Library corner: Revive your reading with a goal, but don’t forget to enjoy the books

Glenn O’Flaherty
Guest writer for Grand County Library District
Glenn O'Flaherty writes in today's library column that having a reading goals makes one read more.
Glenn O’Flaherty/Courtesy Photo

I have enjoyed reading since I was a little kid, with my childhood favorite book being “Five Chinese Brothers” by Claire Bishop. Reading is a great way to relax, escape to a far-off place, learn something new or learn something old that you didn’t know about before. 

Back in 2015, I undertook a challenge issued by Vic, a fifth-grader at Fraser Elementary, to meet or beat his goal of being the top “Scholastic Reading Counts” points-getter at school that year.

I initially agreed to read 25 books in a year, which was rejected as being too easy and something I was probably already doing. So, I upped the ante and agreed to read 50 books, about a book a week. Well, two things happened: Vic was the number-one reader at Fraser Elementary that year, with over 1,000 points, and I read 57 books!

The good news is that I kept up the challenge. I’ve read at least 50 books each year, except for the past two COVID years. In 2020, I read 49, re-reading many of my favorites, and in 2021, just got 43 done. It seemed like all my favorite authors were writing less, or just not getting published. This year, I’m off to a good start, but I’m changing my goals.

Which brings me to the point of this article. Reading shouldn’t be a challenge. You should enjoy it. Since I began my goal in 2015, I’ve read 380 books of all types: novels, nonfiction, history, biographies, politics etc.

I’ve forced myself to venture out from my favorite authors and read books recommended by others, as well as New York Times bestsellers and book reviews. Getting outside of my “comfort zone” introduced me to new authors and broadened my perspectives on history and current events. Challenging myself to read at least a book a week forced me to find things to read. I highly recommend trying it, even if you start with a smaller goal. Try to read a few nonfiction books if you only read novels, or vice versa. Read a biography of your favorite historical figure. Find something that challenges you a little. 

Now back my new goals. I still try to read as many books as I can, but rather than quantity, I am now focused on quality. My new challenge is to read (or reread) the top 20 “classic” books. There are many “Top Classic Books” lists, with 20, 50 or 100 titles. The books tend to be lengthy and with more complex writing styles, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I have already started by reading John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden.” Both were excellent. The writing style and descriptive language is without a contemporary peer. I guess that’s why they’re classics. 

In closing, I’d like to recommend my all-time favorite author, Dennis Lehane. Originally from Boston, like me, his writing style captures the true voice of his characters. 

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