Saturday, November 14, 2009

52 Books a Year

As I've mentioned before, I'm a bookaholic. Back in late 2007 I faced the usual dilemma--I had binged at the bookstore, and had a stack of books and no shelf space to put them. I've learned to occasionally weed out any books I no longer want. However there were no weeds at this point--I'd have to read some before I'd know if I wanted to keep them. The problem has always been that I shop faster than I read. So I decided that I would read as many books as possible. I didn't have to finish if I didn't like it, the goal was to purge the shelves, after all. But this naturally meant that I focused on the books I thought I'd least enjoy. It's not much fun to read that way.
For 2008, I changed the rules. I would see if I could read a book a week for a year. By the end of the year, I'd read 54 books. I was focusing on books I wanted to read more, and I did manage to get rid of about half of them. But I can't honestly say, "I read 54 books," because to me saying you read a book means you finished. And I didn't finish some of them.
So I upped the stakes again for 2009. Again, 52 books in a year is the goal, but I have to finish them. I think I've mentioned this before, but as the year has progressed, I've refined the rules.I have to be diverse, reading fiction and nonfiction, a variety of genres and authors. Audio books, I decided, count. The idea is no longer to purge the shelves (a hopeless goal, I accumulate about three books a week on average). The goal is to be more broadly read.
By summer, I was well ahead of schedule, and then I walked into my local Borders and noticed they'd rearranged the shelves, primarily to move the teen books into the adult part of the store and farther away from children's books. Most prominent was the manga section, which dwarfed the regular teen book section and was in the center of the store. I knew manga was hugely popular with teens--a friend of mine who teaches high school noted it's all kids are reading. All I knew was they were Japanese illustrated novels. So I decided I wanted to understand what the fuss was about and hit the library, where there were two large spinning racks of manga books. I'll save what I've learned about the genre for another post, and focus instead on what it did to my plan. Manga books can be read in about an hour or two, and I was reading about nine a week. I played with different ways of counting them--a full series would count as one, ten mangas would count as one regular book, etc.. after all, they're books, in a different genre, and I finished them, so they should technically count...but that made it too easy. So I decided none of them would count, and now was barely ahead and had to catch up.
So, here it is, second week of November, and I'm at 48 books read (not counting any manga). Things are looking good, but I don't know if the holidays will mean more or less reading time. Still, I'm confident, so when I've finished number 52 I'll post again, and talk about the top books I've read this year. Until then, I better get back to reading!


Amanda said...

Ok, so I am going to leave it up to you to let me know what is good to read! I think at this point I am lucky to read a book every two months. So they have to be good! Please let me know every time you read something really good! Then I will not waste time on anything boring! Right now I am hooked on Elizabeth Chadwick books, which I find interesting. Pretty impressive that you are reading a book every week, on top of work!

Chrissy1018 said...

Even more impressive that you just had a baby yesterday! Hope she's doing well, I don't know how you have the energy to read my ramblings, let alone comment.
My plan is once I've met my 52-book goal, I'll talk about my favorites. I've not read Elizabeth Chadwick, but I looked her up and saw she writes historical fiction. Do you like that period, historical fiction in general, fiction in general?