100 Books

Last year, despite reading almost nothing the first six weeks of the year, I read 91 books. I tried for a hundred, but didn’t quite make it. This year, as of today, I’m up to 49. Currently, I’m reading The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three. I quit reviewing in late 2010 and have, to my surprise, read more. I want to get to 100 by years end. Will I make it?

It depends. Except for interruptions for some special purpose or a large book I want to read, I follow a pattern. I start with a hard cover (almost always a novel), then a paperback novel. This is followed by an ebook, usually an ebook published specifically as an ebook. Then I read either a classic or a literary novel. When I finish that cycle, I move on to Stephen King – in any format. King is the author whose canon I’ve decided to go all the way through from beginning to end, excluding the early Bachman books. I may return to them. I finish the cycle with a presidential biography, my entree into American history. While I’m doing all this, I’ll listen to an audio book on my way to work or while I’m jogging.

Eventually, this is going to become difficult, if not impossible. Starting in late August, I begin work on my bachelor’s degree. Unlike the associates I’m about to complete, there are no online classes. I have to go to campus and sit there like a real college student. I’m 46. That’s unfair. (The ghost of my mother is standing behind me saying, “Quit whining and do your homework.”)

Seriously, though, the real interruptions this year came from detours. I just finished the last volume of Shelby Foote’s Civil War narrative, the last part taking nearly four weeks to get through. I also spent May reading two books on plotting. Those slowed me down because I didn’t take them to work with me. My coworkers at Medishack know little about my writing habit, and I like it like that. At BigHugeCo, I would sometimes write on my lunch break, which often invited interruptions. “Hey, what are you working on?” At Medischack, they neither know nor care. And one coworker would likely lecture me that I’m writing the wrong stuff. She gets upset when I bring in Stephen King.

One of the reasons for this pattern is that I want to get everything on my bookshelf read. I’ll probably finish all the hardcovers in the house by year’s end, with the paperbacks by the end of next year. The exceptions are books by Danielle Steele (not my cuppa), James Patterson (same), and some classical tomes I just can’t concentrate on anymore. In my twenties, I could have blown through The Iliad in three days. Now? Dickens is about as dense of prose as I can get through.

There is, of course, one book I was glad to disrupt the schedule for, The Autobiography of Mark Twain. They promised to have the whole thing out by 2015. I’m hoping that’s true.