Well, I am, officially, already behind schedule for my 2019 reading challenges. You may recall that the goal for my main challenge was to check off one category each week. You may also be advanced enough in your math skills to understand that if my overall goal is to read 75 books in the year (applying 67 of them to different challenge categories), then I need to be reading at a pace that is more than one book per week.
And yet here I am continuing my long march through book #1.
It’s not that I’m disengaged with this book or anything. There’s a reason I’ve chosen the neutral phrase “long march” rather than something more negative like “slog” or “struggle.”
It’s just a simple reality check: when your first book of the year is a 932-page academic biography, it’s gonna be one of the longer reads of the year. If I didn’t have Ulysses waiting for me up ahead, I’d probably take the liberty of saying I was starting right off with the year’s most ambitious title.
But this is going to be the year I finally conquer Ulysses. So: starting off with the year’s second most ambitious book?
Most, second-most, third-most ambitious, regardless: it’s a steep first step on this reading staircase. The pages are many, the text is small, and the content is dense.*
All of that considered, I actually have good reason to be pleased with my progress so far. As of bedtime last night, I was on page 670, which is damn good progress for a week. (If I were reading a more regular-length book, I would already be finished by now. Possibly twice.) And looking ahead at the rest of the month’s choices, I have a high degree of confidence that I’ll be back on track by the end of January.
You see? Two regular-length books–both memoirs, which can sometimes go fast. And then look how cute and tiny book #4 is!!!
I should be back on track soon. And, even if I never get back on track, this isn’t the kind of goal-setting on which the fate of the world depends.
And yet. Enough of my self-concept is wrapped up in the idea of being a “fast reader” that I could feel a pull towards anxiety and guilt around reaching the end of Week 1 without having a category I could check off.** Hence this whole song & dance of self-justification.
If I’m still feeling a bit of agita tomorrow evening, I might even start interspersing bits of book #2 with the final stack of pages in this Harlem Renaissance bio. Whatever it takes to sustain motivation.
Or maybe I’ll just get over myself and these bullshit comparisons and enjoy my damn Harlem Renaissance biography.
* And, yes, Virginia: this is the kind of thing I read for fun. #NerdCore
** Especially once you look at the Goodreads groups for these challenges and see all the successful category-finishers. (Comparison will be the death of me.)
Image credit: Photo taken by the author, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.