As 2012 comes to a close, you’re likely one of the many bibliophiles who didn’t quite manage to achieve that book goal you set for yourself at the start of last year. The time got away from you and, before you knew it, you were only a modest 30 books deep as December rolled around. But before you begin drawing your battle lines for this coming year, complete with a failproof pre-planned list of books or even a weekly page goal, I demand that you read Read You Bastard‘s article on the subject: Am I Above Book Challenges?
In short, RYB makes a compelling case for why book challenges or reading resolutions are just going to make you hate your hobby. You’re effectively making work of your leisure time, which defeats the purpose and makes you feel like a failure if you don’t properly utilize your hobby time to reach a goal that only you will ever truly care about.
My biggest issue with the reading resolution, however, is that it encourages you to read easy books or short books. Anyone with a 100-book challenge for the year is hardly going to try to slog through Moby-Dick. Prior to the 20th Century, books were one of the main forms of entertainment. You could kick back with a book for hours and have time to pore over the intricacies and layers. That’s not to say that people only read amazing books back in the day — there was, and has always been, plenty of garbage. But the main point is that if you’re setting a book goal, you’re probably going to read more garbage than you will quality as it’s far, far easier to leaf through a Chuck Palahniuk book than it is to tackle a Russian novel — but the latter is more likely to be much more rewarding.
If you really want to set a reading resolution for this year, make it a time one. Everyone can carve out at least half an hour to read in the day, whether it be during a commute or right before bed. Otherwise, I’ll see you next year.