Try to interest me in a New Year's challenge and I will probably back away slowly.
It's a Pavlovian response. When I hear New Year's and challenge in the same phrase, my eyes get glassy, my palms clammy. I might start to itch.
Such is my aversion to New Year's challenges. To be more specific, the ones that involve losing weight, getting fit, or becoming enlightened.
I admit, in days of yore I signed on for New Year's challenges with gusto. I can change my life, I exulted (in the privacy of my own home). I can be thinner, trimmer, happier, wiser, a better mother/wife/writer/friend/dog parent. I can do this!
Well-intentioned I may have been, but out of touch with reality. My reality. I don't do challenges well. Suffice it to say that my good intentions evaporated as quickly as January snow on a 40 degree day.
I eventually gave up on challenges. January is just another month. I probably won't lose weight and since I haven't gone to the gym in over a year, fitness will not be my friend. And my word for 2015 is blintzes.
But I happened upon Popsugar's 2015 Ultimate Reading Challenge a few days ago and was intrigued. A reading challenge? Hey, I can do that. And when I was satisfied that neither food deprivation nor excessive sweating was involved, I jumped in. That's the kind of cardio I can do.
For the record, I have no affiliation with Popsugar, I am not being compensated by Popsugar and, let's be honest, Popsugar hasn't a clue that I exist, which is a long-winded way of saying that I am sharing this strictly for fun with no strings attached.
The premise is that in 2015 you will read 50 books of various types. Books that you may have planned on reading anyway, and others way off your radar. A book written by an author who has your initials. A book written in the year you were born. A book with a one-word title. And so on. Book nerd that I am, I put out a call on Facebook to enlist friends to join me, and now I'm in a small but active group of bookies. We will read books, recommend books, review books and talk about books: the book nerds' equivalent of a spa retreat.
I began with the first one on the list: a book with over 500 pages. That was easy. I had wanted to read "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr and it qualified with a page count of 530.
Just let me say ... well, I almost can't. I'm speechless. OMG. What a book. A National Book Award finalist, it is about the lives of a young German soldier and a blind French girl in World War II-ravaged Europe. The writing is exquisite. As Booklist said in its review, "a novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned."
The only consolation is that now I have a new favorite author whose previous novels I have added to my TBR list.
I am seldom without a book in hand (hence the name of my blog, Books is Wonderful) so you might argue that a reading challenge is not much of a challenge. But what I like about this one is reaching out of your comfort zone for a different kind of book. By the end of 2015 I will have read a graphic novel, a novel 100 years old, a trilogy, and so much more that will be new to me.
Incidentally, if this challenge strikes your fancy and you crave an online group as I did, go on over to Goodreads and see what other readers have to say.
I'll share a secret with you. I started Weight Watchers three weeks ago. And I'm tracking my cardio every day. So I'm not giving up entirely on personal improvement. I'm doing what I have to do.
And saving the rest of the time for reading.