean Mystery – Agatha Christie

My first Marple! How is that even possible? I much preferred it to the Poirot I read, please don’t come for me. I enjoyed Miss Marple’s voice and how she can read people even when they think themselves so above her. Of course I didn’t guess the end but I had a great time conspiring throughout.

Dark Days – James Baldwin

Everything I read by James Baldwin I end up loving. Part of the new Penguin Moderns collection, it’s a small book with three of his essays. A great intro to Baldwin’s non-fiction writing. Presents race in America in a very matter-of-fact, no bullshit kind of way. His ideas on race and education I found particularly fascinating. 

The Robber Bridegroom – Brothers Grimm

A little collection of short stories, a quick read and some unsettling characters. Too many stories ended in marriage though, who are we, a Shakespeare comedy? I’d have preferred something more fulfilling but maybe that’s asking too much of its time.

Seashore – The Regrettes