19 April 2008

Quality and Quantity

I started seriously keeping a list of books I read in late 2000. I was always reading, but before then my list making was spotty and I never followed through on it. The list lurks among my Word docs, typically updated every month or so with the latest to have passed before my eyes.

I appreciate being able to search the list and see if in fact I have read that book about the girl who falls in love with the scientist, but another consequence of having such a list year after year is the temptation to judge the years against each other, specifically in the number of books read. I fully expect to read about the same number of books as last year, but even as I write that I'm thinking, "Maybe just a few more?" To show that, I don't know, I've "improved" in some way? A harder, better, faster, stronger reader?

Sometimes I think I ought to stop counting entirely, not only to rid myself of that nasty moral superiority I feel when I see other people's counts but also because of a fear I might not be able to put the number out of my head. After all, if the goal is to get to, say, 150, I should be reading the shortest things I can find to get there -- but wouldn't reading IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, or re-reading ULYSSES (which as a re-read wouldn't count towards my number), be a better use of my time than tearing through 100 Nancy Drew books and padding my total with those? I worry that unconsciously I might be avoiding those mega-novels because they just take up so much time.

So I'm just going to put out there, without either adornment or shame, that I hit 50 books read in April of last year and I will probably get there in May of this year. I review more books than I did then, but I also work more (and more regular) hours. I'd like to think it all evens out.

1 comment:

bookchronicle said...

Last year was my first year of seriously maintaining a list of books I had read. It was a fun and entertaining year, but I'm beginning to feel a similar pull to "out do" myself.