Home > Uncategorized > My Year in Reading

My Year in Reading

In some ways, I do wish I were the sort to find a more-unique way to define an interval appropriate for reflection than the calendar year. Yet, when I think on it, not only does it seem needlessly complicated, but reminds me of people who will organize their various media collections in ways other than boring, old alphabetical order.

Ultimately, when I want to hear Radiohead, I know I can go to the “R’s” and find them. I don’t want to try to remember what year “The Bends” was released or what color the spine may have been. I’ll leave that for the more-creative folk with much more ability in the memory department.

The trade off, of course, is that I’ll be just another voice muttering an opinion into a larger conversation featuring a great many voices all talking about the same thing, essentially.

At least it’ll be interesting to me?

2011 was a bit of a boon for me in the reading category thanks to three items: a change of work venue, requiring a commute via public transport; a Christmas gift of a shiny new e-reader; and a rapidly snowballing need to consume all sorts of book-related media.

Ride the Bus; Read a Book

When I first started working for my current employer, they were located in a semi-dodgy part of town. Sure, you had to frequently dodge morning drunks, giant rain-filled potholes, and a considerable number of tractor-trailer trucks between car and desk, but the freedom granted when you have your car a block away, for me, greatly out-weighed such inconveniences. Granted, my low supply of patience does not make me an ideal candidate for driving in Seattle traffic, but I liked being able to drive to work.

Moving downtown did nothing for me as much as taking away my ability to drive to work. Many coworkers relish the opportunity to sneak out of the office for a mid-day shopping trip to Nordstrom, as well as a huge expansion on nearby food options, but, for me, those trade-offs weren’t really getting it done for me.

Sitting on the bus for an hour-plus most days did pay off, though. I am not the sort who can just sit and stare-off into space in such scenarios, passing the time with my own thoughts.

Maybe I don’t find myself that interesting, after all.

I did notice that a good number of my fellow Seattle-ites have chosen to utilize that bus-riding time to do numerous things on their smart phones, which did make it clear to me I wanted to be doing something other than that. Add in the fact that the gorgeous central branch of the Seattle Public Library was a nice little walk from the office, and I was ready to re-embrace a reading habit that had long lain dormant (too many years working the insane hours of restaurant manager).

My Nook…How do I love thee?

The Missus noted my renewed lust for book consumption and, at some point, realized an e-reader was going to be an ideal Christmas gift.

She was right.

Trying to ignore that some number of printed-on-paper-book fetishists will fail to miss the opportunity to assert their superiority for steadfastly refusing to ever consider such a device, I declare my conditional love for my little tech toy. I love that I can borrow books from the library without taking the short walk that was otherwise very good for me; I love that I can buy new releases from the convenience of my desk, when I can be coerced to going above my set ceiling of $9.99; I love that I can read in bed without holding hundreds of pages above my face and that, when I start to fall asleep and drop it, it doesn’t hurt as much and I don’t lose my spot.

Despite all of which, I still spent more time and money at bookstores, particularly re-sellers, than I have in many a year. I mix it up. I’m prejudiced against neither format. Whichever is more convenient to my budget and the whims of my selections of “NEXT!” wins the day.

And, I do honestly think I am able to read faster on the Nook than what I do with a printed book. I’ve no scientific data to back the assertion, nor could I explain why that might be, but I do feel I read faster on that little screen; this is not unappealing to me.

Goodreads, Twitter, Blogs, Book Reviews, et cetera

Now, like any decent obsession, I’ve taken it from its simplest form into some sincerely nerdy directions.

Like many, I’ve become a devotee to the Goodreads site. I have not necessarily dived into it as deep as I could or even may yet do, but I regularly update my reading progress in whatever I’m reading and, since I like to challenge myself, am continually spurred to push that number higher until I’m able to click the magical “I’m finished” text, whereupon I realize I’m not really ready to write a proper review and will half-ass some opinions on it. Okay, that’s not ideal, but I did also join the “Reading Challenge” and set a goal of reading 50 books in 2011. I hit 54 and won’t manage the double-nickel unless I find a really short book I just HAVE to finish in the next 31 hours. Unlikely.

Additionally, my “to read” pile/list, has done the opposite of Jonah Hill: it used to be a lot thinner and, probably healthier, but now has grown into a more humorously girth-y entity. Between having a nice, central place to track such aspirations (again, thanks to Goodreads) and the influx of great suggestions from various social media channels, I simply cannot keep up, so it grows at an unhealthy rate. There are worse problems, but if anyone reads this an knows someone who’s looking to pay someone to sit around the house and read books all day, please forward them to me; we might be able to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution.


What does the next year hold? How large can one’s “to read” list get?

Looks like I’ve already decided I’m going to write about my reading, which won’t give me more time to work on my 2012 goal of 55 books. Maybe I turn off the Twitter a while? Maybe I stop accepting the free copies of The New York Times Book Review, which ends up taking up substantial reading time AND adds to the pile. I’ve already dropped a few magazine subscriptions, though I’ve added a few literary quarterlies.

I guess it’ll have to suffice that I shan’t suffer these burdens alone. I’ll continue to publish these missives into the ether and feel like something is being achieved.

Just, do me a favor. Don’t recommend me any books for a while, eh?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joy
    January 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    If a serious reader like you is telling me you love your e-reader, I probably need to get an e-reader. I always enjoy seeing what books you are reading and now I shall be checking out your blog on occasions too. I didn’t count how many books I’ve read this year, but being unemployed for 11 months as well as not having a family gave me me a serious advantage. I’ll have to count this year just to see if I can beat you.

    • January 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      Check out Goodreads when you get a chance. Not only can you easily track what you read, but, once you’ve entered enough ratings on books you’ve read, you get recommendations of other books you may like. Definitely have learned of several titles that way.

      E-reader has a lot of functional advantages over books, in my opinion. As I said, when I’m reading in bed, there is no contest, especially when reading really long books. Read “The Passage” in hardcover and about sprained my wrists holding it up!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: