Monday, January 28, 2013

25 Books in 2013

So. Every year a friend of mine begins a new group on Facebook encouraging people to read 25 books in [whatever year this happens to be]. And every year I enthusiastically begin by including my first four or five books that I've read. And then I wonder, what about manuscripts I'm working on but won't be published until next year? Can't mention them yet, because obviously that doesn't help people look them up if they're interested. So I don't post them. And then I forget to post them when the books are out.

At some point around March or so, I forget to add in a few, and then I can't remember what book #6 or #7 was, and I just give up. I try to add a few of them to Goodreads, where I keep a dusty and not-very-well-used account, and then... well, you know. In the meantime I watch friends piling up the books they're reading, and watch the 25 Books in [whatever year this happens to be] building and building as people reach the lofty #25 goal and then move on to #26, #27, and beyond. (I shake my fist at those crazy kids, remembering a time long ago when I was able to read so much!)

When we moved in August, I put books on my bookshelves that I'd put on my bookshelves in the last move, and some in the move previous to that 12 years ago... and they hadn't been read then and they haven't been read now. What. The hell. I sit surrounded by these shelves every day (they're surrounding me right now), and think if I could do anything, it would be sitting down to read those books. NOT watching TV, not going to the movies, not going outside to do anything, just finding a day with an empty house and sitting and reading.

But then I remember I really need to clean that living room. And the kitchen. And I did the laundry, but it's still sitting in the dryer. And I'm never alone in the house. And I can set the Saturday morning alarm for 6:30 to try to curl up on the couch and read, but my daughter is up at 6 on Saturdays to hit the Family channel before anyone else is up (Monday to Friday, you're pushing her out of bed at 7:30, but come weekends...). And, well, I REALLY need to clear off some of the stuff on the PVR. And I've watched some of that season of that show, but not all of it, and I need to return the DVDs to the library. And while I already watched that other show, a bunch of people have asked me to blog on it. And I haven't blogged in a while, so I really should. And I've been editing all day and my eyes are kind of sore and tired. Or I didn't edit enough today and so I should work for a couple of hours before going to bed (the joys of working at home). And while I took grad school English lit, and I'm a writer, and an editor, for god's sakes, I am such a slow reader. No, really. Molasses slow. I've always loved words — the look of them on the page, the details — and since I was a teenager I've read very slowly and carefully, committing every detail to memory. So, it takes me a while.

Oh, and did I mention the kids walking into the room every three seconds? See, a mom sitting on the couch with a book signals a mom who isn't doing anything. Dad can disappear, but not Mom.

The other night a friend of mine was over, someone I hadn't seen in close to 20 years (yowza) and when my husband and I started bombarding him with TV shows he should be watching, he said, "You know, I'm really trying to read more." And I said, sarcastically, "Read?! Pfft. Who does that anymore??" Of course, it's what I've been trying to do more of for years.

But this year, I'm going to make a serious effort. In fact, I already have. I just finished Books #4 AND #5 today (yes, I tend to read more than one at the same time; always have...) And then I'm going to post here when I finish. It might be super short, it might be very long. But I'll say something. And maybe some of you can join in. When I post my #1 (tomorrow, since I have five books to catch you up on!), you can post your #1s in the comments. Then you can post your #2 book of the year under mine. Don't worry... it's doubtful I'll get ahead of you. Far more likely that you'll be stockpiling books waiting for me to get the hell to #10 since you're almost at #17. We can switch off books — give me some of your best suggestions, and I can promise my reading is eclectic (a friend of mine started suggesting books for my best friend instead of for me because, as she put it, "I can't quite figure out your taste anymore!").

I include graphic novels as legit reading materials, by the way. I know some people say you can breeze through them in one sitting and therefore they shouldn't count, but that's not how I read graphic novels. I tend to get so caught up in the details of the pictures that I can sit and stare at the visuals on the pages longer than I would have if the pages had been filled with text. And graphic novels have contained some of the most heart-wrenching and funny stories I've ever read. (See Y: The Last Man, for starters.) SO... they count.

I'm sure to many of you, 25 is nothing. So I'm aiming for higher. But for now, I'm going to say 25 because that's about one every two weeks, and, well, life is crazy and wonderful, and I'm not going to add one more stress to it. Since moving to London, Ontario, I've joined three book clubs, so if nothing else motivates me, that certainly will. But you guys have always been amazing motivators, too.

And by the way, I have been watching 1970s Doctor Who, have seen a ton of films, and just finished season 2 of Sons of Anarchy, and have watched THE MOST AMAZING documentary I've ever seen and I MUST tell you about all of it!!! But... let's hit the books first. I'll get around to that other stuff eventually. Maybe even talk about the end of Fringe just around the time everyone's forgotten what it was about.

So who's with me?


The Original Scroll said...

Great idea! I'm really interested in finding out which books proved to be worthy to be included in your busy Doctor Who-watching schedule/the rest of your life and it would be fun to post my books in comparison as well.
As I 'like' books, I'm a bit mental about my reading and have been noting down all the books I've read since I was 14 (there's a two-year gap when I was about 22-24 and those 'lost books' are killing me - how can I not know what I read for two years?). I keep my paper-Goodreads in a notebook and I mark the date at the end of every page - last page-break was at the 30.12.12, so it's easy to keep track of all the (25) Books in 2013. Can't wait!

Austin Gorton said...

Heh. Like you, I tend to read more than one book at a time - one fiction, one non fiction, and at least two or three graphic novels. Drives some of my friends nuts.

This is the first year that I've decided to count graphic novels in my "books read" count. I just never even thought to include them because, in addition to everything else I read, I'm also always plowing through a stack of comics. As a result, I've always approached graphic novels as just handily bound collections of comics, and not books. So reading a graphic novel felt like more like reading six comics than one book.

But to heck with that, I've decided! I read a ton of graphic novels every year, and I'm sick of my "books read" count looking paltry as a result. So they're getting counted!

yourblindspot said...

Count me in, though I expect my throughput to be characteristically meager. Will try to make up for it with caliber, vibrance and diversity. And perhaps the occasional illustrated haiku.

mike28212 said...

This is a great idea and just the inspiration I need to get more reading done. I completely identify with your comment about moving the same unread books over and over. I enjoy lots of genres as evidenced by the diverse books I have collected over the years. I'm also glad to hear I am not the only person who reads more than one book at a time.