Two months to the day after I embarked on my project to read the Longlist, I finished my last book. It is a funny feeling finishing a project like this – there is a brief moment of triumph, followed quickly by the question, what next? Right now I am taking a hiatus, but soon I think I will be looking for my next project.
I am programmed by my job (and also just the way I am, I guess) to end a project with some reflections… what did I learn, what would I do differently next time. So here goes.
I began this project to expand my literary mind and to give myself a rare opportunity to try ‘the best’ of other genres of novel. And in some cases this worked. I genuinely enjoyed Bringing up the Bodies (a red book originally) and The Teleportation Accident (a yellow) and didn’t much care for Phillida (green) or most of the yellow books. But, overall, I don’t think this project moved the dial much on the books I would choose to read. Maybe I am just too set on my ways. Maybe I have developed a mindset where the things I like about books (see blog 26 July) are biased toward the genres of books I already like.
This project has changed the way I think about the books I read. I have just started my first non-Man Booker novel and already want to underline, annotate, pick out themes and ideas. I don’t know whether I will go back to my old, lazy ways over time, but at the moment I am thinking much harder about what I read and why (and if) I am enjoying it than ever before.
I worked on this project very much as a project. I worked to schedules and deadlines and took time out of other activities to complete it. In some ways, this was the point. I wanted to take time for reading. I also wanted to make sure I stuck out novels which otherwise I would have given up (though Will Self defeated me). But it also undermined my enjoyment at points – I was focussed more on completing the project than doing the reading. And by the end I got tired. Another time, I would let the schedule slide a little.
I didn’t think I would care about followers to my blog. This project was really for me and it was great to be able to share it with friends and family. But it was great to build up followers over time, seeing people read and respond to my thoughts all over the world. To date, people have read this blog in 21 countries. That is pretty cool. Thanks to all of you.
People were fascinated by this project. I have spoken to friends, family and strangers about it, at work, in the pub, at parties and other gatherings. If nothing else, I will miss it as a topic of dinner party conversation.
As I said, I am taking a break. But I am thinking of starting again in November. Suggestions welcome.