Yes, I realize that it is now March, but I wanted to write about the challenge I set myself at the beginning of last year. In essence I wanted to read 100 books in 2014. I had hoped that this would force me to set aside time for a pastime which I love as well as learn to commit to a goal. So how did things turn out? Well I read and read till my eyes were sore then I picked up a book and read some more.
For the first few months, it was great challenging but mostly just plain enjoyable. After that however, I hit a span of a few weeks where I could hardly look at a book. After that, the challenge became more of an obligation than anything else. Something which left uncompleted would forever stain my memory. Rather than reading to succeed at a goal, I was reading to fend off failure, to prove some unimportant point. And prove it I did! A few days before the end of December I finished reading my last book. What a relief it was, but at that point, reading in my every available moment had become second nature. It was not uncommon for me to be seen reading in the stairwell on my lunch break or for me to join a friend for a drink paperback in hand. Everywhere I went, so too did my books.
When I had completed my task, I told myself not to read anything for a week. It was strange to be without my paper companion for so long and I quickly began to miss my reading.
Both that long year of reading and the short break afterwards taught me valuable lessons. Firstly, I learned that even something which I love as much as reading must be consumed in moderation. Consumed seems like the right word for such a frenzied acquisition of words. It would have been better for me to have set a less stressful goal; 25 books in a year or a list of specific books without the deadline). Secondly, that I should read at a pace that feels right. I have forgotten much of what I read at such a feverish pace and yet I can remember with perfect clarity those first few books which I read with leisure.
A quick internet search found an interesting statistic from this article. “Among all American adults, the average (mean) number of books read or listened to in the past year is 12 and the median (midpoint) number is 5–in other words, half of adults read more than 5 books and half read fewer.”
This number could certainly be higher and among those of us with an acute love for books of all kinds, it probably is. If you are looking to challenge yourself to read more often or to read different material, try one of the challenges mentioned earlier, but don’t push to hard. Reading is meant to be enjoyed, not endured.