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2009 Book Summary

  1. Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
  3. Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
  4. Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
  5. Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
  6. Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
  7. Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
  8. Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
  9. Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
  10. Satrapi, Marjane — Persepolis (343 pages)
  11. Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
  12. Bauby, Jean-Dominique — The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (114 pages)
  13. Fleming, Ian — Casino Royale (219 pages)
  14. Blake, Quentin — Clown (30 pages)
  15. Weigel, George — The Courage To Be Catholic (249 pages)
  16. Ishiguro, Kazuo — The Remains of the Day (255 pages)
  17. Orwell, George — Animal Farm (125 pages)
  18. Garner, James Finn — Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (81 pages)
  19. Robinson, Marilynne — Home (339 pages)
  20. Opera Magazine — Basses in Opera: Profiles of thirteen great basses (96 pages)
  21. Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin Caron de — The Figaro Trilogy (David Coward, transl.) (335 pages)
  22. Keyes, Daniel — Flowers for Algernon (217 pages)
  23. Bök, Christian — Eunoia (94 pages)
  24. Zweig, Stefan — Chess (76 pages)
  25. Kinney, Jeff — Meet the Wimpy Kid (55 pages)
  26. Lovecraft, H.P. — At the Mountains of Madness (188 pages)
  27. Blatty, William Peter — The Exorcist (307 pages)
  28. Williamson, Jack — Darker Than You Think (266 pages)
  29. Pelevin, Victor — Omon Ra (152 pages)
  30. Molière — Five Plays: The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, The School for Wives, The Miser, The Hypochondriac [transl. Richard Wilbur, Alan Drury] (428 pages)
  31. Duffy-Korpics, Lisa — Tales from a Dog Catcher (255 pages)
  32. Laclos, Choderlos de — Dangerous Liaisons (437 pages)
  33. Sagan, Françoise — Bonjour Tristesse (100 pages)
  34. Stephenson, Neal — Snow Crash (440 pages)
  35. Ross, Alex — The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (614 pages)

Page count: 8722.

Summary

My goal for 2009 was to keep pace with the previous two years or, stated measurably, read either 36 books or 10,000 pages. I fell approximately 1300 pages short of my goal (and 1042 pages short of last year's tally) because my reading time was instead filled with learning new music for operas and recitals. (No complaints here!) I fell one book short due to poor planning: I misremembered my goal and read a longer novel in the last two weeks of the year instead of the two shorter novels I'd originally planned.

Since I began tracking my books in 2005, the number of books read each year is 28, 51, 36, 36, and 35. The average number of books I've read each of the past 5 years is 37. Take away the first two years, which are statistical outliers, and I seem to have fallen into an average of 36 books a year or 3 books per month. In the three years I've also been tracking pages, the numbers have been 9517, 9764, and 8722. The average number of pages I read is approximately 9334 per year.

My favorite books from the past year were Gilead, Fup, Clown, and The Rest Is Noise. My least were The Courage To Be Catholic and Eunoia. The most influential was probably The Rest Is Noise, which got me to explore music sub-genres I hadn't given much thought to and might shape my plan for future music engagements.

In 2009 I read works by 32 unique (listed) authors, of whom 26 were new to me. I read less speculative fiction than in recent years and more centuries-old stuff, and I read a greater variety of genres: I read more plays and I discovered graphic novels and picture books. (With the increased emphasis on visual and aural media as part of my reading, one might say this was a multimedia year for me.) The longest book I read was The Rest Is Noise at 614 pages (and really, because the pages were nearly twice as large as an average paperback, it might reasonable be considered to be a third again as long!) and the shortest was Clown at 30 pages, for an average of 249 pages per book.

I'm going to continue tracking the books I read because it is useful to me, both as a way to help me remember and think more analytically about the books and as a motivational tool. (I also hope a few people might discover new books they enjoy based on my recommendations, but such vain considerations are secondary.) However, I'm not going to set myself a target number of books for 2010. I find that the compulsion to reach x number of books for the year keeps me away from some of the big books I have on my shelves. After all, a 900-page book is roughly equivalent to three average-length books. Really, though, I'm cheating myself by avoiding these heftier books. Thus, my goal for 2010 will be page-number-based, in the hope I'll pick up a few of these massive tomes. I was going to make my goal 9000 pages: This would be about the same number of pages over what I managed in 2009 and below my three year average. But I think that's a bit of a cop-out, since (1) 2009 was a down year for total pages read and (2) a goal should push me. Thus, in honor of 2010, I will make my goal for the year to read 10,000 pages.

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