So this is the time of year when people are making their plans for next year’s reading. Bloggers are posting challenge lists right and left, and the lists are fascinating. I love looking at them and imagining what I might read to complete the challenge. As Eva said yesterday, reading challenge lists are all about possibilities, and it is fun to dream of what we would read if we had unlimited time.
As for me, I pretty much swore off challenges in the middle of last year. It’s not because I don’t enjoy them. I love making lists of challenge books. I love reading (many of) the books that complete the challenge. I don’t really mind posting a link on a challenge blog (if I remember—and I don’t sweat it much if I don’t). And many challenges cover books and types of books that I really do want to read.
But I don’t enjoy the other challenge maintenance. I don’t like adding challenge blurbs to my posts (because I usually forget). I don’t like going back and updating my lists or linking to the updates, and so on. Those tasks make the challenge feel too much like a chore. (Readalongs, by the way, are in a different category since they usually just involve one book. No lists to update, very little linking back, and I only join if I wanted to read the book anyway.)
But as I watched people putting together their challenge lists for the year, I started to waver. And then I decided I would do the fun part and let the rest happen—or not—as it will. I made a couple of lists and planned a post, but just looking at the lists made me feel overwhelmed. And then I see other challenges get posted that I could also join, and it just gets overwhelming. How to choose? How to set limits? Do I just join every challenge that interests me, even though I know that time and other commitments will keep me from completing them? And what’s the point of generating and posting lists if I’m just going to ignore them anyway? Too much work.
A lot of bloggers lately have been talking about “reading deliberately” a phrase which means something different for each reader but that essentially involves being careful about reading choices, not just reading “any old thing.” I like the idea of making a plan, even though any reading plan comes with the caveat that moods and inclinations change. So what’s my plan?
- Climbing Mt. TBR. Because my TBR pile is out of control, I want to make a real dent in it in 2010. My plan is to read only books I own, with a few exceptions: (a) books for the Classics Circuit, (b) books that I receive from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and perhaps an occasional irresistible review copy, (c) audiobooks, (d) book club books, should I join another book club (and if I do my suggestions for book club reads will come from my own shelves).
- No More Bad Books. When a book isn’t floating my boat, I want to feel entirely free to put it down, perhaps to return to it later, perhaps not. I’m much better about that than I used to be, but book club foiled me here. If I join another book club, I’m not going to feel obligated to finish a book that isn’t working for me. (If a club requires it, I won’t join.)
- Giving Every Book Its Due. Priscilla at the Evening Reader had an excellent post this week about speed reading, and Frances’s review of Howard’s End is on the Landing a few weeks ago included a great quote the value of slow reading. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, especially since the Read-a-Thon, when my book choice required more concentration than other readers’ lighter choices. When contemplating challenges, I started to fear that committing to a number would encourage me to go for quantity over quality—to read the short books first or to read too quickly and not really experience the book. I want to read each book at the pace that suits it—and that suits my level of concentration at the time. A fast read may be enough to get the basic idea of a book into my head, but if I’m reading for enjoyment, shouldn’t I try to get the fullest pleasure possible out of each book I read?
- Revisit Old Favorites. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started rereading favorites over lunch at work, and it has been wonderful. I want to continue that, and I’ve started using some of my Bookmooch and Paperbackswap points to get copies of favorites that I want to revisit. (These acquisitions also help with my craving for new books.) The Lord of the Rings readalong is part of this effort.
- Enjoy! I think this is self-explanatory. If meeting the above goals keeps me from achieving this goal, those goals go out the window.
So what are your reading plans? Do you have any specific goals in mind for 2010?
Notes from a Reading Life (December 13-20)
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. For the Classics Circuit. Review to come tomorrow.
- Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton. Nice, light romance that looks like chick lit but lacks everything that annoys me about the genre.
- The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. For the January Classics Circuit.
- The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry. Lessons in writing poetry. I’ve reached the chapter on odes. Now that classes are over, I want to get back into this.
- The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (reread). Reading at work over lunch. Now about ¾ done.
- Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (audio). Two U.S. Marshalls are investigating a woman’s escape from an institute for the criminally insane. I’m on the last disc.
- The Campaigners by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. The 14th book in the Morland Dynasty series.
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (audio). I loved Easter Parade, so I’m looking forward to this!
All of my acquisitions are books I loved and consider worthy of my permanent collection. A great use of Bookmooch and PBS points without adding to the TBR pile.
- The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. Read this 10 or 12 years ago and remember nothing much about it, except that I loved it.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The first Atwood I ever read, but I’ve only read it once.
- Books from the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper: The Dark is Rising, Over Sea Under Stone, Greenwitch.
Books on My Radar