2011 was a year for the books.
I HAVe A ProBLeM, An ADDICTIon reALLy. Something I call book-buying
disorder, or BBD. I am incapable of walking past any type of bookstore without being
sucked inside and emerging, eventually, with an armful of books. It doesn’t matter
if it is a chain or an independent store, new or used books, one with a coffee shop
or one without. An unseen tractor beam locks on and pulls me in the front door.
The problem, it turns out, isn’t so much the
buying. It’s the reading. My book-buying appetite
evidently exceeds my book-reading stomach (if
that makes any sense). I love to read; I just never
seem to have the time. This led to a dilemma that
hit a tipping point—literally. With my bookshelves
already full, I found myself with two dozen novels
stacked on my nightstand. Each morning involved
an intricate balancing act of turning off my alarm
clock without toppling my twin towers of literature. Something had to give. But how to melt this
“iceberg of verbs” that threatened to bury me every
time I hit the snooze button?
The answer came one day while talking to a
colleague. He told me about his new approach to
New Year’s resolutions. He grew tired of the neb-
ulous and undefined declarations (eat healthier,
lose some weight, volunteer more) and set out
to define specific and quantifiable goals: run 500
miles, read six novels, etc. I knew this was the
structure I needed in order to make a dent in my
book pile. However, I soon discovered a problem.
Knocking off just six books per year, it would take
four years to eliminate the stack on my nightstand
alone, assuming I didn’t add to them (a particularly
bad assumption). Even one book per month would
require a two-year reading project. Nope. I had
to make a bold move; two books per month. Not
a stretch for those of you who are speed-readers.
But for a read-every-word-sometimes-read-it-
again person like me, setting a goal of finishing a
book every two weeks was daunting.
IllustratIon b Y nICk galIFIanakIs
26 CONTINGENCIES JAN | FEB. 13