For the past three years I have signed up to the Goodreads challenge and set myself a target of reading 50 books a year.
By hook or by crook I have met my goal in the past two years helped by including a few novellas and children’s books as the end of year deadline approaches.
On the grand scale of things, my achievements are modest – other users set and meet much higher figures. Still, I like having a record of my reading habits and get a childlike satisfaction from meeting a goal.
Of course, nothing is gained or lost whatever happens. There’s no penalty for non-completion but equally no rewards. The main reason I do it is to give my life a sense of structure.
The world is such a state of chaos that I find myself clinging to anything that lends the illusion of permanence to my life. I desire new experiences but I know that I also need a psychological safety net to give a sense of stability.
It is safer to build on solid rock than on shifting sand but it is also rigid and inflexible surface. I believe that finding the right balance between security and spontaneity is the key to a rich and satisfying life.
As systems crumble and things fall apart we need to construct a surer sense of our worth as unique individuals. Books help to achieve this because they stimulate the imagination far more than the distractions of mass culture. As Jonathan Franzen said, “the first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone”.