Recently Simon over at Stuck in a Book announced that he would be hosting his Century of Books challenge (to read one book for every year between 1900-2000) again in 2014.
It gave me a lovely bookish dilemma:
I currently have books read for 44 years between 1900-2000. I’ve had huge reading slumps this year which is why I am so adrift of my target but my reading pace is now back to normal. I’d love to do-over the century challenge because 2013 has been a hideously atypical reading year (I’ve read less this year than any year in the last decade) and my reading has been ridiculously haphazard.
I could, if I really throw myself at it, race to finish this current century but it would pretty much take over my reading for the rest of the year and it would definitely take over the blog. Given how highly I value the mixed nature of my reading and the range of fiction and non-fiction books covered here I’m not very comfortable with that. So I’ve decided to abandon my current attempt and begin again, fresh and revitalised, in January.
Which got me to thinking about how I’m going to manage the challenge next time and whether I want to even attempt to do it in a year.
You see, in an average year I read about 200-240 books. I’m committed to reading 50/50 fiction and non-fiction and I try to reflect that balance here in my reviews. Which means the century would make up about 90% of fiction read and reviewed here in 2014 and leave little space for new books, fiction in translation, poetry, ancient or medieval texts.
Although I thought I read a lot of twentieth century fiction before I began this and I’ve loved reading more, looking at the numbers has helped me see just how much this challenge skews my natural reading pattern.
My original goal was always to read a full twentieth century and then jump straight into a nineteenth century afterwards. Looking seriously at the impact this challenge has, that now seems a much bigger decision that I’d originally contemplated.
After years of mixed reading and reviews I’m sure some readers would follow me through a twentieth century journey but how would you feel about a year of almost nothing being reviewed here but non-fiction, Dickens, Trollope and Eliot? How would those who discovered a non-fiction and nineteenth century focused blog feel when it suddenly reverted back to covering everything and anything? And how would an eclectic reader like me really feel at the end of the experiment after two years of binging and missing out in equal measure ?
I love having a big goal like this but clearly I need to shift the way I do it.
Luckily though, I have a cunning plan. :)
As I mentioned last week, I’m starting a new 101 goals in 1001 days on 01JAN2014. I’m still working on my list of goals but I’ve decided that as part of that adventure I will commit two goals to reading one or more books from 1800-1900 and 1900-2000. By mixing the books together and stretching both goals out over 2.75 years I’ll be able to work towards my targets without sacrificing my reading and reviewing diversity.
Although someone who reads mostly fiction could easily commit to completing a century in a year, committing to three nineteenth century books and three twentieth century books every month for a couple of years instead fits my reading habits much, much better… and I think it makes more sense for the blog too. (Feel free to tell me I’m wrong though if I’m overthinking it all and no one would care in the slightest. ;))
In the meantime though from now until 01JAN2014 I am reading a random mix of anything I fancy. I just re-shelved all the books that were on my To Be Read pile and will be picking completely different books from around my stacks later. This afternoon I’m going to curl up with a travel book about the Shetland Isles, it was written in 2005 and was apparently the first dedicated travel guide to the isles since 1869. :)