Tuesday, November 01, 2016

NaNoReadMo: 30 Books in 30 Days

Many people I know are starting National Novel Writing Month today. To them I say good luck, God bless and — how many books have you read lately?

At one point in my life, when I commuted by bus and Metro, I regularly read more than 200 books a year. Even after I started driving — and then even after I started working from home — I regularly read more than 150 books a year. Working at The (late, lamented) Mystery Bookstore boosted that number, but I've always been open-minded about where my books come from: bookstores, libraries, publishers, friends, Goodwill and yes, even Amazon.

Last year, for the first time in my adult life, my reading list didn't break 100 — and that was even after I let myself count everything I'd read for work, including galleys I proofread and manuscripts I edited. I topped out at 99, with an advance reading copy of the delightful BE FRANK WITH ME by Julia Claiborne Johnson. (Read it, it'll make you happy.)

This year my pace is even worse: I finished my 73rd book of the year, Thomas Mullen's DARKTOWN, yesterday, and again that list includes proofread galleys and edited manuscripts. If I keep reading at this rate, I won't even break 90 by the end of the year.

What happened to me? I got a smartphone. Apps now fill the waiting time I used to spend reading. Waiting for a bus? I'll check in with my virtual pals on Nats Twitter. Stuck on the Metro? Let's level up on Candy Crush. Train to New York? Somebody linked to a great article in The Atlantic . . . and am I caught up on the Wittertainment podcast?

I'm frittering my reading life away, and this year in particular the election news has become a malign drug. I know who I'm voting for. I know her adversary is a candidate of unprecedented venality and ignorance. I don't need to be any better informed about that person than I already am, and it's literally giving me nightmares.

So for the month of November, I'm changing course. I'm retreating into words on the page, and the goal is to read 30 books by the end of the month. That's a lot, but it's doable if I stay off social media and allow myself a few semi-cheats:
  1. Three of these books can be work-related (galleys I'm proofreading or manuscripts I'm editing)
  2. Three of these books can be re-reads
  3. A book longer than 500 pages counts as two books (I'm making this exception specifically for James Michener's TEXAS, which someone sent me as part of last month's book swap)
  4. Three of these books can be young-adult or children's books
I'll keep track of my reading here. Please keep me honest if you see me hanging out on Twitter or Facebook. I'm not asking for reading recommendations, because I have more than 30 unread books on my dining room table right this minute. (Apologies to my housemate.) If you've read any of the books I post about here, please do leave your thoughts in the comments section. Half the fun of reading is being able to talk to other people about what you've read.

Onward . . .


SteveHL said...

I'm pleased to see you posting a little more often lately. I miss having you post daily, but I imagine that would cut even more deeply into your reading time.

S Haines said...

Oh, I'm impressed! I could never even come close to your yearly tally, topping at just over 30 a year personally. That said, I'm in the same boat as you, woefully behind this year. I just committed to finishing at least the 7 I've begun. A few long flights in my future might help. Looking forward to seeing your progress.