Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reading Versus Writing (in Verse)


Psssst, I’m number 885.

“If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”

- Toni Morrison

I did something stupid.

Something to propel me.

To force me to read more.

Except, I’ll never be able to do it.

The goal to read 100 books in 2010 sounded like a good idea.

Except, I didn’t sign up until July.

And I’d only read 19 books by the time I’d signed up.

Though I’m a speed-reader, reading 81 more is daunting.

I’m bad at math, but even I know there’s less than half-a-year left.

That’s… some amount of days.

What’s half of 365, take away a month or so?

Is that like one every couple of days or something?

Here’s my list of 20 (that I remember) I’ve read this year, so far:

1. What the Dog Saw Malcolm Gladwell

2. Page after Page Heather Sellers

3. Bird by Bird Anne Lamott

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling

5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling

6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban J.K. Rowling

7. Tantalized Cynthia Leitich Smith

8. Desert Nomad Aubrie Dionne

9. The Many Adventures of Courtesy and Patience Jackee Alston

10. Shiver Maggie Strievfater

11. Hush, Hush Becca Fitzpatrick

12. The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

13. Girl Coming in for a Landing April Halprin

14. The Lightning Thief Rick Riordian

15. The Sea of Monsters Rick Riordan

16. The Titan’s Curse Rick Riordan

17. On Writing Stephen King

18. Eats, Shoots & Leaves Lynne Truss

19. Because of Winn Dixie Kate DiCamillo

20. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling

Each time I finish a book, I’ll add it to the list.

21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix J.K. Rowling

22. The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman

23. Under the Table Katherine Darling

24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J.K. Rowling

25. Evermore by Alyson Noel

26. Orange Mint and Honey Carleen Brice

27. Secret Lives of Great Authors Robert Schnakenberg

28. The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity Mac Barnett

29. The Accidental Tourist Anne Tyler

30. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J.K. Rowling

31. Catching Fire Suzanne Collins

32. Mockingjay Suzanne Collins

33. Frindle Andrew Clements

34. The BFG Roald Dahl

35. Gregor the Overlander Suzanne Collins

36. Agent Demystified Authoress

37. Malcifer Aubrie Dionne

38. Paranormalcy Kiersten White

39. The Mouse and the Motorcycle Beverly Cleary

40. More Six-Word Memoirs Edited by Smith Magazine

41. Voices of Ire Aubrie Dionne

42. The Eternal Ones Kirsten Miller

43. Heat Bill Buford

44. Tithe Holly Black

45. How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack Chuck Sambuchino

46. Radiance Alyson Noel

47. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Grace Lin

48. Joey Pigza Swallows the Key Jack Gantos

49. The Force is Middling in This One Robert Kroese

50. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Kate DiCamillo

51. Firelight Sophie Jordan

52. Whales on Stilts MT Anderson

53. The Hating Game Talli Roland

54. Reckless Cornelia Funke

55. Gregor the Overlander Suzanne Collins

56. The Higher Power of Lucky Susan Patron

57. Personal Demons Lisa Desrochers

58. Gregor the Overlander and the Prophecy of Bane Suzanne Collins

59. Gregor the Overlander and the Curse of the Warmbloods Suzanne Collins

60. Gregor the Overlander and the Marks of Secret Suzanne Collins

61. The Cricket in Times Square George Selden

62. The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen Jacques Pepin

63. Gregor the Overlander and the Code of the Claw Suzanne Collins

64. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone J.K. Rowling

65. The Thief Lord Cornelia Funke

I don’t expect to read 100 books.

Besides, there’s no magical binding contract.

Like in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (I think.)

I just have to make sure:

It motivates me to read for the joy of reading.

It doesn’t become a chore.

It doesn’t stress me.

And how stupid am I for reading Harry Potter books?

Each one in the series gets bigger.

And I could be reading two or three books for every GIANT one.

So far this summer, my writing schedule has been:




I’m getting less writing accomplished than I was during the school year.

And it’s already my fourth week into summer.

It’s those darned kids, I tell ya.

I feel obligated to pay attention to them.

Entertain them.

While I’ve edited, it’s not going as quickly as I’d like.

I had a list of places to query, but have only gotten about five out.

My rough draft of Naked Eye hasn’t received even one new word.

But I think about it all the time.

The solution?

When I’m not away, I need to devote two hours every morning to writing.

Not blog writing.

Not blog commenting.

Not even critique group editing.


Rough drafts.



If I call myself a writer, I need to write.

Reading is important too.

For reading will make me a better writer.

But reading can’t replace writing.

When I don’t write, I’m less WHOLE.

