Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My Reading Year

I’ve mentioned how I keep records of the books I read. Well, I date my “reading year” from October 14 to October 13 of the following year. That’s because my birthday is on the 14th so it corresponds to my actual number of years alive. I’m about to finish out the current reading period and thought I might share the results.

The 2008/2009 period was a good reading year for me and I read more than average. I estimated that I first started truly reading at around 7, so counting from that age I’ve averaged about 76 books a year. I believe the actual average should be higher because I didn’t keep records until I was a teenager, and didn’t keep accurate records until my 20s. But hey, the exact number isn’t that important.

For this past year, I’ve read 124 books. This includes 18 nonfiction works, almost all having to do with science, 15 westerns, 18 thrillers, 18 SF, and 17 fantasy. I’ve also read 11 young adult books, including the Harry Potter series, and then smaller numbers in horror, classics, and poetry.

In the past, I almost never reread books, but as I’ve gotten older I’m doing so more frequently. I only started a record column for reread books about 8 years ago, and this year I set a new record with 6. Several of these I reread in order to blog accurately about them for Forgotten Book Friday.

The Harry Potter books, especially the last five, were definitely among my favorite reads of this past year. Also notable was the graphic novel The Watchmen, which is by far the best graphic novel I’ve ever read (not that I’ve read many). My favorite mystery/thriller of the year was What Angels Fear, the first Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, by our own C. S. Harris. In SF, the Cap Kennedy series of Space Opera stories were an interesting discovery, and in fantasy it would be “The Best of Robert E. Howard series, although most of the stories there were rereads. In nonfiction, the best book I read was probably The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley, which I talked about a lot on my blog.

So there you have it. Soon a new reading year will dawn, and the possibilities are…endless. Hurray!


Lisa said...

Wow I am impressed. Do you need reading glasses yet? Just curious, because I do and they are troublesome!

I'll check out some of your past references. I am only familiar with the Harry Potter books and they are my children's. Come to think of it, I may pick them up for a read. Thank you.

sage said...

That's an impressive number of books--I've kept a list since my 20s, but only read about 1/2 the number as you.

the walking man said...

Hurry dude you got time to squeeze in a few more. have a stellar birthday young man!

Vesper said...

Charles, I also keep records of the books I read, but per calendar year. I have a beautiful notebook for this, with a red silk cover.

124 books! That's more than impressive and I admit that I'm jealous. I also used to average about 70 books a year, but that's in a past long gone, before the children, before all the chores... :-(

But this post of yours has inspired me! Thank you! I'll try to do more... :-)

jodi said...

Charles, I recently bought 2 bags of books for $3.25 at a sale. When the seller tried to make change for my 5, I was embarrassed and told her to keep it! What a bargain!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ocean girl, I don't need glasses to read but I do use them for computer work and for driving. The Potter books were just outstanding, I thought.

Sage, I tend to read slowly but constantly. Most years I don't get as many read as this year.

Mark, well what I do for the last week or so is read short story collections but don't finish them until NEXT reading year. lol.

Vesper, In the past couple of years I've been able to take off teaching in the summer and that has really helped me. Plus this year I read a fair number of poetry collections and graphic novels, which don't take nearly the amount of time as other books do.

Jodi, oh I love a good book sale. That's how I picked up most of my secondary TBR pile.

ivan said...

Happy upcoming birthday!

(I'm already drunk and my own birhday has long passed).

Unknown said...

What a fantastic idea and one I wish I'd thought of 60 years ago. I reread my favorite authors and some I've reread over 5 times each. I'm also an avid reader and fairly fast; I'd give an educated guess that I average over 100 each year.

SQT said...

I've never counted the books I read-- but I bet you beat my number. I think I average 6-7 a month.

I'm telling you, if you loved the Harry Potter books, I bet you'd love "Boneshaker," (the one I raved about on my blog) it hits the same emotional chords in my opinion. Another good one is "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi- if you haven't read it. I wish I had extras to send you.

laughingwolf said...

8 days after my bd is yours... cool!

lirbrans rock n rule ;) lol

i have yet to tally the books i've read, but know it's more than 5,000 at this point, though only some 45 - 50 this year, i'm slipping!

Charles Gramlich said...

ivan, it's been a long time since I've been good and drunk. Kind of amazing considering my past.

Gaston Studio, I've enjoyed keeping my records. I have one book I've reread 3 or 4 times but other than that I've never reread a book more than once.

SQT,In most of my peak years I averaged about a book ever three days. I definitely think I'll give Boneshaker a try. I've heard good things about Old Man's war as well.

laughingwolf, during graduate school and during my first years as a teacher my number went way down.

Scott D. Parker said...

"the Cap Kennedy series of Space Opera stories were an interesting discovery"

Charles - What's the gist of these stories?

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott, it's a bit of a James bond type space opera series. Cap Kennedy is leader of a team of special operatives, some of them mutants, who have to save the universe from various kinds of threats. Gregory Kern is the author but that's a house name used for E. C. Tubb, from what I've heard. I've read about 6 of the series. I think there's 15 but I don't remember off the top of my head.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

Because you mentioned your reading log, I started keeping one last year and find it really helps me remember stuff, kind of a diary of sorts. I haven't read the Harry Potter stuff, but I'm looking forward to it based on your review!

Steve Malley said...

Sweet! :)

Spy Scribbler said...

You get around, and quite evenly, too! :-) It's funny how even they are.

Happy birthday, soon! I'm an October baby, too!

Charles Gramlich said...

Michelle, I put off the Potters for quite a while just thinking they were kid stuff but especially the third book really seemed to have some more mature themes in it, and I came to enjoy the characters very much.

Steve malley, indeed.

Natasha, so is Lana. We are only one day apart in bdays.

