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From One Book to… Fifty

Sometimes you just have to try something new.

This year, the One Book, One San Diego committee decided to do just that – try something new. As you probably know, every year the program encourages the community to join in reading a single book together and then engage in discussions and activities around the county. This year they have stepped it up, offering not just one but three full-length novels for San Diego to read (as well as companion children’s books).

Which begs the question: What happens when we push ourselves?

It seems the simple answer is that we surprise ourselves with capabilities we didn’t know we had. Here, where KPBS has encouraged people to triple their reading, the result has been excitement, responsiveness, and increased involvement. Readers are finding themselves mentally traveling to not just one place, but three (from Hawaii to Iran to Mexico!). KPBS and the San Diego Public Library have asked us to triple our reading, and we are gearing up, gladly. Well, what does this mean for the rest of our year?

Every December I like to ask people what their resolutions are for the new year. One of my good friends said that in 2012 he intended to read 50 books and watch 50 movies. Sounds insane, right? Well before I knew it, I too had committed to this feat - and to luring others to join us. One week later we had fiftyfifty.me, a website to document this feat, up and running. And today? Let’s just say that apparently 300+ people out there are equally insane.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that when questions about this endeavor began streaming in, they were not about whether it was possible to accomplish, but asking where they could find the most compelling book or movie recommendations. Fortunately for us, KPBS takes time every day to deliver book and movie reviews to us, so the work may already be done for you. The challenge is in prioritizing fiftyfifty.me above emailing or (let’s be honest here) checking Facebook for the 6th time that day.

I am grateful for One Book, One San Diego, a beautiful program that encourages us to broaden our horizons by exposing us to new authors, stories, and cultural experiences we might not have otherwise discovered. My thought is that perhaps from here we should take the cue and continue to motivate to do the same for the rest of the year. With three books under our belts, we have a running start!

It occurs to me that whoever said “everything in moderation” has simply never stayed up late at night to finish watching a film they couldn’t take their eyes away from or to turn a few more pages.

So if you’re reading all three books this year, really, what’s another forty-seven? When you’re done laughing, hear me out: Maybe it’s not as hard as we think to prioritize culture, the arts, and spending time with people we love exploring and discussing great literature and films. The fact is, we really won’t know unless we try.

Here’s to leaving moderation behind in 2012!

If you’d like to join the fiftyfifty.me community challenge, you can sign up for free on the website. Anything you’ve read/watched so far this year counts! Please visit www.fiftyfifty.me for more details.