Monday, August 29, 2016

Mid-year book post

At the start of the year, I put all of the books I wanted to read in 2016 in a pile (see photo at right), and that pile has remained there since. I also set a Goodreads Reading Challenge of 17 books, one up from last year. The 16 books in the pile plus the one I was reading at the time (Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy) equaled the 17 books I would aim to read that year, deviations permitted of course. So far I've read four books from the pile: MaddAddam, Tales of the City, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, and Prisoners of Geography. I'm also allowing myself to count The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as a pile book since the Chabon (and the Murakami, Rakoff, and Vonnegut for that matter) were really just placeholders for any book by those authors. Add to that The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (long on my to-read list when I saw it on a friend's coffee table a few months ago) and The Buried Giant (impulse purchase at BookCourt) and those are the eight books I've read this year, which is quite a bit shy of the goal. If I can read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (book club read) very quickly (it's going well so far), I'll have four months to read eight books, which I suppose is possible if I choose wisely (thinly).

Stats so far:

  • Slightly more male than female (5/3), and only getting maler with Ransom Riggs.
  • Authors' ages cover a 40-year range from the 42-year-old Lawson to the recently departed Oliver Sacks, who would be 83 years old. The oldest living author is, as usual, Margaret Atwood (76). The spread is pretty even with the largest break being between Ishiguro (61) and Maupin (72).
  • Even split between American (4) and foreign authors (3 Brits and 1 Canadian).
  • There is also an even split between books published last year (Prisoners, Happy, LaFayette, Giant) and books published before that (MaddAddam in 2013, Kavalier & Clay in 2000, Wife for a Hat in 1985, and Tales in 1978). I haven't read any books published this year, and if I continue drawing from the pile, I won't. 
  • Another even split between fiction and non-fiction. The novels go from the time of legend (King Arthur) to the distressingly near future (according to Atwood), with stops in WWII and the seventies, and focus on San Francisco, New York, and Great Britain (Atwood goes all over North America). The non-fiction cover medicine, geopolitics, the American Revolution, and mental illness, with a generous dusting of humor in the last two.
  • As to their provenance, three were gifts: Happy, Prisoners, and LaFayette. MaddAddam and Giant were relatively recent bookstore finds (Community and BookCourt) and I picked Kavaier & Clay up at a Housing Works. Tales was given to me by a friend thinning out her collection as she prepared for a move, and as I already mentioned, the Oliver Sacks was swiped from another friend's living room.
Likely candidates for the rest of 2016: Invisible Cities (look how thin it is!), something by David Rakoff, Between You & Me, and Cat's Cradle, unless another skinny Vonnegut crosses my path. I already picked up and put down The Skeleton Crew and Trigger Warning, but they may deserve another shot. I may also read The Cursed Child if a copy of it lands in my hands.