600 days into a massive project

Sunday, April 27th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

600 days ago, on September 5, 2006, I embarked on a massive project–I was going to read every book in Eiseley Library (all except the ones I don’t read.)

I have faithfully logged each book in my personal book file “A catalogue of all I’ve read since September 5, 2006” and periodically taken note of my progress. As of today, my progress log reads:

TOTALS as of 4-27-2008 (600 days)
Juvenile Picture 51
Juvenile, First Read 24
Juvenile, Chapter 37
Juvenile Fiction 138
Juvenile Nonfiction 43
Young Adult 1
Juvenile DVD 14
Juvenile Video 1
Fiction 159
Nonfiction 297
Audio Cassette 2
Audio CD 32
DVD 21
Periodicals 30
Total 850 books
1.42 books per day

Of course, you’ve noted that I’m “reading” audio cassettes and cds, periodicals, and DVDs. Does that really count? And what about children’s picture books. Do they count either? You could say I’m inflating my numbers by including such in my counts.

And you’re probably right. But since this is MY goal, I have the right to make the rules. I have made them, and I’m rather strict about keeping them–in a very legalistic fashion. This particular goal certainly brings a new realization to the teaching that legalism is really a way to make excuses for not following the heart of the law. After all, I’m reading “every book in Eiseley library” (except the ones I don’t read.) The exception makes the original statement untrue–but the rules make it all seem okay.

My Rules

  1. I will NOT read paperback romances (or such that belong to the genre my father refers to as “Harlequins”)
  2. I will NOT read books classified by the library as mysteries or science fiction.
  3. If, after reading 50 pages of a book, I find myself unwilling to finish it, I MAY quit, considering that book as read.
  4. I MAY consciously decide not to read a particular book or section of books after deciding that they are either a worthless waste of time or that reading them would be spiritually or emotionally unhealthy. (Such as I have done with the rest of Meg Cabot’s books.)
  5. After reading every book the library owns by a particular author or in a particular Dewey Decimal classification, I MAY “close out” that author or classification. I am no longer obligated to read any books by that author or in that classification that are acquired by the library after I have “closed” the section “out”. (Such as I have with Lori Wick–meaning I haven’t read “Cassidy” or any of her books written after that one.)
  6. I am only required to “read” audio cds that differ significantly from the written book or are an unique piece of art in and of themselves. (Thus I have listened to several productions of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” but have not even once listened to an audio book of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.”)
  7. In order to count a book primarily consisting of recipes or projects as having been read, I must have completed at least one project from within it. (Thus my separate file of quilting projects I’d like to do sometime–with the book they came from and a photo of the project for easy reference.)

This project is both liberating and constraining.

It has been the impetus for reading many books that I otherwise may not have read–Realizing that I’d have to read all of the books contained in “The Book of Great Books” anyway, I figured I’d join my cousin in reading them through. (So far, since deciding to join that project earlier this month, I have read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The House of Seven Gables”, as well as re-reading “The Scarlet Letter” and “Candide”.)

This project has also encouraged me to try new things with quilting–such as beginning to make baby quilts for each pregnant woman of my acquaintance.

I’ve forced myself through 50 pages of some books–only to discover that pages 51 to 179 weren’t really that bad. And sometimes I’ve forced myself through 50 pages and thanked Nancy Pearl, the author of “Book Lust”, for giving me permission to put a book down after 50 pages.

I’ve looked at books and then decided not to read them–because they weren’t a part of Eiseley’s collection. I’ve looked at books and decided they really were worth reading–even though they weren’t part of Eiseley’s collection.

I’ve eagerly worked my way through an entire author just so I could get that author over with–and I’ve worked my way through an author only to be sorrowful that I was done, and wouldn’t ever HAVE to read that author again. I’ve read a few books from authors I’d already “closed out”–because I’d so fallen in love with the author’s style. I’ve also taken authors or categories slowly–thinking I have plenty of time to read what I’m not interested in–might as well enjoy whatever strikes my fancy now.

I was born to be a project person–I’ve always loved projects, goals, unattainable flights of fancy. And this one, for the last 600 days, has served me well.

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Reader Comments (9):

  1. Webmaster says:

    On 04.29.08 – 6:39 am
    Davene said:

    Hi, Rebekah! Wow, this is quite a site!!!

    Your book project sounds like something I would do. :-) Except with 3 little ones now, I’m just not that ambitious…

    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment so I could find you! I’m guessing you found me through the Bergeron site, and I do the same thing as you. I’ll be talking with people and say, “Well, this lady whose blog I read has 13 kids, and she…” I find myself doing that often!

    Have a wonderful day!

  2. Webmaster says:

    On 04.30.08 – 7:13 pm
    Cousin Matt said:

    you’re absolutely crazy Rebekah, I’d never be able to read at that rate, even with the audiobooks and the kids books, you’re just crazy! (not that it’s a bad thing)

  3. Webmaster says:

    On 05.01.08 – 12:21 am
    Rebekah said:

    Ah, well. I am crazy–what can I say? I guess I’ve always been one to bite off more than I can chew–and still manage to chew a lot more than most.

    Thanks, Davene, for dropping by–and for commenting. I was flying high all day–a comment FROM SOMEBODY I DON’T KNOW!

    Rebekah

  4. Webmaster says:

    On 05.01.08 – 7:17 am
    Davene said:

    You’re funny, Rebekah…but I know exactly how you feel about flying high from a comment. :-) I never would have found you though if you had not left a comment for me first! So many thanks to you!

  5. Melinda says:

    What a neat goal! You make me want to consider doing something similar even though it seems like such a daunting task.

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