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Reporting from Mount TBR (May Edition)

My plan to read less in 2021 is coming along nicely. Normally, by the end of May, I’d have put down a hundred or so books. Last time I “noticed” the number of books I’ve read this year, it was 50-something. This noticing was incidental, by the way. A part of my desire to reduce the number of books I read was my desire not to keep track of the numbers, but I still occasionally play with the data in Notion, sorting by author and subject, and the number of titles pops up at the bottom of the chart. I look. It’s hard not to look. I really do love data.

My plan to climb Mount TBR is also coming along nicely. I read three titles from my teetering backlog—although two of them were audiobooks, so there was no teetering involved. Still, it was nice to sort two digital files from Not Started to Finished.

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My Sim is Making More Money Than Me

One of my favourite ways to play The Sims is to create a character with no job and no fixed address to see if I can get by napping on park benches (or wherever I can lay my Sim’s head down for a bit), cadging food from public venues (someone is always grilling at the park), and fishing, picking public produce, and foraging for treasure to sell for simoleons.

A Sim does have to have an address, so mine is usually a lot empty of all but a mailbox. Over time, I’ll add stuff to the lot using funds derived from foraging. I take great pleasure in using the startup funds assigned to every Sim to buy the largest empty lot in the best neighborhood, decorating it with weeds, and letting it lie empty but for the objects I begin to collect. I’ll construct a sort of shed as the budget allows, and if my Sim is a Klepto, stock it with lots of fun stuff.

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Tracking my reading using Notion

Last year, friend and fellow author, Jenna Kendricks, introduced me to Notion. I lost a few hours’ productivity figuring out how to use the deceptively easy tool—and I do mean deceptively easy. Notion is almost absurdly simple to use once you understand how it works. I also quickly figured out that while others’ templates served as a inspiration and instruction, designing my own was the way to go.

I now use Notion to track dozens of activities, including plotting and outlining my WIPs, marketing and promotion, tracking buy links and review quotes, brainstorming, jotting down ideas, keeping wishlists, and tracking my reading. What I love about it, and why I’m using it, comes down to two very simple ideas:

  1. Every page starts with organized data, so… a spreadsheet
  2. I can view this data in more ways than I need to; as a spreadsheet that’s fully sortable and searchable, as a list, a calendar, an Kanban board, or a simply as a page, meaning just one line of my spreadsheet can be expanded into a single sheet.
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Reporting from Mount TBR (March Edition)

I always start my reading year with very specific goals. By March, I tend to know whether or not it’s going well or not. In regards to my TBR reading project, I’m happy to report an ongoing commitment. Books are disappearing from my shelves—even though I’m not reading as much as I usually do.

I’ve been trying to read less for two years now. Not because I don’t have time or I don’t enjoy reading. After reading close to 250 books a year for the past five or six years in what I can only describe as a feverish attempt to read everything ever published before I die, I’m tired. Also, I have found I sometimes don’t remember what I’ve read, even though I track every book. In the past year alone, I went to add two books only to discover they were already there.

I think, in part, Goodreads was to blame for my race to the end. Setting a numeric goal every year and watching the status bar inch toward completion was satisfying. But if I fell behind, I’d have mini panic attacks and start looking for shorter reads to make up the numbers. Last year was the most ridiculous yet. I set a goal of only 100 books (only 100?) to try to alleviate this pressure. Once I passed 100, I watched the overage percent rise, meaning I was still counting and still (sort of) panicking about this arbitrary goal.

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I Can’t Stop Playing Valheim

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. J dropped a link for Valheim into the group chat we share with our gaming buddies. I clicked and watched the trailer for a co-op survival game. It looked cool, but I was about a third of the way through Valhalla and a third of the way through my current WIP—the book I’m under contract for, the book that is due March 31. I figured maybe later. Next time. Whenever.

Then Mr. J told me about the axes.

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