[Update 1/1/19: It turned out to be 126 books for the year!]
Twenty-eighteen was all about reading at least 10 books a month and getting through A Century of Books. At 123 books read, I beat my goal of 120 books for the year, but I did not, repeat, did not, achieve all 100 books required by ACOB. I fell short by three books. Some of you might be thinking that it is only the 26th and that surely I still have time to finish. But, truth be told, I am in the throes of finishing number 123 (which happens to be Storm Tide by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood) which means I actually have four to finish. And I’m enjoying Storm Tide and don’t want to rush it just to get to those other three books in the next five days. Even as I write this, it seems eminently doable, but I think reality will skew otherwise, so I am bowing out of ACOB. It was a lot of fun this time around, but the year is pretty much over and I am going to set it aside to make way for 2019. Clean slate and all that.
And speaking of 2019, I’ve got a fairly radical idea for the year partially inspired by my experience in 2018. I liked that my aggressive goal for the year kept me focused on reading. But, there were times when I felt the pressure to read rather than enjoy–like I feel right now-so for 2019 I’ve decided not to put that kind of pressure on myself. I know I will start to get competitive with myself or others at some point if I don’t do something kind of drastic. I need to come up with a way to keep myself from being drawn into a reading race. So…
I’m going to limit the number of books I read in 2019
Say what? Yes, rather than set a number to beat, I’m actually going to put a limit on myself this year. Since I turn 50 in August this seemed like a nice round number, but with some of the other stuff I have planned, 50 is probably too high a number. I think I will shoot for a limit of 40 books. A full 83 fewer than I read this year. And yes, this might be the craziest thing I have ever suggested. If I hit number 40 in September am I going to stop reading? No. Don’t be stupid.
No reading in English for the first month and half of the year
I’m spending a week in Milan in February to go to a few operas and to immerse myself in the Italian language. I’ve put in some effort over the past year or so into trying to build on the two years of college Italian I took 30 years ago, but it clearly hasn’t been enough. I still feel hopelessly bad and need to do a lot of prep for that trip. I’m even leaving John at home when I go to Milan so I don’t fall back on speaking English to him. I will have 2 hours a week of class and 2 hours a week of private instruction in January and February, but that won’t be enough. I need to listen to, and read, and speak much, much more Italian before my trip. I don’t want to get there and wish that I had done more prep. So, with the exception of reading a bit in English before I got to sleep at night and English audio books on my commute, I am only going to read in Italian. It will be very time consuming and involve a lot of dictionary use, but it has to be done. I have books and magazines, not to mention websites I can read, so I won’t be short of material. I also need to watch copious amounts of film and TV programming in Italian because I have a really hard time understanding lightening speed Italian when it is spoken. In general, I just need to use all my free brain power for a month and a half for learning Italian to really prep for that trip to Milan.
The remaining 12 Brookner novels
For about six years now I have been doing a chronological re-read of all of Anita Brookner’s novels and so far I am half way through having re-read 12 of them. One of the things I have been doing is keeping a list of all of the London place names mentioned, but I don’t feel like waiting another six years to finish the project. So this year I think I’m going to read a Brookner a month. This way by the end of the year I will have completed not just my re-reads, but my London place name gazetteer. I have plans to make vast improvements to the current format of the list/gazetteer and those changes will take a fair amount of time. My greatly reduced reading pace will certainly free up some time to work on that.
A full shelf of something
Last year in preparation for ACOB, I organized the 736 books in my TBR by the year they were published. Since my un-read books are no longer in alpha order by author, this means each shelf has quite a lot of variety with almost no duplication of authors. For about six months I’ve been thinking about how much fun it would be to just plow my way through an entire shelf. Since they are in chron order it would mean I would be reading a whole shelf of books published around the same time. And since I read so much older fiction, I am kind of drawn to one of the newer shelves like the one in the picture below which consists of 2015 through part of 2017. Then again, I have probably 40 books that I bought this year that I need to add to the shelves, so it may end up being a whole shelf of just 2015. Since the more recent books on my TBR represent book buying binges influenced by bookish friends on social media, it will be interesting to finally see what everyone was talking about…four years ago. No one could ever accuse me of being an early adopter.
Then again maybe nothing
The overall theme of all of this is just not wanting any pressure in 2019 to read anything. So any or all of these ideas for 2019 may not happen. It’s wide open. I’m going to try and keep it that way.