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Columns

January 1, 2013

COMMENTARY: Slate - 366 Days, 366 Books

Like many of you, I have a nagging problem: I'm not a heroin user. Nor am I a knuckle-cracker, a nail-biter, or a thumb-sucker. I (usually) pay off my credit cards every month. I travel, I see my family, I'm not stressed. And the big three — drinking, dieting, and smoking cessation? I'm good.

This is all great for my insurance rates, but not when trying to determine a New Year's resolution. So what can someone like me do for 2013?

I had the same dilemma last year, and my solution, while ingenious, turned out to be quite a challenge. I decided that I would read more. Not a book a month, or even a book a week. One entire book every day. Three hundred sixty-six books by year's end. "Challenge accepted!" the Barney Stinson of my soul boasted. No sweat.

If you're like me, the list of books you want to read is a hydra. Cutting one head off (that is, reading a book) just scribbles new titles onto the list. I'm never ahead. My whole life I've been fighting this hydra tactically, trying to bleed a head dry by reading, say, one of Bob Woodward's or Neal Stephenson's books every year. But they keep writing more books! Time for a new solution: overwhelming firepower. Force-feed my eyeballs like every tomorrow was a final exam. By year's end, my 366 books would have that hydra on its knees.

And, believe it or not, it worked.

In the cold light of New Year's morning, my challenge seemed a bit daunting. So I gave myself a week. If I didn't have seven books finished by Jan. 7, I obviously wasn't going to be able to keep such a meth-addled pace.

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