Monday, December 19, 2011

The Year of Books

2011 was definitely a Year of Book Reading for me.   Right now I am up at 175 books.   

So I definitely met the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. 

Because of the challenge, this is the first year I actually kept track of everything I read --- with the help of Goodreads.   

A few thoughts about that:

It was nice to really focus seriously on reading for a year.   In past years I probably simply couldn't have found the time.   Plus, in past years, I tried very hard to restrain my tendency to read voraciously.   I think even something good like reading can be disordered if it becomes too big a part of your life. 

On the other hand, I know that many people I really admire are great readers -- they have read widely and deeply.  There is no way around it:  that simply takes some time.  I couldn't do it when I had a special needs preschooler, a baby and five homeschool students of all ages.   But I have more time right now.  It may not last forever, but while it does, why not catch up on reading?  

I am especially proud of reading the books I had always wanted to read, like War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Consolations of Philosophy, Augustine's Confessions, and others of that sort, that are on Great Books lists everywhere.   Now at least I can say I've read them, and even learned from them. 

All in all, I think it worked out well to use 2011 as a sort of Book Sabbatical.  But I don't think I need to do that every year.  

Here are some thoughts on my Reading Challenge for 2012. 

Not Quite So Many Books.  Next year I probably won't push myself to read the equivalent of a book almost every other day, which is what 175 to 365 roughly comes out to.   

Books On My Shelves. I think I instead will try to focus more on reading or rereading the books on my shelves.  I know I have said that before.  But I really do want to.   If books are on my shelf, presumably it is for a reason --- so that they can be read.  If that is not happening, why are they there?  

Juvenile Books:  Most of the books on the kids' shelves, I have already read, but I probably will try to read the rest.   I found that when I was reading so much last year, I sometimes needed to read a lighter book after I had plodded through a more difficult one.   So in those cases I can read a juvenile book.    Now that my teenager and myself both have Kindles, I can read public domain juvenile books along with the ones for older folk. 

Rereading Books I think I will try to do a reread for every few new books I read.   In about a year I turn 50.  I think this age is a good time to read back through some of the most influential books in my life. 

Books that Changed the World.    My husband subscribed to Easton Press's Books that Changed the World.    So we have a shelf full of these handsome leather bound books that really want someone to read them.   I am not vowing to read them all, but I'm going to try to make a dent in them.  

Keep Track Of Books Read.  My father always kept track of the books he read and encouraged us to do the same.  I always tried, but rarely kept a consistent log.  This is the first year I really did record everything I read.   I would like to keep doing it.  

So there are my thoughts and plans.   Have you thought yet about what you are going to do about your reading in 2012?


  1. I haven't read books in almost a year, which is very bizarre for me. I went through a severe episode of anxiety and depression, and since then I haven't been able to concentrate on books. I'm hoping for good things in the new year, though! I love the fact that you did this. War and Peace and Anna Karenina are among my favorite books by the way. I read them while I was nursing James. :-)

  2. Willa,

    We are working our way through Shakespeare's plays, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen at the moment. These are all books my older daughters want to read too so we are discussing them as we go.

    I found your comment about juvenile books interesting. I am reading some great classics with my younger girls which as you say is lighter relief from the heavier books.

    We all have Kindles too and they are overflowing with books waiting to be read. This can be a distraction at times because I am tempted to start a new book before finishing the one I'm currently reading. I love my Kindle though!

    I did start to work my way through the books listed in Susan Bauer Wise's book "The Well Educated Mind" and I read some of the books on my son's university literature lists such as "Anna Karenina" and "Pere Goriot". Perhaps next year I will return to these lists... So many interesting books to read!

    I enjoyed your post. Thank you!

  3. My dd is coming home from being in a Catholic school for 2 years because she simply couldn't READ enough in school, lol! Very affirming for me! I think re-reading is something I regularly do, especially with spiritual classics like "The Imitation of Christ" or "Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence" (yes, I know quotations marks are not correct, but how do you underline on a comment??) or really meaty works such as those by St. Thomas Aquinas. This next year, I am hoping to keep notes on my reading as you did, Willa. I read so much that I really lose track of what I old brain just can't remember all that much anymore :). God bless you and yours, Willa, and have a lovely Christmas!

  4. I am just barely making the 52 book challenge. I'm about 2/3's through a book I've been reading off and on all year. And that'll be 52. Hopefully I'll finish it before 12/31. I feel like such a slouch! This coming year I'm going to try to focus more. One thing that ate into my valuable reading time was my new ipad. I spend too much time just playing Scrabble and Solitaire instead of reading. But also, I just seem to have attention span issues. There are several books I started and just never got around to finishing and when life gets hectic, I tend to just read when I'm too tired and then I can spend several nights just reading the same passages over and over again but not getting them because my eyelids keep drooping. This can be discouraging. I get a mental block about trying to finish the book. So I've got a few bad habits. But I've decided that at the end of my life, I'd much rather have read than played mindless games of solitaire. So for the new year I am instituting quiet time again, after lunch. 1 hour when everybody just has to read, me included.

  5. What I'm able to read next year will depend on whether or not I go back to school. If so, I'll have to tailor my reading to my classes. If not, I'd like to put a plan in place for wider reading and keep a log as you did. I have *no* idea which will happen. That's the season I'm in- the I-have-no-idea season. I hope it's short. :)

  6. Hmm. I'd like to trim down my TBR list, which is over 30 books right now. And I'd like to keep rereading the classics I read in college.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!