Tuesday, January 30, 2007

0:42 Knew Your Resolution

I never intended two and a half months to lapse between posts. I've been kinda busy without doing anything special. The holidays took some time and my job has been fairly hectic, but the main reason I've been so mum is there just wasn't anything I wanted to write about.

I post here when I have something to share. I don't see this site as a private diary made public or as my daily speaker's corner to kvetch about the state of the world or what I saw on tv last night. That's why we have email, the phone and dinner with friends. It may not always be apparent, but I do put some effort into these entries, at least re-reading them before I post. Despite my grammatical blunders, I always (pretentiously?) thought of this online journal as the equivalent of an op-ed page rather than chatty gossip on the phone and there hasn't been much I've wanted to op-ed about.

Which brings up something else I've never been interested in: New Year's Resolutions, a concept that combines two of my least favorite things, self-discipline and the passing of time. However, I have made a resolution for 2007 and will be writing about it as the year progresses. My goal is to finish 42 books by December 31st. For those who know me, this may seem like no big deal, but it will actually take some work. I think I am more bibliophile than reader; in other words, I love books as objects as much (if not more) than I do the act of reading. I realized this while traveling in Europe and spending lots of time browsing in bookstores, examining volumes I couldn't possibly read. Read, schmead: I was fascinated just by the look of Italian paperbacks, Portuguese novels and French art books.

For over ten years, I've been writing one or two page reviews for each book I finish. This started because one year I couldn't remember much of what I had read. I knew I had read something and assumed I enjoyed it, but only by slowly looking over my bookshelves was I able to recall what I had read. I found that writing brief book reports made me pay more attention while reading and enriched the experience. It's from these book reports that I know that I usually finish around 20 books a year. Not a bad number, I guess, but it's not a lot. This average - less than two books a month - is due to how easily distracted I am by other media, mainly film or internet based.

Some rules: note that I said I would finish 42 books this year. This means including things I started last year but didn't finish. Everything I chose has to be new to me: no re-reading. Graphic novels don't count. (This is a shame, because I'm really enjoying Buddha by Osamu Tezuka.) Art books will be considered depending on how much text there is.

Why 42? It seems like a good goal. It's achievable (unlike trying to write a novel within a month) without being too easy. It's double what I can do without trying, plus a 10% gratuity.

It's also, according to Douglas Adams, the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything:
According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, researchers from a pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent race of beings constructed the second greatest computer in all of time and space, Deep Thought, to calculate the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. After seven and a half million years of pondering the question, Deep Thought provides the answer: "forty-two." The reaction:

"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

--Courtesy of Wikipedia
The other reason I've chosen to read 42 books this year is that I will turn 42 in June. I've never really cared about the standard milestone birthdays, whether dictated by the decimal system or by society (16, 21, 35, "it was a very good year..."). I was more impressed when I was about to turn 34 because, as I put it, "I've outlived the Lord!" "Yes," my sister Julie replied "but look at all that He achieved by the time He was your age."

Ah well. So I will be posting about my progress throughout the year, this resolution has the side benefit of making me post to "The Hanged Man" more often. I will, of course, also be writing about my usual misadventures, such as thinking I know what Dutch babies are saying, buying artwork while drunk, and spilling things on myself.

Hope everyone has a good 2007.