Earlier this week, I finished reading my 52nd book for the year. As I confess in the video above, as well as on the goal-tracking page itself, I started several of these books before 2010, some well before, which is one of the reasons I decided to take on this reading thing as a goal. Tired of unfinished business, I was. It’s inevitable when Overly-Busy Syndrome collides with Eyes-Bigger-Than-Stomach Disease; there are too many things you want to read, and always new ones, and never enough time. (Now, when I put down a book unfinished, I do it consciously, this book is not for me, and I’m not going to read any more of it. Next!)
The video is especially blathery considering I am sharing the world’s simplest how-to. I seem to be constitutionally incapable of creating an improvised video shorter than 2 minutes. On the other hand, I’m so damned excited about finishing 52 books in less than a year, something I’m sure I haven’t done since my 20s, or maybe even college, that I’m giving myself a pass. This ONCE. Then, back to it.
Here’s the trick, written-out-style, for my fellow non-video types:
At some point before I start my daily reading (40pp!), I decide on a natural stopping point around 40pp out, sometimes a little shorter, sometimes a little longer, depending on the book and my mood. Then I place a sticky note on that page, sticking up about 1/4″, so that I know when it’s time to stop.
I find this helps me let go of page count (as much as a nutcase obsessive type can) and focus on the book itself. Before, when I used other methods, I got all caught up in my underwear: if I used my right index finger, it got uncomfortable; if I used a second bookmark, it tended to lift the last few pages before my stopping point, which took me out of reading; and if I used my brain, well, we won’t go there. Very ugly.
Hopefully, this little hack will be of use to you. If not, well, you can just congratulate me on (finally) doing the right thing again. Woo-hoo, indeed!
P.S. The book I’m holding up is Influence, Robert Cialdini’s classic work on persuasion, which I’ll be reviewing soon. As I mention in the video, I’d picked it up at a book sale right before I heard Jonathan Fields talk about it on his segment of the World-Changing Writing Workshop. It’s every bit as much of a must-read as Jonathan said, and it’s fascinating and FUN to read, as well. So there you go. Stay tuned!