At long last, the Book Project has come to an end. When I pledged to write about every book I read about in 2008 at the beginning of last year, I had no idea how epic the endeavor was going to become, and how tired I was going to become of writing about books. Sometimes, I could blather on for pages about something I particularly liked, and at other times, I could barely muster 100 words on a book, especially towards the end of the year.
At any rate, here are the statistics:
The all time high in terms of sheer pages read was October, with 15,352 pages. That worked out to almost 500 a day! In January, I read a pitiful 6,261 pages, around 201 a day. I’m not quite sure why I read so little in January, given that it was cold and rainy and dark. Mysterious.
July narrowly edged out October in terms of the most books read, with 46 books in July as opposed to 44 in October. Woeful January clocked 21 books.
Over the course of the year, I read 400 books (this includes books which I put down because they were so bad), which works out to a little over a book a day. 133,458 pages were read, around 365 each day (man, if I got a dollar for every page I read…). I find it interesting that I spiked in March, July, and October, with troughs in January, April, and August. I kind of assumed that the high points of reading would be in the winter, when it’s dark, and the low points in the summer, when I would presumably be out and about doing things. I think that the answer to the riddle may lie in the fact that in the winter, I just sleep most of the time, so there’s not actually that much time for reading.
And, of course, no discussion of the Book Project in review would be complete without a listing of my favourite books: The Sparrow, This Is the Way the World Ends, Dracula, Everything Conceivable, Nation of Rebels, Lady Lazarus, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Sacred Hunger, White Oleander, The Cure for Death By Lightning, The Book of Lost Things, and A Very Long Engagement. I think it’s interesting that over half of these books are recommendations which I probably would not have read otherwise, three were re-reads, and two were simply randomly pulled off the library shelf because I thought that they looked interesting. It’s tough to pick a book of the year from all of the books I read last year, but I think I’m going to go with The Book of Lost Things, because it captured a mood and a spirit so brilliantly and darkly. This Is the Way the World Ends definitely follows as a close second.
All of the recommendations can be found here; you will note that a few of them did not get read, because they didn’t arrive in time for inclusion in the Book Project. I will definitely go ahead and read them when they get here, but I probably won’t review them. There is also a complete archive of Book Project entries, for people who feel like plowing through it all in one go.
This project was definitely interesting. I read a lot of things I would not have otherwise, which is great, and it certainly gave me an opportunity to reflect on my reading habits. For example, I read a lot more trash than I realized, and I also read a lot more than I realized. I also think it’s interesting that I tend to read things in waves. I get interested, for example, in mysteries, and read a whole glut of them, or I decide to read a bunch of reference material about a particular thing.
I also learned this year that it is perfectly appropriate and sometimes necessary to set a bad book down, rather than tormenting myself with something I am not enjoying. That’s a pretty radical step for me, because I used to read all the way through every book I picked up, even if it felt like pulling teeth. I haven’t abandoned my habit of only reading one book at a time, though, and I doubt that this is going to change, because I like to appreciate books on their own, rather than bouncing around between characters and subjects.
I hope that people had fun reading along, and I want to thank everyone who recommended and sent/loaned books (even the ones I hated) for their contributions. The Book Project would not have been nearly so enjoyable without reader participation! Although the Book Project is over, I continue to welcome book recommendations, because I am pretty much always looking for something to read.