Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 Reading Goals Recapped

A Girl Reading by Alexei Harlamoff

Thanks to Deb's 2006 Reading List post last January, I kept track of my reading habits this year and also set some goals for myself. Here's my original post. I did updates throughout the first half of the year but sort of fizzled out on them since the end of summer. Here were my original goals - let's see how I did with them.

1. I'd like to read more books this year then last. - I did read more books.

I don't know exactly how many more as I didn't keep track of my 2006 book reading very well, but I'm guessing I read somewhere between 20-30% more books in 2007.

2. I'd like to read at least a book a week. (I'd actually like to read more then one book a week but I'm being realistic and aiming for at least one book a week) - I read exactly a book a week.

I started out the year averaging a book and a half or even two books a week, but summer travel and autumn company really slowed me back down and ate up my head start. Still, I did meet this goal. In fact, I finished the year with three books half finished.

I'm not naturally a speed reader and I have no interest in becoming one. The whole point of reading is to enjoy either the words themselves or the worlds they create. I'm not out to make reading another task. Still, setting this goal helped me learn a lot about pacing and how to "squeeze in" a little bit of extra reading. One thing that helped is to have at least two books going at one time, sometimes three books. When William was younger we read together a lot. So I always had one book going with him and another one I read for myself before bedtime. I stopped reading a second book after William started reading independently and didn't wish to read together anymore. (which was sad - sigh) But this year, more aware of my reading time, I began keeping a book in my purse, another one on the end table where I sit with family or to watch t.v., and a third on my nightstand so that I could take advantage of all those chopped up bits and pieces of time (commercials, taking William to run an errand, while waiting to pick William up or waiting for a friend) that would other wise be wasted.

I'd like to point out that I didn't fall into the habit of picking books with an eye towards speed. If I'd just wanted to work on quantity and not consider quality, I easily could have read at least a dozen more books this year, maybe even more. There's lots of fluff out there and lots of it fun to read. The only time I made a deliberate choice to read something lighter was during times I knew I'd be distracted to get much reading in - like when I was on the road or when I had a house full of visitors. Or if I was anticipating a new book's arrival from an Amazon or inter-library loan order and I needed something that wouldn't take more than a handful of days to finish beforehand.

3. I'd like to keep a more complete record of the books I read and when I read them. - Did it. I don't think I missed recording a single book this year. I wrote the date I started each book, the title and author, and the date I finished it. A few months back I also started keeping track of my books on Shelfari. (If you want to add me as a friend, my name there is "Elphaba"). Some people I know also keep track of how much they liked a book - giving it a "grade", or add notes about the book to reference or share with others. I didn't think this was necessary as if a book was interesting enough for me to read, it's hopefully interesting enough for me to remember the general plot and my reactions to it. The only thing I didn't keep track of was all the bits and pieces of newspapers, magazines, books I just browsed or read sections of, and of course the many hours I spent reading online blogs, lists, and websites.

4. I'd like to read more variety this year, specifically: more classics, more children's literature, more bestsellers, and more nonfiction. ( As a child I read about equal amounts of fiction and nonfiction. For most of my adult life I read mostly nonfiction. And for most of the last ten years I've read almost exclusively fiction.) - Accomplished all of the above. I started reading nonfiction again after mostly setting it aside the last handful of years. I read some more classics I hadn't gotten around to yet, more young adult books (well, I never really stopped reading these so it's more accurate to say I continued to read them), and more bestsellers. I did more rereading, something I only recently discovered the pleasure of doing. Conversely, I also limited my popular series reading this year. For a few years now I've been discovering so many new authors that I was jumping back and forth between dozens of favorite series, never quite finishing any of them. This year I worked my way more methodically through just a few and found it easier to keep track of past information that each new book in the series built upon. I didn't try to read more than one or maybe two books of a series in a row though, because if I do that I tend to get distracted by the little quirks in a writer's style that aren't noticable or bothersome in smaller doses.

5. I'd like to make a list of books that have come across my radar screen in the last year or so, made me think "I'd like to read that", but for one reason or another I never managed to get around to reading. I want to alternate random selections from my bookshelves with working my way through this list of books. - Although I only made a minimal list of books to choose from, I did manage to read most of the books on it as well as more that fit in the same category as I thought of them as the year went on, so I met this goal as well.

Well, golly, will you look at that - I met ALL my goals. Yah me!

So now, the question arises - what sort of goals do I set myself for 2008? Do I just reset my list to zero and work on the same goals again? They are all still useful and interesting goals. Or do I set my sights higher for 2008, make my goals more challenging?

I've decided I'll stick with a similar list for the coming year. All my goals were meant to improve my quality of reading and following a similar selection and reading pattern will continue to do so. If I can think of any new goals in the next month or two, I'll add them to my list. If I'm going to add goals/resolutions in 2008, there are many other aspects of my life (diet, relationships, writing goals, home improvement... just to name a few) that could use the tweaking or added effort more than my reading habits do.

The only change I'd like to make now is to increase the number of books I aim to read. Since I met my "book a week" goal and I'd really hoped to blow past it, I'll set the bar a bit higher. Let's say...... 60 books. Five books a month. That's a stretch, but not so much of one that it will be more stress than fun. Because, it's supposed to be for fun.

So, you're saying, get to it - which books did you read!? Stay tuned.....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent job on your reading in 2007. I can tell you'll do even better in 2008. If you're not familiar with Laura Preble author of "Queen Geeks in Love" you might want to check her books out. Seems like this author might interest you.

10:51 PM  

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