|Charles River, last New Year's Day|
One year ago, I made what I thought (at the time) to be a reasonable resolution: read twelve books that I specifically picked out for myself.
One-half year ago, I quit that resolution, after getting stuck for months on A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court. Just could not get through that book. And did not like being told what to read (even if I was the one doing the telling). So I struck out on my own, without a book list to guide me.
And, after 2010 was all said and done, I still ended up reading 5 of the 12 books I had initially assigned myself:
1) Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World, by Sarah Vowell
2) A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller
3) Three Doors to Death, by Rex Stout
4) The Third Man and The Fallen Idol, by Graham Greene
5) The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Though the year started off slow and strained in terms of reading, it finished strong with the help of some great books. I read The Third Man, a novella set in Vienna, while in Vienna, which made the story even more gripping. Then I started reading A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka, a book set in Krakow, while in Krakow. Same effect. (I'd recommend both books, even if you aren't traveling to their locations.)
Upon returning to the States and while returning all my travel guides to the library, a dog-eared paperback copy of Chaim Potok's The Chosen caught my eye. I checked it out. I loved it. Reading the story of two friends who navigate adolescence and Talmud study together dovetailed nicely with the start of that class I took on rabbinic writings.
Another nice pairing of life with literature was reading A Christmas Carol at the start of the holiday season. For as many film & television adaptations of Dickens' story as I've seen, I'd never actually read his classic novel before. It was great. And bonus: it was short! A quick read, and one that helped usher in a feeling of gratitude fitting for the holidays.
So while my reading resolution for 2010 didn't pan out as expected, I still read some great books. And, I learned a valuable lesson: quitting can be a good thing.