Monday, January 29, 2018

Taking The Reading Challenge

There it was, set out before me again by some persistent bot.  A "Reading Challenge."  The goal of said challenge, pitched out by the book-network-thingy Goodreads?

To establish a book reading goal for 2018.   I really enjoy and regularly use Goodreads.  It's a wonderful way to keep track of what you've read, and can surface some equally wonderful new books to add to your to-read stack.

The goal is simple.  Just drop in the number, and then you've got a metric against which to measure your book reading for this year.  Am I meeting my goal?  Am I on track?  Am I really the bookish person I have always claimed to be, or not?

Setting this goal permits charts and graphs.  It permits competition, against oneself, and with others.  It creates that sort of energy, and applies it to the act reading.  Should I read a book a week?  A book a day?  How much should I push myself to beat my number from last year?

I know this works for some people.  Particularly people who like quantitative measures, who like to know where they stand, and who are motivated by the goad of success or failure.  I'm like that myself, in some ways.  When I'm working on a writing project, having a clear daily word-count goal makes a difference.

For those people who enjoy that sort of challenge, hey, more power to you.  Enjoy! And if you're looking for a well-reviewed, thought-provoking, and relatively short book, my last novel can be read in a sitting or two.

But I don't want to read that way.  I want to read when I want to read.  Some months, I'm plowing through nearly a book a day.  Other months, it's less.  Perhaps I'm writing.  Or perhaps I'm gaming.  Or watching something.  And that's just fine, because reading is a pleasure and a joy.  It's not a thing I want to turn into an anxiety-driven compulsion.

And I don't just read when I want.  I also read how and what I want.  Some books, particularly collections of essays or short stories, demand that you slow down and approach them in a more intentional way.  Short stories in particular require this.  You can't just blaze through an anthology and simultaneously honor each of the tales you've encountered.  Good short fiction requires your attention, and then your reflection.  It needs time to breathe in your soul, time to ferment and mature.

So there, at the top of the page, is my reading challenge goal for 2018. 

"I want to read books in 2018."

It's so nice to be able to meet your goals.