How do you balance conflicting desires and responsibilities?

Is anyone else trying to read 100 books in 2010?

How’s it going, so far?

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

- Nathaniel Hawthorne


  1. When I'm in the thick of writing, I don't read enough, and I miss it, too. But I try to balance it all with a journal filled with itineraries, which helps keep me on track.

    And though I can't read 100 books in a year, I do keep a book journal, noting which books I've read, the dates, synopsis, fave passage, rating, that sort of thing. It's a great reference to have on hand.

  2. I think you ought to get double credit for some of those Harry Potter books!

    I'm the wrong one to give advice about manage conflicting desires/responsibilities. It's not working out so hot over here!

  3. I had this big, long, somewhat witty reply-that just kept going. I don't try to balance anything in the summer. Heat makes me sluggish, tired, and stupid. I just accept that I'll do what I can until cooler weather. Then, my expectations are much higher. Since I began blogging, I read much less, which is strange for me...

    I think some of us work better and produce more when we feel the crunch. Too much spare time can be filled in with 'fluffy' stuff. Deadline type situations make me sit up and get with it...maybe it will be the same for you...?

  4. Good start on reading! I did a 50 book challenge a couple of years ago. I only counted new books, no rereads, and no school stuff. I made it to about 48, I think. It's hard, but so much fun! That will be a huge accomplishment when you make it to 100!

    Those darn kids! But you gotta live 'em :)

  5. You could listen to a book when you cook or do housework. Would that count as reading? It would help with the total.

  6. That is a worthy challenge with the 100 books. I could not do it.

    On the summer and darn kids--I all but given up anything more than posting 4 times per week, responding to emails, and blog surfing peridically. The little ones have us running 7 days a week with the weather warm.

  7. Wow, Theresa! Who twisted your arm on this one? Though I do admire your willingness to read 100books in 2010, I hope you focus the majority of your time on your gift, your talent: being a writer! You hit the nail on the head: If you are a writer, then you must write, so please don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed by this goal.

    Funny thing is that I posted about PRACTICAL goal setting today! Hope you find a spare minute to check it out! :)

    Good Luck! Tory

  8. I've been trying to crank out my WIP and am definitely neglecting my reading in the process. Good luck with those books!!! I really wish I had signed up for that type of challenge. You are balancing so much already so I have no doubt that you will find a way to put that writing time in!! Good luck!

  9. I did make the resolution to read ten Pulitzer Prize winning novels in 2010. I think I've read three or four, and then I got hooked on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo non-Pulitzer series.

  10. Theresa, that is a tough challenge, but worth a try.

    If it's any consolation, I am doing very little writing,
    visiting places, eating pie, walking on beaches - yes, writing - no.

  11. Thanks for putting a link to my contest! It is actually quite scary that 100 books in one year may not be achievable. I love reading, but even though I have stepped up the pace this year I think I have only read around 21 books so far (poss 27 adding July's total so far) and if I continue at this rate I will only read approx 60 - and I am a fast reader! Eek. But I hope your 2 hours devoted writing time works out for you. It is so hard to keep a balance, I struggle with it all the time.

  12. Awwww those darned kids!! LOL!! But they're adorable!! :-)

    20 books and we're only half way through the year is FANTASTIC!! Better than my one book every three months (and that's me speed reading!! LOL)!! Well done you!!!

    I think you are amazing - juggling family, writing and reading far better than - well me!! LOL!! Seriously - I think you give yourself such a hard time when really you are doing incredibly well - and being very disciplined about your time too. So huge pat on your back!! :-)And GOOD LUCK!!!!

    Take care

  13. Hi, I'm back from my hols.:)
    Wow, I don't know how you manage to fit in everything you do as it is. But, like you said, you have to read and keep it as pleasure, not a chore.
    Plus, you get points for having HP on the list. I still haven't read them all yet. lol.

    I tend to have weeks where I read lots of books really quickly, like a day or two. Then the weeks where it takes me forever to finish one.

    Writing wise, I think having a couple of hours pure writing is great. While I was away there was no internet to distract me, and I got three weeks of writing/editing in.
    Stick in there. You'll get the writing done. :)

  14. Great goal. Here are a couple that can help. First, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech can be finished in one short span. It's written is sparse verse from POV of a child. I imagine it would be very enjoyable for a writerly teacher.

    Then When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is only about 39,000 words. Unfortunately, I loved it so much I had to read it twice, once out loud to my kids. YMMV

    Good luck!

  15. I like to enjoy my books, slow, and my pace is more on the order of 1 page per minute. With that pace, I don't think I could fit in your goal.

