Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Year of Reading Dangerously

Those who have been visiting my blog regularly may remember that I keep records of the books I read and that I measure my reading year from birthday to birthday. Being that the 14th was my birthday, I have now compiled my yearly report.

I read 118 books this past year, up 2 from last year and down 6 from the year before that. In general, my reading habits remained very consistent from last year, 13 nonfiction reads in each year, 2 classics, 21 SF, and 5 poetry works. I was up 2 on westerns, to 15, and down 6 in thriller/mystery, to 18. The three most notable changes were as follows: 1. I was down 6 in fantasy, for a total of 5, the lowest number of fantasy novels that I’ve read in a year since I began keeping detailed records (1988). 2. I was up to a total of 11 in graphic novels, the highest number since I’ve been keeping records. (I didn’t even have a category for graphic novels until about three years ago.) 3. I hit 7 on reread books, the highest number ever in my personal history. (I didn’t have this category until about 10 years ago.

Why the changes? Well, ever since I read The Watchmen I’ve been going up on reading graphic novels, hoping for a repeat of that classic. So far, not. But hope remains. And, some of those graphic novels would be classified as fantasy, so my fantasy count may not be down as much as it seems. As for the reread books? For most of the last 30 years I’ve virtually refused to reread a book because there were so many “new” books out there. Since about 2003, though, I’ve started to allow myself more “comfort” reads, books that I know without a doubt I’ll enjoy. I suspect it has something to do with aging.

So that’s my year-of-reading report. I’m gonna try to make my blogging rounds now, although I’m still going to be fairly scarce for a while. I just finished a major editing job for which I was spending several hours a day, and finished grading a test I gave Thursday. Unfortunately, next week is midterm time for us at Xavier and I’m going to be doing a lot of grading for the next few days. After that I hope things will get back to normal.



Ron Scheer said...

Impressive, my friend. The early westerns I've been reading for this book I want to write are time consuming, because I read them slowly and take notes as I go. I look forward to the day when I can breeze through a book again.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm impressed! Graphic novels certainly count and hope you find another Watchman in the lot. Good luck with the grading.

Tom Doolan said...

I wish I could read half that much in a year. But life has a way of demotivating me from reading. Still, impressive novels.

So, what graphic novels have you read? I \can only assume you've already grabbed the big ones (DKR and KC).

Chris said...

I've already exceeded my best year of reading this year since I've been keeping track. It's something I love to do, and I particularly enjoy going back a couple years to see what I was reading around now.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, I know what you mean. When I'm reading for academic purposes those books move very slowly as I digest and record the contents.

Alex, I dislike reading comics because they are over way too soon, but having a group collected into a graphic novel provides a little meat for reading.

Tom, I'm reading Killraven now. I read several Batman books, Year One and The Killing Joke. Neither was that good, I thought. Unfortunately, not a lot of memorable stuff.

Chris, I like that too. And I'mm enjoying Goodreads and the way it lets me keep up with the categories and when I've read them.

eric1313 said...

If you dig graphic novels, check out The Invisibles. You would love it.

laughingwolf said...

good stuff, charles...

i lack the ambition to compile lists, of anything :O lol

ok, when i get groceries, i need one

Deka Black said...

Is curious. I'm re-reading right now the adventures of Solomon Kane before choosing a new reading.

G. B. Miller said...

Happy belated b'day!

laughingwolf said...

oh yeah... looking for things lost, actually in boxes not labeled, found a book i'd forgotten about: the way of kings, by brandon sanderson; book one of 'the stormlight archive'; he completed robert jordan's 'the wheel of time' series...

any sword/sorcery fantasy fans will love it... right at the outset, i was blown away his grand imagination and skill :)

Jeff said...

I keep a running list, but don't break them out into genre. That's a pretty impressive list!

Charles Gramlich said...

Eric1313, it's going on my list!

Laughingwolf, I wonder if I'll eventually wind down and stop doing it. Probably. I've got a Sanderson around the house but haven't read it yet.

Deka, Solomon Kane is good stuff.

