Day 5 of Christmastide: How Many Books?

The big question for me as I get down to the last few days of the year is how many books will be on my list of Read in 2011? Will I make it through one or two more in the next few days? Which ones should I focus on finishing? At this point I’ve got a few books on the go, and (checks book) 106 already on the list for the year. I should tell you that this is down from 2010 (134) but up from 2009 (91). I don’t think I’ll make 110, but might do 108 or 109. 107 seems probable.

It surprised me to see that people online were pleased with a count of 50 or 55 books for the year. I’ve never read so few. I do devour a lot of junque books, so maybe I’m bulking up on those, but my count has been at least 70 since I started keeping track. To be fair, I do live alone, have no children, and don’t watch a lot of television. I’ve got friends who think my numbers are laughably low. Are we crazy? Possibly we’re reading so we aren’t online telling other people how many books we’ve read. How many do you read in a year? Do you keep track? Why or why not??

I keep track of all books I read from cover to cover. If I start a book but do not finish it, it doesn’t make my list. If I read a chapter of a book for research, not on the list, an article, not on the list. If I read a complete book for research, it is on the list. This means that my list doesn’t completely reflect my reading for the year. There may be years when my complete book count is low, but my article count is high. I don’t keep track of articles I read, though I’ve been meaning to find a way to do that. It is handy to have notes and bibliographic information on record for future writing. (I’m a geek.)

I haven’t been categorizing books by anything other than fiction/non-fiction and religious/not religious. I’m realizing my rough categories are not very helpful. I need to find a finer set of categories to use, but not so fine that one is always making up a new category for each book. I’ve occasionally also used children’s fiction or classic fiction, but those are not always helpful either. This is a project for the new year — come up with a set of categories for the books I read. Yet another reason to think about genre.

Keeping track of the books I’ve read in a year and over time means I know when I last read a book. I try not to read a book in the same year, though I’ve done it before. I find if I re-read too quickly I’m not quite ready to be fully absorbed by the book again. I used to read a book, then re-read it immediately if I liked it a lot. I’d often read books from the library at least twice before returning them. I don’t do that anymore. I’m tempted to do it most with non-fiction books of the dense theological variety. I think that I’ve missed something and I need to re-read right now — but I don’t. I need to go back to non-fiction like I do fiction. I’m quite sure I’d get more out of the book the second time through. Do you re-read non-fiction?

For the fifth day of Christmas, a little song:

Drive the Lotus

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2 Comments

Filed under lists, other Stuff

2 responses to “Day 5 of Christmastide: How Many Books?

  1. The Constant Reader

    Back when I was keeping track I was averaging 20 books/mo. which doesn’t seem too far off from where I am now — well, I’m working more now, so let’s assume that I read 18 books every month (seems reasonable). That puts me at around 215 books this year… not bad.

    Maybe in 2012 I’ll start keeping track again.

  2. Phebe

    My count would be pretty low, if I kept one. Somehow having a hubby and kids uses up a bunch of time. Also, I find that the relaxation of sitting down with a good book is sometimes enough to cause me to fall asleep. That slows the reading process considerably. My kids say I read pretty slow anyway. They recently borrowed a copy of Inheritance by Christopher Paolini from a friend. Within 24 hours the two oldest had finished it. Son number 3 took about 36 hours, but only because he was interrupted by being with relatives and at a wedding, so he had to be social. It took me about 2 days. 880 pages.

    I occasionally reread non-fiction, though I am much more likely to re-read fiction. If I re-read one book of a series, I almost have to re-read the rest of the series.

    As far as recording articles, if they are articles online, copy the URL and paste it to a Word document or a OneNote page. Then you can go back later and more thoroughly record the info once you have 10 or 15 to do all at once. Word (2007 and higher) also has a very useful tool for easily building a good bibliography, properly formatted in your choice of quite a number of different standard formats.

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