In 2010 I started reading for pleasure again, fueled mostly by my friend Holly, who is a sales rep for a large publisher and has a personal penchant for YA (young adult) fiction. She started by lending me The Hunger Games and a few others, and next thing you knew she was showing up with a bag of books every few weeks, and I’d send her home with the finished pile. I was nondiscriminating, and I was devouring books! At the end of that year, I had read approximately 75 books—and I had really only started in March. So going into 2011 I set a 100-book goal, just to see.
Last week, I made it to 100! This week I pushed the total up to 101, even (and I’ll likely read one or two more before the end of the year). I read 34,499 pages over 101 books, which puts the average around 340 pages. Some were long (more than 1,000 pages!) and some were embarrassingly short (fewer than 144). Some took weeks (the audiobook of Game of Thrones) and others just about an hour or two (that really short one). Some were fantastic and some were abysmal. A full 80 percent were YA fiction, which means a shocking TWENTY (20!) of the books were adult, and thus long(er). I think 98 of them were fiction. Goodreads has been a fun way to track my progress and record my thoughts about each book.
My ratings for the year follow a bell curve, slightly weighted to the worse over better. I use the rating phrasing that Goodreads offers, where 2 stars is “it was OK” and 3 is “I liked it.” I think a lot of these books really fell into the 2.5-star category, but no half-stars are allowed. People say I’m a harsh rater but I try to be honest and I think it’s right that the year ended up looking like this. There are stand-outs and there are failures, but most of it was completely enjoyable.
The seven books that warranted 5 stars are generally the best-written ones that also touched my heart. I would recommend them to anyone. Click on the book covers to read more about the books.
Ripper was my “bonus” book, number 101. It was probably the best-written book of the year. It gets 5 stars because it was good, not because it is at all touching (it’s not). The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate—oh, what a delight. Calpurnia’s life might also remind you of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, except she’s a budding scientist and feminist. Elsewhere is about where you go after you die. Touching, thought-provoking, and original. The Secret Life of Bees is a book I overlooked for years because I assumed it was mindless chick lit. It’s not! This book was incredible. Way to bring me to a place and a time so completely. Gossamer was so short that I expected it to be substanceless, but that was not the case at all. A lovely little book. Trouble is another tough-to-read book from Gary Schmidt. He tackles racism in a delicate and perfect way. And finally, Where She Went: Don’t even click on this book if you haven’t read If I Stay, the prequel. Both books are stellar.
It was fun to have a concrete reading goal for the first time in my life, and Goodreads would let me know if I was ahead of pace or behind. I finished January about 10 books ahead of pace, which had me feeling quite comfortable. But then summer, vacations (where I don’t read as much! I’m a commuting reader), and a lot of knitting got in the way, and I went into November down 12 books. In two weeks in early November I read 4 to 5 books a week, reading before bed and in other spare moments to get caught up. It was silly to suddenly be racing against the clock, and I know I prioritized shorter books during that time! But I was too close to hitting the goal to not go for it.
I’m entering 2012 with no reading goal for the year. I proved I could do it, and with weeks to spare. Goodreads tells us that its members pledged to read 10 million books, and by the beginning of December only 4 million had been read. I did my part!
Here are all the books I read so far this year, starting with the most recently finished one. You can click on a cover to see its page on Goodreads.