Happy New Year! 2010 was a great reading year for me. Among my favorites released in 2010 were ROOM by Emma Donoghue, Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, and Scars by Cheryl Rainfield. Books that were released prior to 2010 that I loved were Every Man Dies Alone (1947) by Hans Fallada, The Book Thief (2006) by Markus Zusak, and Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 (1993) by Siegfried Knappe with Ted Brusaw.
There were so many books that I didn’t get to, though, that are now on my To Be Read list. Here’s a handful that have been on my mind:
- Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
- Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
- The Passage by Justin Cronin
- How to Live by Sarah Bakewell
- The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
Most bookworms rejoice that there’s just so many wonderful books out there to read and then lament the lack of time to read them all. Working in a bookstore (or library) can make matters worse. For over a decade I’ve come home after every shift with slips of paper in my pockets with notes to myself about specific books to read or a new author to investigate or some subject to research. It’s a great “problem” to have, no doubt. For a while I was carrying a little notebook but I lost it. Not to worry because I used to transcribe these notes into a spreadsheet on my computer, my master To Be Read list. I am a dork.
But in 2011 I’m planning to be a bit more disciplined in my reading. I want to read a bunch of classics that I haven’t yet gotten around to as well as some hefty biographies & history books. I’m not a particularly fast reader and these days I dedicate morning time to my writing. That leaves some time to read at lunch and then usually an hour or so in the evenings. Sometimes I do get caught up in the number of books I read, especially at the end or beginning of a new year when friends announce they’ve read XXX number of books. It’s not competitiveness, its more like I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t read more. But I like to read slowly to experience a book, to give myself to a book. I am happy with my reading speed.
Last week I started creating a month-by-month reading plan, but rebelled against myself within a couple days. I need flexibility but some sort of standards. So, in order to get to the books I want to read, I’m making some changes:
1. I deleted that big master To Be Read spreadsheet. I can’t believe it, but I did it. It’s actually a load off my mind now.
2. No more squirreling notes in my pockets about books to read–if a book doesn’t stay on my mind, then it wasn’t meant to be (at this time, anyway). If, on the other hand, I keep coming back to it or it keeps crossing my path, I’ll put it on my now much shorter To Be Read list.
3. Keep the To Be Read list to 50 books. If I add one I have to take another off. This will allow for coming across new releases or new finds that become ‘must read nows.’
In order to help me feel like I’m not missing something and just to be in the know of the book world, I’m also planning on reading book related periodicals more consistently in 2011. My partner got me a subscription to Mystery Scene Magazine for Christmas. I subscribe to The New York Times weekly Books Update email and also listen to their weekly book review podcast. And I just purchased recent issues of: WLT: World Literature Today, the London Review of Books and the Jewish Review of Books. I’ll also read other book blogs a bit more regularly and will continue to listen to my favorite book podcasts such as the BBC World Book Club and Books on the Nightstand (BOTNS).
My classics reading will start in February with BOTNS’s War & Peace read-a-long. Check out the read-a-long website here or join their Facebook group here. I may read Hawthorne’s The House of The Seven Gables in January, but I haven’t committed yet.
That’s a lot of book stuff and I’m really excited to dig in! Anyone out there make reading plans for 2011?