In 2012 I kept a reading log for the first time, and learned that I read 68 books. I thought it would be more—like 100 books—but the body count still impressed me. What’s weird is that I’ve just tallied my total for 2013 it’s again 68 books. What are the odds? And is that number respectable?
A 2010 post by Cynthia Newberry Martin on her great “Catching Days” blog puts things in perspective. Cindy and her responders are both writers and serious readers, and nobody mentioned cracking 100. My number is apparently typical, the range roughly 40 to 78. I’m not a fast reader, nor do I desire to be. In fact, a danger for a counter is reading shorter books just to boost one’s tally. Surely it’s better, for a reading writer, to have read 40 great books than to have consumed 100 solely for diversion or bragging.
As always, my 2013 list functions as a kind of diary: knowing when I read a book tends to remind me of the reading experience, as do my brief remarks. (I made an Excel spreadsheet with columns for dates, page counts, comments, etc.) Sometimes those brief judgments are coherent enough for a reader’s review on Amazon or Goodreads. My best short reviews, however, are distillations of the longer analyses I post here. I review a lot of books on this blog, which is odd because I find reviews so hard to write. Something about reviewing must appeal to me—I think it’s figuring out a book on a deeper level, really seeing how it works. Or learning why, for me at least, it doesn’t quite cohere.