Travis Cody said...

Wow...124? I guess when you're not a TV-watcher, there's more quality time for reading.

I'm definitely a re-reader. I think of it as visiting with old friends. Sometimes I just need that comfort. I'm not a very adventurous reader, so often I find myself heading back to the safe reads that I know I'll enjoy.

Cloudia said...


Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Erik Donald France said...

Cool, man. Your discipline continues to amaze me!

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said... many books we read, how many breaths we take, how many lips we kiss....Time is an artificial concept and yet it is so important for us to quantify things, to try and conquer the abstract.

j said...

All of those books and blogs too? Amazing!

I am notorious for forgetting birthdays so let me say ahead of time "Happy Birthday Charles!"

Marja said...

Lots of books Great job I love reading too but I am a very slow reader so I get to about 3 a year.
Happy birthday in a couple of days

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, I think that's part of why I've increased my rereading as I've gotten older. I like the comfort and nostalgia factor.

Cloudia, lol. Thanks

Erik, I have plenty of failures of discpline. Sad to say.

Stewart Sternberg, I have a tendency to quantify things quite a bit. That is certain. For books it helps me remember, but for other things it's probably some false sense of accomplishment.

jennifer, I've slowed way down in my blogging lately. Can't always keep up. And thanks. I don't really count birthdays for much.

Marja, thanks. Once during my early days at Xavier my total dropped to about 40. But I am pretty much a compulsive reader. Thanks for stopping by.

writtenwyrdd said...

And I thought I read a lot! I haven't kept score, but I think I've read well over fifty. maybe I should keep a list myself!

BernardL said...

Good variety. I admit not getting too far out of my pulp fiction, fantasy, horror niche. The only exceptions are the books I think will be funny. I'll read anything with humor.

Charles Gramlich said...

Writtenwyrd, I find it fun to do.

Bernardl, I generally like humor actually more outside of the spec fic genres.

Anndi said...

I love re-reading. My daughter has been devouring books lately, maybe we should compile what she reads.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've never kept a list, which has lead to me reading some God awful books twice. Maybe I should do the same, but for different reasons.

Chris Eldin said...

Happy upcoming birthday!
That's an amazing number of me! And very cool you seem to enjoy each and every one.

Re your post about book trailers. I couldn't agree more. But for a different reason. I think they're being done very poorly at the moment. But I see a lot of potential, esp with the Kindle, etc. Imagine someone reading your book on the Kindle, then clicking on a hyperlink and hearing you read the text, or a photo that inspired the passage, etc. The experience becomes much more personal.

Mary Witzl said...

That IS an impressive number. I've started keeping track recently too, but I'm way behind: I'm only at 40-something for this year. I blame the day job, but then you could too, couldn't you? Okay, maybe it's my kids; they read while I slave.

I read books over and over again. This comes from spending too much time in places where books in English just weren't available and they had to be recycled a lot. My husband buys them hot off the press, though. I figure he makes up for my bad habits.

cs harris said...

Wow, Charles; I am impressed. I don't even get through one book a week any more. And that's with putting half of them down before the end!

Charles Gramlich said...

Anndi, That would have been cool if my parents had kept that kind of record. Of course, most kids probably wouldn’t keep it up.

JR's Thumbprints, egads, that would be some suffering.

Chris Eldin, thanks. There are a few I didn’t care much for but most of the books I read last year I got some enjoyment from. I could see some improvements in the way you said. Sort of additional info on a Kindle. I don’t think of just writers reading their work as being a trailer, though. To me, a trailer is more of an ad for the book.

Mary Witzl, well, I had summer off this year so that helped much. I reread books some as a kid for that same reason, just not having enough good new reading material.

Candy, well, you have the Proctorization standard to uphold! ;)

Rachel V. Olivier said...

I was thinking about my reading over the last year and was astounded how little I have read recently. I read for work a lot so I get "read out" but I think I'm getting lazy, too.

Anonymous said...

I admire your ability to read that much. I keep trying to read more and I desire to read more, but I still drag my feet, not getting down to the deed. You are inspiring.

Miladysa said...

I really like the fact that your reading is varied and not at all pretentious. I think too many people limit themselves to one genre or what the critics think should be read.

Happy Birthday for the 14th - just in case it slips my mind :)

Greg said...

geez, 124 books? that's insane. i usually don't reread many books either. i think the only ones i've reread recently were "treasure island," "a separate peace," and "the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy." also planning to reread "brave new world" sometime soon.

i've been looking for a good graphic novel to read, to broaden my horizons. i'll check out "the watchmen" -- thanks for the tip!

Charles Gramlich said...

Rachel, it's very easy to watch TV and I know a lot of people who read less because of that. And the pace of life today is so fast. Reading time is hard to find sometimes.

Jack, I'm not sure I've ever been inspiring before. ;)

Miladysa, I've always been an extremely eclectic reader. There are some genres I prefer over others but I get something out of all of them.

Greg Schwartz, The watchmen is truly excellent, and I just finished "The Gunslinger Born," which I thought was pretty good.

j said...

Don't tell anyone but I was REALLY proud of your Razorbacks :) If only LSU and Georgia had won, it would have been a perfect football weekend!

What am I saying - the Tide won! It WAS a perfect football weekend!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Loren Eiseley and Robert E. Howard - perfect balance, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jennifer, I was so relieved that the hogs played well. And the team is young so that's a good thing.

Don, I mix and match pretty eclectically. ;)

Lauren said...

I often use my birthday to set goals as well. It seems to make more sense that the new year (although I will sometimes make extra goals for that too). That is awesome that you keep a list. I've never really thought to do that. I might have to check out some of your books. They sound interesting.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lauren, yeah, the birthday marks a better beginning of the year than new year's does. To me at least.