Books read in 2004: 21
Books read in 2005: 28
Books read in 2006: 40
Books read in 2007: 30
Books read in 2008: 41
Books read in 2009: 22
Books read in 2010: 44
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31
Books read in 2013: 8
Books read in 2014: 13
Books read in 2015: 12 (18 with re-reads)
Diane, the owner of Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA, is putting out a 52 book challenge for 2016. I’m tempted to try it, even if I have no hope of succeeding. Somewhere along the line, my habits changed and I’m just not the reader I once was, and I’m pretty sure I know why.
We got iPads, and smartphones, and it’s so easy to browse Reddit for an hour or binge-watch a series on Netflix in those moments of “spare” time. It’s less mental effort, but, possibly as a result, it’s also less satisfying. I just finished The Magicians, and I got more out of it than a marathon of Friends. Which is actually saying a lot, because on a recent second viewing, I appreciate the comedic talents of David Schwimmer more than I did originally.
At any rate, I’m going to sign up for the challenge. This is going to be a busy year, and I’ve never read that many books. I also don’t like to view reading as a task to be accomplished. But when 2016 comes to a close, I’m hoping I’ll have spent more time with a book and less with an iPad. I might upgrade my Kindle, though.
I should note, so as not to get too down on my reading habits, that I do read out loud for 30-45 minutes every night. My kids and I have worked our way through His Dark Materials and most of the Harry Potter series this year. For me, re-reads, but maybe I can tack them onto the bottom of the list below.
Before diving into the list, I should mention the books I didn’t read. Some were good, but I just haven’t gotten through them yet. Sitting on the shelf, their siren song failed to drown out the appeal of re-watching an episode of New Girl. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs is entertaining and thoughtful, and I really enjoy it once I’ve settled down on the couch with it.
The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios is fascinating but at times really annoying. Not through the fault of the author, who clearly states the purpose of the book, It’s just that I wanted the book to dive into the errors in physics, or justify the errors in some way. Kakalios does it some, but his objective is to illustrate the principles of physics through comics, not nitpick the accuracy. Fair enough, but why doesn’t the Flash leave footprints in concrete when he runs?
A friend loaned me Headlong by Michael Frayn. It’s well written, but there is a host of art history that is noise to me. As my friend put it, Headlong is to art critique what Cryptonomicon is to computers, and I lack the background to really, really get Headlong. The story is good, though, and I’m hanging on by my fingernails, so eventually I’ll knock this one out.
I’ve spent some quality time with Roberts Rules of Order this year, and then the Abridged Roberts Rules of Order, but there is no amount of abridgment that’s going to get me through a complete reading.
1. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novack
Like binge reading McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
2. One Day by David Nicholls
Enjoyable story of a lifelong relationship.
3. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures By Kate DiCamillo
Read to my daughter Scout. A great story of a super squirrel.
4. Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0) by Scott Meyer
5. An Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0) by Scott Meyer
Fun continuations of his magic-from-technology series.
6. Funny Girl: A Novel by Nick Hornby
A good, though not great, Nick Hornby novel.
7. Teleport This (Small Universe Book 1) by Christopher M. Daniels
8. Soul to Soul (Small Universe Book 2) by Christopher M. Daniels
Meh. Amateur science fiction. They were cheap and available on the Kindle.
9. Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw
A surprisingly good sort-of-fantasy novel. Funny!
10. The Martian by Andy Weir
One of the greatest books ever, and a great movie adaptation as well.
11. SEVENEVES by Neil Stephenson
A sprawling far-reaching disaster/science fiction novel about the moon breaking apart. Loved it.
12. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Enjoyable, thought-provoking book about different ways to look at problems.
Re-reads with the kids:
His Dark Materials Omnibus by Philip Pullman
13. The Golden Compass
14. The Subtle Knife
15. The Amber Spyglass
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling