The annoying thing about reading is that you can never get the job done. The other day I was in a bookstore flicking through a book called something like 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (and, without naming names, you should be aware that the task set by the title is by definition impossible, because at least four hundred of the books suggested would kill you anyway), but reading begets reading--that's sort of the point of it, surely?--and anybody who never deviates from a set list of books is intellectually dead anyway.
--Nick Hornby, Shakespeare Wrote For Money
Now seems as good a time as any to confess that I decided during the waning days of October to bow out of all current reading challenges and to resist future entanglement with any of these enticing efforts to direct my reading. Even though I put only books I want to read on a challenge list, the fact that they're on a list at all sets up all sorts of mental boundaries--I avoided the downloaded George Gissings on my Kindle for the past nine months because I needed to concentrate on 19th century women, for example--that contributed to my eschewing books almost completely for a few weeks while I obsessively checked the interconnected internet tubes once again for any other ridiculous misinterpretations of the First Amendment that may have come tumbling out of Sarah Palin's mouth.
So. I'm back to reading at whim and allowing my reading to beget reading and trying to keep reading-by- library-due-dates under control. That's enough of a traveler's lantern for me right now.
I will be participating in the occasional group read; I have a first edition of William Gaddis' The Recognitions on my desk at work so that I can read along with LitLove's Reading Gaddis group, and I will of course continue reading with the Slaves of Golconda and perhaps even posting my thoughts on these books--next up, Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry with discussion at the end of January-- instead of moving right along to the next book on a list that needs to be checked off.