Sunday, January 11, 2009

The 50 Book Challenge

Congratulations, the first full work week of the New Year is in the books now. Your goals are firmly established and you're still resolute in your resolutions, right? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you'd like to join me in one of mine. I'm calling it the 50 Book Challenge.

I've never kept track of how many books I've read in a year before, but I've had the sinking suspicion it's been lower than I'd like. I'm not as voracious a reader as many of the people I know but I've become inspired by my daughter. Shortly after her birthday this August, she began reading the first Harry Potter book. She finished the seventh book before Christmas.

There's conflicting information on how much people read. Some say one in four Americans didn't buy a book last year. Others note that 37% bought more than ten. If you stepped into a bookstore like I did this past December, you no doubt spent a lot of time waiting in line and it wasn't for the lattes. Library use is up once again, as often happens in economic downturns. Still, others say retention and comprehension is down as our collective attention span shrinks to a few hundred words.

I'm more interested in a person's self-development. Charlie 'Tremendous' Jones famously and frequently said, "You are the same today you'll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read." Now, you may like who you are today - I sincerely hope you do. In fact, you may decide you would like to be the same person five years from now. That's your prerogative, but you must know the world won't be the same. Think about it, five years ago Facebook was just starting at Harvard. No one had heard of Twitter or YouTube and Barack Obama wasn't even a U.S. Senator yet. Five years ago, very few thought the Boston Red Sox would win a World Series, let alone two; and the New England Patriots seemed unstoppable. Some of us were even under the age of forty. Indeed, things change.

I for one am open for even more change. That's why I'm embarking on the 50 Book Challenge. I intend to read fifty books or more in 2009. For the first time ever, I'm going to keep track of what books I read and you can too (visit http://tinyurl.com/50BookChallenge). Care to join me?

Lack of time is one excuse people make for not reading as much as they would like, even though reading is an investment in your mind. If you're committed, you may shave an hour off your TV time, or curb some mindless web surfing. I'm not going to be a stickler on this. To me, audio books count and I'm not a snob; all books are valid, thick or thin, fiction or non-fiction alike. Maybe you'll choose to keep track of how many books you read aloud to a child or a grandparent.

Fifty books are all it takes. I'll even suggest two for you to get started, as I'm keen on the author. Try, "Pushing Back the Ocean" or "How to Stay When You Want to Quit; Re-scripting your life from whiner to winner." They are quick reads that I know you'll enjoy.

Consider too, completing the second part of the Charlie Jones equation and connect with me. Tell me if you're accepting the 50 Book Challenge and keep me updated on your progress. I'll do the same. In a small way, you'll change your world.