Levar Burton Would be Proud

Mr. Burton doing his rainbow thing.

I have always been a fan of bookstores and regular book-buying. In fact, I will fully admit that I have bought books simply because I liked the cover and decided the blurb was trustworthy enough. My collection of unread books now spans two bookshelves, one waist-high and one full-sized.

I haven’t always had a giant collection of unread books, mind you… back in high school, I’m fairly sure I read books as soon as I bought them or checked them out of the library. At the very least, I used to read every day of the week, sometimes (well, a lot of the time, actually…) during my deadly dull Economics class in high school…

At a certain point in college, however, I lost the knack of daily reading… but I kept buying books at the same rate. A few years later and I find myself with overflowing shelves. At points I’ve felt vaguely guilty about not reading them… I like collecting books, and I fully intend on reading all of those books at some point in my life, but for a long time the balance has been tipped more towards guilt than action.

Earlier this year, however, I read about a trend/meme/whatever where a number of bloggers wrote about taking on a challenge to read 52 books in a year… i.e. one book a week. I could never pin down who came up with this particular challenge first (perhaps it sprang full-formed from the brow of Blogger.com, or maybe it was this guy) but I liked the idea, and it definitely seems do-able because I’ve come close before. I’ve been keeping track of the books I read for the past few years, partially because I wanted to gauge my rate of reading, but also because I like making lists and rating things.

For example: in 2005 I read 41 books total. In 2006 the number dipped slightly to 37… and so far this year I’ve finished reading 15 books, which is just slightly behind one book a week. In those totals I’m including a decent number of audiobooks and graphic novels, both of which some people might frown upon as lesser forms of reading (to which I say “nyeh!”).

However, just from those recent numbers, I think 52 books is well within my reach this year. Hell, it’s probably fair to say that reading more than two books in a year of any kind is more than most folks manage, so I’ve already got a pretty healthy taste for reading to help me along. If you’re curious about my reading habits, I’ve been tracking the whole thing on my library page.

What has helped me keep reading lately is that I have stopped driving home for my lunch break. This means that instead of getting back to work a few minutes late and barely having time to finish a commercial-free television show in the process, I can sit and read a good 40-50 pages on an average day.

The great thing about this is that just exposing myself to reading every day has given me the reading bug once again, and I’ve really been enjoying reading a lot lately, finding it much easier to focus on a book for a few hours every day. Guilt hasn’t really been coming into the picture, either. I’ve been reading lately not because I think I should be reading, but because I genuinely want to sit down and read something. At the rate I’m going I think I could get on a roll and beat 52 books this year… hooray for goals!

4 thoughts on “Levar Burton Would be Proud”

  1. I’m flattered, but I’m not the originator of the meme. I originally got it from Large Hearted Boy, who was doing it a year before me. As near as I can tell, me might be the first person with a significant readership to do it, inspired as he was by similar memes with different media.

    In any case, the meme’s adherents seem to be growing every year. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say they wax and wane, since some people can’t handle the load—my friend Jeff, for instance, has set the more modest goal of 26 Books in 52 Weeks.

    In any case, glad to have you join our swelling ranks.

  2. Just wanted to talk about books for minute. Thanks to you, I’ve been reading more Pratchett and Gaiman (though I don’t tell anyone outloud how fond I am of Gaiman). While looking for a couple of books by either of them at the local used bookstore (God’s gift to Tim) I happened upon “Good Omens”, a book by both Pratchett and Gaiman, talk about a good omen! (i’m a nerd) This book was hilarious, and I highly recommend it, its a humorous take on the armageddon, and a collaboration by the two authors when they were still relatively struggling writers. I also recently read, American Gods, by Gaiman, which was great, I enjoy his writing style.

    I see that you recently read Earthsea, which is great, as long as you don’t watch the made for Sci-Fi movie of it (which is actually a horrible combination of the first two books in the series) and the rest of the books in the series are ok as well. She doesn’t really change a lot as a writer throughout the books, so it may be hard to read them all at once w/o getting bored, but the books are short and are fun and easy reads.

    I just got 3 more Pratchett Discworld books, and have been engorging (two books in 4 days) myself on a couple of dragon books by Mercedes Lackey, and then the new and final HP comes out in July, so much to read, so little time. I like your review/list page, and will definitely hit it up when I need some more ideas.

    Stardust is definitely on my list, but I’ll probably wait until after the movie, as the book is always better, and the movie usually a disappointment after reading the book. For instance, the movie Eragon was so much of a piss poor collaboration of feces throwing monkeys, that it made me hate the book so much I didn’t continue the series.

    Good luck with your goal of 52 in a year, and if you are ever in doubt on what to read next, give me a shout.

  3. Hello Jeff,
    I finally got around to checking out your site and reading some of the posts. I must say I was surprised to find much less smut-peddling and tomfoolery than expected- not sure if that is a plus or a minus- but otherwise the site is slammin’. I would dare to even call it ‘respectableish’. Not to mention you get mad props for the Levar Burton piece.
    It is in that very spirit that I offer my brain and ranting services to the ‘unsquare’ cause. I must say, though, that I have no clue about a topic. Left to my own devices there is no telling what sort of tangential, winding, cacophonous sort of text I may produce. Look no further than this post for evidence of that. Anyway, I suppose I am wondering if there is anything you would like me to comment on, or whatever. Or, I could just respond negatively towards anything that you post and become your arch-nemesis. On second thought I don’t really fit the bad-guy character very well, maybe you could be the bad guy.

    Sorry, anyways, site is bitchin’, Reading Rainbow’s the shit, Rockbot tambien. Will holla latron.

    Ryan P

    PS- all that about books and no library shout out?

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