By Heather Leszczewicz Special to Published Jun 12, 2007 at 11:07 AM

I made a resolution back in January that I plan on keeping. No, it's not some vague "this year, I plan on exercising more" or "I plan on traveling more" or any of the other do-something-more resolutions. This one was a goal that I think is actually attainable. It's the 50 Book Challenge. As New Year's rolled around, I said to myself, "This year, I plan on reading 50 books."

Fifty is a nice round number, something possible in 365 days. Easy, no problem. However, it's now June and I've only read about 12-15 books. I haven't been keeping a really good count, but the year's half over and now I'm wondering: Can I actually do this?

Now, I'm no slouch when it comes to reading. When I go on trips, I pack as many books as I do pairs of shoes. Somehow on my last trip, which included a lot of time sitting in an airplane seat, I finished all the books I brought with me and had to buy another two in the airport gift shop.

When I was younger, I was a bookworm who preferred a good read versus television (Oh, how the times have changed). My shelves were lined with books I would get through in no time. My shelves are still lined with books, but I'm finding it hard to actually get to them.

Thankfully, speed-reading is my forte -- and yes, I can actually comprehend what I'm reading -- it has been since an early age. I remember when my cousin and I would challenge each other to speed-reading contests with R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books. I'd like to say that I won every time, but to be fair I'll say that we both did well.

You know how the public is applauding J.K. Rowling for firing up the imaginations of children with "Harry Potter?" I remember losing myself in book series such as "The Babysitters Club," "Nancy Drew," "The Boxcar Children" and "The Sweet Valley Twins." Those were the series that I just couldn't put down. "Harry Potter" is that not-so-guilty pleasure I have that reminds me of those series, the ones that had me reading at top-speed so I could find out the ending without cheating by reading the last page first.

Rowling has fired up my imagination as well; her books are page-turners and conversation starters. I think I finished Book 6 in about five and a half hours. I paid for the time spent reading versus sleeping the next day, but it was worth it. Could I count Book 7 as two books to help me with my challenge?

I remember conversations on the playground asking, "Did you finish that book? Wasn't it great?" Rather than the conversations I'm hearing now from younger kids about MySpace and Lindsay Lohan. Those are conversations I'm having now. So I'm glad that books like "Harry Potter" and "Eragon" are getting kids to read rather than wait for the movies to come out. Although, the "Harry Potter" movies are amazing, "Eragon," on the other hand, pass.

There's that little voice in my head reminding me of those days of reading and has me yearning for the time when I could just pick up a book and sit for hours pouring over written words. Those times when work or errands or phone calls or whatever occupies the hours of my day that don't allow me a minute to think. As an adult, it's just so much harder to pick up a book and read. The time is shorter and the books are a bit thicker. My shelves may still be lined with books, but those books are lined with dust.

The books I bought on a whim aren't going to read themselves. I want to read them, I really do. This challenge gives me the chance to dust off those glossy covers and crack'em open. I've already started putting a dent in the unread books. Maybe it's because summer is settling in and my nights, which are usually for relaxation in the form of movies and television, aren't so filled anymore. Or subconsciously that resolution is telling me to read a chapter instead of rotting my brain some more.

So, I've already got a small plan of attack, short-term for the moment. I can run through those loveable chick lit books that really don't take much time or effort to read yet are enjoyable. Then it'll be time to move on to those bestsellers that everyone raved about. Finally, rereading those tattered copies about "The Boy Who Lived" before the new one comes out.

These are the books that I have waiting in the queue:
"Secret Society Girl" by Diana Peterfreund
"Swapping Lives" by Jane Green
"The Starter Wife" by Gigi Levangie Grazer
"Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
"The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri
"The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger
"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards
"Son of a Witch" by Gregory Maguire
Books 1 through 6 of "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling

and then, of course, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" which I will have in my hands around midnight in late July.

If you have suggestions for books to read, or want to join me in my quest (possibly at a 25-30 level since the year is half over) use the talkbacks.




Heather Leszczewicz Special to

Originally from Des Plaines, Ill., Heather moved to Milwaukee to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marquette University. With a tongue-twisting last name like Leszczewicz, it's best to go into a career where people don't need to say your name often.

However, she's still sticking to some of her Illinoisan ways (she won't reform when it comes to things like pop, water fountain or ATM), though she's grown to enjoy her time in the Brew City.

Although her journalism career is still budding, Heather has had the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime interviews with celebrities like actor Vince Vaughn and actress Charlize Theron, director Cameron Crowe and singers Ben Kweller and Isaac Hanson of '90s brother boy band Hanson. 

Heather's a self-proclaimed workaholic but loves her entertainment. She's a real television and movie fanatic, book nerd, music junkie, coffee addict and pop culture aficionado.