Then I discovered that it has the facility to allow you to set yourself a challenge to read a certain number of books a year. I've never, ever, considered how many books I read in a year. I know only that some years I read a lot, and other years I read bugger all. But I'm trying to take myself in hand and live with a bit more purpose. It's all very well being spontaneous. Lovely, in fact, when one is young and has all the time in the world. However it gets less lovely when one reaches my age and finds the most spontaneous thing one manages, on a regular basis, is to have an extra biscuit with a cup of tea. So I set my challenge to read a hundred books this year. If I – spontaneously – read more, all well and good.
Last Wednesday I, rather spontaneously, decided to try and read a book a day for a week. I'd read of the death of George Whitman, owner of the luscious Shakespeare and Company in Paris, and remembered the story about how he takes in aspiring writers who need a place to stay. They can live in the shop, sleeping on makeshift beds amongst the books, as long as they read a book a day. When I first read about that I thought it impossible. I couldn't imagine being able to do anything else if I was to try and read a whole book every single day. But on Wednesday I wondered if it was more a skill that with practise one could hone. Why not give it a go? I thought. So I did. I only sort of managed it.
On Wednesday I read
without too much trouble, though having not begun until 10 o'clock I didn't finish it till about 4 o'clock on Thursday morning.
On Thursday I intended to read
arrived in the post. I didn't actually order if for myself, it's a gift, but I read it anyway. In about ten minutes. I began Pure at my usual time of much too bloody late, and when at about half past four on Friday morning I was still only half way through I convinced myself that having read the Michael Rosen I had done my reading duty for that day and went to bed.
On Friday we went to a concert, and I did mean to come home early and finish the Miller. But that didn't happen. I got back at about 2am and, although I did pick up my Kindle, switch it on, and stare at the words, I couldn't focus. So I went to bed. This meant on Saturday I was under a bit of pressure, not to mention tired and faintly hungover (the concert had ended in the pub). But by dedicating the entire day to reading (I didn't even get dressed) I did finish Pure and immediately begin
which I didn't finish that night.
On Sunday I had to rethink: I hadn't read a book a day but could I save myself from utter failure? I finished the Joan and picked up
which I did finish before going to bed. Hurrah! On Monday I read
|Couldn't find a good sized picture of this one.|
which was lovely. And, finally, on Tuesday I read
which was quite a lesson.
So I didn't manage to read a book a day – so much for spontaneity! – but did read seven books in a week. Whether that means I failed is, I suppose, a matter of perspective.
Did I enjoy this week of wallowing in literature? Yes, but I don't think I'll do it again. When I read I often stop and stare into space for a while, and it's not for some time after reading a book that I begin to know what it was all about. Reading one book after another robbed me of the space to process those books. The time to stop and let the images come alive. I could tell you, sketchily, what they were about but not much more. It was more like racing than reading, more about the challenge than the books, and I'll probably have to read them all again if I want to really know them. From now on I'll try for two books a week.
Because I'd already read three books this year I'm now ahead of schedule with regard my target, which is slightly worrying. There is nothing more likely to scupper target reaching than complacency, and nothing more likely to instill complacency than being ahead. Whenever I feel I can do something I relax, often to such a degree that I fail to accomplish it. So we'll see. I have a book a friend lent me that I haven't got round to reading yet, the pressure to return it to her is building up, so I'll start that tonight.
Goodreads, then, I like it so far and recommend it to those of you who, like me, could do with a bit of bookish organization.