This year, my friend Sydney and I agreed on a New Year’s Resolution: we would each read 100 books by the end of 2011. Does 100 sound like a lot of books to you? It is. Averaging it out, it’s over 8 books a month, just under 2 books a week. A LOT of books.
Now, I’ve always been a voracious reader. I read before bed every single night, and you can pretty much count on the fact that there’ll be a novel in my purse at any given moment. But even this was a challenge for me (and for Sydney, too, who gave up on the challenge by April). I made a basic rule: a book is over 200 pages, with the exception of some shorter novels that counted because I consider them real works of literature (i.e. Brave New World, Invisible Cities, etc). That said, many of the books I read were well over 200 pages, most of them living somewhere between 300 and 400 in length. Then there was Anna Karenina. Here’s a tip: if you’re doing a challenge which requires you to read more than one book a week, picking up Anna Karenina will probably slow you down. Luckily I had the great Hunger Games series and any book by Kurt Vonnegut that helped pick up my pace and allowed me to savor the larger texts I chose.
Here’s my list, 100 books, mostly fiction but with a few memoirs thrown in for fun.
And there’s also a list there of my top 10 from the year, as well as the books I wouldn’t have spent my time on if I wasn’t in a time crunch. And here’s the blog Sydney and I worked on year-round while we were doing the reading–which Syd continued, even when she wasn’t doing the challenge. It’s fun to look back at them and remember all the stories, all the characters, all the words!
The funny thing about choosing books is that a lot of the time my selections were arbitrary–a title I’d heard from a friend, what I saw a lot of folks reading on the subway, a book I’d had on my shelf forever and never picked up, something at the library with an interesting cover. But I have to say, however they found their way to me, these books always found me at the right time. In the right order, in the right season. These books found me when I needed what was in them, when I needed to laugh or to get angry, or to get pink eye (literally, after reading Saramago’s Blindness, I woke up with an adorable case of conjunctivitus). It felt (and I’m not apologizing for my spiritual, yogi hoo-ha here) like the universe was sending me each book in succession and participating in a cosmic chat. I won’t say every book I read was life-changing or anything. Quite a few of them were just….fine. But the way that some of these books poured over me and flowed inside of me was something truly spectacular.
Looking back, I really can’t believe I did it. It’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever accomplished, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And more than that, it makes me hungry to read even more! I’m not setting a challenge for 2012, but I am going to keep track again, and I can’t wait to see what ride the universe takes me on this time.
Wishing you and yours a very wonderful 2012. I know great things are in store!