The urgent hangman (Photo credit: Christian von Schack)
I’ve recently come across a couple of articles talking about the author’s Reading Targets for 2013: to read more books, to read less books, to read a specific number of books – oh, the categories are endless. It’s clear that some New Year’s Resolutions are being put into action. Unlike most NY’s resolutions, which usually die around January 3rd …
Must say I’m intrigued – piqued – puzzled – by the concept. I’ve never set myself a reading target, and probably never will. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. To me reading is as natural as breathing, or blinking. It’s something I automatically do. If anything, I suppose my target should be to read less and pay more attention to outstanding chores and repairs. But, as I’ve said before on this blog, I’d rather read than just about any other activity – see July 2012.
As a child I was starved of playmates and entertainment – so I read, and I read anything that was printed on paper and within my voracious grasp. I read magazines, newspapers, books, and the back of cereal boxes. I read the label on HP sauce bottles, I read children’s books, adult’s books, I read cookery books (my Mother owned an antique copy of the famous Mrs Beeton’s guide to Household Management; while it wasn’t a first edition it was old and tattered when I found in during the late 1940s). I read anything I could lay my hands on.
Over the years I passed through a host of reading phases: Peter Cheyney and Agatha Christie (thanks, Dad!), Science Fiction novels and stories, during Ray Bradbury ‘s heyday. I read ALL Georgette Heyer’s historical Regency romances, and all Zane Grey’s Westerns. Yes, I kid you not, all of them. My taste was – and still is – splendidly catholic. Nowadays I read across a wide spectrum. I love my two Book Clubs, which expose me to a wide range of books, some of which I wouldn’t otherwise have tried, and nearly always receive a delightful surprise on my adventures through uncharted territory.
About two years ago I joined Goodreads and found a vast universe of fellow book-aholics. Oh joy! Fresh info and inspiration. It’s an on-line web-site, and not to be missed, if you’re as besotted with books as I am.
I have read in bed, in the bath, at the stove while cooking supper, on the kitchen back step – wickedly ignoring my screaming baby in her pram – War & Peace took a lot of effort for a young, sleep-deprived mother, let me tell you. I’ve read on trains, aeroplanes, ocean liners but not in cars – the motion jiggles the print too much and gives me headaches. I’ve read whilst standing in queues, in dentist’s waiting rooms, inside cinemas, at work during my lunch-break, in bus queues, in hotels, hospitals, retreat centres, in chalets in game reserves. And I’m sure I’ve left out some locations, some occasions. But I’ve never read to order, apart from the hefty classical novels demanded by the school syllabus.
I did some rough calculations and calculated that if I had read 2 books per week, on average, that gave me approximately 100 books per year. Taking the age of ten as my baseline (and I learnt to read when I was five years old) and doing some multiplication, it seems probable that I’ve read at least 6000 books to date. Not to brag or anything, just saying.
Over the last ten years I’ve kept a Reading Diary, in which I write reviews, or short comments about my reading, and these have been invaluable in shaping this blog. But: Reading Targets? Whatever can they mean?
(POSTSCRIPT: I tidied my cupboards today & have to confess I found 48 books in my To-Be-Read Pile. I suppose I should declare an official target to work my way through the pile by the end of 2013. Only problem is, I keep acquiring more books. Hmmm …..)