First World Book Nerd

With only a couple more weeks until the end of 2014, I’m at the point in my reading year where I only really read things that I think will help me get a more impressive reading total.

Me trying to squeeze in extra books.

Me trying to squeeze in extra books.

Before I kept track of how many books I read in a year, I read whatever I wanted, unrestricted by challenges and competitions. I just read because I liked it.

Then I had the brilliant idea to start logging all the books I read. Initially this was just because I thought it would be fun to be able to look back at the titles I had read, sure that over time I would put together an impressive list. But then I started competing with myself.

And that’s where I’ve run into trouble.

A couple of years ago I set a goal for myself: read 65 books. I managed 64. The year after that I bumped the goal number to 75 and read 82. I was pretty damn smug but didn’t want to spend my time thinking about how many books I’d read and how many I still needed to reach my goal vs how much time was left in the year so the year after that I stuck with 75.

I ended up finishing 115.

Naturally this year I want to read 116. Technically my goal this year was 75 again. But I really want to read 116. And I’m close – I’m working on 106 right now. But realistically with 14 days left in the year, it’s not going to happen.

And I’m so irritated by that.

I finished A Hercule Poirot Christmas (SO GOOD you guys), a delight to read and nice and short at 271 pages. I was going to read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad but flipping through the pages noticing the dense text and then peeking on Goodreads to see that many people found her prose “experimental” I decided not to spend my time on it. I don’t go for experimental prose. I cracked Tom Rachman’s The Rise and Fall of Great Powers. I think I’ve managed to get to a point where I’m interested but at the same time, it’s definitely not The Imperfectionists and my restless reading spirit wonders if it shouldn’t have gone with the Jane Green book I took out of the library?

If only I had never started keeping track! But I won’t lie to you – I get immense satisfaction flipping through the pages of the books I’ve read in the last couple of years. I’m secretly super proud of  the fact that since the beginning of 2013 I have read 221 books. Because I’m a nerd like that.

But this is the point in the year when before I start a book, before I admit to reading it on Goodreads, I check how many pages it has and what the font size is. There’s a book I took out of the library that has tons of pages but like 7 words per page. That’s about what I can handle right now.

I’ve read a great number of wonderful books this year but the end of the year just sees me frustrated that I haven’t read more of them.

Which is the most first world book nerd problem I could possibly have.

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18 thoughts on “First World Book Nerd

  1. Your article made me laugh. At least I know now that I’m not over-managing my reads. Since I started my book blog, I’ve also been assessing how long I need to read each book. For me, it’s about being able to write one review a week. It requires a bit of organization sometimes to make room to a longer novel!
    116 is a LOT of books though… I “only” read 67 books in 2014 so far!

  2. It’s interesting what you say about Visit from the Goon Squad. I actually found the writing to be compulsively readable. I loved the book but understand why one wouldn’t – the characters are difficult and get themselves into intense and hard situations – but the writing itself felt so effortless.

    I was actually reminded of it while I am reading All the Light we Cannot See (which is wonderful – thank you for the review that convinced me to read it) because I feel like it has a similar smooth writing style (written about much better people, though!)

    • This comparison to All the Light We Cannot See is making me re-evaluate my decision to skip A Visit From the Goon Squad. I’m not scared off by difficult characters or situations, but difficult writing doesn’t always do it for me. Especially anything termed “experimental.”

      Maybe I won’t return this one just yet…

  3. My reading changes at the end of the year, too, but it’s more because I don’t have as much time to read and I can’t focus as well with all the holiday stuff in my head. It’s a good time to read some of the YA stuff that my daughter is reading.
    The Rise & Fall of Great Powers should really be read when you have time to get into it (it is kind of long).
    I’d be feeling pretty smug myself if I could read 115 books in a year! 🙂

    • I don’t think I have anything simple on my shelves right now. Actually, there’s a Jane Green kicking around – I should read that next. I *think* I’m enjoying the Tom Rachman but it’s certainly not what I was expecting. At all.

      • Well The Imperfectionists wasn’t a difficult read. It was straightforward and I remember blitzing through it. It was really masterful, making it look like it was easy to dash off a book like that. I think I was looking for more of that style. You definitely have to work harder with The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.

      • That’s true! It goes back and forth in time, and the setting jumps around, too. I love that in a book, but some people don’t. And, sometimes you have to be in the mood for it. It takes more focus.

  4. Lol! I’ve kept track of everything I’ve read in a blank book since 1998. I always did it just to see what I read in a whole year. It has been cool to see how few books I read when my kids were little compared to now. I just started keeping track on Goodreads, setting a goal, a few years ago. It does give you a little more nudge than simply tracking titles. I’m just going to squeak in my goal this year.

    • And it feels SO GOOD when you manage to hit the goal. Which is why I keep chasing that high. The first year, when I didn’t manage it, I was so disappointed. And after that is when I noticed my reading habits changing. Seeing it logged on Goodreads, it telling you that you are currently this many books behind or ahead of schedule definitely provides some additional impetus to get it done.

  5. Pingback: 2015 TBR Pile Challenge – I’m Game. | The Paperback Princess

  6. This is my first year keeping track of what I read… I think that’s why I’ve been feeling so relaxed about it! I had no idea I could read so many books in a year! But I have a feeling I may be more competitive with myself at around this time next year… (I can feel the pressure already… eek!)

    • I returned it to the library unread! I wish I had known this in December, I might have taken the chance. Not the time to start a chunkster at all. I got Donna Tartt’s A Secret History out of the library not realizing how long it is. January though, that’s a different story. If I can build up a good book base, I can spend the time on something longer.

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