Friday, March 9, 2012

Closing in on a Millennium (The Reading List)

So, so far this week has been a good week for reading. I've finished three books in the last three days, one per night. I'll see if I can't get around to making posts on all three, but quite apart from enjoying them for their own sake, they've also made me v. aware of the passage of time. That's because they're numbers II.2984, II.2985, and II.2986 respectively of my Reading List. So, just another fourteen books to go before I reach the three thousandth book I've read all the way through since beginning the list in August 1981. I keep going back and forth over whether I shd pick out some special book --say, LotR--to mark the occasion, or simply let the count fall where it may, like an odometer rolling over. Guess we'll soon see, prob. sometime this summer.

By the way, the 'II' is to indicate that this is the start of a new count, there having been a break in the continuity when I lost the notebook containing the original list of some six hundred titles which I'd started in August 1975 (I accidently left it on the Underground during my first visit to England). I was able to re-construct all but the last twenty or so entries, but still decided it was better to start over than to never get the tally right again. So, like the Mayan Long Count calendar will do this winter, I simply started over from a new number 1. One of these days I'm going to get the whole thing typed up; it'll be interesting to see how often I re-read some old favorites, how long it's been since I read some things, and how long ago some books became important to me.

The count does not include audiobooks, or any book I don't finish, though occasionally I'll group several short items into a single entry. I've recently (Jan.2010) started keeping a more informal list of audiobooks, which now stands at 35 entries --though to be fair, one of those entries is the entire FAERIE QUEENE (or rather as much as of it as Spenser wrote), and another the OLD TESTAMENT, both of wh. kept me going for months. It also leaves out manga, most rpg material, and almost everything I read on the computer -- so even at 2986 the tally only represents a selective portion of what all I read.


Just read: DISSECTING CTHULHU: ESSAYS ON THE CTHULHU MYTHOS, ed. Joshi (finished Tuesday); THE LACQUER SCREEN, a Judge Dee novel by Rbt van Gulik (finished Wednesday); MY FIVE TIGERS, by Lloyd Alexander (finished last night).
Currently reading: Arne Zettersten's memoir/biography of Tolkien (begun Wend.), GKC's ORTHODOXY (begun last night, on the Kindle), and JUDGE DEE AT WORK (this morning over breakfast)

1 comment:

Wurmbrand said...

I began keeping track of books read at almost the same time, Jan. 1974, as you did, when I was in the middle of my freshman year in college. I tried also to write down just about every book I could think of having read before that time. Unlike you, I haven't kept track of the numbers.

I have this typed on a machine-readable file, except for the last few weeks or so, since initially I keep track with handwritten entries in a notebook. It took quite a few hours to transcribe everything up to about 2000, etc.

If the time comes when you type up your own list, you may find some questions will arise. In my case, the single biggest one seems to be: did I really NOT read Bleak House to my wife sometime in the 1980s? I couldn't find a record thereof in my old notebooks. I'd assume you probably won't have an experience like that -- it will all be there.

Perhaps you've written brief notes on your reading. I often noted only author, title, dates of reading, whether the book was a first or second (etc.) reading and whether it was fiction or nonfiction, whether it was something I read aloud to someone (wife, children), or whether it was for a class that I took or taught. In the absence of notes on the reading, I find the rare instance of a book about which I remember almost nothing -- for example, in Sept. 1977 a book by "Williams" called Tsuga's Children. Of course it would be easy to look this up on the Internet. In the meantime, it is something about which I remember almost nothing; the main impression is of a book with a bluish dustjacket, checked out from the Ashland, Oregon, Public Library.