This will be the year of getting “shelvish.” I have been feeling a little overwhelmed that I have all these great books on my shelf that have gone unread and are just “lying there.” So I’ve begun a one page campaign. I am going through my bookshelves methodically and just letting myself read one page each night. Sometimes the information sings to me and I read more. Many times I get excited and move on to the next book to see myself moving forward. I bookmark the page and the next night I move on to the next book.
Keep in mind that I am a busy parent and teacher. I turn to the bookshelf after I finish reading “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Jamberry” to my three year. The other day I read two or three pages of David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and The Creation of the Modern Middle East. Last night I read two pages of Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History. In the next few nights I will hit Zen and the Art of Making A Living and some other self-helpy materials. (My bookshelves aren’t necessarily arranged according to the Dewey Decimal system.) I am also approaching a fun little patch of Japanese manga and self-help books.
We live in an age of information overload and days that may have 1000 demands. It’s easy to fall into overwhelm. But increasingly I’m finding it is important to do two things: 1) think small and 2) follow joy. The information or the story or the song has to be attractive and attracted to you because that’s when you can really grow into your skill, into your self the way that you want to be.
Whenever I start to feel a little too precious or self-righteous about reading, I head over to ajatt.com. The blogmeister, Khatzumoto, taught himself Japanese in fifteen months through fun immersion. A big part of that involved reading fun materials in Japanese. One of his latest blog articles is “Multipass Reading: Be Sloppy the First 10 Times Because You Can Always Come Back.”
I love this invitation to “read sloppy” because the other option for little ole “perfectionist” me is not to read at all. Why should I let these hundreds of dollars of books and thousands of hours of human knowledge pass me by because I’m frozen about how to read correctly? It’s time to be shelvish and just have fun.
If not reading is holding you back, join me! Let’s make this the Year of Being Shelvish!
I've been shaking up my reading routine too- I have about three months left in China so there's actually a deadline to try and get through my books by. My books and magazines are now torn up and pages of articles or chapters are stapled together. It's so much easier to grab a few things to read on the go, and sorting through the box of cuttings is an exercise in browsing and reading in itself. Plus tearing up books is fun! (I'd experimented with this before, but it was the article on AJATT that had me inspired and up in the middle of the night ripping up books in a frenzy!)
I'm the same as you- fighting against 'all or nothing'. I've read more of my books in the last few days than in the last few months by taking the 'sloppy' approach- it's finally becoming clearer what the whole thing means as I can see the interesting things coming to the surface and I'm sure they are now more likely to get the attention they deserve.
I'm going to be as shelvish as I can before I have to dismantle the shelves and fit everything I own into a suitcase!
Awesome. Enjoy your three months. Sometimes a time limit is actually a way to get more done and expand your horizons.