I’ve been pretty quiet about, but I have decided for this year at least, that I wanted to keep track of the books I read. I’ve always been one of those annoying people who would bring books over to friends houses and read instead of play, and if I don’t have a book going I feel just, I don’t know, antsy or something. But I’ve never really kept track of what I read and I was curious how many books I read in a year. So I’ve been keeping a list and writing them down. (The list is Book List in the menu at the top of the page).
We are halfway through the year, so I thought I would analyze what I have read. I was expecting maybe 4-6 books a month, but it turns out I am averaging 8! At 6 months I have read 52 books, so that means I’m on track for reading over 100 during the year.
The monthly totals change and I know why. For instance February was by far my lowest month with only 4 books. Why so few? It’s because that’s when I went to America for three weeks and I barely had time to sleep, much less read. The books I did manage to read I either read on the plane or before the trip.
May and June was the most, with 11 books read during the month. June I understand, I had a lot of free time, but May is surprising. I remember being quite busy that month, so I’m not sure where I found the time to be honest. And I didn’t read just a bunch of little books that month either, but some huge tombs were in there including Fortune Cookie by Bryce Courtenay (584 pages) and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (704 pages and number 11 on Wikipedia’s list of the world’s longest books).
So which have been my favorites? Surprisingly I really enjoyed Patti Smith’s bio, Just Kids. I could care less about Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe as celebrities, but for a coming-of-age bio of artist I really found it fascinating.
I also liked other memoirs including A Grief Observed, by C.S.Lewis and Some Girls by Jillian Lauren.
For fiction I liked Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (though I’m not a super fan that cares about the casting of the movie) and the classic The Giver by Lois Lowry. (Clearly I’m a bit partial to kid’s books.)
Out of 51 books:
37 were fiction and 15 non-fiction.
19 were written by women, 33 by men
Out of the fiction books:
12 are considered young adult.
17 are sci-fi or fantasy
1 is about a vampire
Out of the non-fiction
12 are memoirs.
4 are self help(ish)
5 are (suppose to be) comedy
1 is truly offensive
What this list doesn’t show is the books that I aborted midway and never finished. Sine I read so much I have no qualms about tossing a book even if I’m halfway through it.
Some recent books I never finished was Steve Martin’s, An Object of Beauty (I love Steve Martin, especially his serious stuff, but he really loses me when he dives deep into the art world) and Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg (this one had such potential, but the writer was a little too annoying to continue to read). You can’t win them all.
Now, let me profess my love a little here for my Kindle. When I first moved to China, I didn’t have a Kindle and I didn’t think I needed it. After all, I was at a university with an extensive library, right? Well, not so right. Sure there is an English language library, with hundreds of books, but they are all ancient tomes used for learning. I mean yeah, I like Jane Austen as much as the next person, but you can only read her books so many times before they all begin to blend together. And sorry Dickens, I just cannot get into you.
So I re-read a bunch of classics, and even bought a few (very overpriced) books in the big city. I also had my friends send me some (but that can get pricey). But I was constantly starved for good books.
So, for me, buying the Kindle was one of the best decisions ever. The kindle works great in China. I have the cheaper wi-fi version and I have no problem downloading books to my computer, organizing them via Calibre e-book software and transferring them to my kindle. (I don’t automatically download them through wifi. I’m not sure if that feature works in China.) Right now my Calibre library has over 500 books in it, and that is after some serious weeding.
If you are thinking of moving to china, and like to read, I wouldn’t leave home without a kindle in my bag.
So I will continue to update the book list page as I continue to read, and in 6 more months I’ll have the answer to the question how many books do I read in a year? Will I stay on track and read over 100, or will I derail somewhere along the line (most likely when the new semester begins)? I’ll keep you updated!
What about you? What books have you read this year that you’ve liked? (or not liked?) I’m always up for suggestions.
Reading a large quantity of books in a year depends on the books I choose to read. At the beginning of summer I breezed through four books, though I didn’t really enjoy any of them. Now I’m taking my time and enjoying some Salman Rushdie (definitely not a writer I can read quickly). Unfortunately, with my work schedule, it’s difficult to find enough time to enjoy a little reading other than during the summer.
