How I Did

December 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 10 Comments

Okay, okay, I didn’t really read 400 books this year.

It was 409!  Actually it was more than that because I didn’t count at least half a dozen children’s books.  Plus I hope to finish Northanger Abbey tonight, unless Rocket Scientist puts his foot down.

I read a lot of different stuff, without much rhyme or reason, partly because when I started out in January I had zero exposure to the book blogging community.  I knew nothing about challenges other than the ones I set myself, and in years past I’d simply made a resolution to read what I called a Big Fat Book every year.  (War and Peace, Middlemarch…)

I did manage to read some memorable things, though, and even better, I discovered a number of lists I want to work my way through.  That’s my focus for next year – quality over quantity.  Anyway:

Pulitzer Prize: 2

Booker Prize: 1, 5 short list, 4 long list

National Book Award: 1, 1 short list

1001 Books to Read Before You Die: 7

New York Times Notable Books: 16 Significant Seven: 70

You can see by that last statistic where my focus was this year.  It’s strange that when I go into a bookstore and look at the tables of new books, I recognize so many from my own reading stack.  For the first time, I feel like I’m “current” (whatever that means) and that I’ve at least heard of the most promising recent books.  I think of it, though, as a sort of film of ice over a lake – looks solid, but nothing much underneath it!  That’s why I’m going to make an effort in 2009 to read more classics and award winners.  I think it’s more important to read the good stuff than the new stuff, fun as it is.

To support this, I’m making a list of books I hope to read in 2009, and then crossing them out as I complete them.  I’m only shooting for 150, though, so I can sneak in some nonfiction here and there.  My other goal is not to read more than 350 books!



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  1. I’ve never heard of the Amazon Significant Seven-is it new releases? Before blogging, I didn’t read nearly as many ‘current’ books as I do now. Anyway, I want to up my quality in 2009 as well…I think that’s why I’m joining so many challenges, so I can make fun book lists. 🙂

  2. If you go to and click Books, then scroll down, you’ll see a “Best of [Month]” button. That’s where they keep the Significant Seven (I think they also use that term for other categories like music). I’m not always interested in everything they choose, but it was looking at these selections that led me to stumble on this year’s Pulitzer and National Book Award winners, along with all the New York Times Notables I read this year.

  3. 400 books! That’s very impressive. Definitely subscribing to your blog; I’ve been looking through it and I’ve enjoyed reading it.

    Hope you’ll check mine out!
    – Leslie

  4. Wow! That is a lot of books! Congratulations! (I know that’s a lot of exclamation points, but 409 books deserves a lot of exclamations points!)

  5. OK girl here is what I’ve come up with.

    I’ve read almost NONE of the Pulitzer Prize winners. BUT, I don’t have much time to read this year so I can’t take on a huge challenge.

    Therefore, I want you to pick out ten Pulitzer Prize winners for me and I get to pick out ten “Really Old Books” for you.

    Sound good?

  6. Hmm… Really Old Books… For a history buff, this is intriguing!

  7. Here’s what I chose:

    1. Oscar Wao (This wouldn’t have made my list, but you’re already planning to read it)
    2. Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
    3. Empire Falls – Richard Russo
    4. A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley
    5. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
    6. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
    7. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    8. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
    9. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
    10. The Bridge of San Luis Rey – Thornton Wilder

    I’m guessing 5, 7, 8, and 9 are high on the list of books you’ve most likely already read, though if you haven’t, you should! 😉 So here are the three alternates:

    Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler (*anything* she’s written)
    The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck
    The Magnificent Ambersons – Booth Tarkington

  8. I like the list. I had already read The Color Purple, Gone With the Wind and The Good Earth so we ended up with a perfect ten.

    Sorry I don’t have a complete list of everything I’ve read…

    Really Old Books

    1. St Augustine, The Confessions
    2. Herodotus, The Histories
    3. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
    4. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
    5. Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur
    6. Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain
    7. The Mabinogian
    8. Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
    9. Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
    10. The Chronicle of the Cid

    And the three alternates

    The Journals of Christopher Columbus
    Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene
    The Edda

    I’ve read all but three of these (8, 10 and The Edda) so have fun!

  9. O ho ho! I have already read 2, 4, and 5. It looks like we are both par for this course!

    It’s hard to believe you’ve made it this far and never read To Kill a Mockingbird. I envy you this! If you haven’t seen the film you might enjoy that afterward. Gregory Peck – tres hot!

    You should take a look at If you enter in the books you’ve read, it will match you up with other people who’ve read the same things. It’s really addictive and it’s a great way to make new friends.

  10. […] 100 books in less than 100 days. She’s read more than Jessica at this point, who read 409 books last year. A little friendly competition, […]

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