“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

I took this picture on the bus in Denver when I was there for a conference.
I’m not sure why, but the steps in the title made me think of these girls with their
matching shoes.  For the record, they were wearing matching shirts, too,
but it was too difficult to take that picture surreptitiously.

The Lao-Tzu quote in my title is perhaps trite, but it’s true.  I have a lot of ideas, but a lot of them never really make it into reality.  I have good intentions, but translating that to the real world is often impractical or just more time-consuming than this working, single girl can commit to.  So it is with great pleasure that I can report back that I have been sticking to my challenge thus far.  Not only that, I am loving it.

Now, I admittedly got a slow start, although through no fault of my own.  I played host to some unexpected company this weekend, and I had to invoke exception number five: watching TV in a social setting is permitted. In other words, I can watch if I get invited to go to a movie, have a friend over and he or she would like to watch TV, or go to someone else’s house and he or she suggests we watch TV.  In those situations, I wouldn’t be reading a book anyway (I think the person I’m with might find that a bit rude).  It only makes sense to cut the TV when reading is the alternative activity.

So it really wasn’t until yesterday that I got a chance to begin my challenge.  As it happened, I was home sick yesterday, so it was both an opportunity and a test.  Sure, I wasn’t feeling so great, obviously, and there was my TV and my Netflix account and my DVD collection and whatnot, all right there and within easy reach.  However, to my credit, I did not give in.

Instead, I picked up the book I was reading at the time – The Truth About Kent State: A Challenge to the American Conscience – and ended up finishing it before too long (I’ll report back on this later).  I did the crossword I still had left from Sunday’s paper.  Then I started another book I have checked out from the library – What a Blessing She Had Chloroform: The Medical and Social Response to the Pain of Childbirth from 1800 to the Present.  I got a little less than halfway through.  I kept thinking to myself, oh man, can I do it?  Can I finish this whole book today?  Ultimately I got too tired and realized I’d have to call it a night, but I felt the day had gone well.  I’d stuck to my plan.

As I was compulsively adding more books to my list of the books I want to check out, it occurred to me that I could probably get through them all in a not-unreasonable amount of time if I were to continue this challenge even after I finish all the books I have in my house.  I’ll never run out of books I want to read – I’m a librarian and a knowledge junkie.  There are probably a few movies I want to see now and then, a show I’d like to follow, but on the whole, I don’t have much use for TV.  It’s obviously very premature to say this, but maybe I’ll make this a permanent thing.  At the very least, I would like to commit to not wasting time on TV anymore, such as by watching stuff I’ve already seen.  Sorry, Arrested Development, but I’m looking at you, among others.  It’s time I spend a little more of my energy on something I consider actually worthwhile.

So, because some of you have asked, I’ve compiled a list of the books that are on my to-read list.  Again, these are the books that I have here in my home that I haven’t read yet.  There are a couple that I didn’t manage to put on there because I couldn’t find the link or I skimmed over them on the shelf by accident.  As it stands, there are now 45 on the list, but I think there are at least 5 more I don’t have on here.  So it’s a somewhat daunting task, but one I’m up for.

Fun fact: I didn’t put it on this list, because I’m not sure if I’m up for it, but one of the books I have in my collection that I haven’t read yet is the complete, unabridged edition of Les Miserables.  At least I’m not totally insane, and I got the English translation as opposed to the original French.  Even so, that puppy runs 1,222 pages.  And let me tell you, from what I’ve read so far, some of those pages include long, pointless, minute details about extremely minor characters.  When I started reading it the first time, I think I got about 80 pages in and all I’d read so far were details of the life of the priest who helps Jean Valjean the first time around.  If you know anything about the story, you will know that the childhood of this extremely minor character could not be less relevant to the plot on the whole.  So, what I’m trying to say here is, if I somehow manage to finish this tome in addition to the other 50-some odd books on my list, I think I deserve a cookie, at the very least. 🙂

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