In 2015, I decided to edify myself by trying to read a book a week. I knew going in that it was extremely ambitious and I don’t have a great track record with following through on my grandiose goals. But I do love grandiose goals.
So I started 2015 with 52+ books lined up on my reading list. To be clear, the reading list is somewhat specific. It doesn’t include the Narnias, Mrs. Piggle Wiggles, Magic Tree Houses, or any of the unnumbered pictures books I read to the kids, and it also doesn’t include the handful of “mindless romance novels” I read to de-stress. The reading list is for books that I choose intentionally to try to expose myself to well-written and diverse literature.
I encountered three major obstacles as I tackled my book list. The first is that there seems to be an unwritten rule that a good book = a depressing book. I tend to become very emotionally invested in stories, so a reading list that includes a lot of heavy material can really bring me down. Some books dragged on because each time I put them down, I’d dread putting myself back into that story again. The second obstacle, if you can call is that, is that I had to fight my need for instant gratification. Unlike cheesy romance novels, or modern TV shows, these books didn’t always draw me in right away, and didn’t always keep the pace I’ve grown accustomed to. The third obstacle is that reading these books was taking me a Really. Long. Time. So long, in fact that I took several reading speed tests online and discovered I have the reading speed of a 5th grader. I’m not sure how to account for this other than that I tend to get lost in thought as I read, and often have to reread whole paragraphs once I realize I haven’t been paying attention. In the end, I finished 11 out of 52 books on my reading list. This is a failure in the sense that I didn’t reach my goal, but it’s about 9.5 more books than I’ve read from my reading list in recent years.
So with that in mind, I’m starting 2016 with the same goal: to read a book each week. I have a big year ahead of me, with plans to start school in the fall, so I know that finishing 52 books would be a long shot. But I’d rather start at a fast pace and try to push myself than set a drastically lower goal, and I’ll count this year’s efforts a success if I can beat last year’s 11 books.