I challenged myself to read more books in 2012, which is probably the only one of my New Year’s Resolutions I’m facing with positivity and enthusiasm. I love reading and already read more than the average individual, but far less than I’d like. I often go through addictive phases where I hungrily devour four or five books in a matter of two or three weeks, relishing in the satisfaction of conquering pages and gaining stores of intellectual capital. However, life inevitably gets in the way and unread books spend months pitifully gathering dust due to my laziness and negligence.
A few weeks ago, I proactively decided to take a dual approach to combat these slumps in my reading habits:
- Tracking my activity – I created a simple spreadsheet on Google docs listing all of the books I’ve been meaning to read, re-read and/or buy. I included authors, a notes column (bearing comments such as “2011 New York Times Bestseller’s list,” “recommended by good-looking co-worker” or “about a prick wearing a turtleneck” which corresponds to Isaacson’s lengthy Steve Jobs biopic). Also, the table touts a deadline column noting helpful timeframes (i.e. “must finish Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close before the film release on January 20″ or “book X becomes available on paperback on month Y”)
- Employing accountability– For nearly two years, two of my best friends and I have entertained the idea of starting a book club. The three of us are wildly different and we live in different cities, but we all share a mutual love of reading. So not only would a book club keep us intellectually stimulated, but it would invisibly bind our friendship – like the Fellowship of the Ring or the Unbreakable Vow or even a pair of traveling denim slacks (which is ridiculous because we all have different body types, those books are painfully childish and one of our members is male).Anyway, our novel idea (ha!) quickly died because we never implemented any type of system or a schedule; our Western Front camaraderie, our Order of the Phoenix, quite frankly, lacked order. To further complicate things, both of my friends are already incredibly intelligent and well-read; choosing a book that none of us have already read and allof us want to read posed a miserable feat in itself.Fortunately, Larry Page and his drove of Google developers created cloud-based documents enabling me to easily share my spreadsheet with my friends. Both of them have been feverishly adding and updating with their own selections and feedback, so I think our work in progress is, in effect, progressively working. The document is easy enough to access and manage, so hopefully our system sustains itself. So far it has; it’s January 17 and I’m already a third through my fourth book of the year (and yes, I finished Safran Foer’s book well in advance of the film’s debut on Friday)
The only remaining challenge is creating a moniker for our illustrious book club. It ideally will reference some literary organization and be murderously clever. Like the Live Poets Society, Middlesexcapades or Fight Club (but then we could never talk about it without deliberately breaking the primary precepts of the club…)
Moral of the story (there I go again!) is that I plan to share my literary conquests with you readers in addition to my musical exploits. As I’ve been reading, miniature reviews, almost resembling literary essays, have been formulating in my mind. I hope this challenges you to pick up a book or two, or at the very least take a proactive stab towards achieving your own goals.