At the start of 2016 I decided to keep a list of all the books I read this year. I have never done this before (well except at school, but the point is I’ve never done this for myself). It is said that writers should be readers, and I have always been one of them, but I’d never looked at what, and how I read.
Though the year is not quite over yet, I need to reflect on the list (so far) and get my head around it before the inevitable last minute Christmas rush followed by looking (longingly!?!) towards the New Year.
The list has a grand total of 26 books over the last (nearly) 12 months, (plus four that I have been dipping in and out of but I wouldn’t say yet I have ‘read’). I’m quite impressed! I wonder if I might have missed a couple here or there though. There’s a list at the end for anyone who’s nosey!
Seven were non-fiction (and of those, three were memoirs). The three that I keep dipping in and out of are also all non-fiction. I really do find this section of literature hard to read (memoirs excepted), although generally informative and not a waste of time, it is time-consuming. Some really were much slower progress than others.
In the early spring I tried to include a daily 10 minute reading session in my mornings, which was good for these type of books. I think I’d like to do that again. Not at 5.45am, though, it killed me. Maybe more like 9.15am after the school run; we’ll see.
I can chart the year according to what I was reading, which truly surprises me. I don’t keep a journal, so it is fascinating to be prompted as to events, and even how I was feeling (unrelated to the book) at the time of reading. Just a title can put me back in that place.
I realise how much I use reading as a stress relief mechanism (procrastination?) – the longer the builders have been at our house, the more I have read. Reading is something I normally do in bed at the end of the day, although if there was ever a quiet afternoon I’d happily read then – never going to happen!). Books are my escape into another world.
They came from the local library or borrowed from family and friends. I can’t let myself loose in a bookshop, I would buy far too much! Actually I only purchased three of the books rather than borrowed. Libraries offer such an amazing service, it is such a shame that they are an institution under threat.
Maybe now is the time to mention that I haven’t joined the digital party – only one of those books was a digital copy and that was because it was a free download, I somehow came across. (Hmm, there is a theme here isn’t there!?). Otherwise they were real, feel it in your hand, books (another dislike – hardbacks…). I can’t say my digital experience encouraged me to read that way, but I know I’m bit of a dinosaur about that.
Themes emerge from the list; apocalyptic stories, threads of death, grief, endings and loss. I do actually, however perversely, enjoy these stories, but I realise the significance of the story I am trying to write; the common ground shared. Some were chosen consciously, others though, unconsciously. I think I must be on the right track, although I could benefit from analysing the books themselves in greater detail to help my writing.
This reading ‘record’ has been a really positive experience for me. Looking back I feel buoyed up by what and how much I have read, by knowing how much I enjoy reading, and how I have expanded my horizons. I know I need to push myself to read the books I find harder, because they still bring benefit.
I will definitely carry this reading journal on, and I’m contemplating writing a bit more around each book title, making it more of a diary, reflecting on the book and my life. And I might just need to indulge in my stationary fetish to make that happen;-)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby
Happier – Tal Ben-Shahar
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
Ripe for the Picking – Annie Hawes
Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion
Writing as a Way of Healing – Louise DeSalvo
Mercy – Jodi Picoult
Us – David Nicholls
The Humans – Matt Haig
Game of Thrones – George RR Martin
Songs of the Humpback Whale – Jodi Picoult
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
After Me Came the Flood – Sarah Perry
When the Floods Came – Clare Morrall
Alice and the Fly – James Rice
Life after Life – Kate Atkinson
The Hydrogen Sonata – Iain M.Banks
Nearest Thing to Crazy – Elizabeth Forbes
Slade House – David Mitchell
Little Bits of Sky – S.E. Durrant
Do No Harm – Henry Marsh