I don't know if you know this or not - but apparently, just buying a book and putting it on your shelf (real or virtual) isn't the same as actually reading it.
"What?!? No!" you're saying.
Trust me - I feel your incredulity. Even though I have tried quite assiduously over the last few years to pare down my book collection, I still have at least 1 or 2 shelves of "to read". And these are not the "to read" flights of fantasy like when I purchased several books about Past Life Regression because of a short-lived obsession (ok, maybe my vintage cocktail books fall into that category - but they are REFERENCE books, I tell you.) My "to read" shelves contain a variety of fiction (25%) and non-fiction (75%) across several topics, all of which continue to hold quite a bit of interest for me.
I even try to curb my book buying using a "1-in, 1-out" principle. The holidays, of course, put a real damper on that plan (and I will NEVER discourage books as a gift). And lovely publishers who send me review copies (thank you, Dan!!).
Ebook purchasing makes this principle (rule? well, more of a guideline really) even more difficult to follow: In bed, bored with my current book … hmm, I wonder if they have this one I just read about on Goodreads. They do? Fantastic. Click. Downloading. (I really try not to do this too often. Inevitably when I do it is the most expensive ebook. Ebook prices continue to infuriate me. And the lack of share-ability or re-gift-ability.)
In an attempt to actually read more and not just have books that I stare at wistfully, I've really pushed myself with my 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge. 35 books this year. That doesn't seem like a lot to some people. If I look at my friends on Goodreads who have set a reading challenge, I see 24 books, 36, 100, 30, 100, 12, 25, 42, 75, 35 and 75. Alright - people who have put down 75 - 100 - they are just showboating. People who put 36 are taunting me. And the person who put 42 .. well that's my 2014 goal :) I've done a Goodreads challenge for the last 2 years (26 and 30 books, respectively). I actually read 31 books in each of the last 2 years - so exceeded the challenge (yay). I do like having the goal set and tracked by Goodreads' tool - like any goal, it's helpful to see progress.
Serendipitously, when thinking about how to improve my reading quantity, I came across this post on Lifehacker.com - "Can I Learn to Read Faster and Get Through My Backlog of Books"? I really can't do the audiobook thing. I actually use audiobooks to fall asleep (it's like being a kid again and having someone read to you to get you to fall asleep; this habit is particularly unfortunate on roadtrips) so that tip wouldn't help me. I did find a bit of encouragement from Jeff Ryan's "366 Days, 366 Books" piece on Slate. He talks about reading several books at once - this is definitely something I do and I actually think it makes the process go a little faster. I don't know if I get behind Ryan's definitely of a book "something printed that cost about $20" … this definition let him consider comics as books. OK, I suppose if I were trying to do a book a DAY, I could support that. But for me .. no. Not that I'm slagging graphic novels - I have one of Pride and Prejudice that I adore and would consider a "book". It's just that I don't think the latest edition of a Spiderman comic counts. Now, for some, my second book of 2013, The Panem Companion, might fall into this category, but I don't think it does.
So, what do I have on tap for reading right now?
Plutocrats - I'm really enjoying this book, but it makes me kind of angry, so I'm not allowed to read it at night. Aside: do any of you have restrictions placed on your bedtime reading? I'm no longer allowed to read any political or economic books at night because they make me a little angry and maybe even a little weepy. This all started with Stealth of Nations which made me want to throw things across the room because people and governments are stupid. But it is a great book.
When America First Met China - I love books about China, Japan and other East Asian cultures and history. This is one of many on my Asian Fascination shelf over at Goodreads.
Everybody's Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination - Yeah, I love reading about Jane Austen. See my Austenmania shelf.
Stormdancer - the sole fiction currently on the go (oh, wait, that's not true. I actually just started Up and Down, but that's about a PR firm and since I work in communications I see it as more "creative non-fiction". This was one of those late night, in bed purchases because I read the first chapter in a free Best Fall Fiction Sampler over at Kobo) Anyhoo .. super excited about this one: Japanese Steampunk is all you need to know.
The stacks of books behind these four is a little daunting. I just got Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise. I'm a little scared of it. Math isn't my favourite. Also David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity. And on the fiction front Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. That one should be lots of fun. My Goodreads' buddy, David, says ..
Cline may not be a great writer and frankly Ready Player One plays out like a screenplay that foreshadows the inevitable movie. Still, that's not to say this isn't a hella fun read.
We're talking competitive bouts of Pac-Man,Tempest and a memorable head-to-head against a Lich King playing Joust. It's walking the marbled halls of the Tyrell Corporation, flying the Serenity with Max Headroom as your personal AI or racing your own DeLorean. Throw in some School House Rocks, Family Ties, Ghostbusters and mix well. It's guilty pleasure in the form of geek lore. I blazed through this in a weekend.
Plus my brother really liked it and one of my D&D buddies from high school (yeah) reco'd it to me. So total geek stamps of approval.
Oh, speaking of reading, I'm thinking about starting a book club. I've been in one book club in my life. It did not go well. But hey, live and learn and get back up on the horse. This time, though, I'm thinking about a virtual book club - maybe using Google Hangouts. I posted about this on Facebook and had a couple of people say they are interested. I'm looking for say .. 8 people. Meet once a quarter? And here's the real question .. same or mixed gender? I would say 99% of the book clubs that friends are in are same gender. Thoughts on this? Interested in participating? Someone asked how we'd pick books. I'm strangely drawn to this Reading Bingo Challenge that was posted over on Random House Canada's blog. Gimmicky? Maybe. But I like that.
Any thoughts or strategies for your 2013 reading life are appreciated. And let me know if you're interested in the virtual book club.