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How I Conquered Netflix and Started Reading Again


How I Conquered Netflix and Started Reading Again

In 2008 I was living alone without television. My phone wasn’t smart and my stolen wifi wasn’t strong enough for streaming. I didn’t keep track of how many books I read, but almost every evening was spent with one. My book club met every 6 weeks.

Eventually, I met a boy and that boy came with endless bandwidth and a flat screen T.V. It took one episode of Breaking Bad to become an addict. Five seasons, 62 episodes and 3,038 minutes later my reading days were over. The Goldfinch sat on my nightstand for a year (in my defense, it’s a tome). I went from saying “have you read…?” to “have you watched…?” and could no longer provide the endless book recommendations my friends relied upon me for. I backed away from water cooler chats about the latest award-winner and stopped browsing my favorite bookshop.

I was mortified when a non-reader friend of mine told me she planned on reading 100 books in 2015. When I checked in with her a few months in she was embarrassed to tell me she’d only read 20 or 30. I, the supposed bibliophile, had read one…maybe. That moment, that very conversation, is when I realized I had a problem and resolved to overcome my addiction. But of course, I needed rehab.

My rehab came in the form of a two week family vacation in Hawaii, sans Netflix. For the first few days it was just me and my avid-reader parents. The three of us moved from pool to beach to lanai, always with a book in hand. By the time the rest of the family showed up I’d finished a Pulitzer Prize winner and was well into another. I had forgotten how all-encompassing a great book can be and was delighted to find myself immersed in the literary world again. By the end of my vacation, I was cured. While I still dabble in Netflix (Scandal, anyone?) I go to bed early every night and read until I fall asleep. I make sure there’s a new book waiting as I near the end of another, for fear of slipping back into the life of a non-reader. It’s not much, but I’ve read some incredible books this year – better than any Netflix Original I’ve seen.

My 2016 Reading List (so far)

All books are rated ‘Would Recommend to a Friend’ on a scale of 1 to 10.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (10/10)
If you like WWII fiction, epic sagas, and beautiful writing.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (8/10)
If you like raw storytelling and can bare a little heartbreak.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (7/10)
If you’re looking for mystery and excitement – a great beach read.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (6/10)
Reader must enjoy long, drawn out drama. Patience required.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (8/10)
Another for fans of historical fiction. Must not be too picky about sentence structure.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (10/10)
An apocalyptic novel that even anti-sci-fi readers (me) will love. Prepare to be obsessed.

As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner (9/10)
If you enjoy family sagas and have endless Kleenex at your disposal.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (5/10)
A short, difficult read that’s certainly not for everyone. Fellow AbeBooks editor Julie loves it.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (9/10)
Must be ready for a commitment. Real and incredible – though frustrating at times.

Girl at War by Sara Novic (6/10)
For anyone interested in events surrounding the Bosnian war, from a child’s perspective.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (8/10)
For anyone looking for an easy yet interesting well-written read. Also suitable for anyone with siblings.

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti (10/10)
An important read for any and all men and women, especially parents.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (7/10)
Light and relatable. Recommended for the beach.

Up next…

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Girls by Emma Cline

(anyone else notice the surge in books with ‘girl’ in the title?)

What’s on your reading list this year?

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