Friday, January 12, 2007

Reading Goals, 2007 style

By Susan Helene Gottfried


This being January, many of my friends are making their reading goals for 2007. Often, they choose a number of books they'd like to read. Sometimes, they'll undertake a challenge -- can they read a book written by someone from every country? A book set in every one of the fifty states?

Any goal is an admirable one, especially if it's not too far-fetched.

So, without further ado, I'd like to lay out my two goals for the year.

The first is to do what I did in 2006: Read Less Crap. By crap, I mean a book I disliked so strongly, I didn't finish it. I only count the unfinished books in this category, although there are always the few that I skim, just to see if the ending is as bad as the rest of it.

In 2006, I counted 48 books as crap. In 2005, I counted 54. My choice of book must be improving, which is both good news and bad. The good is obvious. But the bad is because I have too many books here, waiting to be read. If I'm reading more to the end, I'm probably reading fewer books.

Which brings me to my second reading goal of 2007: reduce the number of books in the house. No easy feat, not when books are so easily available and so darn tantalizing.

However, one thing that'll help is that because I trade books online, instead of making a one-for-one trade, I can accumulate points for each book I send out instead. I'm planning to give some of those points away; one site will even let me donate them to book-related charities.

Another way to pare down my books is to give them away. I do a lot of this now, surprising people with something once I've finished it. I'm also planning to offer books as prizes for contests at my blog -- like the one I'm currently running, in fact.

This goal shouldn't be too hard to achieve -- assuming there aren't a lot of others who surprise me with books. Last year, there were. I even won a sweepstakes where I got about 50 books as my prize. And then there are the few books every month from people who have checked out my online wishlist and sent me a book, just as I do to others.

I'm appreciative of this; those books are on my wishlist for a pretty obvious reason. They aren't helping reduce the inventory, but they're welcome to arrive anyway.

I'll get there this year. I made a nice dent in the numbers in December, sending out many more than I received. Every time the stacks in here shrink, I feel more creativity emerge from the clutter. I can see out my windows again. If those two things aren't inspiration, I don't know what is.

Here's to a 2007 filled with great reads -- and attainable reading goals.

14 comments:

tory said...

I'm impressed by how many books you manage to read a year! (This is assuming that you've finished more than you haven't.) :-)

Gina said...

Wow! Reading goals. What a concept. My usual reading goal is to finish every magazine I subscribe to by the end of the month listed on its cover. Books, I do a few a week, and rarely fail to finish any of them. Maybe I just have low standards. The only book reading goal I can remember having (at least since I was old enough to realize that I couldn't read everything in the library) was the year I went through the alphabet, reading one classic work I'd never read before by an author whose last name began with each letter. From Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen to The Long Silk Line by Wendell Zehel,* it was quite an education (and a lot of fun)! *OK, I couldn't find a "Z" author classic, so I settled for a mystery by a guy I used to be in a writers' group with. The only book I had trouble finishing was Ulysses by James Joyce.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting more books out of the house lately then what is coming in. It feels great. ;)

Kristine said...

When my husband and I were moving into our new house two years ago, he was amused at the fact that we had more boxes of books than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Tory, I finished 146 books last year. And didn't finish 48.

And Gina, how can you write if you don't read? I find books often inspire me to sit down and writer BETTER. (you know, the old "I can do better than THIS crap." Or even the, "Wow. I know I can write like that if I just dig deeper and try harder." Surprise. I can!)

Cheesy, now that you've entered my contest at West of Mars, that balance may change, you know...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Tory, I finished 146 books last year. And didn't finish 48.

And Gina, how can you write if you don't read? I find books often inspire me to sit down and writer BETTER. (you know, the old "I can do better than THIS crap." Or even the, "Wow. I know I can write like that if I just dig deeper and try harder." Surprise. I can!)

Cheesy, now that you've entered my contest at West of Mars, that balance may change, you know...

Anonymous said...

Gotta love it when the Blogger server burps and you multi-post...

Gina said...

Susan, what makes you think I don't read? I'd think that 12 - 15 magazines a month plus 2 or more books a week would be more than enough reading for anyone. Plus I read a lot of work related stuff at the office. I have to stop reading once in awhile to write, eat, sleep, etc.!

Anonymous said...

But as a writer, don't you seek out novels? I read all the other stuff, too -- but without that narrative structure and characters, plot, setting, situation -- it's not the same.

For me, at least.

Andrew said...

Wow! So you finish a book about every 2.5 days? That's incredible, more than anybody else I know.

I guess one option for reducing the number of books is to buy less and check out from the library more. You seem to be good with records :) so you could probably just make a list of books you checked out and really liked (instead of storing them all in your house), and then possibly share it with us?

Anonymous said...

I'm working on that book list, Andrew, I am. And believe it or not, but I have friends who read even MORE than I do.

Mind-boggling, isn't it?

Gina said...

Susan -
I read novels. Most of the books I read are novels. Mostly mysteries. Some non-fiction. And one of my regular magazine reads is Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I just don't have to make lists to force myself to read. I have to take steps to force myself to stop reading long enough to do other things.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sheesh, Gina. I owe you a HUGE apology. I'd misread your comment -- I'd thought you said you rarely finish any of the books you read.

I started keeping lists of what I read when I realized that I was picking up books I'd already read. By keeping a list, I have mostly avoided making that mistake (note: mostly), and now only pick up duplicates of things that I loved enough to share.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I can SO relate to your comments - the read less crap and let's clean house. I could have the same goals too - maybe I will.

I did a major cleanout of the bookshelves while M was in Florida last weekend and posted them on the various trade sites. Still have to do another cull or two. I've decided if it's sat on Mt TBR for a year or more, time to move it along. It's only a book, right? If I watn to read it that bad, I can always get a copy again - or use the library.

Guess that's my goal this year - stop spending so much $$$ on new books and use the library more. My local branch might suck, but the one in the next town over has the best mystery selection of any library I've ever seen.