resolutions and all that

statue reading a book at Mozart Museum in Prague
statue at Mozart Museum in Prague

I’m terrible at making and keeping resolutions. The first week or two are great, and then it starts to slip. That’s partially why I’m hesitant to articulate them, much less share them with anyone else. That being said, I have made a few promises to myself regarding things I want to work on this year. I have hopes that enough practice will eventually turn the new behaviors into old habits.

One thing I really hope to do more of, and have been working on unsuccessfully for several years now, is to set aside time to read books. And if not physically read them, at least make use of the time I spend in my car or at the gym to listen to them. I used to consume several books a week on summer breaks from school, and even kept up the habit in the working years between college and graduate school. I think it was the combination of graduate school and home internet access that broke the habit.

Last year, I chose twelve books that I planned to read. I made it through six, finished one a day into 2012, and gave up on another. Here’s the list of books read, with links to my reviews on GoodReads:

When I made the original list, it was a mix of books I’ve wanted to read but didn’t own and books that I owned and hadn’t read yet. I thought maybe the list would make me more focused, and only 12 in one year seemed doable. In fact, I read 17 books total last year, just not all of the ones I told myself I would read. About four of the books I read were ones I found in audio format at my local public library, and they were my road trip companions for the Thanksgiving and Christmas pilgrimages to Ohio.

Ultimately, what it came down to, was a mix of feeling like the list of 12 were more like school assignments and less like something I would choose to read, even though I did choose to read them and no one but myself “assigned” them. It was an interesting experiment, but this year I’ve decided to just make the time to read, and leave the material selection up to whatever I’m feeling like or have recently discovered.

Maybe all this resolution making and breaking is a good thing in the long run. Maybe it teaches me more about how my brain works and how to trick myself into making better decisions. Or maybe I just need to turn off the computer and pick up a book.

12 book challenge, 2011

I’ve been trying to hit the 50 book challenge for the past few years, which basically requires me to read at least one book a week. Not happening. My average is around 25 in a year, and that’s often the result of reading a bunch while on break or vacation, and not paced throughout the year.

This year, I’m going to try something different. In addition to reading as many books as I can, I’m making a list of the twelve books that I want to try to read this year that are currently sitting on my shelves or wishlist. In no particular order, here they are:

Wil & iTunes

I’ve been amused by Wil Wheaton’s tweeted conversations with iTunes over the past couple of months. It reminds me of my own internal dialog with shuffle and Pandora radio stations. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

iTunes: Hey, what’s this? Simon and Garfunkle? Me: HOW DID THAT GET IN THERE?! iTunes: Gosh. I wonder. Me: PLAY TOOL! PLAY TOOL! AHHH!1 [view tweet]

iTunes: I’ll play Bauhaus, and maybe Joy Division. But don’t bitch when I play Hall & Oates. Me: Dude! iTunes: Hey, you ripped it, sport. [view tweet]

Me: Dave Matthews Band? WTF? iTunes: Turns out you’ve been putting music into me since 1997, Tough Guy. Me: “Tough Guy?” iTunes: Sweet Tits? [view tweet]

iTunes: I’m sorry about everything. Here’s the theme to Fish. Me: Aww. Let’s never fight again. iTunes: PSYKE! LISTEN TO WAYNE NEWTON BITCH! [view tweet]

iTunes: You know what you need? Punk Rock Girl. It’s been too long. Me: Why the sudden burst of kindness? iTunes: Obama, man. It’s a new day [view tweet]

Me: What the? iTunes: Look, I can only work with what you give me. Me: Bu- iTunes: I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, OK?! I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU! [view tweet]

twitter snobbery or basic info management?

A post by Greg Schwartz on his Open Stacks blog directed me to a post by Mitch Joel on his Six Pixels of Separation blog, and after reading it, I have to say, “Ditto.” Except for the number of followers & following, and the bit about Twitter on a Blackberry, my experience and reasoning is similar to Joel’s.

I started off on Twitter with a small handful of connections, mainly from the same organization. Their interest fizzled out quickly, but it left me poised for the Great Librarian Twitter Invasion of ’07. Soon, I was following and being followed by more and more people. When my following number hit triple digits and the rate of tweets increased to several per minute, I knew I had to do something to keep Twitter from taking over my life.

As an experiment, I went public with my tweets for Computers in Libraries, and I have left them that way ever since. Periodically, I will go through and weed out those that I follow, mainly keeping people I know in real life (or have a deeper online connection) or people I simply want to keep tabs on (mainly celebrities like Wil Wheaton and Jonathan Coulton). I still get far too many tweets per day to keep on top of everything. On the up side, anyone can follow me if they wish, and I don’t have to follow them in return.

Regarding the @ reply thing… Like Joel, I try to refrain from @-ing too often. My followers are not all from the same group of people who would care about what I’d have to @ about, and to save them the trouble of wading through irrelevant tweets, I send direct messages instead. I only wish more of the folks I follow would be as considerate, particularly when their replies make no sense out of context.

#3

I picked up the graphic novel Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between because I’m a fan of the series and because my favorite character, Tasha Yar, is on the cover. (Side note: For Christmas, some good friends of mine gave me a signed photo of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar. It’s addressed to me and is probably the most thoughtful and unique gift I received this holiday season.) Also, I remembered reading something on Wil Wheaton’s blog about a script he wrote for Star Trek: The Manga, which is totally different, but when I was wandering Barnes & Noble, it seemed like a good idea to pick up this book.

This is a completely different animal from the Japanese manga, and is published by IDW. It’s a collection of good stories and beautiful drawings, but the finale that would tie everything together seems contrived and inconclusive. Will there be a follow-up? I don’t see any indication of that, which is disappointing.