My reading life in 2011

People reading on the Paris metro

Photo by Pedro Figueiredo

For the first time in 2011, I actively kept track of how many and which books I read throughout the year. The impetus was the 75 Books Challenge for 2011 over at The group has more than 1,000 members, and I think the only thing they like more than reading is talking about reading!

When I joined the group last December, I had no idea if I could read 75 books in a single year, and even less idea which 75 books they might be. I’ve never been very good at organizing or planning my reading. Once in a great while, when I know an author I like has published a new book, I might seek out a specific title, but that’s not usually how it works. Much more often, I choose the next book by looking at what’s on my own shelves that I haven’t yet read, or browsing aimlessly at the library. I’ve stumbled on some pretty good books that way, but one of the big draws of the 75 Books Challenge was the idea of getting recommendations for good books that might otherwise slip past me. I was right. Many of the books I read this past year I “stole” after reading reviews posted by other group members.

closeup of hands on book

Photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly

As of today, I’ve completed 108 books in 2011, and I don’t expect to add more than 1 or 2 to that total by year’s end. That’s quite a haul, and I won’t bother listing them all here. If you want to check out the list, you’ll find my 75 Books thread over on LibraryThing. There are a few great books, quite a few pretty good books, and a few pretty bad books on the list. There is also a handful of books that I abandoned, not necessarily because they were bad but because they just weren’t catching my attention at the time I tried to read them. I fully expect to attempt most of them again, perhaps in the 2012 75 Books Challenge.

I have to say, keeping a running log of books I’ve read was an interesting experience. I think it made me more thoughtful about my book consumption. For example, one of my decisions was that I am not interested in reading as many books as I can stuff into my eyeballs in 2012. I’d rather read fewer books (maybe even less than 75? Horrors!) and have them be really memorable. That will also free up some of my time to do other things, like … reading The New Yorker. And movies! Watching more movies is definitely on the list. We’ll see how that goes, eh?

In the meantime, I had so much fun with the 75 Books Challenge on LibraryThing that I’ve decided to throw my bookmark into the ring for another reading challenge in 2012. Ellie, the genial hostess over at Musings of a Bookshop Girl — and a fellow traveler on LibraryThing — has posted her Mixing It Up Challenge 2012. The idea is to dig out of any reading ruts you might be in and tackle at least one book from any of up to 16 categories: Classics; Biography; Cookery, Food, and Wine; History; Modern Fiction; Graphic Novels and Manga; Crime and Mystery; Horror; Romance; Science Fiction and Fantasy; Travel; Poetry and Drama; Journalism and Humour (did I mention Ellie is from the UK?); Science and Natural History; Children’s and Young Adult; and Social Sciences and Philosophy.

Whew! That’s quite a list of categories. I already read pretty heavily in quite a few of those, so I’m going to try to complete all 16. I’m busily making lists of potential books for each category, and I’d love your suggestions. Sometime after Christmas I’ll post my preliminary list. And sometime after that, it will be time to start reading!

And away we go!