2013 Goodreads Challenge.

Instead of doing a ‘here are my plans for 2013’ kind of post, I thought I’d write a handful of posts about individual things I’d like to do with my year. Today’s subject is my reading goal. Last year, I set myself a Goodreads Challenge to read 52 books in 2012.  I have utterly no idea what possessed me to think I could read a novel a week, given my other commitments, but I like to think it was with a sense of optimism, rather than sheer idiocy.

Anyway, to cut a long story short – which is probably a good thing, given the subject at hand – I failed in my attempts. I read 46 books, and about ten of those were children’s books as I reached December in a self-induced panic and decided that was the only way I’d get close to my goal. I read excellent children’s books, mind you. ‘Moominvalley in November’ is a thing of beauty that would be wasted on many children. Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’ is so good it’s a ‘read-in-one-sitting’ kind of book. And whilst I didn’t really love the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ books that I read, I guarantee that they’d be loved by many people. So, it wasn’t time wasted.

What I came to realise about the whole exercise, as I wrote in my review of the year, was that although its important for me to set challenging goals, as far as reading fiction is concerned, I’m more interested in quality over quantity. And with that, I’ve decided that this year’s Goodreads Challenge will be 26 books. A figure I arrived at by the deep and meaningful thought process of cutting last year’s goal in half…

Alongside this has been a giant book cull. I’ve gone beyond clearing out the books that I don’t like and have now plucked up the courage to clear out books that I know, in my heart of hearts, I will never read. Even if I’ve bought them new and they’ve been sitting in my house for years, patiently waiting to be picked up. I’ve got rid of my copy of classics too, kept forever in a misguided belief that I should keep a copy of Hardy, or of Dickens. After all, I do not want to live in a world in which I could not buy a new copy –  or borrow from the library – if I so desired. And, in many cases, I know that I won’t.  I don’t actually like Thomas Hardy and so it’s highly improbable that I will want to read his work again. Even accepting that has been something of a relief.

Clearing out my house of unread and disliked books has brought a sense of freedom to my reading. No longer will I be taunted by dusty piles of unread fiction, or suffer from feelings of guilt over them. I read a wonderful article by Lesley Garner about how clearing your house of unfinished projects, unrealised ambitions and dreams gives you room and freedom to create new ones. This is how I feel about having cleared out all my books. As though I can start afresh with books I really want to read instead of feeling as though I should read them because they’re already in the house.

My new rules are thus: I will read one ‘big’ novel a month and one easier read. I will only buy one book at a time, and read it completely before buying the next. If I choose to keep that book, then I will operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy to prevent the claustrophobic feeling created from by having too many possessions crushed into my tiny house. And, I realise that 26 books is a little more than two a month, but I am optimistic. Or idiotic. I’ll leave that for you to decide…

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4 Comments to “2013 Goodreads Challenge.”

  1. Hi So pleased to hear someone else has been throwing out books! While some books don’t get read but get a place as part of a reference system even tho they’re not encyclopedias etc some books just don’t merit a place at all. I agree about Hardy too. Of it’s time and hysterically overwritten, although I did keep the short stories.

  2. Two bags of paperbacks went to the charity shop earlier this week, I’m getting more ruthless! I know what you mean about the ‘classics’, feels like they should be there on the shelf but often I feel like they’re just sitting there reproaching me (even the ones I’ve already read!). Plus now I have a kindle, I feel that the classics are out there (often free) if I ever do have the inclination to read them.

  3. I’ve finally cleared out some books after my mother pointed out that the storage facility I was planning on renting would cost me more than replacing the books I was going to put in it. I always felt, deep down, that people who got rid of books were sort of umm bad – like they didn’t value them as much as I did – but now I’ve seen the error of my ways. Any book that I’m not going to re-read and isn’t good enough to lend to a friend is going to the PDSA!

    • I know just how you feel about getting rid of books feeling ‘bad’ – that’s exactly how I’ve always felt too. I was brought up to equate books and reading as being the best thing in the world and so it’s always felt like a bad thing to get rid of them, but now I see that it’s not. Better to give them away where they will be appreciated and make room in your own life for new books that you will love! Plus, the added bonus will be the benefit to a great charity 🙂

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