    See, here's my reality:

    100 books * 300 pp/book * 1 m/p = 300,000 minutes
    5000 hours
    208 days of non-stop reading

    So, for me, it simply is not possible to read 100 books per year.

    I read about 10-20 books per year, so that means I am extremely selective. Furthermore, if I don't like a book after about 40 pages, I skim through, see if it improves, and either start at the good part, or chunk it.

    As for writing/reading, I combine both with good effect. I like to read a book that is similar to the one I am writing, at least in tone and voice. It helps me stay in-character as I chug along.

    - Eric

  16. There's no way in hell I can read 100 books in a year. I don't think I could manage 25 (this is excluding manga). /:

    I really have no idea how I balance my time. Maybe I should start paying attention.

  17. I am actually supposed to read around 100 books, but that's because of my graduate research. I have to admit, though, that I've been reading more "fun" stuff like blogs and chick lit rather than the books I'm supposed to read; too bad I can't write my dissertation on that.
    I usually go to a coffeehouse to write, which is enough motivation to get me to write even when I have other stuff to do.

  18. The 100+ book challenge was too daunting for my back in January, so I put myself to a personal challenge to read 50 books in 2010. I'm on book #25 right now, so a little off my game...but respectable. (I think?) As far as writing, I have to get my head out of vacation mode for my writer's mode to kick back in. Harder said than done! But like you, I just have to be firm with myself and the gears will grind to a start again.

    Good luck with your writing/editing/reading goals!

    ((hugs)) Nicole

  19. You've already read a ton of books! Heed your own advice, keep it fun and don't stress about it.

  20. I stand in awe! 100 books in 2010. That is some challenge. I am finding it hard to fit everything in too. Reading, writing, blogging, commenting, washing, ironing, walking, knitting etc etc. So much to do, so little time.

  21. You need to pick shorter books. And blog reading should count, shouldn't it?

  22. Oh my god I loved your last quote, it was awesome!!! And so true!

    NO I am not crazy with trying to think I can read 100 books in 2010, I can barely read 100 in 2!!! I think it's awesome that you're trying... GOOD LUCK!

  23. I need to make time for reading, blogging and writing, but in the end the writing should come first. It's just that there's not enough time!

  24. I actually had a list of 50 book to read. I suppose I could have done more but when I finished my goal i stopped. 100 books (with kids) is pretty impressive.
    I think I got it done because I am a night owl.
    I for myself on a schedule for blogging. I only spend a certain amount of time on them now. I think that is why I have 3 blogs. my mind is all over the place at times.
    I have been considering VLOGing. Less writing and just talking about what I'm doing. I really comment you for all your hard work....I believe I have said it before...I would love to read a great book of yours....

  25. @ Joanne, I normally don't read much when I write either.

    I like your idea to have a reading journal.

    @ Vicki, I'm sorry you're having a tough time with balance.

    The 5th Harry Potter book is over 800 pages!

    @ The Words Crafter the heat got to me the week I had no kids. I should've forced myself to work in air conditioning.

    Deadlines are harder for me. Promising to write each day is better.

    @ Tiffany 48 is impressive. I think all books should count.

    @ Sheila, audiobooks might help. I also read when I brush my teeth. Multitasking!

  26. @ Slamdunk, something has to give. I think it will have to be a bit of blogging.

    @ Tory, I know, I've done this to myself!

    I'll check your post soon.

    @ Saumya, thanks. I hope I get better balance soon.

    @ Missed Periods, my husband loved the first two books. He hasn't read the third in the series yet.

    I'm not even thinking about types of books at this point!

    @ Brigid, eating pie and walking on beaches sounds fun. Hope you're writing again soon.

  27. You read The Hunger Games but not Catching Fire? How can you stand not knowing what comes next??? I know, not everybody loved those books as much as I did, but when I finished Hunger Games and Amazon hadn't delivered my copy of Catching Fire yet, I watched that UPS Delivery Status feature like a hawk! :)

    It's much easier having kids at home in the summer when they get older. Mine let me spend quite a bit of time on my writing. They won't be young and wanting your attention forever, so enjoy it while you can.

    Good luck!

  28. You've got time to hit 100 books. I think you have a great plan. I need to stay away from the internet until the evenings...I tend to do everything before I get to writing...

  29. So far I've read 40 books this year. I don't know if I'll make it to 100. But I definitely won't sacrifice what little writing time I have to get to 100. I think writers get caught up too much in other people's work. Reading is good, it's a great escape and provides lessons on writing, but we must also write.

  30. I know just what you mean about feeling less whole. There's a happiness missing when you don't find time to write.
    I have a lot of work at the moment but thankfully I know it's only temporary. :) Good luck with your balancing.

