Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Lure of the List

All my life, I've thought it would be fun and interesting to keep a list of the books I've read.

All my life, the procrastinating side of me has kept me from acting on that idea.

Until 2006, when I began blogging in earnest.

The reading from January and February didn't make the list, because I was still in the States then, and not keeping track. I know I did some of my Jane Austen rereading then, plus probably one or two of the books from Orson Scott Card's Ender series. And I'm sure I read Jane and the Man of the Cloth during that time, by Stephanie Barron, featuring Jane Austen as a solver of mysteries. But that's all I can remember, and I'm not counting any of those books. I'm only counting the ten months during which I kept fairly accurate lists and posted them on this blog.

So, during the last 10 months of 2006 I read 67 books. That number shocked me a bit. I wouldn't have guessed a number so high, especially as I know there were weeks of busyness during which I read very little. I suppose I make up for it during the times I sit down and polish off a novel in one sitting or two. (I have mentioned that I read very fast.)

Of those 67 books, only 16 were non fiction, which means I read 51 works of fiction.

33 literary novels

10 mysteries

7 science fiction or fantasy novels

1 book in a foreign language

My nonfiction books fit into just a few categories:

6 books on education (2 of which were collections of essays)

8 books of letters or biographies

2 books about science topics

Of the total 67 books on my list, 18 were rereads.

This list does not include the odd short story read here and there, a chapter or two reread from books I love but did not reread in entirety, nor the internet texts that I read, because I didn't keep track of them.

This list also does not include books that I read aloud with the children as part of our homeschooling endeavors, which included things like Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, and Hurry, Spring! by Sterling North.

As I looked over the list of books I've read for the year, a few titles and authors stood out as noteworthy. Jane Austen is my favorite author to reread (always) and Chaim Potok was my favorite "new-to-me" author for this year. My least-favorite book for the year was Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. I know, I know--it's classic, well-written, and memorable. I didn't like it. This will not affect my general plan to read one new novel by Dickens each year. My most ambitious read was undoubtedly the still unfinished War and Peace, which I hope to retire from the "current reading" pile very soon. I really can't choose just one that was my overall favorite for the year, but I'll choose five that I think were top-notch and will probably be reread in the future.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Teacher in American by Jacques Barzun

The Bible and the task of teaching by David I. Smith and John Shortt

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff

And two more favorites for good measure:

House of Exile by Nora Waln and Sandition by Jane Austen and Another Lady

I can't help but notice that, although my nonfiction reading made up less then 20% of my yearly reading, 50% percent of the best books I read were nonfiction. Which begs the question, why am I reading so much fiction when I like nonfiction so much? The answer is that nonfiction is harder to read, and although I find it enjoyable as well as profitable, it takes effort. I don't always have the energy to put effort into reading. Much of my reading is simply for pleasure and entertainment. In the long run, I'm so much happier to have read something substantial, but if I'm looking for relaxation and diversion...bring on a comfy reread or a mystery, or something suitably escapist in nature.

I must keep track of this post and compare it to the list of books I read in 2007. Assuming of course, that I keep such a list. But that's one of things I like best about this blog--writing and sharing about the books I read.


At 5:12 AM , Blogger Mother Auma said...

You are inspiring me to keep a list of the books I read each month in the new year. I have thought about it, and then decided it was too much effort. But how much fun to know that you read 67 books in the last year!

(I had a very hard time reading A Tale of Two Cities when I tried a decade ago.)

BTW, I enjoy it when you read (and blog about) nonfiction books too. I like hearing your insights. :o)

At 7:09 PM , Blogger Danielle said...

I love Helen Hanff's books,too. I really need to reread them! I read NF slowly, too. I have lots to choose from, and everything sounds interesting, but it takes me forever to read them!


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