Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Year of the Books

I will remember 2011 as the year of the books. First and foremost because I rang out the old year by finishing my 200th book of the year (Lutheranism 101 for those keeping track). But there are other reasons too. I started reading ebooks seriously. I reclaimed my serious love of adolescent literature. I kicked butt at Summer Reading. And I set a reading plan and (almost) finished it.

Last January, my library science class of choice was "Library Materials and Literature for Young Adults." Part of the course structure was to read and discussion 25 YA books. That's a lot in general, but then I'd learn about new books that didn't fit into my reading plan for class and squeeze those books in. Or I'd get tired of YA and need to read something else. By the end of the class in May, I had read 20 more books than I had at that time in 2010. I discovered some great books: The Book Thief, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, Feed to name a few.

Then there was my reading plan. It was my way of rebelling against being told what to read for 4 months. (Even though I liked many of the YA books, but I'm a fantasy/historical/sci-fi/dystopian/fairy-tale-retelling girl. Keep those realistic and non-fiction books to yourself.) I didn't really know what I was getting into when I decided to read everything Madeleine L'Engle ever published, but I knew I'd need James Bond and Harry Potter to balance it out--which turned out to be a good call. That it landed at the same time as the Summer Reading program was a bonus. I realized I didn't agree with everything L'Engle said, but that was okay. And I appreciated reading the series that produced so many tropes of secret agent fiction and enjoyed (rather than seethe at) the rampant chauvinism, racism, and colonialism. I really enjoyed Moonraker and cried at the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (the movie is nothing like the book). It was a great summer that ended with a Nook!

After such a dedicated burst of reading (in the midst of Library Science classes and working full-time), I was burned out. I caught up on magazines, read fluff, and tried not to be obsessed with reaching 200 books. But when you've reached your previous year total in July, it's hard not to think that just a little bit more could push you over. I returned to my Top 100 lists for some inspiration (BBC Reads, Times, Great Reads, and YA Books for the Feminist Reader).

And so I squeezed reading into every nook and cranny of my time. I rarely left the house without the book I was currently reading. Read before bed, during my dinner break at work, in the car when I was early to places. It was a year immersed in the written word. And now I'm going to be happy and done.

One of my library blogs noted the trend of the reading recap and proudly proclaimed she did not keep track of her books because she didn't want the pressure of competition. I get that. My type-A personality does pay attention to the numbers. But I like the record too much to stop making my lists. I'd like to do something radical like commit to only reading 12 books this year, but that wouldn't be fun. And reading should be fun. (Plus I already have 11 books on my library holds list--what a bummer if I couldn't read them.) However, I'd like to be content with not hitting a number. With reading as I can and what I enjoy. The Book of Concord is on my list this year. A couple YA series are in the works. My "To Be Read" shelf is near capacity. So those are my half-goals. Anything else is bonus.

This post is part of a writing adventure. See it at Via Scribendi.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Oh, Bethany, you are inspiring! I am in awe. 200? You doubled my book read count! Way to go, dear! Here's to another good reading year...for both of us.