You know, as mechanical and unnatural as a project may sound if you forget that projects are associated with work and study and that work and study are usually associated with a corrosive anxiety caused by bad bosses and bad teachers or even bad choices we’ve made, it can be helpful.
Now, the definition of “project” without the bag of crap we inflict on it through bad associations is a piece of planned work or an activity that is finished over a period of time and intended to achieve a particular purpose.
Planned activity. Finished over a period of time. To achieve a particular purpose. Let’s clear this out.
A reading project serves for you who have a list of books you want to finish over a period of time with a goal in mind, and you can still take it with pleasure.
The goal is usually education, entertainment, or inspiration. And the pleasure comes from you not seeing it all as work but as a timely accomplishment that makes you happy and proud.
A while ago, I decided to read more Russian literature. It was the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and I’d already read some Russians like Dostoyevsky and Nabokov. But I knew that I wanted to read Russian literature because I always thought I would love it. And I was right.
So, using the World Cup as an excuse or more like a theme for my project, I made a list of the top works of Russian literature, and I set a deadline for my goal: by the end of the World Cup, I would read all top sixteen works of Russian literature on my list.
Here’s the list in the order I’ve read it: War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, Dead Souls, by Nikolai Gogol, Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, Notes from the Underground, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Poor Folk, also by Dostoyevsky, Eugene Onegin, by Alexander Pushkin, The Overcoat, by Nicolai Gogol, The Captain’s Daughter, by Alexander Pushkin, Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermontov, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
But man is a fickle and disreputable creature and perhaps, like a chess-player, is interested in the process of attaining his goal rather than the goal itself.Fyodor Dostoyevsky
That quote might be essential to what I’m about to finally tell you. How to create a reading project and finish it:
- Make a list of the books you want to read
- Define the purpose of your project
- Set a deadline to finish reading them
- Create a schedule and start it
- Read without thinking of the above
Now, to make a list of the books you want to read, you want to be realistic, so don’t create a plan you can’t tackle.
To define your project’s purpose, think about what you want to achieve and what would make you happy? I wanted to be enlightened and engulfed by the beauty of Russian narratives and poetry, and I wanted to be able to explain what made me love Russian literature.
What do you want to stay in your mind and soul after you finish your reading project?
To set a deadline and create a schedule, you have to be aware of what you can do. How long do you need to read a book without rushing and without crawling to read it? At your pace, how long do you need?
Then remember, both the process of attaining the goal and the goal itself are important but while you’re reading you must forget them.
When you focus on the goal, you read faster and without your soul, and you mar the beauty of reading. When you focus on the process, the goal is just a goal, and you also turn your reading into a work.
Which leads us to the final item: read without caring about the process. Once you defined everything, just read. You won’t die and the world is not gonna end if you have to redefine some goals and deadlines.
That’s why reading projects are not like work and study. At school, you would not learn in time to take the exam and pass it. At work, you would not deliver in time and you’d’ve been fired. But here, there’s no harm, no punishment. You’re free. You’re just giving yourself a little method to the madness of a thousand books you have in your to-read pile.
So yea, what are reading projects good for? Why would you want to do it? Because you have a huge to-be-read list there, and you’ll never gonna read those books you want to read if you don’t get organized, ffs. Believe me.
Now, just to wrap it up and to give you an example: you have five 200-page books to read (that’s 1000 papes), you wanna read them all by the end of next month, and you can read 40 pages every day.
You make a list, and read 40 pages every day.
That will actually make you finish your project in 25 days, if I can still do any simple math. That gives you an extra time for any unexpected bump in the road that prevents you from reading the 40 pages of the day.
From my personal experience, though, when the book is good, those 40 pages can easily turn into 100 in a day, and when you less expect it, you finish your project 20 days before the deadline.
Between the lines, do you find any difficulty there? Do you have your own reading projects?