2018 reading statistics

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It’s always interesting to look back at the past year’s books and crunch some numbers to observe if there are any trends and help plan for the year ahead. This year I started tracking which books I read on Goodreads, which is great because it means I have an accurate overview, as it’s easy to forget which books I was reading 12 months ago.

Findings from 2018

In 2018, I read 56 books, corresponding to 16320 pages (!), I doubt I’ve ever read that many books in one year.  I mostly read novels (64%), the rest was a combination of non-fiction/memoirs/self-help books.

Of those books, 59% were written by women (33 books), 39% by men (22 books)  and 2% by a woman/man couple (1 book).  I paid more attention this year to selecting books written by women so I’m glad that is reflected in these numbers and it balances out my 2017 gender gap.

Without particularly trying to diversify, the authors of the books are from 13 different nationalities (Austria, Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Switserland, USA), however with a high proportion of the books written by authors from the USA. I read mostly in English, and just a few books in French and one in Italian.

The books I read were published between 1946 and 2018, however the large majority  of what I chose to read was written from 2000 onward (84%). Like for movies, I tend to be attracted more by recent books.

Plans for 2019

I would like to make a more conscious effort to support new authors, as well as read more books from different countries. (I’m so inspired by the story of the lady who read a book from every country in the world)

I will continue to strive for gender balance. I plan to source my books from a combination of the public library, independent bookstores, gifts (I received four great books by women authors for Christmas, hooray!) and the little free libraries in the neighbourhood.

I’m curious to hear your reading plans for 2019. Feel free to share in the comments:)

Guide for fun and energising Xmas gifts

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Tired of shopping for presents just before Christmas in overcrowded shops? There’s nothing wrong with presents as such, but I feel like the pressure to buy gifts pushes us towards quick fixes that are not always satisfying. There has to be a better way, right?

As with everything, I believe it is possible to make the whole experience much more energising and sustainable, both for the person giving and the one receiving:) By being more mindful, we end up with intentional gifts and stories that lead to more fun and greater connection.

Giving

  • Experience gifts:  They are the norm among my family and friends for several years already compared to material gifts.  It’s a chance to offer someone an experience, based on their interests that they will remember and cherish, rather than just one more object. You can make it as cheap or expensive as you like (a home cooked meal or time spent together are great options).
    Over the last years, I’ve given tickets to concerts, escape rooms and plays, offered vouchers for massages, made vouchers to spend creative time with friends and family…
    TIP: if it is an activity for several people, plan a date immediately with all participants, so you have something to look forward to!
  • Secret Santa: instead of buying gifts for everyone, organise a secret santa so you can focus on getting a quality gift for just one person
    TIP: get people to be very specific about that they want so you get them a gift that makes their heart sing (see below on Receiving).
  • Support small businesses: If you are buying material gifts (jewelry, clothes, decoration items…), think of this as an opportunity to support small/local businesses that make you enthusiastic and for who your purchase will make a difference, leading to a happy dance.
    TIP: Keep a list of the small craft businesses/independent brands you come across all year around at local craft markets, Etsy or social media, so you can recall them when you need a gift.
  • Books: Buy from independent bookstores, this is the chance to browse through all those lovely covers and keep local bookstores alive
    TIP: Experiment with books that you don’t know but are drawn to, discover new voices or authors from other countries
  • Wrapping: no need to spend money on new rolls of wrapping paper, just recycle newspapers or old magazines.
    TIP: Try to personalise the wrapping paper for the recipient (it is a very mindful activity for winter nights:)

Receiving

Actually reducing the number of physical presents received is quite a lengthy process as culturally we feel we should not to come ’empty handed’.  In the past, I’ve written emails to family and talked with friends to try and gracefully explain that I value experiences over material gifts. Slowly the idea is making its way and I have the secret conviction that it will inspire them too;)   The experiences I received and participated in were super fun and created memories I’ll not forget like going to London for an incredible workshop with my favorite author or exploring the Japanese gardens with friends:)

Another idea is instead of people searching for a gift, to tell them upfront you would prefer to receive some money for you to give to your favorite charity. Alternatively,  you can ask the person to use the money they would have spent on your gift on their favorite charity or to support their favorite artist on Patreon. They have more say on where the money goes and it is a win-win for everyone.

I’d love to hear more ideas! How do will you make your Xmas shopping more intentional this year?

Word on the water

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #81

Bookstores are magical places for me. I get lost for hours, attracted by the colourful covers, picking up one book after another, feeling their weight, reading the back and thinking about all the wonderful stories I have yet to discover.

While in London, we stumbled across Word on the Water, a barge which houses an independent bookshop on Regent’s Canal, close to where we were staying.  As we passed several times over the course of the next days, we got a peek into the rhythms of this lovely bookshop.

First time we passed by it was not open yet and a dog snoozing blissfully in its own armchair in the entrance. Later that evening, there were musicians playing a concert on the roof of the barge.  As the music drifted to our ears, we explored the shelves full of new and second hand books, in the cosy interior, trying to find some treasures. Another day, some students were staging a photo-shoot in extravagant glittery costumes.  I am grateful for independent shops, which bring life and joy to local neighbourhoods.

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Some of my favorite non-fiction books

As the days are getting shorter and the rain pours down outside, I’m enjoying reading more, it’s the perfect way of spending a quiet afternoon indoors. If you are looking for some ideas for non-fiction books to read, here are a few that I’ve read over the last years that really changed my view on the world.

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The gifts of imperfection – Brene Brown

This was the first book I read by Brene Brown, who is now one of my favorite authors and inspired my joyful gratitude posts. It’s a thin book that goes straight to the point, and really helped me to put things into perspective about how I wanted to live and what is important to me.

Non-violent communication – Dan Rosenberg

My Dad gave me this book years ago and my copy is falling to pieces from frequently going back to it. Despite its strange title, this book is a wonderful guide to communicating better with others. I’ve read it many times over the years, and even if I have to admit I am far from being capable of applying all its wisdom I am glad that it at least makes me more conscious of the traps we fall into.

Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau

I found this small book whilst exploring the shelves of a lovely second-hand bookstore in Chicago. It’s a great reminder on how the status quo can and should be challenged, and the power of doing things your own unconventional way.

Cross-roads of should and must – Elle Luna

This is a colourful and beautifully illustrated book that I couldn’t resist buying once I flipped through its pages in the bookstore. It is very simple and gets you to be aware of all the ‘shoulds’ we have in our life and what might happen if we identified and chose our ‘must’ more often. So inspiring!

Indie bookstore love

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #5

20161125_151330I’m really grateful to have discovered the wonderful independent bookstore  Gogol & Company while I was visiting Milan last weekend. It’s the kind of place where you are greeted with a warm ‘Buongiorno!’ when you walk in, and you can hang out as long as you want on the comfy sofas and read the books, no questions asked.

It was the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon by myself with no other place to rush off to… I really enjoyed just chilling, checking out their wonderful selection of books, soaking in the laid-back atmosphere and sampling their tasty food and coffee. Those few quiet hours left me feeling both deeply relaxed and energised:)