133 // An Audiobook Experiment

Today was a good reading day. I finally made it through The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but I still have to make it through Notes from Underground and the “Other Stories“.

I purchased and began my very first audiobook today as well, Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin. My sisters and my mom all “read” by audiobook and have been trying for a long time to convince me of the method’s virtues, but I know myself and my comprehension cliff dives whenever I am listening to rather than reading words. Hell, I can’t even read well from a screen! Old fashioned ink on paper is the only way for me, I guess.

But! Times are changing and I’m watching the stats of other readers climb to numbers that I know I just cannot attain through traditional means. Plus, Google offered me $5 toward a purchase so I thought, why not give it a try? Perhaps practice is all I need.

I’m enjoying how quickly I can move through “reading” by simply listening, but my habit of reading with a pencil has become another hindrance as well. With audio, I cannot mark the margins, insert my opinion, underline, or argue with the author! I cannot move through a book smoothly without being able to get my thoughts out along the way.

So, I’ve already decided that when I finish I will simply have to buy a physical copy and read it again.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

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094 // Communing With the Past

I’ve been criticized for buying the books I read rather than borrowing them, but despite all the good reasons why, this last book reminded me why not.

I have developed a habit of reading with a pencil, writing in the margins, and, as it feels to me, reading each book as a conversation between the author and me. I read by writing out my own thoughts too.

I borrowed Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge from my little sister last week and since it wasn’t mine, I couldn’t read it with a pencil the way I normally do. Well, it turns out that the habit had become absolutely crucial to my comprehension. It turns out not being able to write, argue, or think in the margins made it impossible for me to engage with the material on a deeper level.

Worse yet, I would read something that stuck in my mind and not being able to store it anywhere I could not move past it. I had to resort to taking pictures with my phone and writing notes on scraps of paper just to refocus my attention.

I’m happy to be done with that book and on to reading a book that belongs to me again, this time Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I have my pencil sharpened and look forward to communing with the past again.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

088 // Disoriented

I finished Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude today and I have to say, no other book has ever left me feeling so disoriented and wretched (in the best possible way) as this one.

I was so enthralled by the Buendía family and so ensnared by Marquez’s writing I more than half believed it was all true. Not just the events but the wisdom and the warning of it all. I lived through those one hundred years and witnessed such fascinating and terrible events only to wake up to this reality. What a colossal disappointment in comparison.

This is both the reward and the agonizing pain of a damn good book.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

023 // The Reading Ritual

I’m so proud of myself for knocking 5 books off my 2019 reading challenge and I’m powering through the 6th as we speak. Of course, two were already half started, two were graphic novels, and one was the easiest read ever, but still, five books already! I’ve never read so much, so consistently, for so long before. All my other resolutions might be in the toilet but on this one, I have exceeded all my expectations, so far.


Whenever I start a new book, I go through this weird little ritual. I sharpen a new pencil (henceforth be known as my “book pencil”) to take notes in the margins, underline my favorite passages, and to circle names or other items to research later.

I choose a bookmark that “feels right” from my drawer of brightly colored postcards, stickers, scrap paper and tags I’ve saved for this purpose. I get a sticky note out and place it at the “endnotes” or wherever I can stop reading, which is often many, many pages before the last page. Then I do a bit of math.

I calculate how many total pages there in the main text to read (minus those endnotes, or the sample of the author’s next book, or whatever else is tacked on at the end) and divide that by how quickly I’d like to finish the book, usually between 7 and 10 days. The answer is how many pages I plan to read per day. I get another sticky note out to mark this page daily so I can read without thinking about it.

I mark the book as “currently reading” on Goodreads just before I start so that every night when I put the book down I can update the app with my progress. Then and only then can I begin reading and always with the introduction, the preface, the forward, or any notes from the author first before the main text. I do not consider those parts to be “skippable”.

It’s a lot, I know, and I know it’s weird, but sometimes a book is a conversation and like any other between two people you both have to be open and ready to interact, share ideas, and even disagree. This process allows me to establish a strong and immediate connection to every book I pick up. The ritual gives me permission to take every book I read very seriously and facilitates an easier immersion into the author’s world and mind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

020 // Decisions and Doubt

Book shopping day! The sun was out, and the air warmed enough to persuade me to get out of the house. I gathered up the gift cards I’ve been hoarding since Christmas and went to my favorite place, the bookstore. I got the two newest volumes of Saga, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m excited to read them all, but more excited for the book shopping I’ll get to do again once I finish these.


I’m nervous about tomorrow.  We’re heading out early to look at a wedding venue. It’s going to be a long drive there, and a long drive back, and in between a long talk and a hard choice. Wedding planning isn’t fun, I’ve learned that.

The money, the time, the endless decisions and doubt. Not about our life together but about what you have to do to begin it. Our future began a long, long time ago and paradoxically the more that time has diminished our need for a wedding the more we feel the need to have it and the grander our day needs to be.

So, tomorrow we may have one step settled but then the other dominos will need to fall into place quickly. It’s all very scary, and hard, but the sooner it’s done the better and I’m sure, once we find our groove and get over enough humps, we’ll find the fun in it.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren