When I was in high school, a girl I was dating told me about a book series that she loved reading and that she thought I would enjoy — The Lord of the Rings. Beginning with The Hobbit, the book series spanned well over a thousand pages and was daunting as I looked at the well worn copies my father had lovingly purchased at some point in time at a garage sale. I started reading the first book and looked forward to reading the entire series. Within a week of starting, I more or less put the books back on the shelf and gave up.
It would not be the first time I would do this. On numerous occasions I picked up the books, read a chapter or two, felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of pages that lay between my starting and my finishing the books, and gave up. A little more than a year ago, I decided that this pattern needed to stop, and it was a coworker that inspired the change. I overheard him talking about how he was having his yearly marathon reading sessions of the books and felt envious. Then I parsed out what he had said a different way. A year — the books. The books — one year. What if I were to take the books and evenly divided the chapters over the course of one full year? As it turns out, it turned out to be enough chapters that no week had more than two chapters to be read.
I wrote out a full calendar year — fifty two weeks — and what chapters would be read every week. I printed out this calendar and made it into a bookmark, and bought a cheap used copy of the books, as I no longer had access to my father’s garage sale copies. On January 1st, I started with the first chapter of The Hobbit and spent every week meticulously sticking to the schedule. Some chapters were longer and some were shorter. Some weeks I would have as much to read as the previous three. On December 31st, I finished the last chapter of Return of the King and closed the book, already thinking about the next year. Would I reread the books? Would I add another book to the reading cycle? I was thrilled with the books and so happy that I had finally read them — and finally knew what people were talking about when they said how much was missing from the Peter Jackson film trilogy!
Tasks may seem overwhelmingly large to you but sometimes if you split them up into smaller and more accessible sub-tasks, you can easily overcome them — given the time.
This year, I am reading the series A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin, better known to some as A Game of Thrones from its HBO adaptation. The chapters are somewhat shorter but there are many more of them — so on any given week I am reading six or seven short chapters! When more books are published in the series I will, of course, adapt. Adapting to a changing challenge is, of course, the only way to be sure you can overcome it!