Considering the impact my second job had on my writing life for the latter half of 2019, it should be a surprise to absolutely no one that there was also a ripple effect on my reading goals for the year.
No Virginia, I did not read 75 books in 2019. Nor did I finish any of my three reading challenge lists.
(I suppose it would have been more appropriate to include a photo symbolizing “falling short” in some way, rather than an image of over-shooting. But when I searched for “missing the mark” this made me giggle out loud, so there.)
My end-of-year book total turned out to be 57, which ain’t bad, really. Especially since at least 5 of these titles were veritable tomes—the Alain Locke bio, Wolf Hall, Luminaries, 11/22/63, and Cloud Atlas. (There’s possibly another one or two from last year’s list that clocks in above 500 pages*, but I’m too lazy to go back and double check every possible contender.)
And there’s all kinds of good reasons that my reading totals shrank. Between the usual intensity of my NPO job, plus the fun and intensity of my side gig, plus breaking my “vow” to stay away from theater to do a fall show, plus medical silliness like breaking my elbow near the end of the year**….
Suffice to say: it’s an understandable phenomenon.
And yet, I will own that I was weirdly disappointed in myself as December ticked away and it came clear to me exactly how much I’d be falling short. Even with an absolutely arbitrary, absolutely meaningless goal, I am so prone to fall into those neurological grooves of self-criticism and self-judgement.
I’ve mostly gotten over that disappointment. Mostly.
For one thing, I’m really hesitating at the thought of reprinting my different challenge lists in their entirety to show exactly what I did and didn’t manage to read in 2019. (If nothing else, I suppose it’d be one way to artificially inflate 2020’s post count.)
But there’s something holding me back on dishing those details. A sense that it’s not worth the time and effort of cataloging my failures in such exquisite detail.
So, in case I don’t go that whole extra step, let me sketch out some overall trends:
- Around the Year: Read 41 of 52 categories
- PopSugar: Read 33 of 50 categories
- Book Riot: Read 16 of 24 categories
And the other sign that I’m not 100% at peace around this all is the fact that I’m still chipping away at those 2019 reading lists. I was smart enough not to commit myself to these same reading challenges for 2020—I have some other targets instead***. But instead of letting this year be a blank slate and just working towards those new targets, I’m still placing library holds on the books I didn’t get to for Around the Year.
Which means, of course, that I’m a bit behind on one of my 2020 reading targets already.
What am I thinking?
* My casual definition for “tome-ness.”
** And, that, Virginia, is a story for another day.
*** Also a story for another day.