Following the spirit of the commitment with odometer goal for books

Hey, so this is almost a more philosophic question than anything else.

So I have an odometer goal for reading Husserl’s Ideas 1 before I have to return it to my library. A nice, simple book that definitely isn’t infamous for obtuse writing.

Now where I get a little stuck is when I need to re-read chunks of the book because that doesn’t show up in the odometer goal at all but I don’t want to fudge the odometer with extra pages because that hecks up my tracking for getting done with the book.

What’s a good way to both keep track of my reading efforts when I have to go back and re-read while keeping up with my overall page progress? I have a general studying goal that I count reading time towards so this is more about if there’s a good way to use the odometer to make note of how I actually read the book rather than it looking like an uncomplicated linear march.

I’m not 100% sure I understand the problem so I’ll answer two ways:

If the question is “How can I track (and count) my extra pages as I jump around the book?” there’s a “you might wish you hadn’t learned this much about Beeminder” style answer at Restarting Odometer to non-zero value - #17. This would result in every page you read counting, with some futzing with the odometer.

If the question is “How can I set my goal intelligently if I need to read some unknown number of pages more than what’s in the book?” aka “My Beeminder goal is sort of forcing me to read ahead even though I really ought to slow down and re-read.” then I would say that maybe you should re-frame your goal in terms of the first version. If your objective is to have a coherent understanding of the book (not simply to turn the pages), then framing the Beeminder goal in terms of “Getting to the last page” is Beeminding the outcome not Beeminding the action (per What To Mind: Picking a Metric | Beeminder Blog). If you frame the goal as “Read pages that I need to read at some reasonable pace that isn’t anchored to a specific date or length of book” then you don’t have this problem anymore, although you introduce the new problem that you’re not guaranteed to finish the book by a specific date in time. So maybe it is just a question of which is more important? My suspicion is that returning the book to the library on time is its own motivation and that Beeminder’s role here should be “Don’t forget about the book entirely” and Beeminder doesn’t need to do the work of “Calculate the exact pace of reading required to get it back on time”. But I could be mistaken / useless advice too. :slight_smile:


Or perhaps the question is “How can I use my odometer goal in a Quantified-Self-y sort of way as an accurate log of which pages I actually read and re-read, while still having it force me to finish the whole book by a certain time?” If that’s the question then I don’t know a good answer.

1 Like

Brent – that is exactly what I meant!

If you are determined to do this with an odometer goal, then I think you’re going to have to play tricks with odometer resets as described in Restarting Odometer to non-zero value.

You could consider pairing the odometer goal with a time spent reading goal. Track furthest page read in the odometer goal, but give yourself credit for all the time you spend both reading and re-reading in the reading time goal.

I personally prefer time-based goals with difficult books, but then give myself credit for the time I spend writing notes about the book. Tracking the time spent incentivizes me to understand the book, rather than biasing me toward just reaching the last page.