Reading Challenge is a Challenge

So, I got all cocky and decided to read 100 books this year. It all started with my joining goodreads.com and seeing their book challenge. Without thinking about anything (how many books per week, blah, blah, blah), I decided 100 was a nice, round number. I am a fast reader, yes, so I really don’t have any fear that I won’t complete my goal. In fact, as of today, I have put 43 books in on the “read” shelf. The real problem: I am so consumed with finishing my books, I have not been savoring and enjoying them the way I should.

My interests are pretty diverse – from general fiction to biographies to travel to humor to good ol’ fashioned literature (Team Austen). Great Expectations is one of my favorites and I love David Sedaris. I have a weakness for Chick Lit, especially Melissa Nathan, whom I miss dearly. Mystery books are great, like Jasper Fforde’s super clever Thursday Next series. What gets my heart going, though, has to be fantasy of the junior/young adult variety, particularly Harry Potter, Twilight, anything by Cassandra Clare. When still a kid, I read (and still love) The Chronicles of Narnia, Madeleine L’Engle, E.L. Konigsburg. I read everything witchy I could get my hands on. Plus, I was a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Part of the problem is that I am one of those people who has to finish a book. To me, starting a book is a commitment. Everyone knows that sometimes it takes a couple/few/bunch of chapters to get into a story. I want to give the books a chance to grab me and pull me in, so I do. This gambit doesn’t always pay off, but most of the time I am at least not unhappy that I spent the time immersed in someone’s work. However, due to this fast-reading trajectory on which I find myself, I will admit to losing patience with some stories. I now have a shelf on my goodreads page called ABANDONED. Today, only one book sits in it, and believe me, it was not a decision I made lightly.

While I will still work to complete my goal (commitment again!), I am making a promise to myself to slow down, spend some time thinking about what I read, what I enjoyed about the book and reliving the good parts before I immediately put the book down and pick up the next one. Unless it’s a series, and in that case, all bets are off.

Upon finishing a really good book, I feel simultaneously elated and dismayed. To paraphrase what someone (Emerson?) said: it’s the journey, right? And maybe, on that journey, I will invent the BookRemover to extract selective stories from my head so I can read them again for the first time.

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