At the beginning of the year, quite a few of the people who qualify as “Facebook friends” wrote about their plans to read 50 books this year. At the time, this struck me as a rather poor goal. It wasn’t that I don’t like reading, or think that reading is a waste of time. In fact, it is just the opposite. I love reading. I read everyday…almost. I just didn’t think quantifying it into a number of books was a good way of going about it.
Does it matter how many books you read? Does the number 50, in any way, suggest that you’ve done something? I mean, if you read 5 novels by Dickens, you’ve probably read more than 50 books that are less weighty. If you somehow managed to read every page of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, I would give you credit for 15 books.
A colleague of mine, whose son likes to read, had his parent teacher interview and was told by the teacher that his son should read more fiction. His son likes more factual things–preferring statistical data and instructions to anything else. My colleague wondered, would the teacher ask a student who only read fiction to read some non-fiction? It seems everyone has a bias.
I hope these people who wanted to read 50 books this year have managed to reach their goal. However, I hope that what they really got out of this was a love of reading and not a love of counting books. If they did or did not reach their goal, if they read anything, I think they are a winner.
I managed to read 50 books this year, and might make 52 or 53. I don’t post this to brag, because I could have read more or less depending on how I chose my books. This year, I chose some harder books (Booker prize winners–perhaps chosen because they were difficult slogs) and some non-fiction books which required closer scrutiny while reading. I enjoyed the variety of books I read this year, and hope I can keep it up, regardless of the number of books I finish.
I thought about trying to read all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels, or all the Governor General Awarded books, or all the Giller Prize winners (I am Canadian, after all). If I were to do this, I wouldn’t put a time limit on it, but rather an unspecified hope for the future.
As for this week…. I got a couple of books of Darwin Award Winners out of the library. I always thought that this was an internet only phenomenon, but indeed they have published books on these less than stellar representatives of humanity. I figure reading about them should make for a few humorous moments while I am on the bus heading to work.