I love first day of the new year. I open all of my calendars and I have a lot of calendars. I have a wall calendar (Vintage SF magazine art), two day-to-day calendars—one for my office (Get Fuzzy) and one for the kitchen (Pearls Before Swine), a leather-bound desk calendar for my office (The New Yorker Calendar), two small desk calendars for my closet—one for my exercise (The Runner’s Day-to-Day Log) and one for my reading (The New Yorker Cat Calendar). I also keep track of what I watch—movies, TV, plays, etc.
Am I anal? You betcha.
I don’t find the review of exercise (and all of its excuses) or television/movies very interesting. But I am fascinated by my reading calendar. I keep track of everything I read completely. That includes things I’ve read in manuscript. I don’t count anything I haven’t finished. So if I read 250 pages of a 300 page book and gave up in disgust, I don’t count it. On my calendar, I keep track of pages read, but I’m probably going to have to quit that with all the electronic books I’m reading. (Some don’t have actual page counts.) In 2010, I also started a new anal feature: I keep track of the newspapers and nonfiction magazines that I read. I count the fiction magazines separately—and by pages again. Lightspeed convinced me this must change as well.
For those of you find this stuff interesting, I’ve decided to share the figures with some tidbits. I am not going to put down every title that I read—life’s too short and I have too much to do. But here’s the final count:
Manuscript pages finished: 3513
Number of books finished: 83 (for 29,215 pages)
Number of fiction magazines finished: 6 (for 740 pages)
Number of nonfiction magazines finished: 123
Number of newspapers finished: 265
That’s way down from previous years, when I normally reach about 40,000 book pages finished. The months that hurt me were April (two books finished) and October (four books finished). This year, I averaged about 8 books per month, which is down from my usual 12. I never hit 12 in any month of 2010.
I’m also disappointed in the newspapers. Some of that is that I switched from the Oregonian (short and thin) to The Washington Post (thick and dense), so I didn’t finish every day. But some of that was simply not making time.
I didn’t feel like reading short fiction in 2010 until the very end of the year. In December, I read a lot of short stories. I’m back with a vengeance in 2011 and plan to read all of Ellery Queen & Asimov’s in 2011. (I’ve already finished the first issue of each.) I hope to read all of Hitchcock’s and Analog as well, but I know myself well enough to realize that might be too much. Besides, I’m behind on my anthologies (have to catch up on 2010’s as well as 2011’s) and I want to add in both Lightspeed and Fantasy magazines as well as F&SF. I won’t achieve it all, but I’ll come close.
The other problem in 2010? No great big research projects. I’m in the middle of one right now, so that means I’ll be plowing through big, heavy history tomes and get a jump-start on the year.
Honestly, though, I think I read just as much as in previous years. The difference is that I gave up on more books than usual. Some, by favorite authors, were just awful, and some by new (to me) authors simply weren’t to my taste. I know that was the issue in August, and, I suspect, in April as well.
I thought of doing a “best of” 2010, but as I went through my calendar, I decided not to. For one thing, I haven’t yet posted my December Recommended Reading list (it’s long and I don’t have time to do the links yet). For another, it’s not as straightforward as I thought.
Once I read a book, it goes into my overall book memory. I can’t remember if I read the book in 2009 or 2010, spring or summer. So as I looked at the early parts of 2010, I realized that there were books I loved as much or more than some of the books I read at the end of the year.
To see my 2010 Recommended Reading list so far, click on this link. The December edition will be up at the mid/end of this month, as I have time. If you do a count, you’ll note that I did not list all of the 83 books I read. In fact, when I record the book in my calendar, I usually just record the name, author, and number of pages, not a comment on what I thought of it. Yet next to one, read all the way through in June, I wrote ick! I clearly finished it, and was not happy about it.
I don’t share those books. I see no point. My function on the blog is to point you to things I enjoyed. And despite my complaints, I enjoyed a lot in 2010. I can’t wait to get to the pile of books I set aside for 2011.