Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 by the numbers

At the start of the year, when I’d newly discovered classics and great literature, I decided that unlike all recent years, I was going to make an effort to read entirely new books this year instead of re-reading the same old favorites.  I wanted to read 100  new books this year – a staggering number when you think that in past years, I’d probably read twenty-five to fifty books or so, most of which were re-reads.

I didn’t quite get there, but I’m really delighted to say that I got close.  I certainly would have reached 100 if I’d read fewer large, slow-moving classics and more children’s lit.  This year, I read without limits, selecting books as the mood struck me.  I read children’s classics which I’d missed as a child myself; I read British domestic dramas; I read fiction modern and old.  What I largely didn’t do was read fantasy and science fiction, my bread and butter for my entire life up until now.  I still enjoy those genres, but by branching out, I’ve come into contact with a whole world of literature I didn’t know existed!

So here’s my 2012 by the numbers:

  • I read a total of 98 books!  This list excludes strictly academic musicology, history, liturgy, and theology – that's almost 100 books read just for my own enjoyment.
  • 9 of those were re-reads – and not a single book this year was a re-read until book 46 on my fiction list!  It was wonderful to have such a long stretch in which every book, every character, and every situation was new.  And then it was nice to return to a few old favorites, especially while we were packing and moving.
  • Thus, I read 83 books this year that were entirely new to me!
  • 6 of those were non-fiction.  But even that number is higher than usual; I’ve always had a preference for fiction and even these six mark a step toward a more balanced book diet.
  • 5 of those were audiobooks.  I discovered how excellent it was to have a book to listen to while driving to work.  Unfortunately, that option disappeared once I became a graduate student taking the bus to school.
  • 2 of those were read aloud with my husband.  I posted a few thoughts and questions for discussion on the philosophy and process of reading aloud here and was pleasantly surprised to find out that we are not alone in this practice!

Next year, I think I’ll continue to keep my reading choices free.  I love hearing about all of the challenges you’re undertaking.  However, since my free reading has to fit around my graduate coursework and academic research, I want to keep my book selection open so I can pick according to my mood and whim.  I’m definitely not going to try to hit a total number of books next year, but try to tackle a few more books over 500 pages in length.  The main thing is to keep moving on this exciting journey of discovery!

Coming tomorrow: top ten favorite books of the year!  And coming soon: reviews of The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge, The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, and The Light Princess by George Macdonald.


  1. I am so impressed with how many books you read this year given the number of big distractions you have had!

    I noticed your comment about reading aloud with your husband. My husband and I did this for years when we were first married and both in school. After the girls were born we gradually started reading to them instead. We eventually stopped altogether when neither one of us could stay awake for any length of time!

    What I found really interesting was how not every good book makes a good read aloud. I think books for children tend to be written in a way that makes them more suitable. We'd often go through a number of first chapters before settling on the one we wanted to stick with. We still talk about how much we each enjoyed reading Bryce Courtney's The Power of One. Nothing else ever quite measured up to that as a read aloud.

    Thank you for opening a floodgate of wonderful reading memories. Happy reading in 2013!

    1. Well thanks - I've found that bus stops and bus rides make for great reading opportunity even while in graduate school, and I often try to take the last half hour of the day to read for myself, curled up under warm covers. :-)

      Thank you for sharing your and your husband's history of reading aloud! I've loved hearing everybody's stories.

      Happy reading to you too! 2013 is a whole new world of potential, and it's so fun to think ahead to what new books we might discover!

  2. Wow! So, so impressive (especially considering your heavy academic schedule). You must be a fast reader! I can't wait to see what you discover (and pass along) in 2013!!!

    1. Aww, thanks! Most of these books were the result of a half-time job in the spring and an unemployed summer. I don't imagine I'll be able to read nearly as many books in the coming year!