10 in 2010: Reading 52 books!

room filled with books

As I close out my goal-setting for the coming 12 or so months*, I thought I’d post a few of the more universally-relevant (i.e., non-private) ones to the blog for the hell of it.

The first one is the easiest (and thus far, most enjoyable): READ 52 BOOKS.

As I noted in an earlier post about goal-setting in general, I lifted the idea (with permission! and encouragement, even!) from Julien Smith, co-author (with Chris Brogan) of the wonderfully-written Trust Agents, the book I most often recommend to people looking to wrap their brains around the whole social media thing. Julien has written several times about his attempts to read more in general, and to read a book a week, specifically. In 2009, he figured out a key secret, read 40pp per day, and broke through to complete his goal for the first time.

Five weeks and change into 2010, I’m pleased to report that it’s working out quite well. I’m 12 books into the goal, with another well underway. I wanted to front-load as much as I could, as I had the time now, you know, bank a few books, but really, the “52” is just a metric: my goal is to READ MORE BOOKS and READ BOOKS MORE OFTEN. So really, I’m hoping to read many, many more books than those 52; I’m just honoring my theme for 2010 (“MORE ROOM”) by doing a little front-loading. It’s not like I’m gonna stop once I hit that 52nd book.

I went back and forth on whether or not I should share my list of books read. Not that there are any especially compromising choices: mostly, it was about maintaining a level of privacy for myself and a measure of respect for authors in general. As you’ll see from the running list I decided to make public, there are several books I’ve chosen not to review, and I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about this. My decision to review is based on a whole slew of factors that have nothing to do with merit, among them available time, alignment with my personal goals for this site and my “brand” (such as it is), and perceived value to the people who read here regularly.

For the same reason, I’ve decided not to keep a running list of books I’m currently reading or that are under consideration. I’d love to read everything that catches my eye, and to finish everything I pick up, but one is impossible and the other, I’ve finally decided, is folly. Every book is not for me just like every person or food or sport is for me. (Actually, almost no sports are for me, but that’s another story for another day.) And even though we’re all grownups, I know I’d probably be hurt if, pardon me, when I write my first book and learn of that first friend or acquaintance or utter stranger didn’t finish it. Ouch. But there it is. So this is my sad little fix for it.

Finally, some books require more integration and/or implementation before I can speak to their utility in a way that’s illuminating.** For example, I could review Nonviolent Communication favorably right now in terms of the value and insight I got from a first reading of it, but that first reading made it abundantly clear that the real value of a book like that is the reward from implementing the system outlined within, and I can hardly do that until I’ve done that. It’s also why I’m very comfortable reviewing really old (but useful!) books like Simple Abundance, Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life or The Little Book of Moods. (Look for other utterly non-newsworthy reviews on The Artist’s Way and Your Best Year Yet in this space!)

That said, I do welcome any suggestions based on favorites I’ve already enjoyed. If you look at the list of books I’ve reviewed, period, you should get a pretty good idea: there’s not a one under 3-stars, and 95% are 4-star and up. So feel free to be my human algorithm!

Just don’t berate me if I don’t choose, or choose to finish, your suggestion…

xxx
c

*I’d intended a January 1 start date, like most of the rest of the goal-setting world. This got pushed to February 1, then Groundhog Day (the 2nd), and now we’re looking at February 15th as a final-final start date. But a few goals are underway, and the “Read 52 Books” launched on January 1st, because I was hot-to-trot for it.

**This is not to say that timely reviews of all kinds of “how-to” books can’t be immensely valuable, just that I’m not the person to write them. I’m very grateful for those early adopters with mad skills in a particular area and writing skills to match who get in there and do the important work of early reviewing.

Image by Photos8 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

5 comments

  1. Here are three of my all-time favourite books, all novels:

    The Girls. By Lori Lansens, 2005. Amazing story about conjoined twins. Terrific characters and unforgettable writing.

    Instances of the Number 3. By Salley Vickers, 2001. Best opening line ever: “After Peter Handome died, people were surprised that his widow seemed to spending so much time with his mistress.” The rest of the book is great, too.

    Intuition. By Allegra Goodman, 2006. An unusual combination of genres – the scientific thriller. Well written and surprisingly subtle.

    I’m a big reader (mostly literary fiction, bio and non-fiction) and applaud your goal!

  2. I’m not sure if you’re very interested in fiction, but some of my all-time favorites are:

    Portraits in Sepia by Isabel Allende (absolutely wonderful writing, amazingly interesting characters and family stories)

    Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (what can I say, I love magical realism)

    Also, two books on writing that you’ve probably read, but if you haven’t you might really like:

    Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (she is absolutely hilarious)

    Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (just a wonderful book about writing)

    On a last and very far-fetched note, I am absolutely in love with any book of poetry by Mary Oliver. Pick up any one and you will be astounded.

  3. 52 books a year, I make that resolution almost every year. This year I was smart enough to not even bother.

    But I’ve glanced over your list. Based on what I see, I think “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (P.S.) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ” would be a good read for you (if you haven’t read it already). It was for me. It’s got some aspects of “zen mind” to it. He has a TED talk online if you are not sold. Let me know what you think.

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