Reading Through the Years…

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Beginning in January 1992, I began to make a list of every book I read. At the time, it seemed like it would help me to give recommendations to others (especially when I couldn’t remember what I’d read five books ago). Nineteen years into “the list,” it has proven to be that and so much more. Not only do I pull out my lists when trying to recall something, but the list has become a diary of sorts.  I can see what interested me, what author caught my attention.  For example, in 1993, I read three novels by Willa Cather.  If you’ve never read, Death Comes for the Archbishop – add it to your list for 2011.

I can also look at the number of books read in a given year and know exactly why the number was high or low. Take 1995.  My son was born in December 1994. So, in 1995 I can see that The English Patient took me three months to read!  I must have been reading pages in the middle of the night while feeding him. Admittedly, I don’t recall much of it. Of course, that was also the year I read Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott. 

What’s interesting is that every year after Bob was born, the number goes up. In 1995, I read only 14 books. But, it climbs steadily as he gets on his feet (literally) and by the time, he goes to school – I’m reading 50 books per year. I can see when Harry Potter arrives on the scene and the books people were talking about. What’s really interesting is when I begin graduate school. The number skyrockets! In 2004, I read over 100 books – nearly all of them assigned in one of my classes at Simmons. There are a few I remember reading on the subway – turning pages as fast as I could.

Which brings us to the 2010 list. I read 56 books this year. I finished one last night, and unless I read one today, that’s the total. I just looked over the list, and came up with my ten favorites of the year.  I’m not separating novels for children and adults – this is what stands out.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha Sandweiss

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Small Island by Andrea Levy

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

I hope 2011 brings you good books and safe travels. Happy New Year!

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5 thoughts on “Reading Through the Years…

  1. Shelley-
    I’m going to be doing a list project with my creative writing students this session and can’t wait to share this post with them! -Liz

  2. Shelley – I really should be better about documenting my reading habits. It also reminded me so much of grandma. She keep a book diary as well. Also, Willa Cather must have made an impression during 1993/1994 because I remember that was the name you had chosen if Bob were a girl.

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