What I Learned From Reading Way More Than 55 Books in 2012

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?

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About Dani Alexis

Dani Alexis is the Legal Coordinator at Autonomous Press as well as a freelance writer. When she's not working, she coaches winterguard and waits on the whims of two spoiled cats. Check out her most recent work by subscribing to her Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/noncompliantspace.
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6 Responses to What I Learned From Reading Way More Than 55 Books in 2012

  1. euphqueen1 says:

    That depends….what do you like to read?

    I’ll tell you what you should read if you’re up for it after liveblogging Twilight: Midnight Sun, Meyer’s retelling of Twilight from Edward’s POV! It never got finished because it was leaked, but the chunk that was leaked is pretty long and can be found in all its creepy, stalkerish glory on her website.

  2. Dani Alexis says:

    Judging from my bookshelves, I like to read a lot of memoir/biography, historical fiction, and historical non-fiction. 🙂 I have a goal to read more science fiction this year, though, as I hear there are all kinds of fabulous things in that world I’m missing out on.

  3. jlheuer says:

    Great idea. I think I’m going to add a page of books I have read, am reading…..etc. to my blog.

  4. Applesauce Parker says:

    I’m also a little bemused at the idea of roughly one title per week feeling like “SO MANY BOOKS!” instead of “Where are all my books?! Am I being punished?”

    Sounds like we have similar reading habits: For perspective, in the 11 months I’ve had an e-reader, I’ve read 74 items on it. That includes some short stories/novellas, but excludes rereads and the not-insubstantial number of prose novels and sequential art I’ve read in dead-tree format over the same period. A tracking log seems like a cool idea that I am in no way organized enough to maintain for an entire year – Best of luck on yours!

    Bafflingly, I have never yet set up a goodreads account, so I hope you won’t mind if I leave a few recs here instead:
    Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (narrative non-fiction in the vein of Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City)
    Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done (YA dystopia with a dash of organized crime drama)
    Adam Christopher’s Empire State (dystopian detective noir with steampunk, superheroes, and alternate universes folded in)
    Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow (character-driven sci-fi featuring a richly-drawn alien civilization and not-too-distant-future Earth) Funny and warm and completely devastating. Easily my favorite book in the multi-verse. There’s also a sequel, Children of God which is a bit more political and a bit more optimistic. If you’re looking for a larger serving of sci-fi, then these are well worth your time. MDR also writes intricate historical fiction, which it sounds like it might be up your street.

    And, hey, if I babble just a little bit longer you could probably add this comment to your tally!

  5. Dani Alexis says:

    And, hey, if I babble just a little bit longer you could probably add this comment to your tally!

    Done and done. LOL.

    Seriously, I have added these recommendations to my ever-growing list. The Sparrow sounds particularly intriguing.

  6. Have to agree with you…good for him if 55 is a big deal, but…really? 55 is that monumental of a goal? If I read 110 books in a year it would be a slow year…I stay away from classic chunksters, but still! And this is one thing I love about reading book bloggers–I hear from so many other people who read large numbers of books, so I don’t have to feel like the weird one!

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