It’s funny how we attach significance to numbers. Numbers like ten look good. Numbers like 25 and 50 look good. Numbers like 100 seem so large by comparison. This is especially so when we are talking about personal milestones.
Where am I going with this? I am not exactly sure. Indulge me for a moment, won’t you?
On Friday, I finished my 50th book of the year. I admit that I was happy about this, though not ecstatic. I had only really set a vague reading goal for this year. I certainly hadn’t chosen a numerical goal. I knew that I wanted to read more non fiction books but that was about it. So far it has been a good year for reading books written by women, but if you’ve read that post, you’ll know that it was something that just happened as a result of recommendations from my librarian.
There was another reason for my lack of celebration. You see, the fiftieth book was one I didn’t particularly care for. I finished it, but I thought about not finishing it often. It wasn’t badly written, it just didn’t deliver. It was a book about finding what you’re good at and making a career out of it–or so I thought. In actuality, it was a book about how other people found what they were good at and why school wasn’t good at helping you find what you are good at. Instead of advice, I got a bunch of lovely stories of other people’s success.
Fifty is a good number of books to read, and based on a lot of people’s facebook posts, this seems to be some kind of milestone. The thing is, I kind of wish that the 50th book was something better, something worth the label of the fiftieth book. Why couldn’t I have read “The Sun Also Rises” or ” Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” for my fiftieth book. Okay, those are bad examples because I had already read them many years ago. The point is that I feel like I should have picked a better book to hit the 50 mark with.
Think of it in terms of baseball. Wouldn’t you love to see the record breaking hit be a homerun? Wouldn’t you rather have the record breaking RBI be a homerun rather than a walk or being hit by a pitch. If it was football, setting the yardage record in the process of scoring a touchdown would be so much more satisfying. Wouldn’t it? Am I making too much of this? Maybe I should be attacking the number fifty instead. Maybe 47 is the new 50? It’s a prime number, so perhaps I could attach more importance to it. The 48th book I read was stellar (Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller), so maybe I should make 48 the more important number–it works while playing darts.
Perhaps all these things are somewhat random anyway. Context decides everything. Sweet 16 is important. Twenty-one is important. For one of my friends, thirty is her very defining number–but she’s got a whole blog built around that one.
It isn’t even October, so while this number seems important now, I might fade into obscurity by the time the new year rolls around. However, for right now, it feels like I should have done more to commemorate the number.