T’shua li!! Victory is mine!!

In 2021, I at last achieved the dynamic homeostasis I tossed out as a goal so cavalierly a few years ago with respect to my “Read Me” Shelf. More precisely, with respect to the amorphous multi-locational stack of unread books that is a more or less permanent part of the office furniture by now.

In 2021, I read sixty (60) books. I acquired fifty-five (55) books, in various ways. That means I actually succeeded in reading more books than I bought.

[Wow. Wow!! … It strikes me as slightly unbelievable, honestly.]

It also means I actually reduced the “Read Me” stack by five whole books, net.

[And, as I mentioned last year, I will not be pursuing talk of “at that rate …” I’d like to stay focused on the positive.]

What I’ve learned – and it pains me to say this, because it feels to me like I ought to have learned this a long time ago – is that being intentional and paying attention to whether I’m making progress and taking prompt corrective action when it looks like I’ve stopped making progress all make a difference.

[And if you’re thinking “sheesh, lady, everyone knows that” – yes, this is my point. I even think I am a member of the group “everyone” when it comes to this, at least theoretically. And yet, applying that basic insight to this particular project … did not happen immediately.]

Also, I learned that record-keeping helps with this. Last year my niece got me a nice journal with a salutary sentiment on the cover [“TODAY I WILL not STRESS over Things I can’t CONTROL” – good advice, any day]. In the spirit of that salutary sentiment, I decided to use that journal for keeping track of something I could control, more or less, which was whether I was doing my self-assigned reading. So for the past year I’ve been jotting down in this attractive journal which book or books I finished reading “this week.” As well as which books I amassed. In pink ink.

Clearly, some of the credit for the win goes to my niece.

[Thank you!! Love you!!!]

Though I must admit, the pink ink helps, too. I think it adds to the ritual element of the exercise.

I knew about this record-keeping thing already, too. It was how I finished my dissertation, in the end. But again, it took awhile to apply that bit of knowledge to this project.

The goal for the coming year, perhaps obviously, is to repeat what worked in the foregoing year. So, dear and valued readers, wish me luck – or rather, wish me intentionality and paying attention and prompt corrective action as needed. And, success.

red line embellished

A couple of bits of additional learning emerged from the data-collection exercise.

One is that really long books – like, 400 pages or more – pose a special challenge. When it comes to picking out a book for “this week’s” reading, they never look promising, now matter how beckoning the content. I thought this year I’d try to apply “the jug fills drop by drop” approach specifically to some of the massive books in the stack, like Gottwald’s Tribes of Yahweh. Sort of like running a program “in the background” while doing something else more immediately. That’s my idea – I’ll let you know how it works.

The other is that my imaginary project of “I’ll just read these books and write up reviews of them on the blog” involves a lot of work, particularly when it comes to the writing up reviews part. Which then becomes a bottleneck, mainly because of the other work that people I know who live in my house with me, or who I kind of know and who pay me, think is more important and urgent than that and expect to see completed. Incredible, perhaps, but true. So regardless of how fondly I’d like to review some detective novel I just finished reading, I feel obliged to turn my energies to those other tasks. Once again in the spirit of the salutary sentiment on the cover of my niece’s gift, and in the long-term interest of clearing out space in the office, I’ve had to stop waiting to start reading another book until I’ve reviewed the last one. Not that I ever actually reviewed all the books I read anyway, so there’s that. I’ll review some of them. Probably. Maybe.

I’m intentionally ignoring what I’ve learned about television, and trade offs.

All of this introspection does, however, raise the question of what any of this is “for.” I know I could just treat it like an art project, in which case it wouldn’t have to be “for” anything. In fact, from a Kantian perspective, it wouldn’t be allowed to be. But I am NOT AN ARTIST – not recent knowledge, btw, or anything I needed a journal and pink ink to learn. So I will need to mull that one over. Perhaps if I can read a few more of these books, I’ll even turn up an answer.

red line embellished
interior of a hollow tower of stacked books

Learning need never end.