To Read or Not to Read: My challenge for 2014

This year, one of my “resolutions” (though I hate that term, because I never stick to them, and then I feel like a failure) is to read all of the books in my Kindle library and on my bookshelf that I haven’t yet read. I spend a lot of money on books — whether digital or physical — and yet some of them sit on my shelf for months and sometimes even years (Wuthering Heights, I’m looking at you) without me even so much as reading the first page. I know I’m not alone in that — there are lots of people in my life whose shelves are packed with unread, unloved volumes.

Part of the problem is that I tend to mark things as to-read (whether mentally or at my GoodReads account — the barcode scanner on the site’s mobile app is amazing), and then I either:

  1. forget that I ever had interest in the book to begin with and never look for it at the bookstore or online or anywhere,
  2. ignore it in favor of the other six books that I added to my to-read list on the same day,
  3. let it fall to the bottom of the list along with all the books I added four years ago and still haven’t touched, despite thinking, oh, I want to read this! every time I see the title at a bookstore.


This year, my goal is to read 100 books (which was also my goal last year, and we won’t talk about how badly I failed). I’ve never read 100 books in a year (at least not in the years I’ve been keeping track, but since I was a monstrous little reader as a kid, who knows?) and I think it’s a good challenge for my brain and my creativity. But I’m also challenging myself to read all of the books I own but haven’t read. And to go even further, I’m challenging myself to start my to-read list from the bottom — i.e., reading the books that have been on it forever, rather than the ones I just added.

This series of challenges will most likely be very difficult for me. I tend to read multiple books at a time, for weeks on end. This year I’ll have to buckle down and knock it off, focus on one (or maybe two) books at a time until I complete all of my goals. And I will! I will. I swear it.

At any rate, last night, I read Ryan North’s To Be or Not to Be, and cackled with glee from under my covers at 1 a.m. I didn’t even have this book on my to-read list — but I did own it on Kindle, so it counts. You can read my review below.

TBONTB[Review reposted from GoodReads.]

I bought this book (several months ago) on a whim, at the suggestion of my best friend. I didn’t get around to reading it — well, “reading it” — until last night, but I can say that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

To Be or Not to Be isn’t really a book. It’s an adventure game. You choose your character (Ophelia, Hamlet, or Hamlet Sr. — yeah, the ghost) and then make decisions on what will happen next as you progress through the story. Every time you make a decision, the ending of the story changes. I started the story from the beginning six or seven times and laughed out loud with every single choice. North’s writing is engaging and funny; it breaks the fourth wall perfectly and makes the absurdities of the tragedy of Hamlet all the more apparent.

Because I’m the type of weirdo who likes to bring William Shakespeare into regular, everyday conversation, I’ll probably buy a physical copy of this book that I can break out in social situations. Because even if you aren’t a fan of Shakespeare or even, more specifically, Hamlet — you will most likely find this choose-your-own-adventure version downright hysterical. In fact, whenever I need a pick-me-up after reading a depressing story, from now on, I’m just going to run through a few rounds of To Be or Not to Be. Perfect.

Overall rating: 5/5 stars
Recommended for: Everyone

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