Tuesday, January 04, 2005

2004’s Books

After I finish a book, I like to write down in a little notebook the name of the book, the author’s name, and how long it took me to read. A typical entry goes like this:

The Golden Bough, v. 10: Balder the Beautiful v.1, James Frazer, 7/20 – 11/8/04

This entry tells me that through the late summer and most of autumn, I read the tenth book of Frazer’s twelve book Golden Bough series, the first of two volumes on the deity of Balder. That it took so long tells me that it was extraordinarily long (not the case), that I read it either in between other books, reading it in snippets (not the case), or that I read it on the can (the case).

In looking back over my list of books, I find that the sum total of these equals 135 for an average of one book every 2.7 days, an impossible task if one has a very busy toddler as I do.

How such a big number?

Audiobooks as my readers assuredly have guessed.

Now, we won’t get into a lengthy debate on what defines “reading” as there are a benighted few who make somewhat good arguments against calling listening to an audiobook “reading.” You’ll note that my list isn’t of books I’ve read but of books I’ve finished.

And so here it is my list broken down:

135 books total.
73 audibooks, more than half the total on that list. What a pathtetically skimpy list I’d have without my mindless office drone position.

Of the 62 books that were not listened to there were:

  • 9 books of poetry (though to be fair one was the Complete Poetry of Emily Dickinson, weighing in at some 600 pages).
  • 18 graphic novels. Oddly enough, I’d thought I’d read more of these. Perhaps I forgot to write some down.
  • 10 books of non-fiction, mostly political.
  • 2 collections of short stories, one the very lengthy collection of Dashiell Hammet’s crime stories, comprising about 900 pages.
  • 23 novels. Frankly, that number just floored me. I used to read that many novels in two months.

If anyone wants to know how buying a house that’s a fixer upper and having a baby change your life, there’s a number right there to keep in mind.

But what about the audiobooks, I hear you asking in rapt fascination of this dissection of one man’s reading habits.

  • 15 were nonfiction, again mostly political.
  • 56 were novels and 2 were short story collections.

Obviously you can’t listen to an audio adaptation of a graphic novel.

I find poetry rather trying listening material for any length of time. It helps if I know the poet and it even more so helps if I’m present in the same room.

So that’s that.

I’m not sure at what point I almost across the board stopped reading short story collections, but I used to devour those too. It’s funny how you only notice a change like that if you really stop to think about it. Without this list and my obsessive tallying of what’s on it, I’d never have noticed these things.

Do you keep a list?

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