06 June 2011

On Making Lists



There is a statistic going around that the “average” American has read one or fewer books in the past year.  Although I find this terrifying, I know there are a lot of us reading fanatics picking up the slack.

Near the first of January, instead of making a New Year’s resolution, my good friend posts a list of all the books she has read for the year.  She makes note of books that she reread and a total page count for the year.  I felt inspired by her reading list.

I tried to think back over the month of December about all the books I had read.  I was certain I could recall each book.  I then tried to think back a month further.  That’s when I ran into trouble.  I couldn’t remember every book I had read and I wasn’t keeping track.  Perhaps it is part of entering into middle age and that my memory is no longer as good as it was.  Maybe it is the fact that I am in an MFA program and I sometimes find myself reading more than a book a week.  Whatever the reason, I thought it would be valuable to keep track of my reading habits.

From January until May, I have been careful to keep a list of the books I am reading.  I started noting the genre to remind myself, because even after a month I found myself wondering if some were poetry or short stories or something else.  This can be tricky as I tend to read a good deal of hybrid work or “compressed genres.”

What did I find out?

First, I found the majority of the books I read were poetry.  This makes sense because I am an MFA candidate for poetry at the University of Idaho.  I was surprised though, because I read 35 books of poems in five months.  Since I love statistics, let me break it down further.  This means I read 6 books a poems a month or 1.5 poetry books a week.

I also found I read on average 12 books or about 1,250 pages a month excluding magazines, single essays and the like.

One other trend was that I found I decompressed by reading genre fiction and so far, almost entirely by a single author.  Tanya Huff was my go-to author for reading where I just wanted to “have fun.”   (I read five of her books over five months.)

I don’t know if you want to start a reading list or journal of your own, but I find it very useful.  And of course, I know that some of you are curious to see exactly what I have been reading.  Here is one month from my own list:

April               (total page count  1,194)

1.      Versed by Rae Armantrout (poetry) 121 pages.
2.      Letters to Wendy’s by Joe Wenderoth (prose poems) 300 pages.
3.      Mortal Geography by Alexandra Teague (poetry) 88 pages.
4.      Montana Tall Tales compiled by Georgia Nation Carter (fiction) 50 pages.
5.      Reading & Writing with a Cat Called Sidney by Carol Stem (essays) 34 pages.
6.      Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open by Diane Seuss (poetry) 66 pages.
7.      Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey (fiction) 257 pages.
8.      Men in Groups by Aaron Smith (poetry) 23 pages.
9.      We know what we are by Mary Hamilton (short shorts) 36 pages.
10.  Fair Play by Tove Jansson (Fiction) 120 pages.
11.  Dark Rides by Derek McCormack (Fiction) 99 pages.

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