When Gabe Habash’s post “Reading 55 Books in 2011: What I Learned” went up on the Publisher’s Weekly blog at the end of last year, I bit my tongue. I realize that reading 55 books in one year – especially when at least one of them is that classic doorstop War and Peace - is a major undertaking for many people, and that many folks learn a great deal from it. Habash mostly sticks to describing his personal experience in the post, so there’s not much I can do to gainsay it – it is his experience, after all.
…At the same time, though, my inner book critic is rolling her eyes so far they’re about to fall out of her head.
For me, 55 books a year really isn’t that many. Especially if, like Habash does, one counts obviously-not-books like Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” which is a longish short story but is really not long enough to be a book (unless we’re also counting things like The Giving Tree or Green Eggs and Ham). Habash estimates he read about 55,000 pages, which is also not that much for me (though it seems to have been a lot for him).
But then I got to thinking: how many books do I read in a year? I review at least four a month for various publications and/or on the request of various authors and publicists. I’m also always reading at least one book for my own amusement and/or edification. But what does that really add up to? I have no idea. Until now.
This year, I’ve started keeping an official list, henceforth known as the “2012′s You Read HOW Many Books?!?” list. (You may have noticed the new link in the navigation bar up top.) On it, I’m listing every book I finish this year, along with the date I finish it and a link to my review, if I did review it. I’ve also marked the ones I’m re-reading for some reason, so as to distinguish them from the ones I’m reading for the first time. (A bunch of my Shelf Awareness reviews are available here.)
The list has eight entries already, and it’s not even February yet. In progress: Kathryn Stockett’s The Help; Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 18390-1980; and Lauren Groff’s Arcadia. Also, this year I have promised myself I will finally read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.
What else should I read before 2012 is up?