When I wrote my overly ambitious list of goals for 2014 this past January, I included “Read 25 books.” I chose the number arbitrarily, thinking it would be a high bar that I’d likely miss, but at least would get me closer to reading as much as my college major implicitly suggests I do. Around February though, I noticed I was killing about a book a week.
Remembering vague business champion blogger Julien Smith’s accomplishment of reading a book a week for three years, I decided I’d up the ante for myself and try the same thing. About a month later, remembering that I’m not Julien Smith (for many reasons- most of the them good), I started falling behind. To remedy this, I called upon a special Sherman Sister skill: fudgin’ it.
It’s week 15 of 2014 and I have read 13 books this year. I’m choosing to fudge it in two ways here:
1) I have not technically read a book every single week this year. I’m currently playing catch-up. I think had I not included this little caveat for myself, I would’ve abandoned the goal altogether. Sometimes fudging it is a necessary lifeline on the way to doing something awesome (or marginally neat, depending on your view of glutinous amounts of reading). I’m projecting that I’ll be completely caught up in two weeks, using my second fudgin’ it tool.
2) Short-ass books. There are two books on my list that would cause anyone who’d seen them to turn and give me some very well-deserved side-eye. One is a less than 40 page book about juggalos that my roommate gave me for Christmas. The other is technically a commencement speech, but it was printed and published so in my eyes it still counts. Those two are the only ones I would consider a bit of a cheat and they are a temporary fix to get me back on track to my big 52.
Now that I’ve cleared the air about cheating on a goal that no one is holding me to, let’s get to the highlights and chunky lowlights so far.
Best books yet:
1) I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman
I’ve valued this man’s weird and salty opinions for about a decade now, so it should be no surprise that I loved his latest book about opinions. His central thesis is that our unofficial definition of a villain is the person who knows the most, but cares the least. He covers everything from O.J. Simpson to the Lewinsky scandal to Joe Paterno to Hitler (begrudgingly albeit). It’s a good read, particularly if you want to feel like the years you’ve spent watching TV weren’t entirely unacademic.
2) The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero
If you haven’t seen The Room yet, open a new tab and figure out the fastest way you can remedy that. Watch The Room. Watch it again with friends. Puzzle over it. And then read this book. You will fall over laughing.
3) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Y’all know I love a good “You can be a better person, because science or whatever” book for yuppies. And this one hit the spot. It covered the science of how we make habits, how we can break (or rather, replace) them, and how keystone habits have ripple effect. I’ve probably made it sound so dull, but it’s actually really interesting. It also made me look at Target in a way I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.
1) Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
I know it’s not fair, but I jumped ship on this book halfway through because I was settling into bed with this book juuuust around the time the author explains in grizzly detail how a crazed fundamentalist killed a baby. I can’t hang. I’m out.
2) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I ultimately enjoyed the crazy ride that is the plot of this book, but the writing appeals to the terrible animal in me that wants to go back to high school and cyberbully the author. It was just pretentious while also completely showing the author’s weak hand. It was like I could hear her flipping through a thesaurus as she wrote from the perspective of Nick Dunne and going “Huh! Yeah, that’s how a dude talks.” No one talks like that, girl. Also felt a bit like something Chuck Palahniuk would write as a deadline loomed near. Not my thing. That being said, of course I’ll be seeing that movie when it comes out.