Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wordly Wallow

Early last week I stumbled upon Goodreads, a website dedicated to reading. I suppose it's a bit like Facebook in that it's a bit social, a bit networky, only its purpose is more particular. I haven't fully explored it yet, and I probably never will, but I've joined and begun the ride. It appealed to me because I can never remember what I've read and, thus, have a tendency to buy the same books twice, or even three times. I'll start reading and think: "this seems familiar." And Goodreads allows you to see, once you've input them, all the books you have read, and all the ones you want to read. I could, in theory, do that anyway by a) looking at my shelves or kindle, and b) writing out a list, but lists get misplaced and, well, it takes more than a glance at my shelves to show me what I've read. So I joined Goodreads for no other reason than to keep track of my reading.

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.


Monica said...

yay, glad you joined. did you look me up? can't remember. my GR link is on my sidebar anyways.

i use the challenges more like a fun game. or like a vague hope lol

i'm totally with you on the space for processing. i often start a book immediately after finishing another, when i know i have lots of reading time, but dislike thinking back and not being able to make out a book clearly.

savannah said...

mr moose and i both signed up with GR, but i forgot about it because, as you know, i make stacks of books which i am now committed to read...so, with that long preamble: good reading, sugar! i'll have to come back to your titles later because i can't add any more books until april! xoxoxox

grrl + dog said...

Maybe it's like sitting down to a fabulous three course meal and scoffing it down in less than a minute.


Staring off into space is mandatory for a good book. No, it's not a race.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sad to admit it but I had to bail out on Goodreads. It was too much pressure! I know it's all my fault. I can't borrow book from people for pretty much the same reason. I feel pressured into reading and returning them within hours. Tragic, innit?

Carole said...

Very impressive. I can see reading 7 books a week, if those weeks are all on vacation, but to do so during regular life...my hat is off to you.

Eryl said...

Monica ~ will come over and take the link to you on GR. In truth I couldn't remember whose blog it was that led me to it. In fact, I didn't even remember it was a blog, though I assumed it must have been.

Savannah ~ making stacks sounds like a much more aesthetic way of doing what GR does.

Denise ~ that is the perfect analogy! I will never read race again, I think I like the staring into space bit just as much as I like the reading.

UB ~ I know exactly what you mean, and I rarely borrow books for that very reason. There's also the fear that the person who lent the book will ask me what I thought of it, a perfectly reasonable question, but I never know how to answer it.

Carole ~ my regular life definitely suffered!

Pat said...

I must be getting old because I find the whole idea absolutely and totally bonkers.
I'm also feckless and read nowadays purely for pleasure.

'Poor old thing!' I hear you murmur.

alphawoman said...

I recently discovered this site too! And I am having fun with it.

Whirlochre said...

If I manage a book a year I consider myself lucky - though it was only in 2010 I worked out what a big difference it made not saving the cover illustration till the end.

nick said...

I've never read a book in a day. I'm a very slow reader who's lucky to finish a book in a fortnight. And like you, I need to properly mentally and emotionally digest the book before I move on to the next one.

I also sometimes have that nasty feeling I'm buying a book I've already read, but so far it's only a feeling and not a reality. I suppose some books just have such similarities with other ones (the sort of plot, the sort of characters) that it seems like I've read them before....

Kass said...

I'm a Goodreads member too, but I haven't been on it for over a year. My book reading has really taken a back seat to online reading and house renovation.

I loved seeing what you are reading. The artwork of the covers was amazing.

Good for you!

Eryl said...

Pat ~ it is bonkers, you're right. I won't be doing it again!

Alphawoman ~ glad to hear that.

Whirl ~ too busy writing them, I hope.

Nick ~ perhaps it's time for you to go beyond your preferred genre/style.

Kass ~ you'll get back to books in good time, I'm sure.
Cover art seems to be having a renaissance at the moment.