Fellow GAFfers, a brand new year is just around the corner, filled with cautious optimism that better things await us all in 2014. Amidst the euphoric highs that accompany that new year smell, you’re liable to commit yourselves to countless resolutions that you have no chance of actually completing. Your tenth consecutive commitment to get into better shape is certainly commendable, but why not join us on a journey that will transfix your mind, broaden your horizons, and maybe even teach you a thing or two? Join us on the 2014 edition of the 50/50 challenge.
Rules & FAQ:
- What are the “official” rules? - There aren’t any, just some useful guidelines!
- What are those guidelines? - Simple! Read 50 books & watch 50 movies before 1 Jan 2015.
- That sounds fairly simple. - Yes! That’s because it is.
- Is this challenge easy? - Maybe! That depends on how dedicated you are. The books, in particular, require you to read fairly consistently throughout the year.
- Can this challenge be completed? - Yes! We had eighteen winners in 2013!
- Are there prizes for winning? - No! The reward is largely intrinsic in that the journey is the reward. Expose yourself to new ideas and go Good Will Hunting at your next party.
- Are there penalties for losing? - No! Even if you fail to meet the 50/50 goal, you’re still very likely to consume more media than you ever have before.
- Who tracks our progress? - You! Update your progress in the thread (using a format detailed below), and I’ll maintain a monthly update that summarizes all our progress.
- Who verifies the legitimacy of entries? - Nobody! This contest is on the honor system. If you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself.
- Do audiobooks count? - Yes! But allow me to suggest using audiobooks in conjunction with doing some actual, you know, reading. Reading is fun.
- How long must a book be to count? - There is no strict minimum! Follow your conscience. Mumei posted last year that he doesn’t count anything under 100 pages, and that seems to be a decent guideline. Honor system!
- What about long books? - Read them! As a rule of thumb, a book is a book. Some people like to count books that run over 500 pages as two entries. That’s acceptable, just be sure to indicate as much in your entry.
- What about REALLY looooong books? - See above! If you choose to count 500+ page books as two entries, that’s on you. But you can’t count a 1,500 page book as three entries, and so forth.
- Can I count school textbooks? - Yes! As long as you read the entire thing, it counts. But why would you even want to?
- What constitutes a movie? - Like obscenity, you’ll know it when you see it! TV films, direct-to-video stuff, feature films...it all counts. Episodic content does not count (some exceptions exist, like the hour-and-a-half long Sherlock episodes).
- How long does a film need to be to count? - See above! As long as it’s a film, I’d count it. Use your conscience.
- Can I count a really long movie as two entries? - Negative, Ghost Rider! A movie is a movie.
- Can I count stuff I’ve already read or watched? - Nope! Every entry needs to be a new item to you.
- What about TV shows and video games? - I don’t care! Feel free to track them in this thread, but I won’t include them in the master list and they have no bearing on whether or not you complete the 50/50 challenge.
- What is the rule on comics? - They’re awesome! This was probably the most frequently discussed rule last year. Bottom line: use your judgment. Individual comics are definitely OUT, but some people chose to count trade paperbacks (containing 5-6 issues) as a book. I feel those are too short to count as a book since they take 20-30 minutes to read, but don’t let my opinion shape the rules you set for yourself. A safe bet would be to count a completed series as a book. For example, I counted the full Rick Remender run of Uncanny X-Force (35 total issues) as a book. Others might not count that. Sue me.
- Can I count a book that I started reading in 2013? - Maybe! If you are less than 50% finished with the book when the new year begins, count it. If you're over 50% done, but don't finish the book until the following year, you've entered reading purgatory and must read the entire Twilight series to restore your soul. Alternatively, you can follow your conscience on this one. Count it...or don't.
Hints & Tips (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the book):
- Prioritize reading early and often! Participants in last year’s thread watched twice as many movies as they read books, since the time commitment and mental effort tends to be significantly less on the film front. Theoretically, you could binge watch all 50 movies in a month or two and be done with that aspect of the challenge. If you’re reading a regular 300+ page book, that is unlikely to hold true on the book front.
- Avoid “dead time.” My wife gets hooked on HGTV programs because when they finish an episode they cut straight to the next one without a commercial break. That’s their hook, and it’s quite effective. Treat reading the same way. Finish a book knowing what you want to read next and try to start it immediately. Even reading 10-15 pages might be all it takes to get you immersed in your next book.
- Read every night as you fall asleep, or find time to squeeze in a chapter or two during break times at work. If you can read ~30 minutes to an hour a day, you should be able to finish the challenge quite easily (and maybe even early).
- Lists can be super helpful! Goodreads, in particular, is a great way to track what you’ve read and what’s in your queue to read next.
- Consider picking up a Kindle or e-reader of your choice. One very common trend you’ll hear among e-reader users is they actually read more and at a faster pace than they do with physical copies of books. That has certainly been my experience.
- Check out some classics. Some stuff may be dated, but there are a ton of gems out there ready to be discovered by a younger generation.
- Find your niche! I’m a science fiction and fantasy guy. I can blast through a 1K page fantasy book faster than I could ever finish a 300 page love story. Feel free to expand your horizons but know what’s in your current wheelhouse.
- Ask for suggestions in this thread and monitor what others are enjoying. A few of the very best books I read or movies I saw were direct recommendations in last year’s thread.
- Similarly, if you’ve discovered the best book/film ever, shout it from the rooftops! You might just sell us all on our next story.
- Please update with the following format:
Tragicomedy - 22/50 books | 25/50 movies
Using the indent tab makes it easy for me to find your update. Some folks prefer a more elaborate update post listing all the content they’ve consumed and even providing ratings. Here’s an excerpted example from my 2013 list. Feel free to quote this post and steal the format for your own journey if you’d like.
Tragicomedy - 5/50 Books | 5/50 Movies
- Peter S. Beagle - The Last Unicorn ★★★★★
- Glen Cook - The White Rose ★★★★
- James S.A. Corey - Caliban's War ★★★★½
- Brandon Sanderson - The Emperor's Soul ★★★½
- John Scalzi - Old Man's War ★★★
- Chasing Ice ★★★★★
- Elysium ★★★
- Les Miserables ★★★
- Lincoln ★★★★½
- Star Trek Into Darkness ★★★½
SUPER IMPORTANT RULE!!!!1!!11!! Don’t go hog wild and spam a new update post every time you finish a movie or a book. Just go back to your previous post and edit in the updated information. That will make tracking your progress extremely easy for me when it comes to doing the monthly updates, which can otherwise become quite time consuming. In a perfect forum world, everyone would maintain a single master list of every title they’ve read or watched for the year and then just provide the an update with their latest count that links back to their original post.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want people to discuss the latest book they read or movie they watched. To the contrary, by removing the list spams in the thread I’m hoping to spur more open discussion about what people are enjoying. Last year’s thread became hard to keep track of since it became page after page of the same people posting massive lists. Let’s do better in 2014!
Majors & Minors:
- Do you like a particular author? Does a certain director’s work interest you? Big fan of our scientologist in chief, Tom Cruise? Consider embarking on a more thorough journey through their output in the form of a major or minor.
- Major: All of one person’s body of work or 6+ of their works if they’re more prolific. You can also consume 6+ works on a particular theme.
- Minor: At least half of one person’s body of work or 3+ of their works. You can also consume 3+ works on a particular theme.
- Feel free to get creative on this front and share your goals with others. You can declare your majors/minors now. You can wait until you progress further to see what might interest you more. You can skip this step altogether.