My nephew asked me over Christmas how many books I read in a year.
“12?” I guessed. “50?” I have no idea, really.
I am not a voracious reader. I wish I were. I wish I were like my brother-in-law with a book nearby at all hours of the day and night, while watching TV, while eating lunch, while stuck in traffic. Mark reads a lot, too. He always has a book with him and reads through his lunchtime. That’s something that became a sacred ritual to him when he worked a hot, sweaty job in a knife shop and the best part of his day was when he was able to eat lunch in an air conditioned restaurant and indulge in an hour of reading. Now that he has progressed to working in a hot, sweaty drum warehouse, he still treasures that time with his book. My mother and sister are both big readers. My sister gives me stacks of books she’s bought and read and I know that is just a portion since she has them on her Kindle and from the library, too. I don’t know how she does it.
I don’t think I am a slow reader. I took the SRA tests in school like everyone did and we had those little devices that forced you to read faster and faster by showing just a few words at a time and projecting them on a screen and you had to keep up and then be tested over the content for your reading comprehension. There is no doubt I CAN read fast, but whether I do or not is a different question. And, I’m sure, I waste a lot of my reading on the Internet. I’m reading news, blogs, articles, and funny things and can’t count that toward the number of books I’ve read.
I wish I kept better track of the books I read. I try to do it each year. Every diary I have has names of books in January and February, but then I get forgetful and don’t put their names down. This year I did take note of reading the Bill Bryson book “A Walk in the Woods.” Truly the best book I read all year long. And it is one of those books that I even hate to tell you the subject because you might go “Oh, that doesn’t interest me.” That’s what I had said for years. I saw that book’s title on lots of best-of-the-year lists and didn’t think it was for me. I’m so glad I finally got to it.
Lately I’ve read 2 and almost 3 books loaned to my be my friend Lu. The Film Club was excellent. I like the nonfiction books that read like a novel. And Comfort Me with Apples. Another nonfiction. Now I am reading Little Bee. It is fiction and at first the subject didn’t interest me (a Nigerian refugee), but now I can’t wait to read tonight. Lu has great taste in books.
I read an article this week about a man who read a book a week for a year in 2012. I don’t even want to commit to a book a week in 2013 because I don’t want to feel rushed. If I like a book and it takes me a month to read it, there is no problem in that. I read at night before I go to bed and sometimes it is only a few pages before I get sleepy and have to stop for the night. I don’t want to read a comic book and count it as a book just for the joy of attaining a big number.
And I don’t think I stand a chance on getting to all the “best books” of 2012 or of even a week. This guy, Largeheartedboy, has so many lists of the best that you’d never finish the books on one of them, much less all. And whose to say someone’s list is better than anyone else’s? Unless they have read ALL the books published and have tastes very similar to mine, I don’t know if I can trust their list.
The picture above is from flickr.com, a picture posted by MyEyesSee of a wall of shelves at Larry McMurtry’s bookstore in Archer City. I’ve never been to his bookstore, or even Archer City, and that is a plan I want to make for this year. And I want to read Duane’s Depressed, another of his books with the characters from The Last Picture Show. I keep hearing of good books, reading about good books, ordering good books, and I’ll never get to them all. I have another 5 or so coming next week from an order I placed late in the night the other night. And the pile beside my bed just keeps getting bigger.