At first, I was dubious when my daughter invited me to join her in POPSUGAR’s 2015 Reading Challenge. The shift from skeptic to believer took less than an hour.
“You’re taking this so seriously,” she comments at dinner, after receiving several emails from me with links to lists of potential reads.
I have diligently copied titles for “a book more than 100 years old” and “a book that came out the year you were born.” She’s already decided to reread Harry Potter, but I have to do some research to find books published in 1966, and I must consult my high school friend about “a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t.” Lisa has a better memory than I do; I only vaguely recall, with lingering anxiety, writing essays about Jude the Obscure and Heart of Darkness before finishing them.
“Too bad I can’t count this month’s book club selection, because I read it in December,” I tell her. “I’m skimming it to prepare for this week’s discussion.”
“I think you can count it,” she reassures me. “It’s not like you’re cheating on a test. This is just supposed to be fun!”
“It is fun,” I insist. I admit I’m taking it pretty seriously, too.
I’m not sure why I’m so serious about this challenge. I’m not especially competitive, nor am I a meticulous record-keeper, though I do enjoy a certain satisfaction at crossing off items on my to-do lists. An avid reader, I average a book per week, so the quantity isn’t particularly challenging. While during the week I am usually swamped with work-related reading, on Friday evenings I curl up with a novel and the Sabbath truly becomes a “taste of the world to come,” as it’s known in rabbinic tradition.
The greater challenge, for me, lies in the variety of categories. This requires planning, since I usually stick to my favorite genres. So I spent the better part of the first week of January engrossed in researching the categories, logging in to Goodreads repeatedly, scanning the Facebook walls of my bookworm friends to see what they’re reading.
I already knew that I love reading. Taking this challenge, I discovered that I also love thinking about reading. I relish anticipating the moment that I’ll sink into the comfy chair after Sabbath dinner ends, knowing that I’ll stay up too late reading a good book.
The highlight of my week was receiving an email from the library that “a book with antonyms in the title,” which I’d placed on reserve at the beginning of January, was finally available for pick-up! I expect to finish it this weekend and welcome the month of February ahead of schedule.