  31. I think its a very nice goal. I mean, even if you dont reach it, you`ll have read enough books, which is always good! So, I like this!

    And, you`ve read some pretty great books (Im really curious about percy jackson!)

    PS: Best line ever about easy reading is damn hard writting. So true!

  32. I keep a list of the books I read throughout the year and average about 25 a year. Your goal is incredible. I am afraid if I made that goal I would be a nut-job about accomplishing it. Hopefully, you are more mature than I am.

  33. @ Jayne, it sounds like you're dong great with your book reading. I read fast too but there are a lot of other responsibilities taking away from my reading time.

    @ Old Kitty, thanks for the pep talk. I used to be a voracious reader, but graduate school took the joy out of reading for a few years. I'm glad I got the love back.

    I wonder what you'll read next...

    @ Lindsay (aka Isabella), you must finish those H.P. books. Highly recommended.

    I'm impressed you got so much work done. My vacations mean obligations, so it's curtailed my writing time. So when I'm home, I have to make the time count.

    @ Esther, thank you so much for the recommendations. I've heard good things about Love That Dog. I'm looking it up at the library when I get home.

    @ Eric, your math breakdown may mean I'm not going to finish 100 books this year. I definitely don't have that kind of time.

    Interesting how you read books similar to yours when you're writing.

  34. @ Amanda, I think as long as we read consistently, the number shouldn't matter. But I like the idea of having a reading goal ahead of me, to keep me on track.

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, I think I'll go more coffeehouses, especially ones without Internet. No distractions.

    You should do cultural studies. Then you COULD do your dissertation on that.

    @ Nicole, the fact that you're that close to being on track after a long trip is impressive.

    We'll both need to get back into work mode.

    @ Julie, thanks for reminding me to follow my own advice.

    @ Ann, my list is similar (but no knitting). I'll add cooking and shuttling. Plus your Internet isn't cooperating!

  35. Hi Theresa! In answer to your question - No, I haven't set a goal to read 100 books in 2010. But I have a long list of books to read but I don't want to put myself under pressure. Yes, I do agree that it should be pleasure-reading. It's good you know how to speed-read. I wish I knew how. Happy reading! :-)

  36. @ Liz, I wish blog reading counted. I'd be at 100 by now!

    @ Jen, thanks for the luck.

    I like that quote too.

    @ Lydia, I agree, writing should come first.

    @ Barbra, keeping up with three blogs is no small feat. AND you're thinking of vloging? Wow.

    @ Susan, I was waiting to read Catching Fire until Mockingjay was about to come out because I heard the 2nd one ends in a cliffhanger. Then I won't have to wait.

    My kids will let me work too. I just need to make a schedule and make the most of my time home, and not visiting family.

  37. @ Sharon, staying away from the Internet until evenings sounds sensible. I need to limit my time here. Sad.

    @ Medeia, it's amazing you've read 40 books. And your words about writing vs. reading ring true.

    @ LR, I hope you have more time to write soon.

    @ Clara, I liked the Percy Jackson books, but didn't love them. My son loved them though. But he doesn't recommend the movie because it strayed too much from the book.

    @ Bossy Betty, I don't know if I'm more mature. I may be a nut job about it... I just finished the 5th Harry Potter at nearly 900 pages.

  38. @ Len, speed reading is to sort of soak up an entire line at once. I don't do it for pleasurable reading, though I do read pretty fast in general. Thanks!

  39. Your list and your goal is impressive! I guess I'd better do a list and see what I come up with as to what I've read this summer so far. It's definitely not 100 books; I'll tell you that.

  40. @ Cleemckenzie, I wonder how many people in the challenge will actually get to 100.

    In Stephen King's On Writing, he has a year tally at the end. I didn't count it, but the list was impressive.

  41. I think you will like Love that Dog, but please don't read any reviews posted at Amazon first. They're very positive, but just give too much away. It's a very short sweet read.

  42. @ Esther, thanks for the advice. Amazon reviewers could be more careful, couldn't they?

  43. You have made a wise decision to step back from blogging at those times...I have started to cut back a bit on my blogging as I have been neglecting reading real books for a while too!

    Good luck!

    Best wishes,

  44. @ Natasha, I guess blogging should go before reading and writing. But I love that too.

  45. Wow, 100 books! And you have some great ones on that list. I actually haven't been keeping track of how many I've read for the year... as I finish each one, I just pick up a new one to take on the train.

    I'm currently on the 2nd book of Harry Potter series.

