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2008 Book Recap

Completed Books

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)
  6. Kurkov, Andrey — Death and the Penguin (228 pages)
  7. Chesterton, G.K. — Orthodoxy (183 pages)
  8. Gibbs, Christopher H., ed. — The Cambridge Companion to Schubert (334 pages)
  9. Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are (48 pages — though only 1 page will count towards my tally)
  10. Hurston, Zora Neale — Their Eyes Were Watching God (215 pages)
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama (245 pages)
  12. Clarke, Arthur C. — The City and the Stars (246 pages)
  13. Chesterton, G.K. — The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (205 pages)
  14. Tepper, Sheri S. — Beauty (468 pages)
  15. Slawson, Douglas J. — Ambition and Arrogance: Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the American Catholic Church (186 pages)
  16. Belloc, Hilaire — The Great Heresies (166 pages)
  17. Waugh, Evelyn — Brideshead Revisited (326 pages)
  18. Rawicz, Slavomir — The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom (278 pages)
  19. Junger, Sebastian — The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea (309 pages)
  20. Seth, Vikram — An Equal Music (486 pages)
  21. Dubus III, Andre — House of Sand and Fog (351 pages)
  22. Kurkov, Andrey — Penguin Lost (251 pages)
  23. Bradbury, Ray — Dandelion Wine (247 pages)
  24. Bradbury, Ray — Farewell Summer (209 pages)
  25. Doran, Jamie and Piers Bizony — Starman: The Truth behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin (241 pages)
  26. Makine, Andreï — A Life's Music (106 pages)
  27. Barnes, Julian — A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (307 pages)
  28. Chaucer, Geoffrey — The Canterbury Tales (623 pages)
  29. Pushkin, Aleksandr — Eugene Onegin (Vladimir Nabokov, transl.) (351 pages)
  30. Lowry, Malcolm — Under the Volcano (387 pages)
  31. Fadiman, Anne — Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (132 pages)
  32. Grimwood, Ken — Replay (266 pages)
  33. Barrie, J.M. — Peter Pan (246 pages)
  34. Stanislavski, Konstantin — An Actor Prepares (315 pages)
  35. Wolfe, Gene — Peace (265 pages)
  36. Copland, Aaron — What to Listen for in Music (173 pages)

Page count: 9465.

Partially-Read Books

These are books I read portions of but did not complete, for various reasons. Number of pages read in parentheses.

  1. The Bible (89 pages)
  2. Bernac, Pierre — The Interpretation of French Song (77 pages)
  3. Meredith, Martin — The State of Africa (36 pages)
  4. Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (36 pages)
  5. Sassoon, Siegfried — The War Poems (22 pages)
  6. Fischer-Dieskau, Dietrich — The Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder (19 pages)
  7. Housman, A. E. — Collected Poems (17 pages)
  8. Márquez, Gabriel García — El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera (3 pages)

Page count: 299.

I feel some explanation must be given on the partially read books. Most of these books were dedicated at-home books, meaning I didn't take them on commutes for one reason or another. I read less at home than in the previous couple of years, hence fewer of my at-home reads were completed. (1) I continued my project of reading the Bible from beginning to end. However, my pace slowed significantly as demands on my "free time" were many. (2) I decided to include the Bernac because I spent so much time reading it for my song class. In addition to translations and commentary on the songs, it contains three prefatory chapters. (The page tabulation with the Bernac is a best guess, as some sections were read more than once and I also read about songs others sang, not all of which I can remember. Some day I would like to go through Bernac's book cover-to-cover with recordings of each of the discussed songs.) (5) I also included Fischer-Dieskau's book because of the prefatory essay. I did not include the poetry translations themselves in my page count as they lacked further commentary and functioned strictly as a song-learning resource, not reading per se; likewise, I did not include Lois Phillips' Lieder Line by Line with its insignificant one-page preface, though I availed myself extensively of its lieder translations. (I didn't count any of my significant Russian coursebook reading for much the same reason: though several texts were read, they were used strictly as a tool for language learning.) (3) I began Meredith's acclaimed history of Africa with ambitious plans to read it before tackling a slate of African literature that interests me but never found the time to make much headway. (8) I also decided to read Love in the Time of Cholera in the original language before watching the new movie (which I still haven't seen) but decided three pages in that I needed a good Spanish dictionary (not a translation dictionary, but a proper dictionary) before proceeding. I found a great dictionary, one of the best regarded, but — do you detect a theme here? — seldom found time I could devote to this project. (5) I made a point to read more poetry this year, beginning with Housman. This collection includes an interesting preface, but I had to guestimate the number of actual poems I read. (7) With Sassoon I decided to read the poems sequentially, as the preface suggested a chronological development that gives insight into "developments" in the Great War, so I do know precisely how many of the poems I've read. (4) Finally, with two days left in 2008, I thought I could squeeze one more quick read in, and so I plucked The Diary of a Nobody off the shelf. Somehow, two days of dedicated reading time were reduced to two hours, if that, and I only made a dent in this slim volume.

Summary

Total page count: 9764.

In 2008 I set myself no reading goals whatsoever, in contrast to the previous years in which I've tracked my reading. I read exactly the same number of books and roughly the same number of pages in 2008 as in 2007. If we consider 2005 a down year (27 books) and 2006 an up year (51 books), this tells me that my pace is roughly 36-38 books a year and slightly over 3 books a month.

Based on this, I will set myself a goal for 2009. 2009 figures to be an especially busy year as singing engagements start popping up in my diary, so my reading goal for the year will simply be to keep pace. I will be satisfied if I read either 36 books or 10,000 pages.

Looking back at the titles I read, it is difficult to choose a favorite book. I'd have to declare a tie amongst No Country for Old Men, Death and the Penguin, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Perfect Storm, A Life's Music, and Ex Libris. My least favorite was probably Ambition and Arrogance. The book that probably made the biggest impact on me was The Great Heresies for recontextualizing my view of European history.

Counting only the completed books, I read works by 32 unique authors (not counting Gibbs, an editor), of whom 27 were new to me. I also seemed to read less speculative fiction and more nonfiction and poetry than in recent years. The shortest book I read, not counting Where the Wild Things Are, was A Life's Music, and the longest book was The Canterbury Tales. Average book length was 263 pages.

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