November last year I made a somewhat shocking discovery: if I were to finish my 2019 Reading Challenge (208 books = what I read in 2018+1) I had to read more books than there were days left in the year. Since 2012 I had reached my goal every year, so the stakes were high. I wasn’t giving up this winning streak. But for multiple reasons, I was not too thrilled about this because the odds seemed against me, busy at work and most importantly I was behind in the first place because I was in a rather long reading slump (still finishing some books of course much less compared to normal – for me a reading slump is when I only read six books a month). I managed to get through, by for example strategically choosing books that were not too big and actually finished December 28 – so I had loads of time left and ended on 213 in the end. But my main conclusion was: This not again.
So, I rearrangement my challenge for 2020. Not too much books, not too much pressure and we will see where I end up. Busy year with papers was coming, so how much time would I have for the challenge? Three books per week seemed like fair enough, still something I would work towards, but certainly doable. 156 books it was. Of course, I could not have foreseen how different from other years 2020 has turned out.
It feels kind of weird to look back at a year which is only about half way, but I will try to give some impressions. The reading year started quite well. 26 books in January (some carry over from December last year as well), but I usually have a strong start. February then was only 18, but a short month of course and my total for the first two months was still 44. Then Covid19 happened and about halfway into March we went into lockdown, at first everything came to a standstill (for two weeks they said – but it was clear from the start that it would not be over in two weeks). I expected this would do wonders for my reading (especially when it was still rather short term), since all my evening plans were canceled (no zumba/dinners/movies/theaters/meeting with friends). I read 30 books that month – but actually I had expected it to be more. By then, I was almost halfway my challenge.
But next I hit a bit of a hard time. The full effects of lockdown and the drastically diminished social contacts (I live alone and at some point I realized I had not spoken to a person face-to-face for two weeks – not counting the store people). Besides, I was working full-time from home, and that meant computer work all the time, while I normally mix practical lab work with computer stuff so I seldom spend an entire day at my desk. The last thing I wanted in the evening was a) more screen in the evening; b) something I actually had to focus on. I wouldn’t call it a reading slump, I still finished 20 books each in April and May, but it was diminished concentration and will to read.
Since June I have felt I am on the mend, what with the easing of some of the measures (I can go back to work for example and talk face-to-face to the people there; and to some extend meet with friends). I also embarked on a project of just reading what I want to read most on any given moment. If I don’t have it, buy it. I can not go on holiday this year so I have given myself carte blanche (okay maybe not completely that) to get the books I would have bought in London and some compensation for missing out all the great London theater this year. When I found out I was close to finishing the challenge, of course I put in a little extra effort to finish July 31 and not August 2. While the number might not reflect it immediately, with 19 and 23 for June and July, respectively, I have been enjoying the reading much more again.
And that is the most important thing.
So, what will be my plans for the rest of the year? Besides the Summer of Reading Whatever the Hell I want? I have been working on what to do for the second half of 2020, check back tomorrow to find out more!
Also, how are your challenges coming along?
Let me know in the comments!