At the beginning of 2014 I set a goal for myself to read 100 books by the time 2015 rolled around on the calendar. My previous best was in 2013 when I read a total of 84 items over the course of the year, but a portion of that number was short stories and novellas. For this year I really wanted to set a goal that focused on only novel-length works. That means anything that counts towards the total needs to be at least 150 pages long (it’s an arbitrary number, I know, but it works as a decent cutoff point).
So, am I going to accomplish the goal? The short answer is: I really don’t know.
The longer answer requires a little bit of digging, so let’s take a look. At the time of my writing this post I have 72 qualifying books completed. That leaves me with 28 books remaining as of October 8th. Along with those 72 books I’ve read 8 items in the short story, novella, or magazine categories which don’t count towards the total. I could easily argue that reading those additional non-qualifying items has made reaching my goal more difficult, but the total page count for them is 432 pages, or basically the length of one book, so the impact reading them had on my goal can be considered rather negligible in my opinion.
Having read 72 books I am confident in declaring that I will at the very least beat my total from 2013 of 84 items read. Regardless of how close I get to 100 books finished, I’ll definitely manage to complete another 13 to beat the previous mark by at least one. On top of that, all of them will have been novel length, which means I’m even more well off.
As a side note, in 2013 I read 31,512 total pages and at the time of this writing my count for 2014 clocks in at a healthy 29,709 pages read. It’s apparent I’ll also easily beat my pages read mark from last year as it will only take about five or six more books to do so. I did have a secondary goal for 2014 to read at least 40,000 pages, which may possibly be within reach (I do count the short fiction, etc as part of the page count as is it seems fair), but I’ll need to average at least 367 pages per book for the remaining 28 books. I know at least a few of the books I have on deck meet or exceed that number, but there are also a few that fall just short. Reaching 40,000 pages is secondary to reading the 100 books though.
So, let’s look at a few numbers involved with the home stretch of 2014 and how it impacts my ability to reach the 100 book goal. Not counting today I’ve got 84 days left in the year. With 28 books to go, that means I need to average… one book every three days to succeed. That is a pretty tall order no matter what I’m reading. Now, for me to even come close to getting one book finished every three days, I’m going to need a very specific list of books to read because anything over 400 pages is going to be tough while still working, doing husband/father things, and other life time sinks. If I get in a groove every so often for a few days at a time when I have extra time I can easily read a book a day, which can leave me a little bit of wiggle room, but no matter how much I do that, it’s still going to be tight at the end of the year.
On top of that, October is my month to make or break this goal for a couple of reasons. At the moment I’m basically done with World of Warcraft until the expansion in the middle of November. I have no family coming to visit, I’ve settled into the routine at my new job, and our new home is pretty much all set up. So, not a whole lot in the way of distractions. November is going to be full of distractions however, what with my family coming into town for a week and a half at Thanksgiving and the new World of Warcraft expansion being released. As much as I’d love to have the self-control necessary to ignore WoW until January 1st, I don’t. I just don’t. So, while 28 remaining books makes it seem like I could just read 10 books each month for October, November and December, I don’t think November is going to work out that way as it currently stands.
How do I overcome this? By reading my tail off between now and November 12th. I’m thinking if I can get myself to the point where I’ve only got 12 books left to go after that I can make it work. That means 16 more books over the next few weeks. If I can hit that mark, my confidence in reaching the 100 book goal will go up a fair amount, to the point where I’ll be about 80% sure I can get it done. If I don’t reach that 16 books before the WoW expansion, things are going to be pretty bleak and I might be tempted to throw in the towel early. On top of all of this is the return to blogging I’m trying to make by getting a post up on the blog for MWF of every week again. That’s a lot of stuff to pack into the remaining weeks of 2014, trust me.
So, how do I feel at the moment? A little overwhelmed, but also rather determined to at least make a good run at completing my goal. Right now I feel like I have about a 50% chance of getting it done, but with every book I read in less than 3 days that percentage will creep up a little bit. I may not have blogged as often as I planned for this year, or written as many reviews as I wanted, but if I can still make a run at reading 100 books, I’ll give it a shot. Will I do it again next year? Good heavens, no! But, it will be a pretty cool bragging point for me personally if I do pull it off this year.
If you are interested in following along with my progress as December 31st rolls nearer, feel free to keep track on the Books Read in 2014 page, or follow along with daily updates I’ll be posting to Twitter at 20four12.
Oh, and because I’m the kind of guy who likes to advance plan things to death and make a bunch of lists, if anyone is curious as to what I plan to be reading over the final 28 books, here is a somewhat lengthy and possibly handy list:
- Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole
- The Dresden Files: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
- The Dresden Files: Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
- The Dresden Files: Death Masks by Jim Butcher
- The Dresden Files: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
- The Dresden Files: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
- Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
- The Trilisk Hunt by Michael McCloskey
- The Trilisk Revolution by Michael McCloskey
- Insidious by Michael McCloskey
- Industrious by Michael McCloskey
- Ingenious by Michael McCloskey
- Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos
- Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos
- His Fair Assassin: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
- Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno
- iD by Madeline Ashby
- vN by Madeline Ashby
- Dragon Wing: The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- Elven Star: The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- Fire Sea: The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr.
- Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr.
- The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
- Dragons of Winter Night by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- The End is Nigh (Anthology) edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey
- Autocorrect Stays by Holly Flanagan
Granted, this list may change on a whim if something catches my eye, but that’s my rough plan for now on how to get through the final 28 books I need. The last one on the list is actually not a science fiction or fantasy novel, but rather is the book my wife wrote and self-published this year. I’ve avoided reading it because a lot of her influences while writing it came from life experiences we’ve shared and that I’m very familiar with which makes it difficult for me not to get thrown out of the story and I’m a staunch supporter of the “family and friends are the worst people to give you opinions about your book” camp, but I’m going to do my wife a solid and read it as the last book of the year if I manage to get that far with enough time.