Last year I decided to read 100 books in a calendar year. I like to read – a lot – so I figured that I’d have no problems completing the goal I’d set for myself. I did finish. Early, in fact. But along the way I developed a dread of reading. I couldn’t fully enjoy any of the books I read because I kept thinking, What number is this? What number should I be on? And as soon as I finished one book I’d have to start another.
So after I finished reading book 100, which was something like the fifth or sixth book I’d read that week and the third one I’d read in a 36-hour period, I didn’t look at another book for two weeks. I casually read magazines and online articles but I didn’t want to think about opening a book.
So here comes 2009 and everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do this year, as though I’ve been coming up with weird book-related goals for longer than just one year. What I’m going to do is just go back to enjoying books and not worry about how many I’ve read. I’m going to see how many I read in a year without pushing myself. And I’ve started to enjoy reading again, knowing that I can take as long as I want to read a book; I can pore over passages and go back to the beginning as many times as I need to. I can stop reading a book if it’s something that doesn’t interest me. Reading is fun again.
Right now I’m reading Watchmen which Porter recommended to me about three months ago and which I refused to read because it’s a graphic novel and they require so much attention: not only do I have to read the words but I also have to look at the panels to see what’s going on. But oh my god is it worth it. I’m only about half way through but it’s so good that I don’t want to put it down, which is a much different feeling than Oh my god I can’t put this down I need to finish this tonight and get halfway through another book before I go to sleep tonight.
This is the first graphic novel I’ve read and I had my reservations at first, though I couldn’t tell you what they were. I think that it was just hard to take a novel seriously when it was filled with cartoons to show what’s going on. But I’ve found that I love it. A group of masked men who become vigilantes not because they have a superpower like Spider-man or Superman but because they want to fight crime.
It also brings to mind The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is about cousins who write/draw cartoons in the fifties. A book that I’ve already read but want to read again it was so good.
And thus it begins: one book leads me to three others, which lead to me three more. I wonder how close I’ll get to the 100 I read this year.