Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Half Way Point

I'm well on my way to succeeding in my quest to read one book per week for a year -- half way there to be exact. The six months have not gone as expected, especially in my selection of reading material; overall, I could not be happier about that fact. Thanks to posting reviews on I have access to many free books to review and I've taken advantage of it to read books I would have otherwise passed by. As a result I've discovered some great new writers that I intend to follow for years to come. Originally I thought I would revisit a number of classics, and I've done some of that, but I like it when a project takes you in unexpected (yet pleasant) directions.

My reading has included fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and now even the world of graphic novels. I've always read a wide range of books, but I used to more selective because I read so little. With the promise of a new book every week I do not hesitate to reach beyond my normal interests -- I've been justly rewarded for the stretching.

As for the challenge of reading a book every week, well, it has become a matter of habit. A few times I've had to push myself to read, but I now find the reading to be my welcome escape from the world at the end of the day. My mind is challenged and refreshed, my views and opinions are reevaluated, and I still take joy in the simple pleasure of a well-crafted sentence (by others that is, I'm still hoping to write one such sentence someday).

My original reason for doing this was simply to read more than I have been the past few years. It is working! I'll have read as much in 2009 as I have the previous three years combined. I'm not sure whether I'm proud of how much reading I've done this year, or simply embarrassed by how little I've read in the past. And I'm aware that in the scheme of things one book a week is not a big deal for some. I see other bloggers doing similar things, and one of the links on my blog is to a woman reading Random House's 100 Best Books in a year -- and she teaches, has children, and started with Joyce's Ulysses! People like her are easy to hate. (Although she recently admitted she will not come close to her goal, so I feel better).  But I'm not too ashamed to share my attempts (thus this blog) at improving myself.

So for myself I've broken down the books I've read so far  by category. The books are for all off 2009, but since I started this in June I've read 29 books in 26 weeks.

1) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
2) The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh
3) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
4) Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
5) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6) The Music Room by Namita Devidayal
7) American Woman by Susan Choi
8) A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
9) My Antonia by Willa Cather
10) The Road by Cormac McCarthy
11) The Known World by Edward P. Jones
12) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
13) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
14) Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosley
15) Pastoralia by George Saunders
16) A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
17) Departing at Dawn: A Novel of Argentina's Dirty War by Gloris Lise
18) Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love by Lara Vapnyar

Poetry (this list is way too short -- but outstanding)

19) Losing Season by Jack Ridl
20) Strong Is Your Hold by Galway Kinnell
21) Selected Poems by Galway Kinnell

22) The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
23) Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
24) Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day by Gina Trapani
25) The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn
26) Better by Atul Gwande
27) Fordlandia by Greg Grandin
28) Unquenchable by Robert Glennon
29) Direct Red by Gabriel Weston
30) QBQ: The Question Behind the Question by John Miller
31) Operation Bit Back: Rod Coronado's War to Save American Wilderness by Dean Kuipers
32) America's Prophet: Moses and the Spirit of a Nation by Bruce Feiler
33) The Firefly Effect: Build Teams That Capture Creativity and Catapult Results by Kimberly Douglas
34) Let's Have Lunch Together by Marshall Howard
35) Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles by Pierre Bayard
36) One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

Graphic Novels
37) A Kidnapped Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, Adapted by Alex Robinson
38) The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, Adapted by Joel Priddy
39) The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen, Adapted by Lilli Carre

...and the late addition of the latest fiction...
40) Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

And so I continue on. I'll get in A Christmas Carol before Christmas, although my plan of reading Lovecraft in preparation for Halloween was thwarted -- but he is really beyond the normal scare anyway. I still want to read Austen's other novels (again) and a few of the authors above also have books on my short list. In other words, I'm not going to get read what I "planned" in the next six months...and that is a good thing.

Thanks for your interest, support, and comments (well, if not on my blog but at least privately).



  1. Congrats on the half way point - keep up the good work!

  2. Don't forget to throw in some TC Boyle books as well - short stories or novels. In fact, you could use some short story collections added to your list. All the same, keep plugging away.

  3. Nice going. I think a book a week with your busy schedule is powerful. I get ideas from your reviews to take to the library to find new books I haven't read.I remember when all you wanted to read was Sherlock Holmes.

    Mom Nov 15,2009