Several years ago, I was at a B&B in Inverness, Scotland. I don't remember how the conversation started, but the owner (a woman in her sixties) explained she had kept a journal listing every book she'd read since she was in high school. She had a whole shelf of the journals, years of book titles and dates. I was crazy jealous.
I started my own reading log three years ago, the summer before I moved to the UK. It's simple record keeping. I jot down the date I finish a book, the title, and the author. If I don't finish a book, or if I'm re-reading the book, I mark it with an asterisk and a short note. Last year, I learned that only 13% of children's books published every year are written by and/or about people of color. So this year I challenged myself to read at least 13 poc books; I recorded them by writing "poc" in the margins. It's not rocket science by a long shot. I probably forget a few books here and there, but I tend to keep the journal on my dining room table so it's hard to forget for long.
And the best part? All those books!
If someone asks for a fantasy recommendation, I can scroll through the titles, see if I read anything good. If someone asks if I've read the most recent PD James, or if I want to check the last time I read a book, all the information is there. Unlike Goodreads (which I also use and love), it's entirely private. I wish I'd started it earlier!
It tells a lot about me as a reader, but also as a writer. What kinds of stories am I fascinated with at the moment? What kinds of stories am I giving up on? When I first came to the US, I craved American books that were unavailable to me. Now I look at my list and see numbers of British books that most of my American friends have never heard of.
Clearly, I'm 100% reading dork! Here are some of my stats for the year as of today:
Adult fiction: 10
Didn't finish: 27 (21% of books I started)
Some of my reasons for not finishing: "Didn't care," "Flat characters," "Goodie-goodie character," "Poor writing," "Stupid premise," "Sticky library book!"
Yes, any book that wasn't non-fiction or adult fiction is a children's book. How do you think I read so many? No shame! I want to write children's books for a living! And I love them!
I blogged some reviews on the POC books I read throughout the year.
I'm shocked I didn't finish only 21% of the books I started. I would've guessed that number was a lot higher. Who knew I was that patient?! Actually, that percentage is probably more attributable to how careful I am about what I choose to read.
Any thing else you want me to count up while I'm thinking about it?
Friday I'll share my top ten books of the year. If you can't wait, here's last year's list!