Something a little more positive.
Up until a couple of days ago I was all set to launch “20 books”. This was to reflect a change in priorities of my reading goals. As I said in the wrap-up of 25 books, last year I wanted to read more widely – hence different genres, authors and so on. This year I mainly want to concentrate on reading a little more, and spreading it out a little more. My idea was to have a target of 20 books but with points for longer books so that overall I read more.
Whilst I was considering writing this up, I realised that a better way to do this is to set the goal for the number of pages. Last year I read just under 5000 pages, so let’s aim for 6000. The reason this is better is also partly to do with my spreadsheet. My 25 books spreadsheet (as well as the 20 books one I had begun) is based on the one I created a couple of years ago for my Harry Potter marathon. I had in effect merely expanded the number of books and the time period. But that was for a specific goal – to read all books by a particular date. It was therefore a good thing to be able to see what page of what book I should be on and how close to that I was.
But applying that to a whole year didn’t work as well. It meant that at any one time I could only really have one book on the go. I had no way of counting reading time for a book I set aside and then later finished. Also once I was reasonably far behind (as I soon was) the ‘target’ figures became meaningless in terms of motivation. Knowing I should be 4 books ahead of where I was it didn’t make much odds which page I was on!(1)
But by making it about pages – and designing a new spreadsheet accordingly – I can count all my reading. I can have more than one book on the go at once(2). I can monitor my targets in terms of pages read, pages/day, days read etc. It’s also much simpler.
The New Rules
So here’s the new scoring rules. They are designed to give me a stretch, to hopefully allow a similar score to last year for a similar amount of effort (so I can aim to ‘beat’ my score, even if the basis is entirely different) and they are aimed at the underlying goals of reading more and more often.
1. Page count – my goal is 6000 pages but my benchmark is 5000, just above last year’s. For every 100 pages above or below 5000 add or deduct 1 point.
2. Days read – last year I managed 71 days. Adding a fortnight to that makes a nice round 85. For every day above or below 85 add or deduct 1 point – upto a maximum of +15 or minimum of -10.
3. Book length – last year my average book was 274pages. I always felt like I was looking for short books that I could finish quickly. That felt a little like cheating. So this year I can gain points for reading longer books. Round up the average page count to the nearest 5 and:
- 0-250pages – -1 point
- 251-300pages – 0 points
- 301-325pages – 1 point
- 326-375pages – 2points
- 375-500pages – 5points
- 500+pages – 10points
Knowing how a few low scores bring an average down(3) I suspect I’ll find it hard to get more than 2 points – but that’s ok.
4. Only one unfinished book counts. I expect this to be the last one. It means I don’t have to race to finish whatever I happen to be in the middle of on 31-dec (unless I want to)
Not really a scoring rule, but a goal is to not get more than 1 book behind on writing them up in the blog. So before starting book 5 for example I really ought to have written up book 3. I use the example of 5 and 3 because I am on book 3 and haven’t written up book 1 yet – but hopefully I’ll put that right tomorrow.
(1) Actually this was a little bit of a problem with the Harry Potter books too. If you remember I wanted to finish book 5 before the movie came out and that meant I needed to be well ahead of where the targets otherwise said I should be
(2) I don’t generally like to do this anyway but it’s surprising how many times I would have liked the flexibility.
(3) Whenever I make the 275mile trip back to my parents, I usually entertain myself by keeping track of my average speed. The journey is 10 miles of town traffic with the rest on the motorways. I’m always amazed by how long you have to go at 80 to raise the average speed to something decent when it’s been affected by the initial stretch (averaging 10-15)