My eyes popped out when I read Danielle’s post at A Work in Progress in which she said she has already read 37 books this year. This is amazing by any standards. If that is not surprising enough, Danielle referred to this post on So Many Books in which Stefanie has logged 26, perfectly on course to completing one book per week of the year. So many books, indeed!
Anyway, since I have never counted books before, I thought it might be an interesting exercise, if only to know where I stand among compulsive but unprolific readers. My guess is that I finish about a dozen books a year. Here is the list in more or less chronological order since January this year:
- Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (continued from last year)
- Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves
- John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent (continued from last year)
- Menno Schilthuizen, Frogs, Flies and Dandelions
- Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea
- Alexander McCall Smith, The Sunday Philosophy Club
- Ursula Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
- John Steinbeck, The Pearl
- Ursula Le Guin, The Farthest Shore
There, it ends. This is a little bit higher than my estimate which should be 6 books by this time of the year. Lest I become blase, there are two simple reasons for the small increase. Firstly, two books are carried over from 2005. Secondly, I have travelled more frequently than usual this year, logging 80 to 100 hours on airplanes, trains and buses in Switzerland and China. Most of this time was spent either sleeping or reading novels or going over research papers.
Apart from my slow reading speed, another reason for finishing fewer books is that my conversion rate, i.e., ratio of the number of books finished to the number of books begun is abysmally low. I cannot seem to find the persistence required to plough through something that does not hold my interest at a given time. In the past, this has caused me to leave unfinished such books as A Confederacy of Dunces, The Catcher in the Rye (Damn you Holden!) and Tortilla Flat. Now that I have written about this, I don’t feel very good about it. I will get around to finishing them, especially the last two, but it won’t be any time soon. More work calls. More travel in the coming month.