Relax and Read More

That’s the only resolution I’m making this year: relax, and spend more time reading.

There was a time in my life when I read close to a book a day. Looking back, I realize how I managed that: no cable TV, no computer, and a rather erratic work schedule. On my computer I have reading lists going back many years (and many computers, come to that, and the earliest ones were done on a typewriter and later committed to the first computer I owned).

The To Be Read PileThe list for 1980, for example, isn’t numbered, but it’s nine pages long. Almost all science fiction and mysteries back then, and a scattering of non-fiction. (Still no computer in 1980—no Internet, no email, no following links for an hour until I’ve forgotten what I was originally looking for.) The list for 1990 is only three (single-spaced) pages long, science fiction, mysteries, and lots of non-fiction, much of it on the craft of writing. (I had a computer by then, but if I had an Internet connection, it worked with the majestic speed of glaciers.)

In 2000 I read 24 romances, 14 mysteries, 20 “other fiction,” and 20 non-fiction, a mixture of research, writing, and general interest books. Move up another decade: in 2010, I read a total of 43 books: 8 romances, 13 mysteries, 4 science fiction novels, 7 other novels, and 11 non-fiction.

I’ve been pretty consistent over the last few years: 41 books in 2011, 39 in 2012, 39 in 2013. Well above the national average, I suspect, but nothing that would have impressed my mother. (I jumped over to my browser, typed in something like “national average books read,” and discovered that the average American adult read twelve books in 2013, thus proving that almost anything can send me scurrying off into Google-land.) In 2014 I read 48 books (13 romances, 14 mysteries, 8 science fiction, 7 other novels, and 6 non-fiction).

In 2011 I bought a Kindle, after several years of insisting that I didn’t want to read ebooks. That year I read nine books on my Kindle, out of 41. In 2012 it was 13 ebooks out of 39, in 2013 14 out of 39, and in 2014 16 out of 48. I seem to have settled at about one third ebooks to two thirds paper.  (Let’s not even think about how many unread books are waiting on my Kindle.)

What got me started on all this rather pointless research was the last book I read in 2014, Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis. I have a whole stack on Dennis’ books on the shelf, most of them very old, brittle and yellowing from age and many readings, some held together by scotch tape and nostalgia. Some of them belonged to my mother, and we both read each of them multiple times. When I saw Auntie Mame available for my Kindle recently for $1.99, I downloaded it and enjoyed it just as much as I did decades ago.

I have walls full of books that I won’t part with because I want to read them again one day, or so I tell myself. I know full well that I should weed a lot of those out and send them off to new homes, because I’ve lost interest or will just never get around to them again, but there are so many that I want to keep, just like those ancient Patrick Dennis novels, because I love them. But I also have shelves full of books that I haven’t read but really want to—that’s why I bought them, after all—and that invisible To Be Read stack on my Kindle.

So I looked back a few years to see just how much re-reading I’ve managed to do lately. In 2014, Auntie Mame, Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson, and Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly, all on my Kindle (Hambly was an accident—I read a couple of chapters before I realized I’d read the original paperback edition when it came out twenty years ago, but I enjoyed it just as much this time around).

In 2013, I reread science fiction by H. Beam Piper and John Wyndham, both on paper, and Shirley Jackson’s Life among the Savages on my Kindle. In 2012 it was more long-remembered science fiction: Edgar Rice Burrough’s The Land that Time Forgot trilogy (on my Kindle, pretty much a guilty pleasure, terribly dated), Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, DeCamp and Sprague’s The Mathematics of Magic, and Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy (all of those on paper and all well worth rereading). In 2011, three old favorites by Wyndham (another beloved author whose books I actually replaced with new editions from the Book Depository), Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

I have no idea what any of this means, but it’s been fun picking out the stats. Now it’s time to go sit on the couch and read, so I can start a new computer file: BOOKLIST 2015. And I promised Goodreads that I’d read fifty books in 2015. I’m actually in the middle of three right now, so that seems doable.

Happy New Year, everyone, Happy Reading, and thanks for dropping by.

Books, Books and More Books

 

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl Bolen
    Jan 02, 2015 @ 20:45:12

    That was a really interesting post! I am awed that you keep such records. I know you chronicle (and have for years) all the mundane things of life, such as what date each year you first turn on your heater.

    What a great resolution! I keep saying, “one day I’m going to read all those books on my shelves that I want to read,” but the “job” has to come first, and I don’t see any retirement on the horizon. We can write forever.

    I have to say much of your observations are the same as mine, you Google Slut!

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  2. JF Owen
    Jan 02, 2015 @ 20:53:46

    I did the unthinkable this week. I took over 200 books to Goodwill with our annual donation of clothing and electronics. I’ve taken books many times before, but they were mostly non-fiction hardcover or paperback novels. This year, for the first time, almost two thirds of the books that I took were hardcover novels. Granted, none were the favorites in my collection, but it was still a milestone. I’d always promised myself that I’d never get rid of a hardcover novel.

    I still promise that I’ll never cull the books from my favorite authors. Heinlein, Asimov, Pournelle, Zimmer-Bradley, McCaffrey, Anderson, Pohl, and a host of others are all safe. Still, sorting out the ones that were leaving was a somber experience.

    I love my tablets, One of them is always with me or within easy reach and that’s one reason I’m able to read as much as I do. But sometimes, in the quiet of the evening, I’ll walk to my office and slip a real book off of the shelf. The engineer in me says that the words and thoughts are the same whether they’re typeset or electronic. The reader in me says that’s true, but to feel the words in your soul you have to actually feel the pages.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Jan 03, 2015 @ 15:12:39

      If I didn’t clean out the books now and then (I’m way overdue, not to mention my late husband’s library of military history), my house would look like one of those hoarding shows on TV.

      I have most if not all of Bradley and McCaffrey on my shelves (some still waiting to be read), Some Anderson, Pohl and Pournelle. Very little Heinlein, but I really haven’t found his books to hold up all that well, not for me, anyway, and no Asimov (although I couldn’t guess how many times I read the Foundation trilogy). Several by Farmer (one day I WILL reread the Riverworld series). Multiple Harrison, Finney, Novik and Turtledove. Lots of others less prolific. And that’s just the SFF keeper shelves.

      I’m thinking about buying a Kindle Voyage. Nothing wrong with my 2011 model, but the paper white and other new features are tempting.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Jacqui Nelson
    Jan 02, 2015 @ 20:56:24

    Those are some impressive reading statistics, Kay! Looking forward to reading your post next year around this time to see what you read 🙂

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