Relaxation with a goal

Leslie Arntz

Deadline. It’s the ever-present force looming over the head of the journalist and student alike. Deadlines must be met for columns, term papers and homework. College presents a girl with quite a list of time-defined tasks. Why take up another?

Because it’s what I love. My creation of a book log has turned into something more. Instead of simply documenting what I read for posterity and the personal sense of achievement, I have set a goal for myself.

By Dec. 31, 2005, I plan to have read 50 books. Thus far I’ve reached 33 books, totaling 11,118 pages.

My initial goal was 100 books. For anyone else: a laughable goal. But for me? Close examination of my literature-speckled past reveals no indication that 100 should be unreachable.

And yet, in order to fully grasp the situation, a much closer look must be given to my recent history. I only read 11 books this summer. This is below my standards.

I think back to the summers of my youth when weekly trips to the library procured the maximum number of books my juvenile’s card would allow me to check out. Oh, how I miss those carefree days when all I had was a stack of books and my own company.

This summer, despite long car rides and a week on the beach, I came nowhere near the glory of my middle school days. In addition to limited time, I have an outstanding fine at my local library and balk at paying it in order to reach the treasure trove beyond the front desk. I’ve cleaned out the used bookstores and left only tacky romance novels in my wake. A new crop of worthy material shouldn’t be available for a number of months. Finally, my boyfriend doesn’t see the merit in sitting down and reading together.

Despite these setbacks, I did stumble upon some rather worthy finds.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

For 50 cents I was treated to the most ridiculous, outlandish novel and exasperating protagonist I’ve ever encountered. It pushed the limits of my vocabulary. It deserves the Pulitzer Prize it won.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This classic appeals to various reading levels and various age groups with a surprisingly intriguing tale of a warren of rabbits. There is nothing cute and fluffy about the book, but it is endearing to the very end. The parallels between human and rabbit life lend deeper significance.

The Graduate by Charles Web

Many may be familiar with the movie this novel inspired. The simplicity of its scenes and complexity of characters are taken directly from the pages of this novel. Screenwriters had an easy time making the book-to-movie transition. All that’s missing are Simon and Garfunkel strumming away.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The murder has already occurred at the opening of the novel. The how and why is fully disclosed 503 pages later. Morality and self-preservation come crashing into each other. Attempts to twist the two together lead to a morbid end.

December comes closer, and I have at least 15 more books to find before my time is up. Suggestions are always welcome.

Leslie Arntz is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].