Over at That Shakespearean Rag yesterday, I was pleased to see literary critic Steven Beattie make reference to the very fun game we played here on this blog last year called The Retro Reading Challenge. Even more interestingly, Steven has launched his own reading challenge for 2011.
I love the nature of what Steven is proposing for the simple fact that it dovetails what I feel (in my better moments, at least) that good reading ought to be. I'll be the first to admit that I get a little obsessed with the quantity of my reading, often at the expense of being more engaged at a deeper level with the books at hand. For me, this mentality is a product of my background - I didn't grow up in a house full of books or avid readers, and so for the last 20 years I've felt like I'm perpetually playing this game of catch-up: reading as much as I humanly can to make up for what feels like a rather arid childhood, literarily speaking. I get through about 65 books a year, and yet I still feel forever behind the eight ball.
So Steven's challenge is a refreshing reality check in this regard. It's a reminder that it's less important how much one reads and more important that we read deeply, with greater aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity. We owe it to literary authors, who (as I well know) slave for years over the books they create for us. Thanks, Steven.