For years now, I’ve started each January with a reading goal for myself. In the past, it’s always been a certain number of new books a year — a goal designed to draw me away from the same old favorites and towards new authors and titles. This year, I opted for a different goal: to read the 14 books I’d acquired in prior years and either never read at all or started but never completed. (The ones pictured at bottom right in the photo, for instance.) So far, I’ve finished 6 books, and I’m partway through 2 others. But as I was considering my goal and my results to date, I realized a few things.

For a start, I probably shouldn’t have bought some of these books in the first place. I was seduced by an interesting premise or a nice cover and didn’t consider that the author’s style might not be entirely to my taste. And likewise, if I started a book and never finished it, there’s probably a good reason — something beyond not being in the right mood.

Not that these books are bad; it’s just that most of them have been difficult, at least for me. They don’t make the reading process a joyous, effortless event, and they don’t leave me eager to turn each page to see what happens next. In short, they make reading too much like work and not enough like play.

I finally recognized the problem when I recently picked up Storm Front by Jim Butcher. I was instantly caught up in the story and I truly wanted to read more. After spending so much of this year in my purgatory of forsaken books, I’d forgotten what that feeling was like.

So I’m going to give myself permission to put my goal aside and just enjoy reading for a change. I still hope to read some of those lost books, just not all of them — and not right now.

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