A Gentle Challenge
I have never before set a broad reading goal. For the past five years my goal has simply been to read. For the past two, I have actually kept lists of the books I have read. While I enjoy looking back on the lists and am thankful for all I have read, I think I’m ready for a gentle challenge.
I unintentionally stumbled upon the desire to set a reading goal for the year; it was not a well-thought-out New Year’s resolution. At Christmas my brother left a section of his Financial Times lying around. An enticing picture of a stack of books loomed before me on the front page of the Life & Arts section. How could I resist? Before I knew it, I had read Alice Fishburn’s article, “What I learnt from reading a year of books by only women.” Setting a literary challenge was not new to Fishburn, and the idea appealed to me. With less than a week left of 2018, I was furiously brainstorming and rejecting ideas for my own reading challenge.
At the same time, my mom was eager to share a treasure she had bought for $.50 at a library book sale. “Something I would never have picked up if I hadn’t been going to these Charlotte Mason retreats with you,” she said. It was The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Fourth Edition. Her anthology lured me in. A quick search revealed there are now eight editions, and the book comes in both a standard edition (with over 152 stories from 130 authors) and a shorter edition (with 73 stories from 69 authors). I settled on the shorter sixth edition, as it was available in like-new condition from Better World Books for less than $4.
My goal is twofold. First, I will read the anthology in a year, my plan being to read roughly six short stories a month. Then, I will choose a novel from one of the authors featured that month. Six short stories and a novel a month–a gentle challenge. I’m looking forward to the reading adventure of this year and meeting many new authors I would otherwise never have known.