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How to Cheat on Your Reading Goals

January 12, 2012

Volunteer Andrea blogs about undermining her resolution of May 2011 to read one book each week.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” Alice said.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

So many books. So little time. In May 2011, I set myself the goal of reading one book each week. Why? Because I do things like that, and I needed to read more in the genre that that my work in progress occupies.

When I first set this goal, I was walking a few miles a day plus doing cardio exercise all while listening to audiobooks and podcasts. “Reading” a book each week this way is pretty easy, especially when supplemented by the old-fashioned method that includes ink and paper.

But in mid-summer, I tore something in my foot, and by the late summer, I had accepted that my D.C.-walkabouts and the world of exercise as I had known them were in for a six-month hiatus. Soon, a crisis of made-up goals was upon me. The amount of time I could devote to audiobooks and my book-a-week goal had plummeted!

Shorter books were the solution if, by “solution” I meant something completely disconnected from the original problem* and resulting goal. So, as I said, “solution.” With the shift, I had a new task – to find worthwhile short books to read. In the meantime, I was also reading great books to help prepare for author interviews on this blog. But the blog-related books were not necessarily short, so the pressure to find ever-quicker reads  that still “counted” was on!

Somehow, I only managed to read 28 books in 31 weeks at the rate of one book per week, but since I only just discovered this disconnect a few minutes ago, I decided that there was a glitch in the universe’s software not in my ability to understand what “one book per week” means. In the new year, I’m planning to read one book every two weeks. But first, I have a very large stack of literary journals to get through. More on those two tasks after I figure out how to undermine them.

Here’s a list of the books that I have read since May 29, 2011. Feel free to judge me and to share your own odd goals in comments.

5/29/2011 – The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

6/5/2011 – Mortal Love – Elizabeth Hand

6/10/2011 – Vampyre – Charles Pollidori

7/2/2011 – The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

7/15/2011 – The Wild Grass – Davin Malasarn

7/26/2011 – The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

8/3/2011 – Tracks – Eric Goodman

8/9/2011 – Adapt – Tim Harford

8/14/2011 – Hard Tack and Coffee – John Billings

9/2/2011 – Andrew Johnson: A Biography – Hans L. Trefousse

9/6/2011 – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

9/11/2011 – The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett

9/24/2011 – Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett

10/2/2011 – The Coral Island – Robert Ballantyne

10/16/2011 – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

10/16/2011 – To Be the Poet – Maxine Hong Kingston

10/22/2011 – The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston

10/22/2011 – The Civilized World – Susi Wyss

10/28/2011 – The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett

11/4/2011 – Lord of the Flies – William Golding

11/6/2011 – The Siege of Mecca – Yaroslav Trofimov

11/24/2011 – Turn of the Screw – Henry James

12/4/2011 – My Memories of a Future Life – Roz Morris

12/11/2011 – Nail Your Novel – Roz Morris

12/18/2011 – Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

12/27/2011 – The Freedom Maze – Delia Sherman

12/31/2011 – Von Lagerhaus – Dave DiGrazie

12/31/2011 – Going Postal – Terry Pratchett

*The genre thing never worked out. Not even from the beginning. I was more interested in getting through a pile of books (physical and electronic) that I had been meaning to read. C’est la vie. I have enjoyed the ride!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2012 11:51 am

    Aside from being honoured by both my titles being present (thank you, Andrea!), I think it’s fascinating to see what led to what. Has anyone else ever made a book chain and analysed what guided their choice of next read? I read some of those same books in 2011 as well, and might go and seek out the ones you were drawn to next.

  2. January 12, 2012 9:48 pm

    I’m glad your books have been part of my reading journey, Roz!

  3. Ricardo Sedan permalink
    January 19, 2012 11:37 am

    Hi, Andrea. Have you looked at “100 One-Night Reads”?

    Some great recommendations for great short books. The one-night premise is a bit ambitious with many of the recommendations, unless you read very fast or your nights are long. But they’re all quite short.

  4. January 19, 2012 11:52 am

    Oh, no! “100 One-Night Reads” looks like something I would love to do in a very methodical, goal-oriented manner! Must…resist…urge…to…buy…this…book! : ) Thanks, Ricardo!


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