This post is sponsored by Flatiron Books, Publisher of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.
También de este lado hay sueños. On this side too, there are dreams. Lydia Quixano Pérez runs a bookstore in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She has a son, Luca, and by and large, they live a fairly comfortable life. But when Lydia’s wonderful journalist husband publishes a tell-all profile of Javier, the jefe of the newest drug cartel, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca are forced to flee. None of their lives will ever be the same as they join the countless people trying to reach el norte. Everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
Let’s rewind a bit to the 31st of December. It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s getting close to the time. The time to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome 2020. Last year was a year of bad news and bad choices. A year that brought a lot of heartache to our lives. A year where you fell in love and someone broke your heart. A year where you kept trying and nothing came out of it.
My friend invites me to her family’s party for New Year’s Eve. Her dad hands us a cup full of grapes. Twelve grapes for each wish, each resolution, I’m taking with me to 2020. I always try to think of something and when I get to the last grapes, my mind is completely blank. One wish for me is to have a better reading year.
But what I think is: I can’t believe I only read 20 books in 2019.
Talking from the perspective of a blogger and a reader who is part of the book community, I think I’ve never read such a small quantity of books in a year. Goodreads tells me I read 130 books in 2015, 141 books in 2016, 94 books in 2017. 2018 was the year I stopped using Goodreads, so my data for that year is not that clear, but if I remember correctly, I did read a good quantity.
But nothing like last year. And with this knowledge came a lot of thoughts. I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do. I read books. That’s my job, that’s what I want to do in life. I talk about them in my social media and recommend them. But I’m not reading a lot of books. I felt really, really bad about myself. Like I wasn’t doing enough. I felt sad and disappointed with myself. I wanted to read, but I read one, two books a month. And then for three months I didn’t read anything. It happened so rarely for me, I thought this “book slump” wasn’t going to go away.
I think one of the reasons I didn’t pick up books and read them the same way I did the previous years was because I became very social last year. Or not really super social, but I went out with my friends more often. I was the one who wanted to do things and proposed times and places to go with them! In the previous years, I preferred to stay home and see my friends when there were important events. But it was my last year with them; my college years were over, I was going to go back home when I was done. But with these social outings, I left my books at home, collecting dust.
They were always there when I came back, welcoming me home. One thing I love to do is look at my bookshelves and see the history of my reading years there. That book left me crying, that book made me smile, that book changed my life. And so on, and so on. The new additions feel like strangers that will become new friends that I haven’t met yet. I take my time tho. Doesn’t it happen to you too, when you pick up a book and you read it in two days and then you pick another and the same thing happens, but then you don’t pick up a book in three weeks and you feel a certain kind of way? I either read four books in one week or one book in three months. There is no in between.
When I first started reviewing books, I remember reading and requesting every single title. I was an excited little bee, ready to go to work. Through the years of learning, I found myself. Slowly, reading had become something of a task and not something I enjoyed doing, in 2019 more so than the previous years. I thought I had to do it because it was expected of me. And that led to me not reading at a level that I was used to.
In all the ups and downs, I remember three books that made my 2019 so much better. They brought me joy and happiness. The first one was The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, a beautiful romance novel that made me cry buckets of tears. But Hoang delivered the happily ever after magnificently. The second title was Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon. I’m always waiting for that next Weatherspoon book. And Xeni was an extraordinary marriage of convenience romance that won’t be easy to forget. And last but not least, there is White Whiskey Bargain by Jodie Slaughter. Another marriage of convenience story that takes us to Black Appalachia with two rival moonshining businesses.
It was a hard year for me. But what I learnt from it is that I am choosing the books I read more carefully. Yes, I read 20 books, but I picked them up specially. In a year where I felt like I couldn’t read anything, I picked 20 books that left me feeling so many things. Good things and bad things and complicated things. The best kind of books.
In 2020, I hope to continue to choose books I really, really want to read. I hope I buy books that I actually will read immediately and not put them on my shelf for three years (I’m so guilty of that!). To take my time, blogging-wise, and do things at my own pace. To say no even though I want to be nice and say yes to every single thing. I learned that it’s okay to say no to things you’re not feeling. I really, really hope to read a lot of books this 2020.