Read on couch

Courtesy of Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Be honest: How long do you keep your New Year's resolutions?

Sure, you make it to the gym a few times the first couple of months of the year, and you watch what you're eating for almost as long. Your resolve to do dishes straight after dinner will last until the new "X-Files" airs, and you'll stop putting your socks in the laundry basket for no discernible reason — that's just how it always happens.

Luckily, your resolution to read more in the new year need not fail. I am here to help with my new reading challenge: Read 10,000 pages in 2016.

I can already hear the wheels spinning in your head. Off you go with the questions.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ten thousand is a lot, isn't it?

That was my initial reaction, but it's really not. Let's say the average book has between 350 and 400 pages. That's 25 to 30 books to read in a year. If you completed the 2015 expand your reading challenge, you probably read that much already and never thought about it.

I picked the number because I have on my desk a paperback of "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke that is 1,006 pages. "Wow," I thought. "If I read this 10 times, it would be 10,000 pages." And thus, through the power of simple mathematics in the wee hours of the morning, a reading challenge was born.

By the way, I call it a couch to 10K because you probably read on your couch. Hahaha. Haha. Ha.

Enough stories. Are there rules?

Of course there are rules. Without rules, we have anarchy, and I can't have that on my blog. The rule is that you can read whatever you want — new books, re-reads, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, anything. The 2015 challenge hopefully exposed you to some great genres and authors you never considered; 2016 is the year to dive into them. I know that after a year of following a prescribed list, I'm ready to cut loose.

What I do ask — and this is a request, not a rule, because I'm not your mother and ultimately can't make you do anything — is if you read a book you absolutely love, one you whiz through in a few days because you can't put it down, come back to the blog to recommend it. Especially if it's a big book (I realize that's subjective). One thing I love about this challenge is you could read a dozen really big books and complete it.

The challenge begins Jan. 1, 2016. If you're in the middle of a book, all those pages count toward the 10,000 goal.

Ten thousand is too big/too small/too divisible by other numbers.

This challenge is easily modified. Parents and teachers could make it a 5K or 1K for kids. If you polish off 10,000 pages a month, adjust the target up. If you like prime numbers, then it's the 10,007-page challenge, I guess?

I'm in. How do I track pages?

The truly old-fashioned can stick to pen and paper; you could also keep a record in a Word Excel file, which will add everything up for you.

Goodreads members can use the program's page-tracking device. Log in and click "My Books" at the top of the page. On the left, click "stats." I've Googled other apps for book lovers, but I can't find any that easily allow page tracking. If you know of one, please recommend it in the comments.

You can use this blog post to track pages, too. Comment with your first book and the number of pages, then reply to it as you keep reading. I'm doing that in this blog post. We can double check our math. Make sure to bookmark this post because other posts will eventually push it down.

What if I don't finish a book?

The pages you read count toward your 10,000. I'm one of those people who feels compelled to finish a book or series even if I don't really want to. I feel a bit of a sellout if I don't finish what I've started. If you are like me, consider this a step toward breaking that habit. You can put down a book and still move toward accomplishing your goal.

What about audio books?

Great question. I'm willing to count audio books; exposure to and interest in literature shouldn't be restricted to paper. You can find page counts for the books on Amazon.com and probably Barnes and Noble.

What about your blog? Technically I'm reading a page right now....

You should always read my blog. But for page counts, let's stick to actual books, OK?


What am I reading? Here's the list. I'll link to reviews as I get them:

"Dark Tide," by Jennifer Donnelly (378 pages)

"Ex-Purgatory," by Peter Clines (344 pages)

"Small Sacrifices," by Ann Rule (494 pages)

"The Serpent's Tooth," by Alex Rutherford (402 pages)

"Under the Greenwood Tree," by Thomas Hardy (201 pages)

"I Shall Wear Midnight," by Terry Pratchett (347 pages)

"He's Gone," by Deb Caletti (323 pages)

"Sea Spell," Jennifer Donnelly (345 pages)

"The Fallout," by Tamar Cohen (336 pages)

"Divorced, Beheaded, Survived," by Karen Lindsey (215 pages)

"A King's Random," by Sharon Kay Penman (680 pages)

"Mother, Mother," by Koren Zailckas (372 pages)

"The Second Mrs. Hockaday," by Susan Rivers (254 pages)

Contact Suzanne Wardle at suzanne.wardle@roanoke.com. Follow her on Twitter: @thebackcover

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