I like keeping track of the books I have read. I did not know I liked doing this until the internet made it very easy indeed for me to do so. Apparently, remembering to write down every book I’ve ever read AND keeping track of the piece of paper on which it is written is beyond my cognitive capacities.
Enter the internet.
As many of you, I am sure, already know, there are many websites out there devoted to bookkeeping (so to speak), with Goodreads being the most popular, as far as I can tell, and Shelfari being my favorite.
Well, it’s prettier. And I tend to favor the way they let you organize your books. If you’re interested in my Shelfari page, it’s hanging out on your right, under the heading “Me Elsewhere on the Internet”.
One of the things Shelfari lets you do is set reading goals for yourself. Now, I’m still not sure why I decided this would be a good idea, but I decided in the middle of last January that I was going to take advantage of this feature. I was going to read x number of books by the new year. Now, I had to solve for x.
I didn’t want to pick something absurd, like one book a month or even one book a week. There are weeks when I only get through one book, but they are few and far between. Reading 52 books would be easy. Conversely, setting my goal at 365 books for the year would be equally absurd (though I did find myself questioning whether I could read a book a day. Maybe, if I let reading take priority over things like making dinner or writing my thesis. Practically, I rather doubt it). Eventually, I settled on 120 books as my goal for the year, because it was a nice, even number, 10 books a month sounded doable, and it would mean a significant increase over the number of books I had read in the previous year. I’d read 78 books in 2010–actually, no, I’d remembered to tell Shelfari I’d read 78 books in 2010. The actual number was probably closer to 90. Still, 120 would be an effort; a goal rather than a benchmark.
I finished 119 books between January 1st and December 31st of 2011. I was joking with my husband, at about 10 pm last night, that I could pick up a really short novel and speed through it in order to reach my stated goal, but something about that felt like cheating and the whole point of this goal was that I wanted it to work without cheating and deliberately altering my reading habits to make life easier.
So, yes, a respectable loss, but also an incentive for next year. Next year, I shall reach 120. Fortunately, the one thing I will never run out of is books.
If you’re interested in the full list of everything I’ve read this year, you can find it here: http://www.shelfari.com/jabenami/goals
Top 10 books of this Year*
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (Fantasy)
Nation by Terry Pratchett (YA Fantasy)
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (Fiction)
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Mystery)
Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre (Fantasy)
The Information by James Gleick (Nonfiction)
The Throme of the Erril of Sherill by Patricia McKillip** (Fantasy)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Children’s Fantasy)
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (Historical Fantasy)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Fiction)
*Top 10 books I read for the first time this year. For example, I reread all of Jane Austen this year. I love everything she’s done, but I’ve read her many times before. So, despite the fact that Pride and Prejudice is probably one of my top ten books of all time, I left it off because it wasn’t a book I discovered this year.
**I actually read this one twice this year, once when I discovered it and once when I went back to write my neuroaesthetics paper about it. Yes, I wrote a 20 page paper about the reading experience of a fantasy novelette and I am proud of doing so. Writing about experience entirely changes the way you look at your own reading (and sometimes even lets you catch really dumb things before you say them. Other times, it just gives you new and exciting dumb things to say).