G., thanks, man.

Jeff, I'm a librarian at heart, perhaps.

Randy Johnson said...

I'm with you in one respect. I rarely do rereads. As you said, too many new ones out there. Until relatively recently, you could count on two hands books I'd read more than once and an even smaller sub-group of those I'd read more than twice.

But since Patti Abbott's Forgotten books started, I occasionally dip into an old favorite to refresh my memory.

A few years ago, when King and Straub came out with a sequel to THE TALISMAN, I mentioned to a fellow fan that I was rereading that book before the new one arrived. He sarcastically asked if I couldn't remember the first one.

My reply was it's been fifteen years since I read it. At my rate(about twenty a month), some 2600 have crossed my mind since then. "You'll forgive an old man's elusive memory."

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's a heck of a lot of reading for someone who teaches and writes. Good show!

Jason E. Thummel said...

Albeit belated, my wishes for a happy birthday.

Erik Donald France said...

Happy belated birthday, dude ~~! Cheers to stacks more books of reading and writing ~

Charles Gramlich said...

Randy, that's part of the reason I'm doing rereads. My memory is no longer as good as it once was. The other is getting in older books I've ordered and wanting to see how good they were in comparison to my memories.

Patti, I don't do much else, though. I like my life to be simple.

Jason, thanks, I appreciate that.

Erik, indeed. I get what I want.

Anonymous said...

Charles you're a gentleman and a true lover of literature, you add and never detract and I wish you a belated Happy Birthday. If I may give you a recommendation the best book I read last year was JM Coetzee's Disgrace.

laughingwolf said...

when you have time, def worth a read :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Richard, thanks much, and thanks for the recommend. I will check it out. I will be getting around to visiting sites again soon.

Laughingwolf, I actually got one sent to me by error from the SFBC but it looked interesting so I kept it.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, 3 days late (I think), Charles. And yes, it is a dangerous voyage whenever we enter another's imagination (or our own, for sure!)

Golden Eagle said...

Happy belated Birthday!

I keep track of the books I read, but I never thought of looking at it genre-wise. I've found myself reading more graphic novels than I used to as well. There are some good ones out there, and I usually read them if they're an adaptation of something else--which is something that seems to be happening more often.

Steve Malley said...

Happy birthday, bud.

Sadly, Watchmen is a one-off. At least, as far as I know. That wild and sprawling structure that turns out to be as intricate and carefully linked as the heart of a pocketwatch. That absolute and thorough shredding of the underwear-on-the-outside crowd.

You can see the seeds planted in ALan Moore's run on Swamp Thing. It gets closer in Miracleman. But nobody's done the like, before or since.


You might like:

Love and Rockets, by the brothers Hernandez. I'm a Jaime man, but a lot of writers like Gilbert. Their graphic novels are amazing.

Cerebus, by Dave Sim. Starts as a Conan pisstake and swiftly evolves into the most ambitious and sweeping cartoon story ever. Over the course of 5000 pages he takes on religion, politics, men, women, life and love and death and everything in between. The satire is cutting and cruel, and moments within the story range from laugh out loud funny to pretty damn near heartbreaking.

Oh, and the drawing gets better. :)

Hmmm, couple of my guilty pleasures are Hellboy and Jack Staff by Britsh cartoonist Paul Grist. Oh, and Bone by Jeff Smith!

AvDB said...

I want to start reading graphic novels. Any suggestions as to a jumping off point?

I've been bad in making the rounds, posting, you name it. I need a major overhaul in my daily operations. : )

Charles Gramlich said...

M.M., indeed. I rather like being in the driver's seat of that.

Golden Eagle, I kind of gave up on comics a huge number of years ago, but lately I've been making my way back.

Steve Malley, I have the Swamp Thing run and it's pretty good. I've heard good thing about Love and Rockets but have not gotten it. I'll make that my next purchase. I've seen Bone around too but don't know much about it. I'll check it out.

AvDB, The Watchmen for sure. And V for Vendetta. Those are good. I liked Sword of the Atom but it may be more sword fantasy than you would like.

