I can’t remember what first inspired it. It was either constantly being asked “ya, but how many books do you actually read?” or it was seeing the #readingchallenge all over Instagram. Either way, I’m a sucker for a good ol’ fashion competition even if I’m the only one participating (there is currently a Scrabble board in media res on my dining room table where I am playing myself (Self 2.0 is winning…) and so I set out in 2014 to read a book a week. It seemed like an attainable goal that would still require a decent amount of determination. I ended up reading 60 books that year (I often forget how many I can put away while on vacation) and in 2015 I simply challenged myself to surpass the number read in 2014. I barely squeaked by with a total of 61 books last year.
I had a baby girl in 2015 and if you look at my monthly tallies I can easily ascribe the number of books read to the stage of my pregnancy or whether the little one had arrived earth side yet. I read two books in all of January which was the month where I ate sushi, peed on a stick and then wished I hadn’t eaten the sushi. I read 12 books in April during the second trimester when it is said that most women experience a surge of energy used for nesting and general preparation for the baby (or, in my case, devouring any book I could get my hands on) and the month after she was born I only managed to read two books and really only because one was very good (The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah) and the other very short (Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf). When my daughter started sleeping longer stretches around 3 months I dusted off the ereader and easily read 9 books in one month (the ereader is, in my opinion, God’s gift to a breastfeeding woman).
It’s a new year now which calls for a new goal and I have tired of simply trying to read as many books as possible. Moreover, this baby girl of mine apparently needs to be entertained when she’s awake and children’s books don’t really count so a big chunk of my available reading time has disappeared thus forcing me to be a bit more choosy with my selections. There’s something a bit unsatisfying about the quantity over quality challenge anyway since it sometimes prompted me to abandon a book sooner than I normally would have in the interest of time and skip other books altogether because I couldn’t assume that every 700+ page book was going to be as good as Tartt’s The Goldfinch. It also doesn’t seem right that a Nora Roberts is weighted the same as a Joan Didion or a Joy Fielding as a Wilkie Collins.
So, for 2016 I’m going to finally read some of those classics that have haunted me for years; the ones I’ve picked up at garage sales and used book stores, carted around with me from my childhood home to uni and which now sit proudly on the bookshelves in my own home. I always told myself I would read them “someday” and I think that day has finally come.