One of the things I learned from a tennis pro about improving my tennis game is to find the weakest part of my game and focus on making it stronger. He maintained that that's the best and fastest way to improve your game. Makes a lot of sense, right? Translated to life in general, that means that if reading and books already make me happy, sure there's stuff I can do to cause them to make me even happier, but I should really focus on those parts of my life that currently make me less happy (even, dare I say it, unhappy) than reading does and work to change those parts. So that's what I'm going to do. One of the things that makes me cranky pants (and yet I still don't seem to be able to overcome it) is the sheer amount of clutter in my house. It's disorganized and overwhelming. So I'm going to tackle that bit by bit over this year and see if taming that beast makes me a happier Kristen. (Shhhhhhhh! Some of it *is* even related to books or reading.)
I've made some inroads already. I have a stack of unread magazines on the rocker by my bed. On January 1, it held 103 magazines. As of this afternoon, it holds 50. And I even immediately read and recycled an additional one that came in the mail yesterday instead of dumping it onto the stack like usual. Is this cutting into my book reading time? Yes. But I will always squeeze that in because it makes me happy. I will not always squeeze in working on diminishing stacks. I also reshelved many of my hardbacks in the living room. I am inspired, of course, by the fact that I will be having a meeting at my house in the not too distant future and I fully expect all those book people to want to peruse my bookshelves. So I made one set prettier for them and tidier for me. It was hard work but also a little enjoyable to touch all those books, to reacquaint myself with those I've read, and to remind myself of the ones I haven't yet. I have rather a large number of other shelves to tackle as well, but I am on my way. As to the rest of my resolutions, well, I'll spare you but you get the gist of it. Ask me next year if I'm feeling happier, lighter, and more balanced on the whole and we'll see if not worrying about improving the most pleasing part of my life already was the right choice.
Now, because it seems to be de rigueur to make a top of the year list, here's mine for 2013. It is based solely on my own enjoyment level, numbering 13 choices just because I can, but in no particular order. The books aren't perfect and I read a bunch of other wonderful books this past year but this is what strikes me today.
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
Dancing to the Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff
Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio
Our Love Could Light the World by Anne Leigh Parrish
Schroder by Amity Gaige
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett