This time of year I am obsessed with goals. Personal, professional, you name it. It really brings out the Type A in my personality, not something I’m overly proud of, but it makes me more productive so I don’t try to curtail it. Dreaming up and writing out these goals satisfies an itch way down in my soul.
Since this is The Common Place, let me tell you about my reading goals.
- Read all of Sherman Alexie’s novels: This is atonement for refusing to read anything from him in the past. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a long-held dislike for Alexie and because of that I’ve never actually read anything by him. But his memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me was my favorite book of this entire year, so I am promising myself that I’ll read all four of his novels to make up for it.
- Read the entire Harry Potter series. Have you ever resisted something just because it’s so damn popular? That’s what happened to me with Harry Potter. I worked in books throughout the entire Harry Potter mania and if you didn’t, let me tell you that those midlight lines at bookstores were nothing compared to the Harry Potter war rooms we had at Amazon. Harry Potter was ALL we talked about for months at a time, practically 24/7. Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter. I am so pleased that it kicked off a love of reading for so many people, but I was sick to death of Harry Potter by the time each book came out and the last thing I wanted to do was read the damn thing. But it’s been 20 years since the first one came out now and I finally feel like I’ve missed out on something. It’s time.
- Do the readings for David Foster Wallace’s Literary Analysis Class. I’d love to take a great college-level literature class, especially one taught by a prodigy–but until the stars align to make that happen I’m going to try to DIY it. In 1994 David Foster Wallace taught a class on Literary Analysis using very popular mass market novels to show students how “to read fiction more deeply” and I’m going to read my way through the syllabus. There are eight novels, including Lonesome Dove, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere.
- Read books by people I disagree with. These are strange times in America and lately I’ve become more and more aware of how biased the information we consume is. This year I made myself read Fox News every time I read the New York Times and I feel like it helped me understand why there’s such a divide on what we believe — the information we get is vastly different depending on where you go to get it. Next year I’m also going to force myself to read books written by people who think differently than I do and hope that I can learn even more from that.
- Read 75 books: I don’t think anything has increased the number of books I read more than simply signing up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. The simple fact that I have to set a number goal inspires me to keep pushing ahead on my TBR pile, especially when I start to go through periods where I’m not finding anything I love. My reading goal for 2017 was 75 books and I hope to make it, but it will be by the skin of my teeth. I need to crank through six more books in the next 17 days. I considered ratcheting down my goals for next year but I like having it be a little bit of a stretch so I will keep it at 75 for 2018.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…… It’s so satisfying to have some nice, interesting, and aggressive goals laid out in front of me. Next I want to think about some goals for writing. More on that soon.