It’s not long after the last of the new year fireworks have fizzled and dimmed that thoughts turn to resolutions for the year ahead. January is the month of fresh starts and promises. For me, it’s a familiar list of eating healthily and exercising more (although given recent slothfulness the ‘more’ is superfluous).
Like many of the authors in this new year article, I’ve also made a pledge to read more widely and more often, not least by spending less time on line (he says, while writing a blog post). And, with some reluctance, I’ve set a target to read 40 books in the year ahead – reluctance not because it’s too ambitious, less than a book a week is well within reach, but because a reading challenge has a strange effect on me.
Last year, at the start of the summer, I used Good Reads to set a target of reading 25 books by the end of the year. I nearly made it but an unfinished and unfathomable Terry Pratchett meant I fell just short. It helped to keep motivation high. There’s something satisfying about creeping up towards the target and the percentage completed tick over. Without it, I don’t think I’d have read as much, such is the benefit of a bit of competition even when it’s me versus me.
Here’s the rub. When I sensed I was going to struggle to hit the 40 books, subconsciously or not, the books I selected became shorter. They were still books near the top of my ‘still to read’ pile but anything too chunky was shuffled in the deck until something popped up that was in and around 250 pages. This did have its literary benefits. It meant, for example, that I read Once by Morris Gleitzman, a haunting and moving (and short) book that had long been on my bedside pile.
But other, longer books remain unread. To my shame – and I’m acutely aware that this could be just me – it wasn’t just the number of pages that dictated choice. One book was returned to the pile because the font was too small. Terrible, I know.
So, alongside the morning run and the broccoli smoothies, my 40 book target will definitely, without doubt include some lengthy books. OK, and some smaller fonts. Wish me luck.