With the new year nearly upon us, it’s the time when many people make plans and resolutions. In the book blogging world, that frequently means book lists and challenges galore. Last year, I steered clear of most challenges. That worked well for me, and I plan to continue. But that does not mean that I am going into 2011 without any sort of reading plan.
First, I want to do a lot of reading from my TBR pile. As I’ve mentioned before, last year I made a commitment to read or discard every unread book that I acquired in 2006 or earlier. If I’ve had a book for four years and still haven’t managed to read it, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever want to. (And if I ever decide I do, I’ll just get another copy.) I’ve just about made this goal for 2010—I only have two books left, so chances are good that I will make it.
For 2011, I’ll apply this rule to my 2007 books. So today, I hereby resolve in 2011 to read or get rid of the books pictured below. (For titles, see my LibraryThing list.)
I’m hoping also to not be just squeaking the last few in at the end of the year. To that end, I’m joining in on C.B. James’s TBR Dare (not a challenge, a dare). The idea is to commit to only reading books from your TBR pile for a specific amount of time. The dare ends on April 1, and I’m going to try to make it all the way until then. I will have to make exceptions for audio books, book club books, Classics Circuit, and a couple of review copies I’d already requested before the dare began. (I’ll leave it to James to decide whether all those exceptions disqualify me.) For the dare, I’m not limiting myself to the books pictured above, although they will be my focus. But if none of those quite work, I have plenty more to choose from.
I also would like to stop acquiring books until I’ve read those 23 books from 2007. Again, I have to make exceptions for Classics Circuit and book club, although I will try to use the library for those. I love having lots of books in the house, but given the extensive collection at my library (a branch of which is in walking distance), my book collecting has gotten a bit silly. I do love to indulge, though, so when I’ve read these books, I can start acquiring again. This bit of goal-setting may be too much for me, especially if I come across a fabulous sale, but we’ll see how I do.
I’m going to keep the rest of my reading open to whim. I do like to receive a review copy or two a month, but I want to continue reading more old books than new. So although I may continue to request or accept a copy here or there, usually through LibraryThing Early Reviewers, I’m not going to make brand-new books the focus of my reading.
And as I said at the top of this post, I’m staying mostly challenge-free. Making the lists can be fun, but the maintenance—updating, linking, wrap-up posts, and so on—feels too much like work. Plus, with just a few exceptions (usually short-term challenges), I haven’t found challenges to be all that social and interactive. I do enjoy participating in some of the more loosely organized events where readers post on a particular book, author, or imprint at the same time. (I’ve found that I prefer these to structured chapter-by-chapter readalongs.) I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Virago Reading Week, Persephone Weekend, NYRB Classics Week, discussions for the Year of Feminist Classics, discussions by the Wolves, and of course the Classics Circuit. If my mood is right and the book is available when these events happen, I’ll join in.
Because I do like list-making (or think I do), I was considering a few long-term projects, some of which are inspired by challenges or others’ long-term projects, but when I started making the lists, I also started to get stressed. I think that as soon as a list starts to look like a goal, instead of a pool of possibilities, I get nervous. (This is one of the reasons I’m not sure I want to own the any of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die books, as fascinating as the selections within those books may be. The whole “Before You Die” thing makes me feel like these books are essential, even though they aren’t.) I do like having possibilities to consider, both on my shelves and on my virtual list, but I don’t like turning those lists into goals. The TBR goal seems like enough.
So those are my plans for the year. What are yours? What’s your philosophy toward goals, challenges, and the like? Any books you definitely plan to read this year? Any books on my stacks I need to make a concerted effort to get to?