Every year I tweak my goals a bit – we’ve have 25 books, 6000 pages 2010 and 2011 and RED – and this year will be no different. Except perhaps that it’s more than “tweak”.
This year I do have a number of goals but I also have a guiding principle and I’ve decided that my goals are all things to aim (note the “try to”s below) for but the guiding principle is what over-rules everything. So here goes…
- Try to read 40 books this year. 50 was a stretch but I managed 34. 40 will be another stretch but doable I hope.
- Try to reduce my To-Be-Read (TBR) list by 16. It’s currently at 251 so that will make a nice round 235.
- Try to finish all the books I start. May be harder and this goal is likely to be most in conflict with my Guiding Principle.
- Try to reduce my Goodreads “Currently Reading” shelf to 1 (or 2,3… if I’m genuinely reading them at the same time). Ever since I started using Goodreads I haven’t taken a book off my CR shelf unless I put it there in error or I finished reading it. This includes books I started, stalled on and later re-started from scratch. So essentially this boils down to “finish/re-read books I previously started”.
Those are the goals and the only goals. No page-counts, genres or other factors involved.
The Guiding Principle
In pursuing these goals I will abide by the following principle, especially when taking action which may appear to conflict with one of the goals (like abandoning a book, or increasing my TBR):
Reading is supposed to be fun, try to enjoy it.
Taking it a Step Further
Thinking about the Guiding Principle has made me wonder about being even more radical. Let’s just review how we got here.
This all started really because of Harry Potter. Remember “Am I Crazy”? I wanted to re-read all the HP books before the new one came out. The need/desire to figure out if I was on track gave birth to my first tracking spreadsheet – crude and simplistic compared to what was to come. The next significant event was in 2009 when I realised that I’d only read 4 books in the whole of 2008. So “25 Books” was born and an improved version of the spreadsheet was created.
As 25 Books turned into 6000 pages I found that I needed/wanted a better spreadsheet to track what I was reading. This is essentially what I still use today, although even in the last couple of days I’ve been improving it further.
Now let’s be honest, there’s a geeky pleasure in the tracking itself. I like setting up the spreadsheets. I like watching the effect as I record time spent reading, comparing my pg/hr rate for my current book to previous ones or the overall average, working out roughly how long it will take to get to the next chapter, or next book, how far behind target I am and so on. All this is its own kind of fun but it’s not really about reading. Worse it’s possible it even detracts from or is displacement for actual reading.
It’s odd to think – it’s become so normal for me – but for the last four years whenever I’ve picked up a book to read I’ve also been making a note of how long I read for and how many pages I read. It’s not that big of an overhead and since I mainly read ebooks any device I’m reading on is automatically also a device I can record this info on. But the fact is that it doesn’t have that sense of just picking up and starting to read and maybe, just maybe it’s one of those barriers to entry that I was talking about in a previous post.
So here’s the idea: maybe I’ll give up the spreadsheet this year. I’ll still keep a note of which books I read, and I’ll certainly put up reviews but I’ll pass on the slightly obsessive recording part.
At least that’s the idea. I’d be giving up the geeky fun part in the hope of getting something else in return. That something I guess would be a sense of it being a lighter, simpler fun activity rather than a chore or an assignment. But there’s a part of me that will miss using my shiny new spreadsheet.
So that’s what I’m thinking but I’m still not sure if I’ll do it. Ultimately having fun whilst reading is probably more about choosing the right books.