Yeah, yeah. I’m bastardizing lyrics from a Jay-Z song. And no, I don’t condone referring to women as bitches, especially in the context of possession.
But what’s this all about? Well, let’s just say this post was almost titled “I’ve got ninety-nine books read, but a hundred ain’t done,” as in, it’s time for me to make peace with the fact that I’m going to miss my goal of reading 100 books this year by one book.
ONE MEASLY BOOK! DO YOU KNOW HOW MADDENING THAT IS?
And I blame it all on my mother-in-law. You see, I had it all figured out. I needed to read two books (Homer & Langley and In a Sunburned Country) on my Christmas vacation, listen to on audiobook on the drive from St. Louis to Aurora and back, then complete The Little Stranger just in time for New Year’s (and so I could potentially include it in my “best of 2009″ post, for which I’m already sure it’s a contender).
The plan was solid, and I was making good progress. But then I discovered, when it was already far too late (and far too early–we departed for the road trip at 6:30 in the a.m.) that my mother-in-law’s car DOESN’T HAVE A CD PLAYER! And this is a relatively new car, people! How was I supposed to know? I could have uploaded the audiobook on to my iPod if I’d known.
It was like there some some book nazi in the sky shaking his fist at me and cackling, “NO AUDIOBOOK FOR YOU!”
So then I had a choice to make. I could put off The Little Stranger in favor of two quicker, shorter reads, or I could fall on my sword, stick with the book I really wanted to read, and figure that ninety-nine wasn’t such a bad number after all. As much as it makes me feel like I’m dying a little bit on the inside (and as much as I’ve had to endure my husband telling me it’s ridiculous to settle at ninety-nine when I had options that would have allowed me to read one hundred), that’s what I’ve decided to do. Why?
Because it provides the perfect transition to my reading philosophy for 2010!
By now, you’ve probably heard about this idea to make 2010 the year of “reading deliberately.” Several weeks ago, Vasilly and I were tweeting about how I wanted to re-focus my reading for 2010. Reading time is precious and limited, and I want to maximize its impact in my life. I set the goal to read 100 books this year because I just wanted to see if I could do it, but I feel like I’ve sacrificed quality a few times along the way, and when it comes down to it, I’d rather read fewer books and have them all be really fantastic than the other way around.
At some point in the conversation, Jennifer from The Literate Housewife jumped in and suggested “reading deliberately” as the way to sum up what I was trying to do, and now she and Vasilly (and some other bloggers whose posts I’ve read but have failed to keep track of) have beaten me to the punch with great posts about their 2010 reading goals.
So, what does “the year of reading deliberately” mean for The Book Lady?
- Classics: Because I like them, because they’re important, and because a familiarity with them makes one a better reader of contemporary novels, which often refer or allude to them.
- Chunksters: In my quest to read 100 books, I put a handful of big, meaty books on the back burner because I knew they’d slow me down. They’re time-consuming, and they need to be read carefully, and I knew I’d end up rushing through them and not doing myself any favors in the process. So it’s time to rescue them and get down to business!
- Tackling the TBR pile: I bought the books on the pile because I wanted to read them, but I allowed them to be preempted by ARCs, new releases, and books for which I imposed some arbitrary deadline far too often. I still want to read these books, so damnit, I’m going to read them!
- Getting picky about ARCs, review books, blog tours, etc. I love free books as much as anybody, and I’m always flattered when an author or publicist reaches out to me and thinks The Book Lady’s Blog is a good fit for their book, but I need to become even more selective about what I accept for review. I cracked down during the second part of this year, and it’s been rather nice to have more flexibility and freedom in my reading. Who wouldn’t want more of that?
- Balancing new releases with backlist titles: As a blogger, it’s fun to read new releases and be in on the conversations on blogs and Twitter, and when I was working as a bookseller, it was vitally important to be familiar with the hot new titles (because they’re hot and new and also because hardcovers have the highest profit margin), but I don’t want to read new releases to the exclusion of everything else, and I feel like I swung further in that direction than I intended to this year. After all, there are books on my TBR pile that have been there since they were new releases, and that’s just ridiculous.
These are the basic principles that will guide my reading in 2010, but the bottom line is that I want to be more mindful of how I select reading material. I read because I want to be a well-rounded, informed, intelligent citizen of the world. I read to have my boundaries stretched and to explore new ways of thinking and being and to see the world through someone else’s eyes. I read to learn and be challenged. And I want to keep these purposes in mind each and every time I walk to my shelves or into my favorite indie bookstore or click through an online retailer in 2010.
What will you be reading in the new year?