Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Beginning of a Challenge

We all know how it goes: life gets busy. We don't always have time for all the things we would like to do, much less time to accomplish a task we set for ourselves. Friends are getting married, or having children, or inviting you to parties. The house needs work, there is laundry to do, and a job to look for, and bills to pay. It seems that our lives have gotten so full that we can't keep up with our own interests.

I am interested in books.

A lover of literature from a young age, I have never ceased to be amazed at the amount of really good writing out there. My love extended from youth into young adulthood, where I graduated with a degree in English Literature. And then, something happened. Something that happens to all of us, I think: I stopped reading. Maybe not entirely--I'd read a book here and there. But I mean stopped in the sense that it was no longer a priority. My life took over, and because no academic grade was resting on whether or not I finished that biography of Picasso, I just never finished it. My life was riddled with books left unfinished.

A few years ago, in 2008, finally facing down the fact that I was not nearly as well-read as I would like to be, I vowed to read at least a book a month. I succeeded in reading fifteen books, some of which became a few of my all-time favorites (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath). The next year, I vowed to do the same, but this time to at least read more books than I had the year before. Once again, I succeeded. I read 21 books last year, nearly a book every two weeks. But not quite. And that leads us to the present: it is 2010, and I have a brand new, if daunting, goal: to read a book a week for the entire year.

Now, some of you might say I'm crazy. Certainly, going from twenty-one books to fifty-two is no small feat, and quite a leap, really. Yes. It's true. But thus far, I figure I'm two for two. So why can't I succeed now? All it calls for is a little reorganization of my life. Okay...a lot of reorganization.

Reading a book a week means I have to make time for myself. I have to allot hours of time throughout the week for the singular act of reading. I have to say no to the movie and yes to the book some nights. I have to take it with me wherever I go on the off-chance that there will be down-time while waiting for my smog-check or that doctor's appointment or while at work. I have to plan ahead. And I have to focus, on a daily basis, on this goal. It will not be easy.

My hope is that I learn something--not only through the books I will read, but through the process. Perhaps I will learn innumberable things about myself! I might learn that I hate deadlines...or that I love them. I might learn that making time for myself is the best thing I could do for my love life and my self life. I might learn new viewpoints, learn about new places, learn about new authors and open up new worlds. All is possible. Just the idea of this quest thrills me. I am taking the literacy of America personally. I am reading because I love to read, and I am whole-heartedly standing up and saying "I can do something to change myself, my ideas and, in turn, the world around me."

Perhaps I cannot make that get-together afterall. My excuse? I'm reading.