22 June 2015

Summer reading -- again, for the first time

"When summer comes around, I think many people's thoughts turn to books, among other things... You have this stretch of time in some theoretical sense where you could be more ambitious." --David Haglund

Last week's New Yorker Out Loud podcast addresses the idea of summer reading with critics James Wood and Kathryn Schulz. (With a name-check of THE POWER BROKER, a book I have previously had ambitions of reading over the summer and still have not done, I admit sheepishly.)

I set the ambitious, possibly foolish goal of reading 50 books this summer. How far behind am I? Well, I'll probably have to read 3 or 4 books a week to do it. One minor aid, if you will permit me to be the bringer of good news, is that this summer in a U.S. Memorial-Day-to-Labor-Day sense is longer than usual -- Memorial Day was early, Labor Day is late.

I set this goal because I've been struggling with reading recently, and there is a thought I never imagined would come out of my fingers, but there it is. My reading time has become more fragmented, and with that comes the perception that it's been a long long time since I've read something that truly thrilled and enthralled me. I've read some books I really liked in that time, but they don't hold as much power over me because I'm always looking over my other shoulder. Wood talks about the use and power of structure in determining reading and what to read next, and I think that's probably what I need more.

Sure, but does forcing me to read more to make a particularly arbitrary goal mean I will enjoy it more? So far, yes! Last weekend I sent myself to the park to read, taking advantage of the sunny warm-ish afternoon, and passed a few blissful hours deep in my book. I might have done some reading otherwise, but removing myself from my laptop was key. It's good for the soul to do when it's possible.

Anyway, if you're still reading this quasi-manifesto, Goodreads won't let me set up a summer challenge, but I made a Summer Reading '15 shelf for your perusal. Already got some titles to blog about up there. It's going to be a fun summer.

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