Turning the back page on 2017

It’s unbelievable to me that it is December 2017. This year has delivered the highest highs and the lowest lows for me in all of my 30 years. I turned 30 this year, and rather than shy away and fear the big 3-0, I’ve welcomed it, I mean…I knit, live most of my life in my pyjamas and prefer nights in to nights out. I’m 30 going on 80.

Mr Shortrounds and I travelled to some of the most beautiful places this year…my family and I suffered the loss of my dear Grandma – a huge inspiration and champion of my knitting journey and Shortrounds, I’ll miss her encouraging support and little boosts…and I released the pattern that I know she loved and am most proud of so far, The Hessian Shawl.

Despite the ups and downs, I’m ending this year on a hugely positive note. I’m certain a lot of that is down to the ‘read more’ challenge I set myself at the beginning of this year. I love a good list, and from my English Literature degree, my passion for books and learning from reading has not faded. But over the years, reading had taken a back seat to knitting.

Last year I started using Audible, and found that listening to books and knitting worked amazingly well together for me. And slowly but surely, I’ve carved out more time for just reading, with a good old fashioned bound book, or my trusty kindle.

And I did it!

40 books done and done in 2017. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m already planning my next 40 for 2018. Not only has the reading challenge increased the number of books I read, but it’s diversified the types and genres of books I’ve picked up over the last twelve months. Below is the complete list of books I turned the back page on this year. I’d definitely recommend this to someone struggling for some inspiration, or who would like to expand their reading. And beyond the books themselves, there are a few extra things I’ve learned this year…

1. I have more time than I realise

What do we hear everybody saying time and time again? ‘I have no time.’ I’m guilty of uttering those miserable words too. The longest book I read this year took me 30 hours to read. The shortest was about 5 hours. So across 40 books I must have spent a helluva long time reading/listening. That being said, I accomplished so much this year. I knitted, I wrote, I travelled, I worked. I don’t feel like anything suffered because I needed or wanted to catch up on my reading. I actually feel like I made more use of my time this year.

2. I’m a lot less anxious

This one is so obvious to me now this reading challenge is complete. Often, especially in the darker months of the year, I’m struck with uncontrollable anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks, and last year was the worst it’s been. Track forward 10 months and I’m feeling remarkably calmer, despite the triggers all still being there and I haven’t had a single ‘low point’. I can now cope better and there’s only really been one change to my daily life that I can attribute this to. In taking more time for myself, sitting and reading, shutting out the often crazy world, slowing down, I’ve noticed a huge change in my wellbeing and mood.

3. I don’t waste (as much of) my time scrolling through social media

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good procrastinating session on Instagram, or falling down the black hole of YouTube every once in a while. But I’m a lot more selective in what I look at and actually prefer to read another chapter of that novel I’m halfway through, rather than waste hours on social media.

4. My taste in books is more eclectic than I even thought

The reading challenge prompts often had me stumped, but I can genuinely say there was only one book on that list I didn’t really like. And my favourites were not what I immediately expected them to be. I know I have an eclectic taste in books (I’ll happily read The Walking Dead Vol 5 followed by Jane Eyre) but this challenge blew open the doors to more genres that I hadn’t even realised existed.

5. I don’t have to sacrifice knitting or other pastimes to my love of books

As I’ve said before, my love of knitting had previously eaten into my reading time. They are both very time consuming, relaxing hobbies, but can often be mutually exclusive. My flexibility in reading with Kindle, paperback or Audible means depending on what I feel like doing on a day I can fit reading around everything else I like. And I think my Instagram #2017bestnine shows this to be true – more reading, but lots of knitting!

shortroundsknit #2017bestnine

  1. A book recommended by a librarian Anne of Green Gables
  2. A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them
  3. A book of letters The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  4. An audiobook Stardust
  5. A book by a person of colour Twelve Years a Slave
  6. A book with one of the four seasons in the title Autumn
  7. A book that is a story within a story The Princess Bride
  8. A book with multiple authors Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  9. An espionage thriller The Bourne Identity
  10. A book with a cat on the cover A Man Called Ove
  11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym Jane Eyre
  12. A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  13. A book by or about a person who has a disability All the Light We Cannot See
  14. A book involving travel Into Thin Air
  15. A book with a subtitle Curated Closet:Discover Your Personal Style and Build Your Dream Wardrobe
  16. A book that’s published in 2017 This Love
  17. A book involving a mythical creature The Golem and the Jinni
  18. A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile The Secret Garden
  19. A book about food A Hygge Holiday
  20. A book with career advice Little Black Book
  21. A book from a nonhuman perspective The Bees
  22. A steampunk novel The Time Machine
  23. A book with a red spine Fight Club
  24. A book set in the wilderness Into the Wild
  25. A book you loved as a child Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  26. A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited The Snow Child
  27. A book with a title that’s a character’s name Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  28. A novel set during wartime A Town Like Alice
  29. A book with an unreliable narrator The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  30. A book with pictures The Walking Dead, Vol 06: This Sorrowful Life
  31. A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you A Thousand Splendid Suns
  32. A book about an interesting woman Scrappy Little Nobody
  33. A book set in two different time periods Outlander
  34. A book with a month or day of the week in the title Tuesdays with Morrie
  35. A book set in a hotel Murder on the Orient Express
  36. A book written by someone you admire David Attenborough: Life on Air
  37. A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017 Ready Player One
  38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas Chocolat
  39. The first book in a series you haven’t read before The Cuckoo’s Calling
  40. A book you bought on a trip North and South

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