Friday, February 10, 2012

Reading List

In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwelll, I read that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Unfortunately, the only things I’ve spent a fraction of that much time on don’t help me to pay the bills. Over the course of my life, I guess I’ve become a a quasi-expert in 4 things: running, soccer, watching Gilmore Girls, and reading.

I’ve made great strides in the reading department over the past few months since I set a goal in August to read 2 books a month. For instance, it’s February 10, and I am deliberately stalling the completion of my second February book. Mainly because I don’t have a library card and it’s becoming an expensive hobby. In an effort to cut back on book spending, I started scanning my bookshelves for books I haven’t actually read yet. I uncovered Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown), CrazyLove (Francis Chan) and Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen). Those four should theoretically keep me busy through April, but I can’t help feeling a bit uninspired by the list.

Other than CrazyLove and Jane Eyre to some extent, I am just not excited about another Dan Brown novel or Water for Elephants. I started reading both of these at some point and ended up getting stuck and moving on to something else. I’m on a streak of really creative, uplifting and beautifully written books and I don’t want to stop following new leads.

Maybe I’ll try reading CrazyLove and Jane Eyre next. The Water for Elephants movie is next on our Netflix queue so I’m hoping the movie will help to spark some interest. I’m actually one of those weird people who prefer to watch a movie before reading the book. In my eyes, the book is always better than the film so you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment to do it the other way around. However, if you watch the movie first, you're excited to uncover more details in the novel, rather than being perpetually disappointed when your favorite bits are left out of the movie version. In fact, that’s why I’m a bit excited to finally read Jane Eyre. I saw the 2011 movie recently and loved its haunting imagery, but definitely wanted more explanation on the love story. Like when I saw The Descendants, though I enjoyed the movie, at the same time I knew the book had to be even better.
As for The Lost Symbol, I’ll admit that there is a time and a place for Dan Brown books. I’m not going to act pretentious and say that I didn’t enjoy The DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons, because I absolutely did. The DaVinci Code actually changed my perspective on a lot of assumptions we make about Jesus based on centuries of unchallenged organized religion. I don’t necessary put any stakes in the theories he presented in the book, but it did make me go “So what if Jesus was married?” and realize that it’s okay to challenge and question even the most accepted religious ideas.

I’m getting off on a tangent, but the point is, maybe I should keep an open mind and give The Lost Symbol another try. I did just order Swamplandia by Karen Russell so I’ll be able to throw in something fresh if I get into a rut.
Also, I previously posted about using novels as a way to learn about geography and travel. I recently bought a book recommendation guide titled: “Book Lust: To Go”. The author, Nancy Pearl, makes reading recommendations based on geographical locations. I think it will be a good resource and help me with the constant nagging question of 'What's next?' in terms of both travel and reading lists.

Last week I also challenged myself to the goal of writing 5,000 words per week. I’ve adjusted this to 20,000 words a month just because it’s easier to keep track of and some weeks I overcompensate while others I’ll lag a bit behind.

Two weeks into February, I’m hovering around 3800 words, so I’m worried that my eyes are bigger than my stomach so to speak. I do find that writing has a snowball effect in that the more I write, the easier it is. Practice makes perfect. Hopefully one day I’ll add writing to a list of things I’m an expert in. At least that has the potential to generate some income.

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