The first month of 2014 is done and here we are, by next weekend, halfway through February. My only resolution this year was to read a book a week. I’ve set my goal on my Goodreads.com challenge at fifty books. I’m at seven to date, so right on target.
I love books and I love to read so this shouldn’t be hard, right? For most of you it probably isn’t. But, I have always been an obsessive reader—I could read much more than one book per week easy, but nothing else would get done. I love reading so much I lose track of time and space, and myself. It’s not pretty. So, I have avoided reading for pleasure perhaps rationalizing it uses up time I should be working on homework, trying to get ahead, building my online presence and social media relationships, or keeping up with The Real Housewives—have you told yourself this fib?
Work makes sense. I always love to work, and for me, work is play, play is work. It certainly seemed to me spending time on my “work” was more productive than losing myself in a book.
I was wrong. I missed reading. I missed the refreshment of reading for pleasure. In a come-to-Jesus moment, I realized all work and no play makes Robin a dull old bird!
Last summer I made a half-year resolution to read a book a week and managed to fulfill my goal. So in December while I was on a roll I decided to keep it up. This has required developing some practical discipline to tame my obsessive tendencies.
Here are my book rules:
- Preview a chosen book and decide how many pages or chapters to allow each day. Simple, but I never did this before. It’s a little like dieting…book dieting. Having the discipline to read and savor chapters at a time has been a revelation.
- It’s okay to read more than one book at a time if I want. Divide up in the way that works best. This isn’t new to me, my mother has a bedroom book, a living room book, and possibly a purse book at any given time. Separating books by spaces or places seems to be a good way to parse the reading.
- I check the clock when I sit down. I’ve gone so far as to write the time started and my necessary end time on a sticky note so I don’t fudge the time, forget to go to work, start dinner, or feed the cat.
- When time is up, I leave my book with a bookmark, in the same place next to my reading chair. No excuses for not picking it back up. You see, I think I used to lose control because I didn’t “plan” to get back to it. Now I have a plan.
- Use the 100 page rule. If a book isn’t interesting by page 100, give it up. Move on to the next in the stack. This does NOT count as a book read!
Teddy Roosevelt was a voracious reader. He’s been called the most well-read president in history. His bio says he read a book before breakfast, then possibly 2-3 before the day was out. He said it’s a mistake to make rules about reading. Obviously he was a speed reader, and obviously someone took care of his laundry, made dinner, and typed his memos.
I am pretty pleased at this age I can now have some discipline and some pleasure for reading. It truly has been refreshing, a revelation, and a gift to be able to enjoy reading again. Who knows, maybe next year, my goal will be two books per week.
What’s your reading goal? Are you a disciplined reader, or do you throw caution to the wind and read with abandon?