Rebuilding my attention span with the 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge

Sometime around Christmas, I realized that I was spending a lot of time noodling around on my iPhone, and not very much time browsing my bookshelves. This might be fine, because as Michael says, there must be some sort of neurological pay-off for doing all those games or they wouldn’t suck us in so easily.

But I’ve noticed there’s a bit of a cost to all this small-screen time. I used to lose entire afternoons to a good book. Now I’m lucky if I’m able to lose an hour. Picking up books and reading them is a rather fundamental practice for writers, so I’m not ok with losing this skill.

This year, I resolved to read more mindfully in an attempt to build my attention span back up. I was hunting around the Intertubes to see if anyone had good ideas for managing a rather vague resolution to read more when I stumbled upon Reading in Winter’s 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge.  I signed up right away.

Imagine sorting your to-read pile into a Bingo scorecard. That’s what this reading competition does. Contestants are asked to read various numbers of books from several different genres, as well as up to 15 books of their choice from their To Be Read (TBR) pile.

As my To-Read list on Goodreads currently boasts 248 entries, I thought this might be an excellent way to motivate myself to browse through the books on my shelves and maybe read a few things I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. You can win by completing a row across or up and down, just as you would in a regular game of Bingo, but only the Most Awesome Readers will be able to read ALL THE BOOKS. And yes, I intend to be Most Awesome.

That’s why I made a fancy little scorecard to track my reading.

Feb Scorecard II

My favorite t-shirt at the moment says “I have CDO. It’s like OCD, but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.” I can’t think why that appeals to me. (Scorecard: Shala Howell)

As you can see, I’ve made some progress this year, although I can’t help but feel that the old me would have read ALL THE BOOKS by now.

Still external accountability is a marvelous incentive, and my reading brain needs the exercise. So periodically I’ll post my progress here on Boston Writers.

I’d love to also promise to review the books for you, but the next period of my life is going to be consumed with movers, painters, floorers, plumbers, electricians, and six-year-olds fretting about keeping their Top Secret Dragon Lair secure with all these workers milling about. Whatever spare time I have to write is most likely going to be spent improving my craft, rather than critiquing the craft of others.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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One Response to Rebuilding my attention span with the 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge

  1. Pingback: 2014 Book Bingo Update | BostonWriters

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