Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Driven to Try: The Reading Olypmics

For any of our faithful readers lately, it’s been easy to figure out that Howie has been on a reading mission for the year. He has a goal of reading one book a week for a full year, ultimately reading at least 52 books over the course of 2018. His last three articles have been book reviews, of a sort. He prefers to write about what the book means to him rather than the mechanics of the book generally found in a review. One of the side effects of Howie going on a reading binge totally affects me.

You may know know this, but I am a fairly competitive person. I don’t like losing. My motto is much like Vince Lombardi’s, “Winning is not everything. It’s the only thing.” There have been fist fights over Monopoly with my brother. I’ve argued over the smallest of calls. George can tell you firsthand that I get passionate about hockey. I don’t lose.

Craig's Reading Log
So, when Howie decided that he was going to read a book at week, at a minimum, it put me on the offensive. I have to make sure I read more books than Howie. I can read through 52 books in almost no time. However, Howie has more time than I do to read, so I was (still am, actually) worried that once he got into the swing of things, he’d outpace me with books.

The month of March really put me on the offensive. It seemed like every time we spoke, he was on a different book. I put my reading list to the front of the queue and started some reading. I ended up reading twelve books last month. Typically, I read 8-10 books a month, so this was right in line, if only just a bit higher than normal. Now, however, I’m in a mood to read more. That number will go up from 12 to somewhere around 15-16 for a month or so.

One of the things I do regarding my reading is to keep a journal of the books I’ve read. I have a notebook that lists the title and author and the month I read it in, all separated by year. I’ve been keeping this log since 1995. Since then, I’ve read 3,047 books. Some years, I’ve read as few as 50 books to as many as 250 books in a single year. For the most part, however, I read about 110 books per year.

Some people ask me how I can read so much. I don’t know how not to. Honestly, when I read a book I don’t see the individual words. Much of the time, I see the page as a whole. Additionally, I tend to see the action in the book as if it were a movie. I am also in that movie, but as a silent, non-interactive participant. The more interested I get, the quicker the movie comes. The next thing I know, the credits are rolling and I’ve closed the cover on yet another book.

Howie has been reading some books that, while they’re on my radar, I haven’t read yet. Some of them were never on the radar, and I find myself with new books to read. Even before Howie was giving us his take on books, we discussed what we was reading on a regular basis. We do chat a lot on a daily basis. Recommendations go back and forth. He’s loaned me books (which I take forever to get to since I live for New Releases from the library), and I’ve loaned him books (most recently the Terry Pratchett Discworld series).

Note to Howie: I assure you I will get to your books.

Note to other who have loaned me books: No, really, I will get to them.

The librarians know me well at the Lockport Library. I generally visit them at least four or five times a week. I joke that I can never die, because there are so many books there that I haven’t read. Honestly, no matter how many books I get through, that list never gets any smaller. Actually it continuously gets longer and longer. That’s only good for my competition with Howie. I will keep reading. And reading. And reading.

There are very few books that I will turn away. Romance is one of them. I can’t get into them. And why read it when you live it? Another thing I won’t read would be a technical manual. I’ve read enough of them already to last me more than a lifetime.

I love reading book series. I’m a character guy, so series provide the readers with a continuing evolution of the characters. You get a closer, deeper relationship with them over the course of five or six books as opposed to whatever gets squeezed into 400 pages.

I wish I could read more by local authors. I’m wary of reviewing them, though. Every time I have, there has been some backlash when I haven’t liked something. One of the things I try to do with every book I review is find something that is positive. Every book has something that I like. Even my negative reviews tend to be positive. Constructive criticism is key for any writer. I also tend to not write reviews I don’t like unless the subject matter warrants it.

Howie is definitely keeping my on my toes. Every morning, it seems like he is updating me regarding where he is in his respective books. Each time he tells me, it forces me to sit down and take some extra minutes reading. I once read that avid readers are less likely to have Alzheimer’s. It’s no guarantee, but thanks to Howie, I am adding extra insurance. That’s what friends do. So, thanks, Howie!

Craig Bacon is reading right now. Yes, right now. Even if we passed it, just now. So, soon. And then when will be now.