My plate is already pretty full: I work full-time, try to be a good husband, and am always up for a good game of Pretty Pretty Princess. Mine isn't a tougher schedule than that of other working parents, but it is tough. So the challenge was to see if a heavy-lifting year of reading could be done almost exclusively in the crumbs of found time in my life. The oil-change can wait, I don't need those sick days or lunch hours. My test for this was my wife: I didn't even tell her I was tackling a book a day until six weeks into the project. If she suspected I was slacking — dishes undone, litter box a ruin, laundry growing sentient — then I was failing my prime directive.
The idea of a full book a day — going from title page to back-jacket blurbs — went quickly out the window. I read lots of books at once, and can go days making progress in five or six volumes without technically finishing any of them. Then there are flat-out busy days, where the actual drop-dead demands of my job and parenting mean there is not a second to spare for reading. My worst lull was during a Florida trip, when I barely plowed through the 300 pages of John Irving's "The Fourth Hand." And that was during a whole week of family vacation — the time when normal people read more. It took a month of catchup to get back at pace.
But for every period behind the eight ball, I had weeks when I was days or even weeks ahead of schedule. A slack day at work, an hour doing yard work with the iPod, a solo plane ride or overnight stay — these were my moments, and I seized them. Believe it or not, I grew so far ahead of my pace that I successfully read all 1,016 pages of George R.R. Martin's "A Dance With Dragons." It took me three full weeks, but I slew that Dragon.