Back in 2009, I started tracking my reading — it’s something I’d meant to do for awhile, but I was spending enough time reading then that it seemed like a good idea, if only to help me keep track of some series.
With most series, I can remember what I’ve read, but there are some that the titles are so generic, or so esoteric, or whatever that it’s hard to keep track. Seriously, A Stained White Radiance or The Neon Rain are great titles, and exactly the kind of thing that you expect James Lee Burke to call a book. But there’s just no way that you can look at one of those and say, “Oh yeah, that’s the one where Robicheaux does something.” Unless it’s get angrier than he should at something and/or fall off the wagon. Because it’s a decent bet he does both of those. I should note here, that I haven’t read a Robicheaux novel since 2011, and it was the one after b>A Stained White Radiance, so maybe he’s stopped doing those things quite so predictably. Maybe. It’s not just Burke — I’ve read all 9 of the Jane Yellowrock novels and I think I can only tell you what happened in one of them from the title (if I look at a plot description, most of the titles make sense, though).
It’s also a good way to remember the obscure author name, maybe to help plan your reading, and so on.
Mid-2010, I joined Goodreads, which took care of a lot of those problems, but by then it was too late, I was tracking.
Inevitably, you start comparing — huh, I’ve only read X books so far this year. Last year, by this time, I’d already read X+5! Wonder why that is? And then (if you’re wired like me), you start competing with yourself — because why not turn reading into a competition? If cooking can be competitive, so can reading. (Actually, I remember some of my elementary school teachers doing that, too — and I crushed those wimps foolish enough to be assigned to the same classroom as me). So if I read Y books in 2009, I’ll read Y+70 in 2010. (not an actual goal — but it happened. I think ’09 was an off year).
Speaking of Goodreads, their oft-maligned annual Reading Challenges didn’t help much. And that little note, “You’re ___ books behind schedule”? It’s the bane of my existence. Because I know it’s foolish to tie any sort of self-worth to that Challenge Number, and that I shouldn’t turn this into a numbers game, I do. And the fact that for most of this year, I’ve been 11 books behind schedule has driven me crazy (only 7 behind, at the moment however). I did a little math over the weekend, and it’s still possible for me to hit my goal for the year. It’s not inconceivable that I could top it.* Now, I’m steadfastly refusing to choose books based on their size — but I’m probably not going to grab an epic fantasy in the next month. And when I picked up the books waiting for me at the library today, I was happier than I should’ve been to see that Ethan Hawke’s Rules for a Knight is tiny — 4.4″ x 6.3″ — but I was also disappointed (c’mon, Hawke, I thought you were an artist!)
What about you? Are you governed by the count? Pages or books? (yeah, this year I started tracking pages, too. Going to hate myself for that eventually).
More importantly: how’s your BookLikes/Goodreads/whatever challenge going?
* Fine, I’ll admit it, it’d be easy to fall a couple short, too.