Reading Challenged

I challenged myself to read 50 books in 2011, but I did not meet my goal. I finished the year at 46, which isn’t bad. If one were say, shooting free throws, 46 out of 50 would be excellent (I might be closer to 46 out of 100 in that activity). I could berate myself for failing to meet an attainable goal – fifty books is slightly less than one a week – and anyone who read my blog about keeping my to-read list within certain parameters (see Sky’s the Limit) might expect some self-reproach. I could also let myself off the hook: 46books may be down from the 52 I read in 2010, but it’s right in keeping with the 42 and 44 of the two preceding years.  I could rationalize about the degree of difficulty of the books I chose, but truthfully, many of them were middle grade or young adult. I did get bogged down between the two sheep swallowed by a boa constrictor (to borrow the author’s description) that make up Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, in addition to the cyclical internal structure of Catch-22, so I could seize upon those as symbols of my shortcomings. Ultimately though, I’ve decided to neither deride nor defend my annual yield. I won’t get a gold star on my goodreads page, but so be it.

For 2012 I have set my goal at 36. At first consideration that hardly seems a challenge, given that my lowest total of the past four years was 42. Way to aim high in the new year, eh? Allow me to be doubly self-referential and cite the aforementioned anxiety caused by my ever-growing to-read list. It currently stands at 132 books; if I read only 36 this year, my float valve will barely dip below triple digits. Reducing my goal to a lower threshold will be a challenge in that it means reading less while the list of books to read increases. Why then am I issuing myself this particular challenge? It’s the ages-old quandary of reading vs. writing rearing up again. I must resume writing regularly if I am to complete my latest essay on attending U2 concerts, not to mention my novel-in-stalled-progress, Grandpa Art. As Ann Copeland put it in The ABCs of Writing Fiction: “If you cannot set realistic goals for income, set them for output.” That is the goal I should be focused on setting and reaching in 2012.

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