(Image above: Kristin cozies up with a classic!)
Have you ever uttered the statement, ‘I should read more?’ I have, about a million times. I am constantly whining about not reading enough, but I let life get in the way. Magazines are easier at the gym, late nights out take the place of bedtime reading, and television fills in all the other gaps. But, I feel guilty for not making more time in my schedule for books. I love them. I miss them.
Keep reading for a great blog and book tip!
Kristin Pazulski felt the same way. She was working as a reporter for Philadelphia’s The Chestnut Hill Local where writer Hugh Gilmore had a column called ‘The Enemies of Reading.’ Gilmore discussed the distractions to reading and challenged everyone to overcome them by embracing the goal of 100 books in a year. Although 100 seemed beyond her, the idea forced Pazulski to get serious about increasing the time she spent with her nose pressed in a book. It was 2007, her goal was 25 books (higher than her normal reading pace, but also achievable), and the Cover To Cover blog was on the cusp of creation.
After that first year, Pazulski discovered that not only was her appetite for reading increasing, but looking back at the list of books she had read helped her to reflect on her life. She was able to remember the events of that passing year through the list, and when there was a glitch in her memory, it meant there was a lull in her reading at that time during the year. Fascinated and inspired by this phenomenon, she invited her friends and family to join her reading pursuits. They set their own reading goals, picked their own books, and Cover To Cover was born!
Cover To Cover features regular book reviews and updates from the readers themselves, who also list their personal reading goals on the site. “The most important thing to emphasize,” states Pazulski, “is that this is not a competition.” Readers should not feel stressed or pressured by other members – this is a community of individuals who simply want to read more, and Cover To Cover wants to help foster that goal. Pazulski says that “whether you reach the end result is nearly irrelevant.” It’s wonderful if you do, of course, but you are still likely to read more than you would have without the goal. Last year, Pazulski’s goal was 32, but she only read 25. She’s not upset, though – that was way more than she’s read in the past, and that makes her happy. In fact, her boyfriend set a goal of just one book last year (more then he usually reads), and reached it! He’s already on his third book for 2009.
The Cover To Cover blog has an encouraging, positive feel, and Pazulski hopes that will keep people involved. It seems to be working – the network of readers is expanding, and Pazulski is excited about fostering this new community. Eventually, Pazulski would like to bring this program into schools (anyone remember Pizza Hut’s BookIt?) with the support of her dedicated readers.
So, set your goal and start reading with Cover To Cover!
(And, let us know if you do…we’d love to see your goals and book reviews!)
If the books on your reading list are anything like Life After God, you’ll find yourself meeting the yearly reading goal with ease. Unfortunately, you may also end up a little on the sad side; a sample line reads “First there is love. Then there is disenchantment. Then there is the rest of your life.” This is certainly not the right selection if you’re looking for a chipper beach read. But if you’ve never read Douglas Coupland (one of my personal favorite writers and author of Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture– a book which many have said gives a voice to that alphabetically-named generation born after 1960), this is a wonderful introduction. The stories are brief, accessible, and deal with universal topics like love, heartbreak, and the small sadness that comes with growing up. This is the kind of book best read with a dose of self-contemplation.
Coupland has said that the title of the book refers to what he views as a generation (his generation) born in the absence of any belief structure or organized religion. Most of the stories express a concern with where we come from, wondering how it is we got on this Earth–what makes us human and what makes us us. Each of the eight stories is laced with an awareness of the divide between ‘real lives’ and the expectations of life we get from reading stories or fairytales.
Each of the stories addresses in its own way the consequences of belonging to this generation. These include fear of a nuclear fallout (“The Wrong Sun” vividly depicts people’s experiences in their last moments following an atomic explosion.), cynicism (the strained father/daughter roadtrip in “Little Creatures”) and disappointment (The final eponymous story, “1,000 Years (Life After God)” finds six high school friends twenty years later, each let down by their lives in a different way.).
But despite the confusion and loss apparent in all of the stories, there is also an appreciation of the beauty in decay, such as the line “The cold air sparkled and the maple leaves were rotting, putting forth their lovely reek, like dead pancakes.” The world might not be a fairty tale, but Coupland continuously finds hope in nature and in animals throughout these stories, and the overall mood is not morose–just reflective.
Have any great book recommendations?? Let us know!!