|Most of these books are my wife's....|
A quick bit of math reveals that in my 5 months I've only managed to average about 1.4 books a month. That's roughly one book every three weeks. Hardly the mountain I had originally hoped for, but even at three weeks a book I'm reading significantly more than I have been since middle school. Although, if I take into account the page count of each book then I'm probably reading more frequently now than I have in my entire life. Wow. I hadn't realized that before now.
The real difficulty in working on NBU (No Book Unread) has been finding a sense of balance. The project has shed some light on the relationships between my writing/reading project, daily chores, and work life how they interact to find an equilibrium of sorts. The short version is that they balance about as well as a three way standoff. At best all parties play nice just long enough to accomplish something and, at worst, everybody dies. The resulting interplay between the facets of my life form a dynamic triangle that, in its most balanced state, results in my efforts being split three ways for mediocre effort in all areas. To applying effort in any one area seems to mean that I have to detract from another. Putting more effort into my writing means my work and/or chores get moved to the back burner and vice versa. Thus far this has been the most frustrating aspect of working on NBU. Sometimes, no matter which choice I make, I feel like I'm shooting myself in the foot. In order to continue making progress though the choice often comes down to "which foot"?
Another issue I've struggled with, this one anticipated, has been staying consistently focused on reading. I've always had trouble concentrating over long periods of time. Even a cursory review of my hobbies and interests would reveal that almost everything I do comes and goes in endless cycles of interest and disinterest: explosive development followed by fallow renewal. My video editing projects are often measured in days but are punctuated by months of inactivity. Every other summer I spend my time hiking and/or vigorously seeking out events and concerts but then the next year I can't be bothered. At least once a year I decide that it's about time I get in shape, and then after about four or so months later I lose motivation (although rarely without results). My consistent interests (primarily games, movies, anime, and reading) constantly shift focus. Even my persistent interests like anime, games, and movies constantly shift focus like the tides. My mood for specific genres or media is constantly in flux, so asking for some consistency in my reading habits is no small favor.
I think I've struggled to stay focused, in part, because I'm particularly fond of visual media. I think most people are these days. Our entire culture has become a visually oriented culture and I think access plays a role in that too. I used to read a lot in middle school but I also didn't have the same distractions as many people my age. My family didn't have cable TV so the shows I liked were only on for a few hours each day and it wasn't until after the Playstation 2 was out that I even got my first PS1. So, frequently unoccupied as I was, I frequently turned to books to pass the time, and not begrudgingly either. Flash forward to the present and I still enjoy reading just as much as I always have but now I have access to shows I like 24/7, I have a library of games so large that there are many I haven't even played, and I can watch anime that aren't even licensed in the U.S yet. With so many options vying for attention choosing to read is sometimes difficult. Watching is easy but reading requires more mental effort. With a book every facet of the world is visualized and maintained in your head and that can be difficult at the day's end. Books are a lot like riding a horse, if you can make the effort to get on they can take you far away and go places you'd never expect, but they require some skill and endurance to manage. If books are horses though, video games and shows are like tigers; they ambush you without warning, drag you off to their den and then refuse to let you go until they're through with you. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, the run-in with the tiger requires less effort on your part and makes for more interesting conversation the following day. In contrast, only other riders are more likely to care about your horse stories.
As for the writing aspect of No Book Unread, I'm still a little uncertain of where I'm heading with it. Right now my entries are somewhere between review and critique and I still haven't decided if that's what I want. I'd like to include a little more humour in my writing but, as I have discussed elsewhere, that means that both myself and you, my poor lost readers, will have to put up with some rather forced humour until I get the hang of it or find another outlet for it. So far though I've had a few entries that I'm proud of regardless of whatever flaws they might have. Riddle of a Man is one of my more quality posts, from the pictures and content right down to the title. I finally felt that I had touched upon some quality content for the first time in that post. My only major complaint is that I could have transitioned topics a little more smoothly. Manager's Special was also another surprisingly good post that suffered from slight reluctance on my part to completely skewer the book. When I sat down to write the post I just felt bad about criticizing a book that was earnestly trying to be helpful even if it came across as equal parts arrogant. I think it shows in the post that I was torn between ripping the book to pieces and giving some fair credit.
At this point I don't think I'll be able to get much more reading done before the end of the year, but I have some big plans going into 2015. Before then I'm hoping to at least finish off Sojourn before the end of December. To anyone still reading this, thanks for making it this far. I'll be looking forward to learning, improving, and critiquing as I continue in this project.
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