May 15, 2011

Launch-Year of Reading at Your Mercy

Today, I am thirty-five, and I am going to make this year a big one for reading in my life.

OK. I’ve been a big reader for most of my life in at least two senses. Since my early twenties, I’ve been a plumpish* person, and so it follows, a big reader. In the other sense, I’ve placed a big value on reading for most of my life. Yet lately, I’ve had trouble sticking with books. Many draw me in with their covers or jacket copy, and I have a fuzzy mental list of books I plan to read one day. Yet for some reason, even good books haven’t been keeping me lately. I’ve just been falling in and back out again.

So, I thought, why not let you do the pushing?

This year, I’m going to read what you tell me to read, and I’m going to write about what happens here on this blog. Perhaps I’ll end up falling into a great book that would have been off my beaten path otherwise. Or, maybe I’ll learn what I’d like to avoid when I’m thirty-six.

I will not fear. All the books on that fuzzy mental list I mention above will still be out there next year. All the new books that tempt me will be there too. So I will not allow myself to mourn or even worry much over the books I won’t be able to read (yet) or books I’ve enjoyed starting but haven’t finished. This may be hard, working at a public library as I do, but other people have rocketed to the moon, I hear.

I’ve devised a plan. I’ve made a list.

The (convoluted) plan:

The goal is to read fifteen books chosen by others this year and write about the experience. (I’m slow, OK? I’m not even sure I can meet such a measly goal. But I’m thirty-five now. I will confront.) Aiming for fifteen books should leave room for the five or six books chosen by my book club in the course of the year (or at least for the first twelve pages). And I will be faithful to my book club.

I will pick each of my fifteen reads randomly from books suggested by people I’ve polled. After the pick, I’ll read the book and blog about it. I’ll also share the other titles suggested.

I’ve made a list of fifteen specific groups of people I will ask the above question. When I’m almost ready for another book, I’ll pull a group (randomly) out of a hat or a bag or a magic shoebox that contains all the groups on my list and get busy gathering suggestions. (I’m asking for ONE suggestion from each person in the group.) These groups include a mix of people I don’t know, people I sort of know, people I know well, and people I imagine I’d like to know. This way, I’m not in control. I’m not cheating by asking only those whose reading habits I trust or admire (although those people are in groups on the list as well).

I’ll be on an adventure. I won’t know what’s coming next.

There are guidelines for what I will and won’t read, and I reserve the right to abuse as many cookbooks, craft books, and art books as I desire in tandem with the challenge. I never read those anyway. I just look at the pictures and pretend I’m more capable than I am. I also reserve the right to browse as many de-cluttering and “finding-yourself-help” books as I want. If I lose myself, I can’t go the whole year without finding me. Oh, and I must read books with Eva as well as books that might teach me how to keep from screwing up Eva’s life.

I’m excited. I’m also a little worried no one will care to answer my question.

I’m asking anyway.

Here I go on my Year of Reading at Your Mercy.

*As far as P words for overweight go, I prefer plump to portly.


I’m kinda selfish … I think you should have a group of old friends/also librarians that you might want to consult. ;) Though I suppose some of us might fall into the Facebook group. Alas, just thought I’d throw that out there.

by Amy on May 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm. #

You are in two groups already, aren’t you? Friends from college and Facebook. I suppose I could make a group of people I used to sing with, but I can only read so many books in one year! I’m a slowpoke. I have a lot of librarian friends in several of the groups already. I know you guys will have plenty of ideas!

by wendy on May 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm. #

Ok, good point. I’m satisfied. ;) And very excited for you! Already thinking of books to suggest (if my group gets picked). Good luck!!

by Amy on May 16, 2011 at 11:48 am. #

I doubt I’m in any of your groups, but I would like you to read The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt and The Wedding by Dorothy West.

by Dorothy M. on May 24, 2011 at 6:29 am. #

Actually, you’re in two groups–Facebook and coworkers (current and former) at the library. So, I’ll put your suggestions in the “box” when those groups come up! Thanks.

by wendy on May 24, 2011 at 11:21 am. #

I love this idea, Wendy. My suggestion for you is:

The City & the City by China Mieville.

PS–What do you do if you draw something you’ve already read? Is there some sort of reward (for yourself, I mean)? I think there should be ; ) Happy reading in the new year–


by Alicia Pearson on December 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm. #

Ooh Alicia, I’ve been wanting to try China Mieville for a long time, so I might be secretly pulling for that one! (I almost picked it for the book discussion I’m leading for Jamie’s All Over the Page book club.) As for your question, I actually can’t read a book I’ve already read according to the rules I set myself, but I really like your idea of a reward… :)

by wendy on December 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm. #