Entries from January 2021

Reading in 2020

Having finally updated my reading list for 2020 and completed all the usual analysis, I have to shake my head in disappointment. I only read 20 books, the lowest number since I started compiling these lists in 2016! Where is the huge list of checked-off titles one would expect in a year ten months of which saw I and pretty much everyone else practically forced to abandon our distractions, empty our social calendars, and sit quietly inside getting some work done? I'll tell you what happened: work, by which I mean work other than reading, expands to fill the time available, and it's hard to tell from which direction the expansion will come.

In my case that expansion mostly came from everything involved in improving my home workspaces, setting myself up to work-from-home in a R&D lab of one, building some things I'm mostly pleased with, and getting some videos of those things published. As soon as some level of lockdown arrived (never very severe anyway in my home state of Florida) and the horizon of my free time widened, it was too easy to say yes to those voices, both of others and of other parts of myself, that prefaced their requests with "since you're not busy anymore...." Perhaps I'll spend 2021 saying no instead.

And maybe I'll return to some other pre-quarantine patterns too. I remember that, having failed to read 36 books in 2019 as intended, I had scaled back my ambitions for 2020. Now I know that I failed those goals as well, despite unexpectedly ideal conditions. So this year I'm back to 36. I may miss again. But 2019's 33 books is still a lot better than 20, and if setting a more ambitious goal is responsible for that, I think it's worth doing.