Last week, as I was basking in glory, having read all the Booker Prize winners through 2009, a few commenters asked about my next project. Well, I’m about to do something different and daring:
I’m going stop hyper-planning my reading.
When I began blogging in 2007, I quickly jumped on the reading challenge bandwagon. There were so many to choose from! Some, like the Notable Books Challenge, pointed me towards books I might not have found on my own. Others, like the Spring Reading Thing or Nonfiction 5 Challenge, helped me work through my TBR pile. I finished 9 challenges that year, and had a lot of fun. And I continued signing up for challenges, albeit fewer each year. I’ve also been moving away from timed challenges, preferring participation in long-term projects and reading events.
I also set reading goals each year — like reading 12 Virago Modern Classics, or a certain number of books from my stacks. Managing yearly goals, long-term projects, and challenges requires some planning, so I created a spreadsheet that I’m actually rather fond of. This reading plan also allows me to analyze my reading, and compile yearly stats.
But suddenly, all these goals and commitments feel too confining. I’d like to read more of the books piling up on my shelves, regardless of whether they satisfy a challenge or goal. I’d like to take part in a group read or blogging event on the spur of the moment and not feel guilty about other, competing reading goals. I’d like to go on a “reading jag” focused on one author or genre. I’d like to read what I most want to read at that very moment.
Simply put, I want to read like “normal people” do.
So my next project is really an “un-project.” I’m going to go easy on the planning. I’ll continue reading Booker Prize nominees, and encouraging others to do so on The Complete Booker. But in 2011 I will not set quantitative reading goals, and I will not join challenges. My handy-dandy spreadsheet will be a reading record, not a reading plan. That’s a subtle change; I’m aiming for a historic view of my reading, not a list of books I intend to read. I’ll still participate in reading events, including Orange January/July and The Classics Circuit … and hopefully even more.
This may seem like a flash of the bleedin’ obvious to many of you. But I’m a highly structured and analytical soul. This un-project may actually be quite a challenge!
Wish me luck!