If the Kindle or Nook had been affordable when I moved to China, I would have loved to have one. I moved out there with a suitcase full of books that I passed on to friends in need of reading material (at least I didn’t have to bring any back).
I have a bunch of books I’m going through slowly too (I’ve been on a Jung kick lately). But when I read some books slowly I always need another book to breeze through, and to read at times like when I only have a few minutes or before bed when I’m tired. Actually, it helps when I don’t really like the fiction book I’m reading because then I spend more time reading the other ones!
And when I first came to China I only allowed myself 2-3 books because of the weight and lack of space. I actually went through an agonizing decision on which ones to bring. I consulted friends, librarians, bookstore employees. I ended up bringing the three thickest books I could find, but they ended up being so thick I couldn’t fit them all in my backpack! So I ended up with only one (a big Ken Follet one).
I am usually up there with close to 100, but that includes a lot of re-reads with my students. Not so this year. I have a huge list (40+), and boxes in the attic from our move, of things I’ve been planning to read, but just don’t ever get to them. I am happy to say that I did just finish all three Hunger Games books (agree with your sentiments on the last one, and overall, while I enjoyed the series, as someone who likes a lot of SF, I found it fairly predictable. Also, felt there were spots that were too rushed and the reader was just supposed to take for granted the explanation of things, and spots that I had to skim over–Yes, Katniss, we all know how bad you feel about everyone you ever knew who got a splinter). I do have to think carefully, now, about which kids I recommend them to.
Also just read a book called Sherlockian, a mystery told in 2 parts. Every odd chapter was about Arthur Conan Doyle, and sometimes his bud, Bram Stoker, tracking a serial killer during the period that he had killed off Holmes. While it’s pure fiction, the author did do his best to be as accurate as possible–ACD and Stoker were friends, ACD did assist Scotland Yard with investigations, ACD had come to hate his own creation. Every even chapter was set in the present and followed a young Sherlockian (Sherlock Holmes fan and scholar) as he investigated the murder of a fellow Sherlockian and the theft of a long lost diary of ACD that said dead Sherlockian had apparently found. It was an interesting concept, but I found myself much more interested in the Victorian chapters, and by the end of the book really didn’t care about the outcome of the present day mystery.
And, I just got the latest George R.R. Martin book. I’m 2 and a half chapters in, can’t really remember what happened in the last book, keep forgetting who people are, spent an hour and a half reading and re-reading the appendix (a list of all the major players and their relationships to each other) trying to remember plot elements from 4 years ago. Man, it’s The Wheel of TIme all over again……..
Oh, and did you hear, Borders is closing all stores?
Oh, and a coupla suggestions;
1) The Gone-Away World, by Nick Harkaway. One of my new favorite books. It’s all over the place, very Pythonesque in its humor, a fun SF story.
2) Tales of the Dying Earth, by Jack Vance. Considered to be Science Fantasy, and a classic that I’ve only recently been aware of. I really, really enjoyed these stories. Clever, fun, sly.
3) Since you’ve recently read the Hobbit, There and Back Again, by Pat Murphy. The Hobbit set in space. A tad silly, and it knows it.
4) Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville. A kids book about the city under London. But so much more. Very surreal.
5) The Box of Delights, by John Masefield. A classic children’s book from England. Written in 1935 by the Poet Laureate. This was on of my favorite books as a kid. I read it many times, especially ’round christmas. There was even a mini-series on PBS. I know that you’ll enjoy it, but be annoyed by the ending…..just remember, it wasn’t hackneyed or cliched in ’35.
6) The Coldfire Trilogy, by C.S. Friedman. It is a series, but there are only 3 books and it was completed many years ago (though she’d writing some short, online only, tangential stories set in the same universe these days). Takes place far in the future on a planet that has been colonized by humans from Earth. The planet has this natural phenomena that can take dreams and nightmares and make them real. Humans are forced to abandon all technology and revert to a medievalish exsistance. People also become able to control this natural phenomena and thus perform magic. Ok, that’s the set up.
Okay Erick, so I finally got enough time to sit down and read you recommendations. We’ve been friends for so long, yet I never knew your favorite book as a kid was a 1935 poet laureate book! Although, it makes sense as you clearly were supposed to be british. 😉 Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll write them down and starting hunting through all my sites to see if I can find a download!
And get those books out of the attic!