Last year, in honor of my first full year of blogging, I participated in the 100+ Book Challenge hosted by The Home Girl's Book Blog. I've been averaging between 60 and 75 books a year, so I figured that getting up to 100 was a way to improve my close personal relationship with my to-be-read shelves.
Yesterday, with two hours and 39 minutes to spare, I finished my 100th book. I had to read 5 young adult novels in two days to make it happen, but I did it. I completed the challenge. And guess what-today, if I'm keeping a yearly total, I'm back to zero, zip, zilch, nada, none. The euphoria of completing last year's challenge is replaced by a sense of emptiness and despair...
OK, not really, but here's what I learned from participating in this challenge in 2010-I don't like reading on someone else's schedule. Yes, I know I signed up of my own free will, but as the year progressed I found myself more focused on quantity rather than quality, on accumulating titles rather than knowledge or literary wisdom. I found myself choosing my books not by their topic or my interests, but by their length. Satanic Verses-too long for 2010. Under the Dome by Stephen King-sorry, you'll have to wait. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin-so sorry, I know my friend recommended you to me last winter, but you just have too many pages for me. I passed over books I really wanted to read by Diana Gabaldon, Margaret Atwood, and Joyce Carol Oates simply because I thought they would take too long.
Constant Reader, I hear you saying, "Why not just give up on the challenge? It's not like you win money for finishing, or get punished if you don't." But one of the things about myself that I am generally proud of is my stick-to-it-iveness, my commitment to finishing what I start. And it wasn't all bad-I did enjoy watching my numbers climb. At the end my friends even got into the act, cheering me on with Facebook messages as I rushed to finish the last several titles. But when I saw the post for the 2011 100+Book Challenge, I clicked the back button. And the first book I picked up off my shelf today-Under the Dome, the 1000+ page tome that has been sitting on my TBR pile for far too long, given how much I love reading my Uncle Stevie! My challenge this year? To read what I want, when I want, and try to keep my Goodreads Bookswap addiction under control. And if I get to the end of 2011 having had a full year of literary goodness, I will consider the year a raving success.