reading insights

Whenever we get close to the end of the year, I like to look back (more than I usually do), and one of the things I look back on is the books that I’ve read. I’m on Good Reads, but long before I’d joined GR, I’d started my own reading database. I can tell you every book I’ve ever read since September 2005.

Anyway, the main reason I was looking at my book list was to check how many books I’ve read this year. My unofficial goal was to read 12 books this year, and I have well and truly achieved that. It was good having a goal like that – very achievable for someone like me – because it encouraged me to keep reading at every opportunity. There are so many books I want to read – 12 per year should be the bare minimum if I want to get through even half of these.

On the other hand, there were times when I did stress out a bit about whether or not I’d actually accomplish this reading goal. Reading a few shorter ones between the longer novels did help (e.g. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s). I’m undecided about whether or not I want to set another reading goal for next year. And, if I do, should I increase it, or leave it the same? Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to decrease the goal.

Well, there’s still time to figure that all out.

Apart from basic details such as title, author, and date (month/year) finished, I also record a number of other things in my book database. Of course, I have a column for ratings (scored out of ten), but I also have one for the “source” i.e. if the book is my own, borrowed from a friend, or from the library.

What I found interesting was that three of the four novels which were given the highest ratings by me were borrowed from others – and from three different people too! The fourth one was a book I own.

I know I’ve written before about how borrowing a book from someone might bias me toward liking the book more, but that was more of a gut feeling, whereas this is slightly more solid proof. Either that or my friends have really good reading tastes. Maybe a bit of both.

Actually, what I might focus on next year is reading the books I own, particularly the ones I’ve owned for a very long time but have never read. Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield has been strongly recommended to me by the same friend who lent me One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I think that one’s definitely going high up on my priority list (especially considering that this friend is actually not even a big fan of his work in general, whereas Dickens is one of my most favourite authors).

I was actually going to attempt reading Anna Karenina if I reached 12 books before the end of this year, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’ll have to wait behind David Copperfield, and even then, I’ll probably want one or two easy reads between the two.

I really do like borrowing books from other people, though. Not only is it great for cost-saving, but it’s a wonderful way to connect with other people. It’s like having another story enveloping the actual story. People might not discuss a book in much more detail than to say whether they liked it or what they thought of the characters, but sometimes that’s enough. I can then read through the book with this person in the back of my mind, and I develop an understanding of some part of them.

I’m sure this must happen for other people too. Otherwise, I must just be ridiculously sentimental and/or read into things too much. (Probably both; I won’t deny it.)

Another one that I should probably get around to is Ulysses, which I’ve owned since high school, but have never actually opened. Hmm… maybe I’ll add a fourth epic to this list, and I’ll just read one per season. That should be manageable, right?

Somehow I don’t think this is all going to happen according to plan, but I suppose we shall find out next year…