My thoughts are turning to next year, and I'm starting to think about what I will declare 2010 is the Year Of. Which is impossible to do without also thinking of what I declared 2009 to be the Year Of. 2009 is the Year of Shakespeare, the Year of Planned Reading, and the Year of the Definitive Cure.
I have much to say about each one of these, but my purpose of logging in tonight was to declare, officially, that I have FAILED to make 2009 the Year of Shakespeare. Mark that one squarely in the loss category.
I have been NOT reading Shakespeare for months now. I started with a bang, early, and concluded from the ease of the early reading that making 2009 the Year of Shakespeare would be a cinch. In fact, I decided, it was easy enough that I could postpone it until later, and instead read stuff that I actually wanted to read. Reading the complete works of Shakespeare would be easy to squeeze in later. No problem.
But then I continued to not read Shakespeare. I will tell you about what I read instead, in another post, and how it relates to the second goal I set, which was to make 2009 the Year of Planned Reading. But essentially, 11 months of not reading Shakespeare got me to the point where three days ago I declared December to be the Month of Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare's poems on my iPod in the airport. I can still do this, I thought.
But I know what I want to read tonight, and it is not Shakespeare. I have a pile of books ready, and they are not Shakespeare. I still think that I *could* read the complete works of Shakespeare. I even think that I *should* read the complete works of Shakespeare. It is perhaps true that I *will* read the complete works of Shakespeare. But it would be stupid to read them crammed into a month, under duress and resenting it, when I have books that delight me that I actually want to read right now, here in my hands. I would rather admit that this was not the Year of Shakespeare.
The truth is that I don't remember the Shakespeare that I did read this year. I think I read three or four plays and several dozen sonnets and some poems. It was easy reading: clever, funny, evocative. But I was reading to turn pages and to check a box, not because I cared about the material. I think that's a bad way to spend my time. And I feel lame and lazy, but I also feel pretty certain, because I'd rather declare the whole year a failure than resign myself to a dutiful regime of daily pages for the last month of the year. That seems like a dismal approach to Shakespeare and, worse, a waste of precious reading time.
So, I'm going to leave the big Shakespeare at my bedside sitting there, where it's been for so many months. Tonight I'll pick up the book that I look forward to, and when I'm done with that I'll pick up the other one I've been excited to read. I hope that someday I read the complete works of Shakespeare, but this year, the fact is, I didn't really want to after all. This probably means that I am not only unsophisticated and semi-literate, but also lacking discipline and willpower. Fair enough. I wish that weren't true about me, but probably it is. But I get to spend perhaps 7 hours a week reading for fun, which is not nearly enough to get through everything I aspire to read. Those hours should be a treat, not a chore. If I get to Shakespeare a little bit at a time, that's okay.