Competitive Reading


Competitive reading is my new jam. It started in January, when one of my Goodreads book clubs decided to read through the first Harry Potter book together. The group is only made up of a dozen people, and I've always been one of the first to finish reading any of our assigned books—mostly because I have an inordinate amount of free time but also in small part because I'm a very fast reader. When I saw that one of my good friends in the group started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone just after I did, I decided to increase the challenge for myself and try to finish the entire series before he finished the first book. Because I wanted to keep this casual (and also because I wanted to win), I did not tell him about the competition; I just filled my nights with wizards and witches and Hagrids.

The last few days were absolutely hilarious, as I finally spread the word about what I was intending to do. I checked Goodreads frantically, making sure my overall progress in the series was close to the progress he was making in the first book. I was living and breathing the books, as evidenced by the number of fake spells I was casting in my text message conversations. By the end, I had read 4,100 pages in ten days. He finished the first book on a Sunday afternoon, and I wrapped up the final book that same evening.

It was a sweet, sweet personal victory.

This was the story I was telling my coworkers yesterday afternoon (in a silly attempt to divert the conversation from snakes getting loose in people's houses). My senior pastor, a notoriously avid reader, was completely flabbergasted by this accomplishment, which prompted another coworker to issue a new challenge: the Wheel of Time series. It is a fourteen-book story by Robert Jordan that spans 11,520 pages. People have been urging me to read it for years, but I didn't want to set aside the time or energy required.

But here I have a set of perfect excuses and perfect rewards: wiping the smug looks from my coworkers' faces and enjoying a really great adventure along the way. (And yes, I do actually read every word of the story. I am also proofreading for spelling and grammar, highlighting my favorite quotes, and re-reading entire sections just for the fun of it along the way.) Competitive reading is my new jam.