Friday, January 8, 2016

Read All The Books!!

One of the goals that I set for 2015 was to read 25 books.  I read 27.  (Yay!)   It feels really fantastic to actually accomplish something that I decided to do, especially when I decide to do it with only a rough estimate of my actual abilities.  My entire thought process was "Ok...2 books per month is 24...plus one to make it 25 because that's more fun...cool."  But I learned some things about myself by doing this that might help you, or spark ideas, or hopefully at the very least be slightly entertaining.

Procrastinator perfectionists need to write goals differently than regular people.

We'll call it being unique.  I am a seasoned procrastinator but also an obsessive perfectionist.  Everything I do is done at the last minute but must be perfect.  My life is a struggle.

I have continuously made goals involving doing some specific thing every day, or 20 days per month, or once per week.  The problem with this is that I will inevitably get distracted and forget, or wait until the last minute and then not have time, or any number of other things.

The reason this book goal worked so well with my personality is that it was difficult enough to achieve that I was excited about doing it, it was easy enough that I could procrastinate for about five months and still get it done, and I wouldn't feel like a failure if I didn't read every day or week or even month.  All that mattered was actually finishing.

I'm going to apply this knowledge to my other goals this year and see how it goes.  So for example, it doesn't work for me to make a goal to go for a walk every day, or even a certain number of days per month.  What might work is making a goal to walk a certain number of miles in a year.  We'll see.  I might end up trying to do it all in December and have really sore legs for a month.

I missed reading but didn't know it.

Reading so much more this year was like rediscovering a part of my personality that I'd lost.  I am the person who reads all sorts of books and will tell you about them if you give me any opening or lull in conversation.  Sorry, but if you hate that we should probably not be friends.  I love reading books and discussing books and buying new books and sorting my books and giving books away.  Love.

I also love learning about things and people and reading the thoughts inside a person's head when those thoughts are not things I would ever think.  It's a major part of how I experience the world.  It's also a major part of my happiness.

I'm a finisher.

I have a distinct sense of guilt if I don't finish a book.  But I've also realized that part of the reason I stop reading is because I'm not really interested in what I'm reading.  Also, if I quit the books I don't like I'll have more time for the ones I do.  So I promised myself that I would stop reading any book that I really hated, did not expect to get better, and did not want to continue for intellectual benefit rather than enjoyment.  There were three that almost made this list, but only one that I actually ended up giving up on.

It was Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott.  I loved Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird and so I was confused from the first sentence of this slow, plodding book.  The main character is weak and whiny and doesn't seem to improve much.  I have no respect for her self-centered, woe-is-me attitude.  I read the first chapter, was annoyed by the main character, and flipped through the rest of the book to see what happens.  Let's just say I'm glad I didn't waste my time getting there the slow way.

It also helps to read multiple books at the same time.  I try to choose books from different genres, but that doesn't always happen either.  It's surprisingly unconfusing to do this, and is pretty much my natural inclination.  This allows me to spend months on a dense nonfiction book while reading multiple fiction books in that same time period.  I can choose what to read based on my mood or ability to concentrate.

Don't buy books ahead of time.

I have a bad habit of buying books and then not reading them immediately and instead sticking them on a shelf until I've forgotten why I even wanted to read them in the first place.  I'm determined to stop.  When I sorted my bookshelves this year a la Marie Kondo, I kept the books that I had not read but actually wanted to read in the very near future.  I am now attempting to read all of them so that I am actually forced to go buy new books in order to have something to read.  This will be an amazing and wonderful day when it happens.

New Goals!

My goal for this year is to read 50 books, mainly because none of the numbers between 25 and 50 sound exciting enough.  I might end up changing it later if I decide to read Atlas Shrugged or something else gigantic.  I'm also still working on making reading a regular part of my life.  I still have to talk myself into it at times (the internet is just so much more interesting and brain-melting).  I'm also going to switch to doing monthly book reviews rather than reviewing each book.  Sometimes I just don't have much to say about a particular book, and I also don't want to bore people who don't care about that (although why said people would be here, I'm not sure).

I have a profile on Goodreads so find me if you want to be friends.  I like Goodreads but am annoyed that I can't count a book that I've already read if I reread it, which is just silly.

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