In late 2004 I was a brand new librarian and attended a workshop on reader’s advisory or suggesting books to people. The guest speaker made a simple suggestion of keeping a book log to keep track of what you’ve read. She emphasized keeping it easy with just the title, author, and when you read it. So starting in 2005 I started doing this. In a notebook that had other unfinished writing I turned to a clean page on wrote ‘2005 Reading log’ in big letters. I do this religiously and I think it’s a great simple way to keep track of my reading habits. I few years after this I started using Goodreads.com, but I now use that for other reasons. Goodreads is great for reading laymen reviews, and seeing what other people are reading, but I still get more satisfaction from seeing a yearly book log on pen and paper. That workshop was intended to make me better professionally for reference, but it also helped how I treat my personal reading. I feel that I’m better read now than when I was an English major in college, when I worked in a bookstore, or when I was a curious library grad student.
Now I’m going to look through my old book logs, and tell of the highlights. In 2005 I read 21 books, which averages to a book every 2 to 3 weeks. That is not a huge amount to read, but looking over the log I read some good ones that year. For the first two months of that year I read The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. This was a very memorable read for me, among my favorites, but so dense I probably won’t read it again. I read East of Eden by Steinbeck early on that year, and that was a life changing read. Before I read East of Eden I wanted to write densely, abstractly, and be very literary. In Kent I wrote several stories that I made up words, free wrote, and made no attempt at revision at all. I think I was trying to be a hip hop James Joyce or some freaking thing. It was terrible and I can’t even read through them today. Reading East of Eden made me realize that this was a classic because the story was interesting and the characters were strong and believable. The dialogue might have been difficult to write, but the writing is fluid and not overly written. So reading East of Eden and later Grapes of Wrath I realized when I try to write something, it should be the story first and the writing style second. Before my approach was the other way around. I read Invisible Man by Elison that year, and finally got through Crime and Punishment. Lastly I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith for the first time that year, and this is one of my favorite books having read it three times. So 2005 was a good reading year.
In 2006 I read Moby Dick by Melville but don’t ask me about the details because I don’t remember. Early in the winter I read Requiem for a Dream by Selby and I vividly remember the description of cold desperation of a 1970’s NYC junkie winter. The scenes are horrific, and I think spark the imagination. It’s hard to believe that the other despicable book I loved Last Exit to Brooklyn was written by the same author. That year I reread American Pastoral and then quickly read Portnoy’s Complaint which are both by Phillip Roth. Facebook had a question on one of their surveys of who is better Updike or Roth, and I chose Roth because I’ve read more of his books. My interest in Roth might of started in 2006. I also read Slaughterhouse 5, which was my introduction to Kurt Vonnegut. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair had a big impact on me that year, and I finally read Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie. In total I read 27 books in 2006.
I started 2007 out with The Alchemist by Paulo Choelo, and I have read that a few times. 2007 was another good year according to my reading log. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende really engaged me, and made me realize it’s good to venture out and try to read anything. This by far is one of my favorite reads and I would of passed it up years ago because she’s a popular women’s author. In that vain I read Kafka on the Shore and thought of Marikami as a unique author. I read Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky that year. A friend suggested this one to me as the best written first person psychotic narrative. And it is, and I should read it again before I start my novel attempt. Lastly I read Of Human Bondage by Someset Maugham that year and was amazed. I took to heart the main character being ruined by the evil and damaged love interest. In 2007 I read 23 books.
I don’t think I went crazy in 2008, but I read the most books that year with a whopping 38 titles. I blame my knee injury for reading more that year. My mother suggested this title a long time ago, but I didn’t get around to reading Manchild in the Promise Land by Claude Brown until that winter. Anyone interested in New York City, racial relations and prejudices, drugs and street behaviors in the 1950’s and 1960’s should read this. Later in the year I also read The Autobiography of Malcolm X which everyone should read. I read two Louise Erdrich books, who I was my favorite contemporary author during my college days. I read two Kurt Vonnegut books that year. Lolita by Nobakov and The Moveable Feast by Hemingway had an impact on me. A coworker suggested the author Haldor Laxness, and I will never be the same after reading a couple of his books.
In 2009 I read 29 books and I wish I read 28 books. Naked Lunch by Burroughs pissed me off, that guy was a horrible person. On a good note I took a few months to read Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. I think anyone interested in the 20th century beginnings of psychology and philosophy should read this one. It is a book of thought in my mind. For a social bookclub later in the year I read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. This was a departure in that it is popular non-fiction.
I think in 2010 I continued the trend of more popular non-fiction and more popular books in general. I read 31 books this year, which averages to a little more that a book every two weeks. Up until late high school I was one of those reluctant readers, so I’m proud that I’m a reading adult. I don’t finish every book I start. This year I didn’t get too far into Pride and Prejudice by Austen and currently I’m reading Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantell, but I’m thinking of putting it down.
Without more words, here is my—
2010 READING LOG
1. White Tiger by Aravand Aviga January
2. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong January
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott January
4. Wishin and Hopin by Wally Lamb January
5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak February
6. Underworld by Don Delillo February
7. The Humbling by Phillip Roth March
8. Absurdistan by Gary Steyvngant March
9. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut March/April
10. Double Bind by Chris Bohjalin April
11. Tender is the Night by Fitzgerald (4th reading) April
12. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (2nd reading) April
13. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing May
14. Dream Seller: An Addiction Memoir by Brandon Novak June
15. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo June
16. Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’brien June
17. The Magicians by Lev Grossman July
18. Beloved by Toni Morrison July/August
19. War by Sebastien Junger August
20. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson August
21. Indignation by Phillip Roth August
22. Remains of the Day by Kazoo Ishiguro August
23. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot September
24. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen September/October
25. Little Bee by Chris Cleave October
26. South of Broad by Pat Conroy October
27. Deep Shadow by Randy Wayne White October/November
28. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See November
29. Nemesis by Phillip Roth November
30. The Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman December
31. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell December