Monday, July 03, 2006

Halfway Day

Yesterday was Halfway Day, the 182nd day of the year. I know a number of people have reading goals--read certain books or a particular number of books or both for the year. I'm one of the both kind of people. I always aim to read at least 52 books a year. Thus far I have completed 26. Right on target. I always want to read more than that and try to read more than that--last year the final number was 55--but I have only once managed to make it to 60. Those of you who achieve 60-100+ a year on a regular basis astound me. How do you do it? Where do you carve out the extra time? Do you sleep? Maybe you read really really fast? Or I read slow. I know I read slow. I do not, I cannot skim. Or skip the slow parts. I have to read every "the" and "and." I do know how to skim and will skim news or magazine articles, but I can't skim books. I am afraid I will miss something. There is no reason for me to worry about missing anything, no one is going to give me a bad grade or send me to stand in the corner. But since I am not afraid of snakes or spiders I have to have an irrational fear about something and there it is (oh and my fear of elevators but I won't go into that) (oh and my fear of bridges which has nothing to do with the Three Billy Goats Gruff). In addition to my standing goal of 52 books a year I try to read a few particular books. This year I decided to read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and I am. And I am enjoying it. A pleasant surprise since I expected it to be all work. I also put in my plan to read The Iliad and Madame Bovary neither of which has happened but I still have 182 days left. Make that 181 days. Plenty of time! A related reading goal was to shrink my TBR shelf. I have failed at this utterly and completely. My 5-foot long TBR shelf is so crammed and overloaded I have begun to pile books on the floor. I don't think 181 days is enough time to make much of a dent in this. My TBR shelf is like one of the many myths in which the jug of wine or the purse of gold coins continually refills itself; a sisyphean task I should just give up on and cease fretting over. Embrace double shelving and tumbling piles! Stop worrying about all the books I haven't read and take pleasure in the thought that I will never be at a loss for something to read. Nothing like a little justification to sooth the guilty soul.