Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thoughts on 2008 Books

2008 was quite a reading year for me. I read a total of 127 books, which is a personal "best" -- quantitatively at least. In looking at the list of books I read in 2008, I see that some of the quantity may have come at the price of quality. Did I really only read four prize winners all year? Did I really not get any closer to accomplishing my goal of finishing off the Radcliffe Top 100 list? Gosh darn it anyway! The year went by too fast. Looking back, I remember that I made a conscious decision to lighten up on the "goal" reading in 2008, having finished reading all the books on the Modern Library Top 100 list in 2007. I intentionally set out to be more relaxed about my book selection. Looking over the list, I see a few trends in my serendipitous reading year: First, I see I spent a fair amount of time with a couple of favorite authors. Even if they did not win any prizes or show up on any Must Read lists, I enjoyed reading several books by Jim Harrison, Lee Child, and John Lescroart. And, since I cannot give up all my reading compulsions, I am pleased to note that I have now finished every book by Child and Lescroart and every prose book by Harrison (not reading poetry is one of my flaws). So I guess I did get to cross off a couple of lists in 2008. Second, I see that I read quite a few review copies of books that I received from publishers, from authors, or through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. This whole review copy thing is new to me and I have mixed feelings about it. Of course, I love to get a free book. Who wouldn't? And I enjoy reviewing books to keep my reading wits sharp. But when I did not get around to reading one if them immediately, I felt guilty for not living up to my end of the deal. Or resentful that my obligation to read some random book was taking me away from some other book that was calling to me at that moment. And there were a couple that I really did not care for, which made "free" too dear. Finally, I see that, thanks to the magic of audiobooks on my iPod, I got through several "classics" that I had avoided to date. The older and denser a book, the more I prefer the audio version. The readers on these books are incredibly talented, so they can make the phrasing understandable and bring the characters to life with different voices. It makes a big difference between understanding the story and going blurry-eyed at a wall of text. In 2008, I "read" Moby Dick, The Red Badge of Courage, The Diary of Anne Frank, Silas Marner, Hard Times, The Trial, Siddartha, and Candide all as unabridged audio books. Well, I guess it was not such a bad year after all. And there is plenty of time in 2009 to finish some book lists.

6 comments :

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your reading year. I admit to harboring some of the feelings you mentioned about review books. I really try to only say yes to books I think I will like, but what sounds good isn't always necessarily as good as I hope it might me. I'm working on catching up with my review books this year and will be much more selective in the future about books I do accept so as to balance out the review book reading and reading my already huge TBR collection.

Have a Happy New Year!

Rose City Reader said...

I agree! But sometimes my good intentions don't pan out!

Lezlie said...

Sounds like a great reading year! Here's to an even better one in 2009!

Lezlie

Bob said...

All I can say is, anyone who's read as much P.G. Wodehouse as you have has something good going. Carry on, Jeeves!

(I must have started on Wodehouse when I was about 14, after watching my father, curled up with some of the short stories, laughing so hard he actually cried. Same thing got me into Thurber -- every now and again Dad would read "The Night the Ghost Got In" aloud, and we would all get a good reminder of how liberating and purifying a good laugh can be. I haven't read either Thurber or Wodehouse in quite a while -- must do something about that.)

Rose City Reader said...

I have exhausted the library's supply of Wodehouse audio books, so now plan to turn to paper books to get my fix.

Of course, I now want to add Thurber to by Must read list!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Wanted to drop in and wish you a Happy New Year! I meant to this on the first, but the book challenges have me stretched too thin. I was thinking it would ease up over the next few days, but now I don't know. I signed up for a mess load of them!

Anyway, wanted to wish you the best in 2009!

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