Tuesday, April 21, 2009

100 Books? I was delusional

My friend Aaron likes to torment me because he is a troubled person. Recently he reminded me of my "read 100 books in a year" goal.

Yeah. When I have nothing else going on, this is feasible--I read 9 books in January. When I'm doing a lot of stuff (putting in a new garden, writing crazy stuff every day, working out, volunteering with the kids, etc.)--not so much. I stopped logging the books I was reading in February, which makes this kind of tough. Here's the (mostly complete, I think) list of what I've read so far, not including graphic novels or long runs of comic books, which I think are probably fudging the goal too much.

Nonfiction [6]
  • The Last Opium Den by Nick Tosches
  • Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction by David Keown
  • Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction by Kim Knott
  • Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Howard
  • Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A Urban New World by Robert Neuwirth
  • Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments by Brenda Smith Myles and Jack Southwick
Sci-Fi [8]
  • Year's Best Science Fiction 25th Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois
  • The Golden Age by John C. Wright
  • The Phoenix Exultant by John C. Wright
  • The Golden Transcendence by John C. Wright
  • Gridlinked by Neal Asher
  • Newton's Wake by Ken Macleod
  • Matter by Iain M. Banks
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Fantasy [1]
  • The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan (reviewed this on Amazon)
Mixture [1]
  • The Dog Said Bow-wow by Michael Swanwick
Game-Related Rules and Settings Books [3]
  • Primetime Adventures by Matt Wilson
  • Suppressed Transmission, Vol. 1 by Ken Hite
  • Suppressed Transmission, Vol. 2 by Ken Hite
I'm currently closing in on the end of Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling, which I haven't read in over a decade. That will give me a total of 20 books as I close in on a third of the year gone by, with science fiction first, nonfiction second, and misc. categories bringing up the rest.

I'm only counting nonfiction and gaming books if I read the entire thing--I've been referencing a few of them pretty heavily recently but haven't gone cover to cover yet.

Seems like my reading pace has slowed a lot the last two months, so 50 books for the year is a much more reasonable goal than 100 was. On the other hand, I'm less than a pound away from my six-month weight loss goal.

Then again, I don't know how to count my progress toward my writing goal. As written, it says:
(1) Write for 500 hours or more. Only fiction writing counts toward this goal, and writing about a fictional setting does not count toward meeting this resolution. Only writing actual story scenes, narrative, description, or plots qualify. Try to write stories or chapters, but focus on writing something.
Well, I've written a lot, but much of it is for my web site, and much of it is more or less setting. So I imagine I'm way behind this goal as I originally structured it. Though I have been writing for an hour or so a day for a good while now.


Aaron DaMommio said...

For the book goal, I think it's a great thing and 100 was just too much, so make a new goal and declare victory. Also it might help to think of it in terms of books-per-month rather than the whole year.

Aaron DaMommio said...

For the writing goal, 500 hours for the year? Is that what you mean? I guess I have the same reaction, same advice..."500 hours for the year" would antimotivate me. Hmm, that's 1.37 hours a day. So really what you want is to write >1 hour per day? Here are some alternative formulations: Write every day + and 3 >1hr sessions per week; Write 1 hour every day, plus 2 extra hours per week (that's 468hrs). You might try getting in 2 45minute sessions per day, too. But I think some kind of tracking is what's missing. I like a very forgiving system that gives me leeway, because in terms of motivation, that's much better than beating yourself up against some hard requirement.

Aaron DaMommio said...

I don't see why I'd need to be troubled to enjoy tormenting you.

Doug said...

As far as the books per year, yeah, I'm thinking a goal of about five books per month, or 60 per year, would still be challenging and worthwhile.

Here's the thing about the writing goal: I go through stretches where the weather prevents much work in the yard and I've got no freelance work going on. At those times I can write 3-4 hours a day. But when I am freelancing, it is VERY hard to write each day. So the overall 500 hour goal was actually pretty reasonable and probably close to what I did last year--the real key was trying to focus that writing in specific ways. If I threw that requirement out the window I'd be keeping up with this goal as well.

Working out daily is a goal I can handle well and I keep logs to measure it. For some reason writing is harder for me to track. I should probably put more effort into it. But it tends to bum me out because I don't know how to categorize what I write the way I can categorize my exercise. I mean, do I count all the work I did writing up descriptions of imaginary superteam missions and noting how the panels were laid out in the non-existent comics that related them? How about the various alien recreational activities I've mapped out for the species I've created?

I don't know what those things are. I just like to do it.