Travis Cody said...

Happy birthday!

I suspect that if I kept detailed records like this, I'd find that I've read more from August 2010 to August 2011 than in any other 12 month period. That's due to my Kindle.

I also suspect that I've read more in the mystery/thriller genre than ever before.

Barrie said...

Holy cow! You've been busy. Love all the stats! Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday!! I noticed it on FB, then promptly forgot. I hope you had a great day!

Greg said...

Happy late birthday! Those are some nice stats. Hard to imagine reading about a book every 3 days!

eric1313 said...

Oh yeah, it's good. Nothing in the world is quite like an ancient evil alien intelligence trying to enter the world and no one believing it could possibly be real. Or actually celebrating it with fanfare and hoopla. Invisibles was very good.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, I had a big surge in reading when I first got my Kindle too, although it's leveled off a bit.

Barrie, I did, thanks!

Greg, The poetry and the graphic novels are usually one day affairs, or the eqivalant. Some of the others take quite a bit longer.

Eric1313, I'm looking forward to it then.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Happy Birthday. That's a substantial amount of reading as well as impressive stats. I find I read a lot more, since I have had a nook for about a year now.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sean, I don't have the nook, but I have the Nook app on my computer. I read a lot on my Kindle though,

Tyhitia Green said...

Happy belated birthday, Charles. Wow, you rock!

I absolutely DID NOT meet my reading goals this year. Wahn. :-/

Charles Gramlich said...

Tyhitia, sometimes life intervenes. And thanks!

X. Dell said...

I'm thinking you gotta be a wiz at literary trivia.

I'm curious: out of all the stuff you've read, what has moved you the most? What have you learned from the non-fiction titles that you find most valuable?

Drizel said...

sweet mother of mary....that's allot of reading. I guess you have adult kids ;0)

Charles Gramlich said...

X-Dell, Most of the nonfiction I've been reading in the past few years has had to do with evolutionary psychology, or with the so called Intelligent Design attack against evolution. A lot of the ID stuff I've read, such as Dembski's "Intelligent Design," have moved me to a furious anger at the movement's attacks on science, and their callous disregard for truth and, strangely enough, basic Christian morals. One of the best books I read this year was "Intelligent Thought," a collection of essays about science, many of which expose the ID movement for the fraud it is.

Drizel, yes, my son is 24, and no longer living with me!

Travis Erwin said...

I tried to follow suit and track my books but sadly I'm a poor record keeper.

Oscar Case said...

Happy belated birthday, Charles!

ivan said...

On grading papers as an untenured prof in Canada:

Just the other day, in Newmarket, ON, I was asked to speak at a UN-sponsored anti poverty meeting, acronymmed PACC. We were asked to describe our lives and hard times.
Here is how I began:

A token male in Seneca's English department, I was eventually cashiered, stripped of epaulets, moustache and medals and sent out into the desert of Main Street like a badly behaved Legionnaire.

Ten years of teaching gives you an authoritarian complex, you've got to lecture, compare, explain.

Having no one to lecture to (my wife had had enough and had moved out) I went out to Fairy Lake there to lecture to ducks, geese and assorted racoons.

I went to Wilkinson's Studios and lectured there, and Bruce Wilkinson decided I might make a pretty good tripod for his cameras, albeit a little noisy.

What to do when you're a fallen professional?

I got into politics and they burned my house down.

Tough luck Henry Muck....

The fact it, my wife moved out because unlike yours, she balked at grading my papers.

That's what I get for delegating.

I dasn't blame my wife's grading.

At any rate there I was in the park, talking to geese and racccoons, and, lately poor folk at an anti-poverty meeting.

Durn, oncde a teacher, always a teacher-- anything for an audience. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Erwin, I've gotten it established as a habit now, but it's not always easy to keep up with, especially at first.

Oscar, thanks.

Ivan, hum, I haven't yet begun to lecture the birds and racoons around our house. When I do I will have to diagnose myself as having been "Ivaned" and I will then see about taking some medication for the problem. :)