    I hear you about needing to write, and not finding the time. It's good that you are trying to dedicate at least a bit of time to it each day.

    And I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but summer IS almost over! Hopefully you will be able to get back into some sort of schedule - for now, enjoy the time with your family :)

  46. @ WritingNut, reading on the train is probably a great way to squeeze in a lot of books.

    I loved the Harry Potter series. How do you like them so far?

    I don't want summer to end because (unless I get a job) then it's back to subbing.

  47. All of you conditions on achieving the 100 book goal seem excellent, seem to ensure that it is a worthwhile experience.
    I order my life carefully by quantifying, defining, and hierarchically organizing my desires and responsibilities. That way I can do what must be done and apportion my time efficiently amongst the things I want to do.

    Not a very fun answer, but that's what works for me. : j

  48. @ Alesa, you sound like my dad. He's a big list guy too. I do lists when I big decision needs to be made. But I like making this list of books because it feels like I'm accomplishing something.

  49. I don't actually make lists... I don't have enough things for there to be a need of making one.
    I guess that's because before even getting to the steps I mentioned, I strive to make my life simple; I view my life simply.
    It rarely boils down to more than two or three things. : j

  50. Interesting goal, 100 books in a year.

    Maybe I'm elitist, but not all books are equal. Great books should count more than mediocre books or long books.

    When I was in graduate school, this list was published of 100 important books written in the 20th century


    It caused a lot of debate when it came out. But I started reading some of the stuff on the list (I think I've read 32 so far). The most important outcome is that it got interested in Joyce (all three of his novels are on the list), and for that I am grateful.


  51. Wow, Theresa good luck with reaching your goal, I'm impressed. I have a goal to watch over 100 DVDs by December. I only started watching my collection recently. I have seen 20, so just 80 to watch in the next 5 months. I think it's manageable though. They are all classic movies that I somehow haven't got around to seeing. Must head off now to watch the next one:)

  52. @ Alesa, I like your idea of striving to make life more simple.

    @ Anonymous/Aravi, I checked out the link. Of the two lists, I've read only about ten on each one. I've gotten lazier about reading classics since I've left school, but I should go back to it.

    It's true that certain books force you to think more. All books aren't created equal. But this contest is more about volume. Just read.

    @ Olive, 100 DVDs? I would find that harder than reading even thought each movie takes less time than each book. Good luck!

    I should see more movie classics too.

    I've been making a big push to read YA since I write YA. And then nonfiction books related to cooking interest me.

  53. Hi Theresa! Good for you! I think that's a great goal to have and it's very brave of you to start halfway through the year :) And just think, even if you don't make it to 100, you will have read so many good books. I'm about to start reading the Harry Potter series again myself. I have a gift card and was thinking about buying the entire paperback set for my library :) I so agree with you - I need both reading and writing in my life and can't choose between the two. I guess whichever is more pressing at the time! Hope all is well!

  54. @ Julie, writers love reading so it is hard to choose! Enjoy the HP series. I just finished 5. Should I start 6 or read something else? At least I'm taking a break and finishing Under the Table.

    Today is my daughter's birthday so tonight we're going out for sushi.

  55. 54 comments! Wow, you are the blogging Queen. :)

    Thanks for putting my book up there! I also see you've read a lot of Harry Potter this year!

    Two hours is a long time to devote to writing. I bet you'll get tons done!

  56. @ Aubrie, I think this may be my highest commenting ever. But I did lose a follower today.

    I am going to do my best to write. The week is already filling up - birthday party for my daughter and doctor appointments.

  57. I was pretty impressed at the amount of comments, too! Hey, when you got it you got it, huh?

  58. What? You haven't read one of my books? How about a sample chapter?

    100 books is a lot. I would scale that down to 99 and a few magazines. Just saying.

    Keep writing.


  59. @ Barbra, I guess people like commenting about reading. And return commenters sure help!

    @ Walter, as you can see, my list has a long way to go. I've looked at your sample chapter. It's an interesting premise. I should read more science fiction.

    And I may have to get creative to make it to 100. There are some rules. If you click the link, you can see them.

  60. Love this idea! found your blog via Ann's with the Kingsolver competition - I'm going to follow yours and hope you visit my blog - it's another Irish one and I am an avid reader but the 100 book challenge I doubt I'd make it - I must do a tally of my books so far this year. I'm loving my re-read of The Poisonwood Bible for our Bloggers' Book Club right now - are you in that or are you interested? seems to be always welcoming to newcomers!
    All the best, Catherine.

  61. @ Catherine, I'm glad you found me. I haven't yet read The Poisonwood Bible. I may be interested in your book club. I'll visit your blog.