Monday, December 31, 2012

My Shelf Life: 2012


-Still Life- French Novels, c. 1888, by Vincent van Gogh

This year I knocked off 37 books, and 10,842 pages- give or take. There were three other books I read pretty deeply into, before putting them on hold, but I won’t be counting those pages towards this year’s total. That means I averaged about 30 pages per day, compared to 31 pages per day last year. Pretty darn steady, all things considered.

So, what did I read, you ask? Well, I’d throw the vast majority of it in the classics or contemporary literary fiction category. “Read the best books first,” and all that jazz… But 14% of those pages were non-fiction, 11% of them were mainstream commercial fiction, 6% were plays, and 11% were short story collections. More importantly, I reached all my goals for this year, knocking off an Agatha Christie here, conquering a foreign language read some time before the clock strikes twelve tonight, and ensuring that a full 44% of my reading this year came from the pens of female writers. (Last year, you may remember, there was only one.)

Here is the final list, in the order I read them, with my top ten reads listed in bold (page numbers in parentheses):

1)      The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro  (349)
2)     A Bell for Adano, John Hersey  (269)
3)     Stone Arabia, Dana Spiotta  (256)
4)     Wasatch, Douglas Thayer  (235)
5)      The Turn of the Screw, Henry James  (96)
6)     Curtain, Agatha Christie   (240)
7)      Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust   (496)
8)     Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte   (352)
9)     Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte    (320)
10) A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan    (352)
11)   The Vegetable, F. Scott Fitzgerald   (185)
12)  The Fifth Column & Four Unpublished Stories of the Spanish Civil War, Ernest Hemingway   (215)
13)  The Death of a Disco Dancer, David Clark    (336)
14) State of Wonder, Ann Patchett   (384)
15)  The Dead, James Joyce   (80)
16)  Blue Nights, Joan Didion  (208)
17)  Swamplandia, Karen Russell   (336)
18)  Silas Marner, George Eliot   (192)
19)  Home, Toni Morrison   (160)
20)To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee   (336)
21)  Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury   (288)
22) The Human Comedy, William Saroyan   (256)
23) Train Dreams, Denis Johnson   (128)
24)The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides    (416)
25) The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern   (400)
26) Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides   (544)
27) Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer   (416)
28) Moby Dick, Herman Melville   (464)
29) Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton   (106)
30)The Good Earth, Pearl Buck   (418)
31)  Out of Africa, Isak Denisen   (416)
32) Congo, Michael Crichton   (313)
33) Kongo, Michael Crichton   (310)
34) Mythologies, Roland Barthes   (288)
35) The War of Art, Steven Pressfield (158)
36) When the Killing’s Done, T. C. Boyle   (384)
37) Trg Oberdan, Boris Pahor   (140)

Now, coming up with a top ten is always tough. To Kill a Mockingbird  and The Good Earth  were reread precisely because they were already favorites of mine. Even so, there were a handful that could have made the cut if I’d been in a slightly different mood when I read them, but all I can go on is which books I enjoyed the most. 

Twenty six of those authors were brand new to me, which is exciting and disheartening at the same time. I am tearing through new writers at an amazing clip and am still  just scratching the surface. But that's what makes this so much fun.

Now it’s time for you to shame me with your own lists. Whadjyall read this year?

Update: How on earth did I leave On the Road  off this list! Not sure who I would bump from the top ten, but Kerouac definitely belongs in that group.


3 comments:

  1. My total for the year came to 135 books - 39 more than last year. Not quite sure how I managed it, but my day job does allow for some occasional reading, I guess.
    My page total was 38,822 pages which means I averaged 106.3 pages a day - in theory, but not reality, since the book totals for November and December combined are less than most other months of the year.
    Over 10,000 more pages than last year. A rather prolific reading year for me, that I doubt will be matched again. But I thought that last year, too...

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