Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Year of Reading: By the Numbers

This should have been The Year of Writing (followed by The Year of Revision and then, if I'm lucky, The Year of Publication)....but instead of using the majority of my spare time to work on the novel-in-progress, I spent a LOT of hours turning pages.  This isn't entirely bad, of course.  As Samuel Johnson once said, “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”  Still, I'm sure my agent and editor are off in a corner somewhere wailing and gnashing teeth and rending garments.  Calm down, gentlemen; I plan to flip it around in 2015, making it The Year of the Next Novel.

When it came to reading, however, I surprised even myself in 2014 with the statistics of my book log.  Regular readers of The Quivering Pen may remember previous years' tallies: 81 books in 2013, 56 in 2012 and 55 in 2011.

This year, as my friends over at Book Riot might say, I read harder.  Drumroll, please....

105 books.

This includes six which I expect to finish before New Year's Eve.  The total page count for 2014 was 25,186, for an average of 254 pages per book (up from 231 last year).

They ranged from Edan Lepucki's marvelous novella If You're Not Yet Like Me to Victoria Wilson's equally-dazzling 1,056-page biography of Barbara Stanwyck; they stretched back to 1815 with E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and reached into the future with three novels which will be published in 2015: The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac by Sharma Shields, The Sympathizer by Viet Than Nguyen and No. 4 Imperial Lane by Jonathan Weisman.  2014 was the year I finally got around to reading long-time residents of my literary bucket list: Anthony Doerr, Donna Tartt, Anthony Trollope and Elizabeth Gaskell.  It was the year I read Lolita.  It was the year I discovered what all the fuss was about with Gone Girl and The Fault in Our Stars.  It was the year I went back to war with Brian Turner (My Life as a Foreign Country), Phil Klay (Redeployment), Tim O'Brien (a re-read of The Things They Carried), Michael Pitre (Fives and Twenty-Fives), Katey Schultz (Flashes of War), Jennifer Percy (Demon Camp), Cara Hoffman (Be Safe I Love You), Adrian Bonenberger (Afghan Post), Joe Sacco (The Great War), and poets Saif Alsaegh (Iraqi Headaches) and Kevin Powers (Letter Composed During a Lull in Fighting).  I spent nearly two months eavesdropping on conversations between Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger (The Nixon Tapes) and a week enjoying poet Michael Earl Craig's Talkativeness.  I went Tenting To-Night with Mary Roberts Rinehart and Trout Fishing with Richard Brautigan.  I spent Christmas at Thompson Hall with Trollope and at Eagle Pond with Donald Hall.  I skated across The Great Glass Sea with Josh Weil and I explored a Cave in the Black Mountains with Neil Gaiman.  In short, I feel like I went everywhere and did everything in 2014 through the creative imaginations of all these wonderful writers.

I doubt my literary intake will be as great next year (though I do hope to make a dent in my Essentials List).  Instead, I hope to be creating worlds of my own.  Let's all lift a glass to The Year of Writing, long may its ink flow.

1 comment:

  1. Applause, I can't imagine reading that many while working on a manuscript. Good Job!