The Planner Notebook & Elizabeth Gaskell vs. Kathy Acker

I recently bought a Planner notebook. On facing pages we have a Daily Agenda section and To Do List–which are exactly the same thing, but I like writing everything twice.

I bought the Planner to track daily appointments. My husband was hit by a car while riding his bike in the bike lane; he was hospitalized with a broken collarbone and a collapsed lung. Appointment with trauma doctor–check. Appointment with orthopedic surgeon–check.  Pick up Extra Strength Tylenol for pain and the cat’s meds–check.  Everyone in this house is on meds now!

Checking items off a list is calming.  And then I realized I could eke out my tranquil planner time by scheduling my reading for book clubs.

I have two book clubs in October. I calculate the number of pages I need to read per day.  Soon the Planner is a jumble of dates, numbers, and arrows pointing back and forth.   Do I really need to read 200 pages of Wives and Daughters and 57 pages of Pussy, King of the Pirates on the same day?  That can’t be right– and I’m not even talking about the miscalculation.   Elizabeth Gaskell and Kathy Acker do not go together!

Of course any inattention to the schedule will wreak havoc.  I will be over-prepared for the Gaskell discussion at the Victober (Victorians in October) group at Goodreads, though I may not even participate, and know zip for the FTF group Acker discussion. But since I dislike Acker’s book, who cares?

Here’s the thing:  it doesn’t feel right to stick to a strict reading schedule. I prefer a flow in reading: it’s a natural thing, not a forced activity.  And yet Kerri Jarema and other Millennial bloggers often complain about feeling overwhelmed by reading goals.  Is the frantic worrying about numbers and goals a result of social media?

In a slightly frenetic essay at Bustle, “5 Reasons A Seasonal TBR Will Help You Smash Your End Of Year Reading Goals,” Jarema wrote,

It happens to me every year: September rolls around and I start to panic about my reading goals. For some, their yearly reading challenge is the most important part of their bookish life. These readers make strict numbered goals, and write extensive year-long TBR lists that they want to complete by the time Dec. 31 rolls around. And even though I made my own goals less harsh this year — choosing to focus instead on reading mindfully — I’ve still got to read 16 new-to-me books before the end of the year to fulfill my own challenge.

I have a glimmer of her feelings now that I have a Planner notebook. I know exactly what I should read when. I  look at my planner and think, “I should reread Colette so I can go to the Colette movie tomorrow.” Merde! That is insane!  I’ve reread Colette many times!

So, much as I love the Planner, I must take it less seriously. I’ll calculate the number of pages of one book I’d like to read next month and leave the rest to chance.

6 thoughts on “The Planner Notebook & Elizabeth Gaskell vs. Kathy Acker

  1. That’s why I never take part in challenges, book groups, or strict reading goals. I read what I want (usually three or four books at a time), when I want. The anxiety I feel is because of the press of years and the always increasing piles of books (including on my Kindle, which are less troubling because I can’t see them).

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    • LOL! I do know what you mean. Kathy Acker may be somebody else’s goddess but she certainly isn’t mine. Yes, it’s much better to read what we like to read. I just like writing in my Planner!

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  2. So sorry to hear about your husband. I hope that he recovers quickly. I have terrible handwriting and I am otherwise disorganized when using paper so it is all digital for me when it comes to organization . I also could not stick to a reading schedule, life gets a bit too busy.

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