How my book review blog changed my life

Posted by on December 27, 2018

I had the goal of reading and reviewing a book each week for a year. I didn’t meet my goal, but the project was still a success

It was December, 2017. I had gathered with the witches in my life for an important goal-casting session.

Our quarterly goals ritual involves wine, womanly ritual and a simple potluck, followed by shared reflections on our goals for the season. And the last one of 2017, hosted by our lovely friend Johanna, had all the ingredients of an inspiring and enlivening afternoon. But I had no idea what my goals should for 2018. My goals notebook was virtually blank.

But frankly, I wasn’t myself that day. I was lost. I had no idea what my goals should be. My cute little goals notebook was literally blank.

I could feel myself casting about for something exciting to “do” in 2018.

I wanted to be announcing big plans. I wanted to be applying for a novel-writing grant. I wanted to going after a better job than the precarious freelance gigs I had at the time. Heck, I’d even settle for figuring out Instagram Stories.

But none of those momentary flashes that passed through my mind felt like doable goals I could get behind for longer than the afternoon. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, which made it difficult to commit to any one goal.

Reading as receptivity

As the afternoon at Johanna’s wore on and the sister witches helped me see my future more clearly, I knew that I had to avoid making a big goal just for the sake of it.

I needed to stay receptive. I needed to be okay with uncertainty. I needed to wait for the right goal to come to me.

Reading is the ultimate act of receptivity. You don’t really know you will love a book when you first pick it up. It’s an act of trust. And for the first 50 pages, you might not be completely convinced. But you keep going, hoping to make a connection, looking for a kernel of truth, staying receptive to the subtle message.

It’s also a form of visioning. When we select books, we decide what to put in our conscious minds, and that is incredibly powerful. My life view is that basically, whatever you read and write about, happens. I knew that if I could make reading about things I wanted to see a priority, good things would organically arise in my life.

So I set the goal of reading and writing a review of a book each week, aiming to choose 52 books—one each week—that would create the thoughts and feelings I wanted in 2018.

I started in January, and things went well for about 9 weeks.

I read Worry-Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons. I tried out recipes from The School Year Survival Cookbook by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh. I raced through The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

It was easy for a while. But by April, I was falling woefully behind on the blogging schedule I had planned to stick to, come hell or high water.

I failed … not!

As happens with many hobby bloggers who write about a passion that pays nothing, I was busy with real life. I was spending my daytime hours freelance writing and looking for a full-time job and my evenings making dinner, supervising homework and driving to hockey practice. On weekends, I saw friends and family, went for walks and did yoga classes.

I was reading lots, but not writing or managing to post to my blog. Despite my big plans, some weeks, I barely found time for writing outside of paid gigs.

I recentred

Then, in August, I broke my wrist. In recovery mode, everything was harder. I stopped posting to 52 Books altogether.

But—pain and inconvenience aside—my injury gave me permission for a few weeks to do exactly what I needed to do.

I accepted help from my husband, my son, and my friends.

I put aside my paid work and sat on the sofa.

Truthfully, I got lice. With a cast on. (Boo! That sucked big time. Had to call in the mobile lice squad.)

During 2018’s sweaty, intense, tired, painful summer I read like a mad woman while I placing ice packs on my cast and trying not to freak out.

I slowed down my job search and applied for only one position—the irresistible one in my feed, the one that looked like a perfect-for-me job.

While summer marched on, I savoured Careergasm by Sarah Vermunt. I browsed The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt. I studied Robertson Davies’ A Leaven of Malice. I devoured Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown. I cuddled up with Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money.

Reading is healing

By the time my wrist healed, I had started writing a new novel. It’s inspired by Robertson Davies’ Leaven of Malice. (Eee!?)

And by the time I finished physio, I had landed that perfect-for-me job.

So, although I didn’t keep to my weekly blogging schedule, I still consider my 52 Books project a success. When I needed books, they were there for me, stacked up like friends when I needed them most.

I started out 2018 knowing that if I could manage to find reading time in my schedule, everything else in my life would go in the right direction.

And it worked.

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson, Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky.

Reading is akin to casting a spell

I truly believe that I can create my future by consciously curating my reading life.

So in 2019, I’ll read a book each month. And I’ll rename my blog 12 Books.

I’ll write shorter, less perfect reviews

I’ll choose books related more directly to a niche topic area I want to know more about—business and tech.

And I’ll start and participate in more conversations about books—on social and in real life.

I hope you’ll read along.

To find out what I’ll be writing next, see the Coming Soon sidebar on my main blog page. Topics will include leadership, careers, wealth mindset, sustainable finance, women and work— all seen through the lens of a book.

Let’s connect on Instagram, where I post photos of books and cats.

For reading inspiration and recos, sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Posted in: Resources
Tags: ,

About 12 Books

My blog 12 Books is an evolution of a book review project I did in 2018 called 52 Books.

I wanted to read more and write more, so I set the goal of reading and reviewing a book a week.

I couldn’t keep up with the grueling schedule, but the project had the intended effect anyway. I am happier and calmer and more focused on what matters to me.

In 2019, I’ll slow down and read and review a book each month. To reflect that, I’ve renamed my blog 12 Books.

I’ll write reviews of non-fiction books about personal finance, wealth mindset, leadership, careers, digital transformation and more.

12 Books Newsletter

I write a monthly newsletter about what I’m reading — online and in print. Follow along to make 2019 a year of less Netflix.